Ukraine: Russia withdraws from Kharkiv; war’s length to depend on allies
Russian troops are withdrawing from Ukraine’s second-largest city after weeks of heavy bombardment, the Ukrainian military said Saturday as Kyiv and Moscow’s forces engaged in a grinding battle for the country’s east. Ukraine’s general staff said the Russians were pulling back from the northeastern city of Kharkiv and focusing on guarding supply routes, while launching mortar, artillery and airstrikes in the eastern Donetsk region in order to “deplete Ukrainian forces and destroy fortifications.” Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov said Ukraine was “entering a new – long-term – phase of the war.” The developments come as Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly address Friday that although Ukrainians are doing everything they can to resist and drive out Russia, “no one today can predict how long this war will last.” Zelenskyy went on to say it would depend on the assistance offered by Ukrainian allies, calling on “our partners, on European countries, on the entire free world.”
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Abortion-rights groups set to rally from DC to Los Angeles
Protests against the Supreme Court’s leaked draft opinion to overturn the nearly 50-year precedent set by Roe v. Wade are set to culminate Saturday with a nationwide “day of action” featuring marches, rallies and speakers in dozens of cities. The “Bans Off Our Bodies” daylong event is organized by groups including Women’s March and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and some of the largest demonstrations are expected in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington and Austin, Texas, according to organizers. The demonstrations are a “show of solidarity” that “no bans should ever take your freedom and right to make personal medical decisions, including your right to abortion,” said Planned Parenthood national organizing director Brianna Twofoot. Roe v. Wade is the lawsuit that led to the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion in the United States.
Memorial for Naomi Judd to take place in Nashville, air on television
A memorial for late Country Music Hall of Fame singer Naomi Judd will take place Sunday at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. The special “Naomi Judd: A River of Time Celebration” (6 pm ET / PT, CMT) will celebrate her “timeless voice, unforgettable spirit and the immense impact she left on our genre through the best form of healing we have – music, “a statement from CMT producers read. According to CMT, Brandi Carlile, Little Big Town, Emmylou Harris and Allison Russell and Ashley McBryde will all perform at the event. Also, various celebrities will be involved, including Bono, Oprah Winfrey, Morgan Freeman, Salma Hayek and Martina McBride. Judd, the Grammy Award-winning matriarch of hitmaking mother-daughter duo The Judds, died April 30 at 76, a day before she and her daughter Wynonna Judd entered the Country Music Hall of Fame. Wynonna and her sister, actress Ashley Judd, are expected to be involved in the event honoring her mother as well.
Billboard Music Awards set to dazzle in Las Vegas
Las Vegas is set to host the 2022 Billboard Music Awards Sunday (8 pm ET, NBC and Peacock). The Weeknd, up for 17 awards, is the most nominated artist and Doja Cat, with 14 nominations, follows closely behind. The Weeknd and Doja Cat are both nominated for top artist alongside Olivia Rodrigo, Taylor Swift and Drake – the show’s most decorated winner of all time with 29 total awards. But Swift, with her 25 awards, has a chance to surpass Drake this year. Justin Bieber and Ye, who changed his name from Kanye West, are also up for 13 awards. Ye is a strong favorite in the Christian / gospel categories. This year, five new categories were added, four of which are based on Billboard’s global charts, and one measuring viral songs.
Game 7s galore: NHL, NBA set to host a whopping 7 do-or-die playoff games
Some fans will argue the two greatest words in the world of sports are “Game 7.” If that’s you, then we’ve got some good news: there are seven winner-take-all Game 7s this weekend, five in the National Hockey League and two in the National Basketball Association. The action begins Saturday in the NHL with three first-round series finishing up. First, the Boston Bruins visit the Carolina Hurricanes (4:30 pm ET, ESPN). Later, the Tampa Bay Lightning, the defending Stanley Cup champions, head to Toronto to take on the Maple Leafs (7 pm ET, TNT). Finally, the action moves west as the Edmonton Oilers host the Los Angeles Kings (10 pm ET, TNT). On Sunday, the NBA wraps up two hotly contested conference semifinal series with deciding games. In the East, the Boston Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks, the defending NBA champions (3:30 pm ET, ABC). The NBA’s nightcap features the Dallas Mavericks going west again to face the Phoenix Suns (8 pm, TNT). The action-packed weekend shifts back to the NHL Sunday night when the New York Rangers host the Pittsburgh Penguins (7 pm ET, TBS) and the Dallas Stars travel north to take on the Calgary Flames (9:30 pm ET, ESPN2).
Contributing: The Associated Press