Your Friday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Friday.

Bodies were covered with tarps after a rocket attack in Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine.Credit…Fadel Senna/AFP — Getty Images

1. A missile strike tore into a crowded train station in eastern Ukraine, killing at least 50 people and wounding nearly 100.

Ukrainian officials blamed Russia for the attack, and Moscow denied responsibility.

The station in the city of Kramatorsk was jammed with people rushing to safer areas in Ukraine’s west before an anticipated major push by Russian forces in the east. The strike laid bare the mounting civilian toll of the fighting, much of which has been inflicted by Russian forces that have targeted civilians and infrastructure.

In other war news, Russia is using munitions that eject up to two dozen land mines that explode at intervals. Ukraine is asking Western governments for more modern weapons, and some people are returning to their homes in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, now that Russian forces have retreated from the city’s suburbs.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson with the president and vice president today.Credit…Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

2. The confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court has changed the course of American life, President Biden said.

Biden and supporters celebrated the ascension of the first Black woman to the court, a day after the Senate voted to confirm her.

“This is going to let so much sun shine on so many young women, so many young Black women, so many minorities,” the president said at the White House. “That is real.”

Judge Jackson will not be sworn in for months, and her confirmation does not change the court’s ideological balance, with conservatives retaining their 6-to-3 majority.

Democrats hope the televised browbeating of Judge Jackson during her confirmation hearings will galvanize Black voters behind their candidates in coming elections. Republicans are making a fresh bid for Black voters, with a record number of Black Republican House candidates reshaping the party’s pitch.

Crowds lining up to buy Broadway tickets in Times Square on March 30.Credit…Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

3. Coronavirus cases are spiking in New York City and Washington.

Cases have doubled in Washington and have risen about 60 percent in New York City since the last week of March, according to The Times’s databases. The spike has led to canceled shows on Broadway and a slew of infected lawmakers.

Caseloads have been relatively low since the Omicron surge receded, but the highly contagious BA.2 subvariant is contributing to a new wave of infections in some places, especially the Northeast.

In other virus news, the flu and Covid-19 never gripped the nation simultaneously. Experts theorize that our immune defenses may have been on high alert, which may help explain why there was never a “twindemic.” Here’s what you need to know at every stage of a possible infection with BA.2, or any other variant.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.Credit…Nick Hagen for The New York Times

4. Jurors acquitted two men of conspiring to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan.

The jury said it was deadlocked on charges against two other men, and the judge declared a mistrial in their cases. In all, it was a significant defeat for federal prosecutors in one of the highest-profile domestic terrorism cases in decades.

The four men were accused of organizing a far-right plot to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat, from her vacation home in 2020. Defense lawyers argued that there was no such plot, and that their clients had been drawn into heated conversations by F.B.I. informants and undercover agents.

One former co-defendant who pleaded guilty testified that he hoped to set off a chain of events that would prevent Biden from being elected president and perhaps foment a civil war.

President Emmanuel Macron at a rally this month in Nanterre.Credit…Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

5. France votes on Sunday, and a potential upset looms.

President Emmanuel Macron has brought jobs and growth with his successful promotion of “la French tech,” but resentment simmers over his business-friendly policies, his perceived arrogance and rising prices. This has fed into the far-right campaign of Marine Le Pen, whose party has a history of Nazi nostalgia and anti-immigrant bigotry.

Polls predict that the first round of voting will be a rematch of the last one, winnowing the field to Le Pen and Macron for a runoff on April 24, but the contest could be closer this time. Le Pen is having a last-minute surge after revamping her image to focus more on pocketbook issues, but Macron is still favored to win. Here’s what to know about the vote.

The same day, Mexico will vote on whether to recall President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who himself proposed the recall as a test of his popularity.

Melting down wires for metal in Bangladesh.Credit…Munir Uz Zaman/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

6. A new study links hundreds of thousands of deaths to air pollution in tropical cities.

Researchers at University College London used satellite data to estimate concentrations of several harmful pollutants in 46 tropical cities in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

The researchers found that most of the pollution was driven by human sources like traffic and fuel burning and that some 180,000 premature deaths in large tropical cities in 2018 alone were attributable to increased exposure to pollutants.

Many more could die without successful pollution reduction policies, the researchers said.

In other environmental news, rising gas prices are prompting a spike in web searches for electric vehicles just as Elon Musk announced that his company, Tesla, would begin producing its much-delayed electric pickup, the Cybertruck, next year.

Lisane Basquiat and Jeanine Heriveaux, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s sisters.Credit…Flo Ngala for The New York Times

7. Opening the vaults of Jean-Michel Basquiat’s estate.

The two sisters of Basquiat, the artist who died at 27 in 1988, have spent the last five years poring over their brother’s paintings, drawings, photographs, VHS movies, African sculpture collection, toys and memorabilia to curate a sweeping exhibition that opens tomorrow in Manhattan.

The show features more than 200 artworks and artifacts from the artist’s estate, most never exhibited before, and delves into his personal development at a time when his works’ market value continues to soar and his themes of race and self-identity especially resonate.

In other art news, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences said that Will Smith would be barred from attending the Oscars for 10 years for striking the comedian Chris Rock during last month’s ceremony, and that it had mishandled the situation during the telecast.

A crew of tourists will orbit for 20 hours before docking with the International Space Station.Credit…SpaceX

8. A sightseeing trip into space.

SpaceX and NASA completed the first private launch to the International Space Station, carrying three paying passengers and a retired NASA astronaut from Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the company Axiom Space.

They flew in a SpaceX Crew Dragon, the same capsule used by NASA’s astronauts,and will soon dock at the space station. The mission, known as Axiom-1, is NASA’s first foray into space tourism aboard the orbital outpost.

The space tourists, who are each paying their own way, will spend 10 days in orbit, including eight days aboard the station.

Tiger Woods today in the second round of the Masters.Credit…Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

9. Tiger Woods returned to the Masters.

Woods entered today’s second round at one under par and tied for 10th place. But the day’s competition, played at the topographically challenging Augusta National Golf Club, placed greater demands on Woods and his surgically rebuilt leg, as he fell sharply down the leaderboard.

“The walking is not easy; it’s difficult,” he said. “It’s going to be difficult for the rest of my life.”But cheering followed him across the course.

Meanwhile, if you’ve seen golf shoes on the street, it’s because one of the world’s most subdued sports has a fresh look thanks to streetwear and sneaker culture.

Competitors in the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament on Sunday.Credit…Don Christensen

10. And finally, a crossword king is crowned.

Competitive crossword solvers, 474 of them, eagerly crowded a hotel ballroom filled with rows of tables, chairs and yellow folders to prevent cheating.

For some, the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament in Stamford, Conn., was a family reunion of sorts, complete with hugs and catching up after a couple of years of pandemic-fueled isolation.

It culminated in a race to finish the championship puzzle, “Wyna takes all,” by Wyna Liu, a puzzle constructor and New York Times associate editor. Tyler Hinman won for the seventh time, by only a few seconds, bringing home the $5,000 grand prize.

Have an erudite weekend.

Sarah Hughes compiled photos for this briefing.

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