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News brief: Russia-Ukraine war, Florida governor's race, Breonna Taylor case

A MARTINEZ, HOST:

It's been six months since Russia launched its full-scale invasion on Ukraine.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Now it is a war of attrition, with both sides seeing heavy casualties. The war has led to a global food crisis, inflation across the world and devastation in Ukraine.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Elissa Nadworny joins us now from Kyiv. Elissa, heard it was a restless night for people in Ukraine.

ELISSA NADWORNY, BYLINE: That's right. Yeah, we started our day here in Kyiv with a 6:30 a.m. air raid siren. Actually, most of Ukraine woke up that way. And there's been more here since then. Several cities last night had missile strikes, but in the capital so far, the streets are mostly quiet. There's a larger military and police presence here. Both Ukrainian officials and U.S. intelligence agencies have said Russia is likely to increase attacks on civilian infrastructure and government buildings in the coming days here. And the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv issued a new security alert this week and urged U.S. citizens to leave the country.

MARTINEZ: And all this as Ukraine celebrates its independence from the Soviet Union 31 years ago. What's the mood like there?

NADWORNY: That's right, yeah. Well, there's a lot of emotion, certainly. I mean, it's not lost on Ukrainians that they are celebrating their independence while actively fighting for independence. I spoke with a husband and wife about this, Igor and Olha Lysenko. Let's listen.

IGOR LYSENKO: I feel more independence in this day than any day in the year before.

OLHA LYSENKO: (Non-English language spoken).

NADWORNY: So Olha is saying she really didn't pay attention to the holiday before. It was a date to party, go to a concert. But now the holiday has new meaning, and she said it's really important to her.

MARTINEZ: Elissa, you're in Kyiv. Are there any celebrations there?

NADWORNY: Well, public celebrations are banned here in the capital. There's a curfew. A lot of people we've talked to are laying low, working from home, or they're getting out of town, heading west. The city did kind of celebrate in a way. They placed these wrecked and burned-out Russian tanks along the city's main boulevard. I was out there last night, and it was packed, thousands of people taking a look. That's where I met Rooslana Harbizouk. She was out with her two kids.

ROOSLANA HARBIZOUK: (Non-English language spoken).

NADWORNY: She told me, this year, she's feeling more sad than celebratory. She's still a bit afraid. She's going to be extra careful today. But, you know, she's saying Ukraine, she believes, is still going to win the war, and like many Ukrainians, she isn't ready to give up territory.

MARTINEZ: You know, back at the beginning of the war, businesses and industries pretty much shut down. They shut down normal operations and were only making weapons or even Molotov cocktails. Is that still happening?

NADWORNY: So we're definitely out of the Molotov cocktail phase, but this country - it feels like there's two Ukraines. Here in Kyiv, businesses are back. Restaurants are open. In a lot of ways, life is closer to normal. But in places like Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, closer to the front lines or on the border with Russia, it's a totally different story - shelling most nights, many, many businesses still shuttered. Really, two different worlds.

MARTINEZ: Yeah. Elissa, let's take a step back for a second. I mean, after six months, what's been the cost for Ukraine?

NADWORNY: So after six months, Russia now occupies about a fifth, 20%, of Ukraine. So we're talking a lot of land. And then, you know, it's also had a really devastating effect on the people here. Infrastructure is damaged in many places. Take schools - you know, the school year is set to get underway way here next week, but more than 2,000 schools have been damaged. Almost 300 have been destroyed. According to the U.N., more than 12 million people have been displaced. About half of them have left the country and are spread out across Europe.

MARTINEZ: NPR's Elissa Nadworny in Kyiv, Ukraine. Elissa, thanks a lot.

NADWORNY: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTINEZ: Poll results are in for Florida's primary.

MARTIN: Right. And Democrat Charlie Crist will be facing incumbent Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in the November general election. Crist served as Florida's governor before, more than a decade ago, when he was still a Republican. He is now a Democrat and a member of Congress who has his sights set on returning to the governor's mansion in Tallahassee.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CHARLIE CRIST: We can unite Democrats, independents and many Republicans who care about our Florida, and we will defeat Ron DeSantis.

(CHEERING)

MARTINEZ: NPR's Greg Allen has been following all of this in Miami. Greg, Crist won the nomination over a younger leader in the party, Florida's Agriculture Secretary Nikki Fried. Now can he unseat Ron DeSantis?

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: Well, that will be a difficult task, one that Crist says he's up for. DeSantis is very popular among Republicans in Florida. It's akin to the loyalty we saw Trump receive from Republicans nationally. DeSantis has more than $130 million currently in the bank. That gets him more than enough money to blanket Florida's 10 media markets with ads. He rolled one out yesterday that's gotten some attention. To take off on the Tom Cruise "Top Gun" films, it shows DeSantis wearing a jumpsuit and helmet in the cockpit of a fighter jet.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RON DESANTIS: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This is your governor speaking. Today's training evolution - dogfighting, taking on the corporate media. The rules...

ALLEN: It's an ad that kind of highlights DeSantis' pugnacious style, and it's likely going to play well with his supporters.

MARTINEZ: Now, how do you expect that Charlie Crist will respond? I mean, will he have enough money to run an effective campaign?

