First Thing: Ukraine rejects Russia’s demand to surrender Mariupol

Show caption Kyiv says ‘no question’ of surrender in Mariupol as it defies Russia’s deadline. Photograph: Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters First Thing First Thing: Ukraine rejects Russia’s demand to surrender Mariupol Moscow offers safe passages to fighters who give in, as US says Joe Biden will visit Poland. Plus, Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings begin Nicola Slawson Mon 21 Mar 2022 10.15 GMT Share on Facebook

Share on Twitter

Share via Email

Good morning.

Ukraine has defied an ultimatum by the Russian military for its forces to surrender the city of Mariupol, as shelling continued in Kyiv and the US president, Joe Biden, announced that he would visit Ukraine’s western neighbour Poland this week.

Despite Mariupol being besieged by Russian forces for almost four weeks, the Ukrainian government in Kyiv gave short shrift to Moscow’s demand for the city’s defenders to “lay down arms” by 5am Moscow time (2amGMT) on Monday.

Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Iryna Vereshchuk, said that there could be no question of surrender.

Meanwhile, Biden will fly to Europe for the summit with Nato allies, G7 leaders and European Union leaders and will then travel to Poland on Friday to discuss the “humanitarian and human rights crisis” Russia’s actions have caused, the White House said on late last night.

What did Vereshchuk say? “There can be no talk of any surrenders, laying down of arms. We have already informed the Russian side about this,” she said.

Are diplomatic efforts continuing? Yes, Biden will host a call today with president Emmanuel Macron of France, chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, and the British prime minister, Boris Johnson.

What else is happening? Here’s everything we know on day 26 of the invasion.

Ketanji Brown Jackson hearings begin – could Republicans sink her chances?

Ketanji Brown Jackson could become the first Black woman in supreme court’s history. Photograph: Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters

Ketanji Brown Jackson appears before the Senate judiciary committee today, at the start of confirmation hearings that could see her become the first Black woman to sit on the US supreme court since it was founded more than two centuries ago.

The hearings, scheduled to run for four days, are critical not just for their history-making potential. Whether Joe Biden succeeds in placing his nominee on the nation’s highest court, ideally with bipartisan backing, could help to make or break his presidency.

Jackson, at 51, would be the second youngest member of the nine-person court after Amy Coney Barrett, should she survive the upcoming white-water ride. Though her appointment would leave the six-to-three rightwing balance of the court – she would replace fellow liberal-leaning Stephen Breyer – she could play a seminal role in shaping the country’s legal landscape for decades to come.

What happens today? Today’s hearing will be devoted to opening statements from Jackson and from the committee’s 22 senators, who are evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans.

When will a decision be made? Two days of questioning of the candidate will follow today’s hearing, with outside witnesses called on Thursday. A full vote of the Senate is expected to determine Jackson’s fate before a recess on 8 April.

Chinese plane with 133 people onboard crashes in Guangxi province

A China Eastern passenger jet prepares to take off on a test flight from Beijing Daxing international airport in 2019. Photograph: Ng Han Guan/AP

A Chinese airliner with 133 people onboard has crashed in the southern province of Guangxi, sparking a mountainside fire, state media reported.

Broadcaster CCTV said the crash, involving a China Eastern 737, occurred near the city of Wuzhou in Teng county. It said rescuers had been dispatched and there were no immediate details of the numbers of dead and injured.

The Boeing 737 plane went down in the countryside near Wuzhou city, Guangxi region, and caused a mountain fire, CCTV said, citing the provincial emergency management bureau.

Local media reported that China Eastern flight MU5735 had not arrived at its scheduled destination in Guangzhou after it took off from the city of Kunming shortly after 1pm (5am GMT) on Monday, citing airport staff.

Has China Eastern commented yet? No. There was no immediate response from China Eastern when contacted by AFP.

In other news …

Biden’s chief medical adviser also says the US is ‘clearly going in the right direction’ on the pandemic. Photograph: Reuters

The US is likely to see an increase in Covid cases like that in Europe and the UK as a result of the BA.2 virus subvariant, but not a dangerous surge, Anthony Fauci said yesterday . Biden’s chief medical adviser also said the US was “clearly going in the right direction” on the coronavirus pandemic.

