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Morning Rundown: Ukraine dam destroyed, Virginia plane crash victims, rare wolverine sighting

Ukraine has accused Russian forces of blowing up a vast dam on the front lines of the war, threatening hundreds of thousands of residents as well as a nearby nuclear plant.
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A critical dam Ukraine is severely damaged and unleashes flooding across the southern front lines. Three of the four people who died in a Virginia plane crash have been identified. And descendants of Black landowners in California fight to reclaim stolen property.

Here’s what to know today.

Ukraine accuses Russia of blowing up major dam

Ukraine has accused Russian forces of blowing up a vast dam on the front lines of the war, threatening hundreds of thousands of residents as well as a nearby nuclear plant. Water was surging through the critical Kakhovka dam, according to videos verified by NBC News and local officials, unleashing massive flooding across the war zone in southern Ukraine that sparked evacuations and warnings of an “ecological disaster.”

Officials in Kyiv accused Moscow of a “terrorist attack” and raised international alarm, while Russian officials blamed Ukraine and played down the gravity of the situation.

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It comes after Kyiv’s forces appeared to launch a new series of attacks across the front lines in the south and the east, fueling speculation that their long-awaited counteroffensive may have begun.

The breach of the dam could have dramatic consequences on the battlefield and beyond.

Follow our live blog for the latest updates.

Federal grand jury to hear testimony in Trump documents case

A federal grand jury will meet this week in Florida to hear evidence in special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation of Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents, according to sources familiar with the investigation. It is not clear how the court proceedings in Florida relate to the work of a separate grand jury in Washington. It is also not clear why prosecutors impaneled multiple grand juries or whether they are ready to seek an indictment in either jurisdiction.

Three members of Trump’s legal team met yesterday with Smith and other officials at the Justice Department, a person familiar with the matter said. Minutes after the attorneys were seen leaving, Trump took to Truth Social to ask (in all caps), “How can DOJ possibly charge me, who did nothing wrong, when no other president’s were charged.”

Prince Harry takes the stand in showdown against the media

Prince Harry has taken his lifelong battle against the tabloid media to a historic new stage today with his testimony in a case against the publishers of Britain’s Daily Mirror tabloid newspaper. Despite the stakes, he did not show up yesterday at the opening of proceedings. 

The highly anticipated showdown is unusual; Harry is the first high-ranking member of the British royal family in 130 years to appear as a witness in court. The decision to take the stand is also a risky move that promises to be a potentially uncomfortable experience and might reveal new details about the royal family

Pilot spotted slumped over in plane before it crashed, officials say

Federal investigators have begun processing a crash scene in Virginia, where a private plane slammed into rugged terrain hours after its pilot was seen slumped over in the craft. According to officials, the plane departed from Tennessee on Sunday afternoon, turned around near New York City and was headed back south when fighter jets from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, were sent to investigate the plane and saw the pilot slumped over. The plane eventually ran out of fuel and crashed, killing all four people aboard.

John Rumpel, whose corporation is the registered owner of the aircraft, identified three of the people who died.

▼ Today’s Talker

‘One more thing’: Apple unveiled…

… Vision Pro, a virtual reality and augmented reality headset and the company’s most ambitious hardware effort since the iPhone, at its Worldwide Developers Conference yesterday. Among the uses for this new accessory: 3D apps, immersive movies, web surfing and video games. The headset can even replace workplace computer monitors, Apple claims. And familiar apps like FaceTime will be adapted to work on the headset. But at $3,499, this new piece of tech won’t come cheap.

▼ Politics in Brief

2024 election: Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Vice President Mike Pence are both expected to announce their presidential bids this week, marking the most direct challenges so far to Donald Trump

FBI director accused: House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer announced that his panel will start proceedings on Thursday to hold FBI Director Christopher Wray in contempt of Congress.

Pride Month: Mississippi Republicans are demanding that the Department of Veterans Affairs remove a temporary Pride flag from Biloxi National Cemetery, arguing its presence is disrespectful to veterans. 

▼ Staff Pick

A fight to reclaim stolen land

As an East Coast guy, there is always something freeing about visiting California, with its relaxed feel. Still, the ills of white supremacy are at work there as well, dating back to the Gold Rush days. California welcomed enslaved people — and traumatized them. Many enslaved Blacks who were forced to dig gold made enough to pay for their freedom and built wealth buying land. Much of that land was taken from them by whites, including through violence. I found the descendants of three Black families whose ancestors suffered that fate. They found deeds and bills of sale to prove their families owned the land in Sacramento, Napa and Coloma and had it taken from them — and they want it back. Their resolve, you will learn in this piece, is mighty. — Curtis Bunn, NBC BLK reporter

▼ In Case You Missed It

Robert Hanssen, an FBI agent-turned-traitor who spied for the old Soviet Union and later the Russians, was found dead in his cell at a federal supermax prison.

Spring sightings of a mystery critter in California have been confirmed by wildlife officials as most likely a single, rare wolverine.

The mother of the 6-year-old boy, who brought a gun to his Virginia school and shot his teacher, was charged with federal gun crimes.  

A daily pill from AstraZeneca cut lung cancer deaths in half, clinical trial results show.

Actors represented by the union SAG-AFTRA voted to authorize a strike if they don’t agree on a new contract with major studios, streamers and production companies by June 30.

Six women have been found dead in less than three months in the Portland, Oregon, region, but law enforcement said there is no reason to believe the deaths are connected.

▼ Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

Gardening can be therapeutic and a great stress reducer. Whether you have a green thumb or are just now ready to dig in, having the right tools on hand is essential. Here are top-rated garden tools that are ergonomic, versatile, durable and available for purchase right now on Amazon.

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