ALLEN: Well, this is going to be a very high-profile campaign that gets a lot of attention nationally, and donations from both candidates will flow in from around the country. One consultant I spoke with said that Crist should get at least 50 or $60 million at least to work with, more than enough to run his ads. In terms of themes, here's an ad that Crist has already been running.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CRIST: Think about what's at stake in Florida. Governor Ron DeSantis bullies schoolchildren. He wants to outlaw abortion, even for victims of rape and incest. He opposes any background checks on guns, even for violent criminals. And he cares more about running for the White House than your house.

ALLEN: You know, Charlie Crist is a very familiar name in Florida. This would be his seventh run for statewide office, and that brings pros and cons with it. Democrats hope he can be a reassuring voice who will appeal to Democrats and independents. The question will be whether he can generate enough enthusiasm among Democrats to bring out large numbers of voters to the polls.

MARTINEZ: Greg, what about DeSantis? I mean, what kind of campaign do you expect that he'll run?

ALLEN: Well, he's fought with the Biden administration over COVID policy and immigration, and he'll continue to highlight that battle. He's really embraced culture wars issues. And by that, I mean things like abortion ban, which is signed after 15 weeks. He's taken aim at transgender athletes and worked to restrict transition medical care for minors. He's signed what he's called his anti-woke legislation, which restricts how issues involving race are discussed in the schools and even in corporate training materials. And that's being tied up in the courts right now. The talk about ideas being woke has become a major campaign theme for him, and he's using it to build his national stature as he considers a possible bid for the White House.

Last week, he was in Pennsylvania campaigning with the Republican gubernatorial nominee there, Doug Mastriano.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DESANTIS: We must fight the woke in our schools. We must fight the woke in our businesses. We must fight the woke in government agencies. We can never, ever surrender to woke ideology.

(CHEERING)

ALLEN: Another thing that is in DeSantis' favor is that Florida, which has long been considered a swing state, has trended more and more Republican in recent years. Democrats held a voter registration edge for many years, but that's no longer the case. There are now more registered Republicans than Democrats in Florida now. And every official elected statewide in the last election, except for one, is Republican.

MARTINEZ: That's NPR's Greg Allen previewing the race for governor in Florida. Greg, thanks.

ALLEN: You're welcome.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MARTINEZ: A former Louisville detective has admitted that she falsified the search warrant that led to the police killing of Breonna Taylor and lied to investigators about it afterwards.

MARTIN: Kelly Goodlett pleaded guilty to a federal conspiracy charge in Louisville, Ky. She is one of four white former police officers charged in the case. Breonna Taylor was a 26-year-old Black woman, and her killing helped set off a wave of protests over police brutality all across this country and beyond in 2020.

MARTINEZ: Billy Kobin of The Courier-Journal has been covering this story. He joins us now from Louisville. Billy, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by police in 2020. Tell us what was learned in court and what's happening with this case.

BILLY KOBIN: Yesterday, Kelly Hanna Goodlett pleaded guilty, as y'all said. And basically, it was a pretty standard hearing in which she was expected to plead guilty, and that's what she did. As she appeared, she mostly answered questions from the judge yesterday in federal court, saying, you know, yes, your honor, and yes, ma'am, in terms of understanding the charges against her.

And then the prosecution with the Department of Justice laid out, again, some of the facts, which are that she helped basically lie on a search warrant that was obtained to search Breonna Taylor's apartment in March of 2020 and that she then worked with another detective at the time to kind of come up with a story that they would tell investigators that was false to connect Breonna to a former boyfriend who had been convicted of drug dealing. And that's how officers kind of got the way in to her apartment.

MARTINEZ: Billy, what was the courtroom like? You were in there. I mean, what was the reaction of Breonna Taylor's mom?

KOBIN: Sure. Tamika Palmer, who is Breonna's mom, was there. There was not much reaction yesterday inside the federal courtroom. It's usually very, you know, protected. Nobody is allowed to have phones. Nobody is really allowed to, you know, shout, whereas sometimes in state court hearings, you have people with phones, and you might hear more gasps and reactions. So it was very kind of muted and serious and kind of straightforward. And then after the hearing, Ms. Palmer did not come outside immediately to talk with any reporters. No attorneys came outside. So it was very kind of a faster hearing yesterday and then no real reaction afterwards.

Ms. Palmer was wearing a shirt that said say her name on the back. And she later did post on her Instagram feed a photo of Goodlett, the detective, that basically said, Kelly Hanna Goodlett pleads guilty to federal charge. But that was about it as way of reaction yesterday.

MARTINEZ: You mentioned Goodlett. What's in store for her and the other officers charged in this case?

KOBIN: So the judge and prosecutors and defense agreed yesterday to schedule a sentencing hearing for November. However, the judge said that the hearing for Ms. Goodlett is likely to get delayed, given that there are several detectives who are also obviously charged - and officers, I should say. The other sentencing hearings are currently scheduled for October, but those also could get delayed, given the complexity of the different cases. So we'll have to wait and see what happens there.

MARTINEZ: That's Billy Kobin of The Courier-Journal in Louisville. Billy, thanks.

KOBIN: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.
A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.