Republicans who support Vladimir Putin over the Russian invasion of Ukraine are “lonely voices” in the party, Mitch McConnell said. Republicans in Washington have expressed concern that Carlson has veered too close to defending the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

The Biden administration intends to declare that Myanmar’s years-long repression of the Rohingya Muslim population is a “genocide”, US officials said yesterday . The secretary of state, Antony Blinken, plans to make the long-anticipated designation today at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Morad Tahbaz, the British-Iranian-American citizen left behind last week when two dual nationals were allowed to return home to the UK, has been taken from Evin prison to a hotel in Tehran after representations by the British and American governments, the UK’s Foreign Office has said.

Stat of the day: Chinese article urging country to cut ties with Putin gets 1m views

The Chinese president Xi Jinping (right) with the Russian president Vladimir Putin in Beijing in February. Photograph: Alexei Druzhinin/AP

When an essay from a prominent Shanghai scholar suggested China needed to cut ties with Putin as soon as possible over the Ukraine war, the online reaction was swift. Despite being published late on a Friday evening in the Carter Center’s US-China Perception Monitor, Hu Wei’s essay soon gained a million views in and outside China, and was republished into Chinese blogs, non-official media sites and social media accounts. Then came the backlash and by yesterday morning, their websites were blocked in China.

Don’t miss this: Chloë Sevigny on hipsters, Hollywood, fame and family

Chloe Sevigny: ‘Kate Winslet had the world at her feet. I just aspired to be on the cover of the Face.’ Photograph: Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP

Chloë Sevigny has had a unique career path. She’s switched between indie films and sitcoms, taken risky roles and lived a parallel life as a style idol, which has given her a cult celebrity. She has skirted the mainstream for years, never quite becoming a household name. But to some – those who grew up reading the magazines that tracked her years as a 1990s cool girl via films such as Kids and Gummo – she is a fashion and arthouse superstar. Here she tells Emine Saner about about being an indie icon.

… or this: My sleepy brain loves the sound of permanent daylight savings. But do scientists agree?

Sleep experts say more light in the evening hours is not the best match to our circadian rhythms. Photograph: Radharc Images/Alamy

Sleep-deprived Americans may be rejoicing, if they have the energy: it could be the last time daylight saving time kills a precious hour of snoozing. But those extra hours of evening light could come at a cost. Last Tuesday, days after we moved our clocks forward, the Senate – which refuses to tackle the climate crisis or ensure people can vote – somehow managed to unanimously support a bill to make daylight saving time permanent. But sleep experts warn they are taking the wrong approach to a real problem.

Climate check: Heatwaves at both of Earth’s poles alarm climate scientists

A drop of water falls off an iceberg melting in the Nuup Kangerlua Fjord in south-west Greenland. Photograph: David Goldman/AP

Startling heatwaves at both of Earth’s poles are causing alarm among climate scientists, who have warned the “unprecedented” events could signal faster and abrupt climate breakdown. Temperatures in Antarctica reached record levels at the weekend, an astonishing 40C above normal in places. At the same time, weather stations near the north pole also showed signs of melting, with some temperatures 30C above normal, hitting levels normally attained far later in the year.

What’s causing ‘extraordinary’ heating in polar regions? Here’s what the experts have told us about how unusual this is and why it is happening.

Last Thing: When is a window not a window? Bewley’s Cafe claims stained glass are moveable artworks in court

Harry Clarke’s stained glass windows – are they movable art or part of the structure of Bewley’s Café. A court will decide. Photograph: AA World Travel Library/Alamy

Bewley’s Cafe on Grafton Street has been a Dublin institution ever since it opened almost 100 years ago but it is facing an existential threat over a plan to sell the six large stained glass windows in the main coffee hall in a dispute over rent. The question as to whether they are windows or decorative panels, which can be removed altogether, is now at the centre of a high court battle – with the commercial tenants arguing that they are movable artworks, not windows.

Sign up

First Thing is delivered to thousands of inboxes every weekday. If you’re not already signed up, subscribe now.

Get in touch

If you have any questions or comments about any of our newsletters please email [email protected]