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Your Wednesday Briefing: A Dam Destroyed in Ukraine

The Kakhovka dam and electric plant in southern Ukraine was destroyed yesterday, sending torrents of water through the breach and forcing tens of thousands of people to evacuate.

Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for the disaster, but it was not immediately clear who was responsible. Officials in Kyiv said Moscow’s forces had blown up the Russian-controlled dam on the Dnipro River in the predawn hours.

More than 40,000 people could be in the path of flooding, a Ukrainian official said. Here’s a map of the damage.

Downstream, residents described watching in horror as floodwaters swept past carrying trees and debris from washed-out houses. More than 1,300 people were evacuated, officials said, as conservationists warned of a huge and long-lasting environmental disaster. The waters are expected to peak today, an expert said.

“People here are shocked,” said my colleague Marc Santora, who was in southern Ukraine. “They’ve gotten used to all sorts of Russian bombardment, all sorts of horrors, but this is just so much bigger in both magnitude and the repercussions that it is going to have across society.”

The destruction of the dam came a day after U.S. officials said it appeared that a Ukrainian counteroffensive had begun. President Volodymyr Zelensky blamed “Russian terrorists.” The Kremlin’s spokesman said Ukraine had carried out a “sabotage” attack.

The dam supplies water for drinking and agriculture, and to cool reactors and spent fuel at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, but the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog said there was “no immediate nuclear safety risk.”

Analysis: The dam is far from the intensive fighting in the eastern Donetsk region. But its destruction could divert both sides’ resources from the counteroffensive.

Other worries: The destruction could also wash away underground mines that Russian and Ukrainian forces planted on the banks of the Dnipro, creating new hazards in once-safe areas.

A bitter and costly rivalry for supremacy in men’s professional golf ended yesterday when the PGA Tour and LIV Golf, which is bankrolled by Saudi Arabia, announced a merger. The deal stunned the world of golf and was the Gulf kingdom’s biggest success yet in its ambitions to become a player in global sports.

“It is hard to overstate how surprising this news is,” my colleague Kevin Draper writes. The PGA Tour and LIV have spent the past two years competing with and suing each other. Some in the PGA had sharply criticized LIV, both for dividing golf and for associating with Saudi Arabia and its poor human rights record. All lawsuits will now end between the formal rivals.

Still, much remains unknown about the new golf company, which was created so quickly that it was announced before it even had a name. One thing is sure: LIV has gained a foothold that guarantees its outsize influence in the game’s future. The governor of the Saudi sovereign wealth fund will become the chairman of the new company.

Prince Harry took the stand in a London court to accuse the Mirror newspaper group of hacking his cellphone over a decade ago. He spent five hours airing grievances against the tabloids.

Harry said that some journalists “do have blood on their hands” and characterized their behavior as “utterly vile” and “criminal.” He said he had suffered “depression and paranoia” from the coverage. His testimony will continue today.

The court appearance was, in many ways, another chapter in what has become a life of litigation: Harry and his wife, Meghan, are plaintiffs in no fewer than seven cases against the tabloids and other news media organizations. Harry has also filed claims against the Home Office related to the loss of his police protection while in Britain.

Rising seas and coastal erosion are threatening D-Day sites on France’s beaches. Historians now wonder: Can memory be preserved if the landing sites of the Allied invasion disappear?

“If I don’t have the site, I lose the history of what happened here,” a battle monument superintendent said. “You may as well stay at home on the couch and read a book.”

Lives lived: Astrud Gilberto sang “The Girl From Ipanema” and helped popularize Brazilian bossa nova in the U.S. She died at 83.

The first two episodes of HBO’s new drama “The Idol” were panned for their graphic sexual content. The network is leaning into the controversy: It’s marketing the star-studded series, about a pop star whose life takes a turn after a breakdown, as the “sleaziest love story in all of Hollywood.”

Jennie of Blackpink, the blockbuster K-pop girl group, is making her acting debut as a backup dancer to the show’s aspiring idol, who is played by Lily-Rose Depp. On TikTok or Twitter, the number of posts critiquing the show is likely to match those commending Jennie’s performance.

Tomatoes, salmon and garlic butter make for a quick and tasty pasta dinner.

In Dorothy Tse’s “Owlish,” set in a fictional city that stands in for Hong Kong, an adulterous professor doesn’t see the civic decay around him.

John Mellencamp’s new album, “Orpheus Descending,” is a scornful look at America.

If you’re packing shoes for travel, consider a “sleaker,” the dressy sneaker that works for both city strolls and country treks.

How often should you wash your hair?

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: Extensively praise (five letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee. You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you tomorrow. — Amelia

P.S. Carl Hulse, our chief Washington correspondent, wrote about how covering the debt limit crisis required a combination of arcane knowledge and pure stamina.

The Daily” is on literacy education in the U.S.

Did you enjoy this newsletter? Send us feedback at [email protected].

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