First Thing: Putin may formally annex Ukrainian territories on Friday

<span>Photograph: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Anatolii Stepanov/AFP/Getty Images

Good morning.

Vladimir Putin is scheduled to address both houses of Russian parliament on Friday 30 September, and may use the address to formally announce the accession of Russian occupied territories of Ukraine into Russia, the British Ministry of Defence has said in its latest intelligence update:

“There is a realistic possibility that Putin will use his address to formally announce the accession of the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation. The referendums currently under way within these territories are scheduled to conclude on 27 September.”

Russia’s leaders almost certainly hope that any accession announcement will be seen as a vindication of the “special military operation” and will consolidate patriotic support for the conflict.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Maritime Authority said it had issued a warning of two leaks on the Russian-owned Nord Stream 1 pipeline in Swedish and Danish waters, shortly after an unprecedented leak on the nearby Nord Stream 2 project was discovered.

Meadows was central to hundreds of texts about overturning 2020 election, book says

Mark Meadows
Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows turned text messages over to the January 6 committee. Photograph: Alex Brandon/AP

Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s former White House chief of staff, was at the center of hundreds of incoming messages about ways to aid Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to texts he turned over to the House January 6 select committee that have been published in a new book.

The texts included previously unreported messages, including a group chat with Trump administration cabinet officials and plans to object to Joe Biden’s election certification on January 6 by Republican members of Congress and one former US attorney, as well as other Trump allies.

The book, The Breach, was obtained by the Guardian before its scheduled publication on Tuesday. Written by the former Republican congressman and senior adviser to the investigation Denver Riggleman, the work has already become controversial after being condemned by the panel as “unauthorized”.

  • Didn’t we already know about the texts? Though most of the texts sent to and from Meadows that Riggleman includes have been public for months, the book offers new insight and fills some gaps about how all three branches of government were seemingly involved in strategizing ways to obstruct the congressional certification on January 6.

Nasa successfully crashes spacecraft into asteroid in planetary defense test

A multimillion-dollar spacecraft collided head-on with an asteroid the size of a football stadium yesterday in an unprecedented test of Nasa’s capacity to defend Earth from a doomsday scenario.

Nasa’s craft successfully crashed into the asteroid Dimorphos 6.8m miles from Earth. The mission, known as Dart (double asteroid redirection test), marked humanity’s first attempt at moving another celestial body, with the goal of seeing if a large asteroid hurtling toward our planet could be successfully diverted.

The spacecraft collided with the asteroid at 15,000mph at 7.14pm EDT. Livestreamed video showed the asteroid’s rubble-strewn surface looming into focus before the spacecraft hit and cheers erupted in the mission control room. Teams of Nasa and Johns Hopkins University scientists hugged each other as Dart’s successful impact with Dimorphos was confirmed.

Shortly after impact, Lori Glaze, Nasa’s planetary science division director, declared it a “new era of humankind”.

  • Haven’t I seen this story before? Kind of. A relatively similar strategy involving a nuclear missile rather than an unmanned spacecraft failed during a significant moment in the plot of Morgan Freeman’s fictional 1998 planetary disaster film Deep Impact.

In other news …

  • Renowned US ski mountaineer Hilaree Nelson has gone missing on Nepal’s Manaslu mountain, on the same day that an avalanche killed a Nepali climber on the same peak, officials said. Nelson was skiing down Manaslu after having successfully summited the world’s eighth-highest mountain with her partner.

  • Putin signed a decree yesterday granting Russian citizenship to the US whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden, 39, a former US intelligence contractor, has been living in Russia since 2013 to escape prosecution in the US after leaking secret files, published by the Guardian.

  • The Republican congressmen Louie Gohmert and Paul Gosar adopted such extreme, conspiracy-tinged positions a colleague thought they “may have had serious cognitive issues”. Riggleman, the former congressman, reports his impression in a new book.

  • A state funeral for Japan’s longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, has been held in Tokyo amid public anger over the cost of the ceremony and revelations over his party’s ties to a controversial religious group. More than 4,000 guests, including the US vice-president, Kamala Harris, paid their respects yesterday.

Stat of the day: John Cena sets ‘herculean’ record for most wishes granted to children

US pro-wrestler John Cena
US pro-wrestler John Cena fulfilled 650 wishes through a not-for-profit organisation that helps children who are gravely sick or dying. Photograph: NBC/Getty Images

After vanquishing seemingly countless foes in the ring as well as on the screen, the US pro-wrestler and actor John Cena has notched one more mark on his body count. He has set the new record for the most wishes granted through the Make-A-Wish Foundation, the not-for-profit that helps fulfil the wishes of children who are gravely sick or dying. Cena achieved the record after granting 650 wishes to kids between the ages of two and 18 whose families contacted Make-A-Wish, said Guinness officials, who verified the tally on 19 July.

Don’t miss this: Why does America sell 138,000 pumpkin spice things?

Pumpkin spice season, which officially began the last Tuesday of August when Starbucks released its fall drinks menu, is not the same as fall. It’s more about the idea of fall, writes Aimee Levitt. It’s such a lovely idea that other coffee shops and grocery stores, in a quest to beat Starbucks at its own game, have started rolling out their pumpkin spice products. Increasingly unlikely and downright gross products now offer pumpkin spice options, including bone broth protein, deodorant and poppers. There’s nothing that can’t be pumpkined. We crunch the numbers on the taste that became an industry

… or this: Survivors have their say in 2017 Vegas shooting series

People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after gunfire is heard on October 1 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
People run from the Route 91 Harvest country music festival after gunfire is heard on October 1 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photograph: David Becker/Getty Images

The creators of 11 Minutes, a new documentary miniseries streaming on Paramount Plus about the devastating 2017 attack on country musical festival attendees, want to break one harrowing day out of the numbing stream of bad news. The film-makers decided to do this by giving survivors the opportunity to take control of their narrative. “If you’re touched, if one of your loved ones is affected by this, it never goes away,” director Jeff Zimbalist tells the Guardian. “But the news moves on, people go to the next headline. So, how do you continue to engage people? You tell it through the archive, through the journeys of people with unexpected stories.”

Climate check: The most urgent climate stories of our time

This year will be remembered as a watershed year for the escalating climate crisis. Dozens of countries have been hit by extreme weather so far in 2022. Millions have been driven from their homes by flood, fire or drought, while food and energy shortages are becoming acute in many regions. Increasingly, extreme weather events are being caused by climate breakdown. The Guardian’s global team of environment reporters have covered the events – and their impact – around the world, around the clock. Here are some of the most urgent climate stories of our time.

Last Thing: Feral pigs torment residents in New Zealand capital

Captain Cooker Pig at Hinakura Station, Wairarapa, North Island, New Zealand.
New Zealand’s feral pig population descended from pigs brought out on colonial ships in the late 1700s. Photograph: Geoff Marshall/Alamy

Marauding feral pigs have blighted a central suburb in New Zealand’s capital, killing kid goats at an urban farm, intimidating dogs and turning up in residents’ gardens. It was difficult to put precise numbers on how many pigs were running wild in the area, but “there has clearly been an upsurge”, said Richard MacLean, the council’s spokesperson. “People tend to think of Wellington city as this pristine place where you couldn’t possibly have pigs or goats,” MacLean said, but the wild animals were hindering the council’s efforts to regenerate native bush and bring back birdlife.

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