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Morning Rundown: Air quality alerts, Virginia shooting latest and the PGA Tour-LIV Golf merger

More smoke from Canada’s raging wildfires is expected to continue covering a large region of the United States today, forecasters say, leaving millions of people under unhealthy air quality conditions.
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Smoke from Canada's wildfires casts a haze over the United States. The field of candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination expands. And Ukraine rushes to evacuate tens of thousands of people from flooding after the destruction of a crucial dam.

Here’s what to know today.

Wildfire smoke and hazy skies cloud a wide swath of the U.S.

More smoke from Canada’s raging wildfires is expected to continue covering a large region of the United States today, forecasters say, leaving millions of people under unhealthy air quality conditions on the East Coast, in the Midwest and even in parts of the South.

Late last night, New York City Public Schools said it would cancel outdoor activities because of the air quality. As of 1 a.m. Eastern, the city ranked second among major cities for the worst air quality in the world. Detroit ranked third. 

National Weather Service forecasters said widespread haze is expected this morning. Here’s the latest on today’s conditions.

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According to the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Center, some 414 fires were burning in Canada as of yesterday evening, including 239 that were considered “out of control.” More than 6.7 million acres have already burned year, making this year one of the worst starts to the wildfire season ever recorded in Canada.

What to know about poor air quality

Ukraine dam destruction’s looming threats

The Kakhovka dam is crucial. It provides drinking water for entire cities and coolant for a nearby nuclear plant. Now, its destruction looks set to have profound consequences for the war and the region itself — and both Ukraine and Russia have blamed the other for the incident. 

How bad could the damage be? While it may take some time for the scale of the destruction to become clear, there are already major concerns. Early worries turned to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, which uses water from the dam’s reservoir to cool its Soviet-era reactors, though the IAEA says there is no immediate danger. The impact could also harm food supplies for the crop-rich region known as Europe’s breadbasket, where the deluge could cut off irrigation to more than 600,000 acres of agricultural land and spread possibly toxic sediment downstream. 

Follow live updates as thousands flee flooded Kherson here

Mike Pence launches 2024 presidential bid

Add Mike Pence to the list of candidates vying for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. The former vice president — who certified the 2020 election results while under threat from supporters of Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021 — kicked off his bid for the Oval Office this morning. There is little question that the former Indiana governor and six-time congressman faces a steep uphill battle to win his party’s vote.

Pence is one of three candidates to enter the Republican primary field this week. Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie jumped in yesterday. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum is expected to launch his campaign today.

2 killed in shooting after Virginia high school graduation

An 18-year-old man and 36-year-old man were killed in a shooting yesterday after a high school graduation ceremony held on the Virginia Commonwealth University campus, Richmond police said. The teen had just graduated high school. Five other people were injured.

Police took a 19-year-old suspect into custody. A second person who was taken into custody was uninvolved in the shooting. Here’s what else we know.

The contrasting comebacks of two California lakes

After this winter’s historic snowfall, some of California’s biggest lakes are making dramatic comebacks in ways that could reshape the landscape in historic — and perhaps unexpected — ways. 

First, there’s Owens Lake, which you may know from the movie “Chinatown.” In the early 1900s, much of the valley’s water was diverted more than 230 miles away to Los Angeles, touching off violent “water wars” that inspired the movie. This year, the lake is back, but the new water threatens to damage infrastructure designed to keep down dust — and may ultimately cause more air pollution. 

About a 2½-hour drive north, this season’s heavy flows could accelerate Mono Lake’s restoration. Climate reporter Evan Bush dives into the differing effects the influx of water could have on these two lakes.

▼ Today’s Talker

The ‘Vanderpump Rules’ reunion finale promises…

… to include a dramatic reveal in the final five minutes of tonight’s show. Fan theories are all over the place, but the big surprise is not the only reason they will be tuning in. In the past few months, the Bravo reality show has become one of the hottest topics in pop culture after the revelation of a secret relationship between series regulars Tom and Raquel. If you, like me, are just catching up, you probably have a few questions: Who are Tom and Raquel? What is Scandoval? And why should anyone care?

▼ Politics in Brief

Debt deal fallout: A band of 11 House conservatives took the rare step of joining all Democrats to block a pair of GOP bills to protect gas stoves in order to express their anger at Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Ron DeSantis: He promised to drain the swamp in Tallahassee. Instead, over more than four years as Florida’s governor, DeSantis has reconfigured the swamp to suit his political needs, and his claim to be a reformer is getting fresh scrutiny.

Trump investigations: About two dozen Secret Service agents have been subpoenaed or have appeared before a federal grand jury in Washington that is looking into Donald Trump’s handling of calssified documents, two sources familiar with the matter confirmed.

Supreme Court: The high court will release annual financial disclosure reports today that list earnings, assets, gifts and stock holdings, as part of the judiciary’s recently restated commitment to ethics standards. 

Immigration: California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to launch an investigation into flights of migrants flown to Sacramento, saying he believes it’s clear a crime was committed. 

▼ Staff Pick

Housing court ‘culture shift’

As Detroit’s housing court resumed in-person this week for the first time in three years, reporter Erin Einhorn found the court system had changed. The city reported some 10,000 evictions annually pre-pandemic, but the numbers had dropped significantly. And instead of facing default judgements for missed hearings, low-income tenants now have free lawyers and a system with second chances. Advocates worry, though, that evictions may soon spike again as tenants are forced to find their way to court. — Susan Carroll, senior enterprise editor

▼ In Case You Missed It

Pope Francis will be put under general anesthesia and hospitalized for several days after today’s surgery on his intestine, two years after he had 13 inches of his colon removed.

The merger of the PGA Tour and Saudi-backed LIV Golf marks a stunning end to their rivalry. Here’s what the PGA had to gain from the deal.

About ducking time: Apple will tweak its autocorrect feature from annoyingly correcting one of the most common expletives.

A Florida high school softball star and her mother were brutally stabbed by the teen’s ex-boyfriend as they were leaving a restaurant.

A popular infant pillow has now been linked to at least 10 babies’ deaths since 2015, federal regulators said.

Pete Davidson has “no idea what’s going on” with the Staten Island ferry he purchased while “very stoned.”

Prince Harry said tabloid editors have “blood on their hands” as he spoke of the impact that newspaper articles had on his life and his late mother.

▼ Select: Online Shopping, Simplified

May was an eventful month for the Select team, as they highlighted Mother’s Day gift ideas, Memorial Day sales and debuted their Best of Wellness Awards. Now, they’re sharing readers’ most-purchased items from last month, including sunscreens for oily skin, sleep masks and cookbooks.

Thanks for reading today’s Morning Rundown. Today’s newsletter was curated for you by Elizabeth Robinson. If you’re a fan, please send a link to your family and friends. They can sign-up here.