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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Wednesday.
1. Justice Stephen Breyer, the senior member of the Supreme Court’s liberal wing, will retire.
The decision provides President Biden a chance to make good on his pledge to name a Black woman to the court. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson of the powerful US Court of Appeals, Justice Leondra Kruger of the California Supreme Court and Judge J. Michelle Childs, a federal district judge, are among the leading candidates to succeed Breyer.
Democrats, who control the Senate by a narrow margin, may have to act quickly ahead of the midterms. Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, wants the entire process to take weeks, not months. The party could confirm a justice without GOP support under rules that shield Supreme Court nominations from a filibuster, but would have to hold their majority to do so.
2. The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged but said an increase would “soon” be warranted, citing high inflation and the strong labor market.
3. The US delivered a written response to the Kremlin’s demands that NATO pull back forces from Eastern Europe and bar Ukraine from ever joining the alliance.
The US response, based on close consultation with European allies, “sets out a serious diplomatic path forward should Russia choose it,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, adding that he expected to speak in the coming days with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov . Russia has insisted for weeks that the US provide written responses before it would decide on its next course of action.
President Biden said that he would be willing to sanction President Vladimir Putin, but it’s unlikely that much of Putin’s wealth is in the US
4. Who is more prone to developing long Covid?
New research hints at four factors that may increase the chances: the presence of certain autoantibodies; the level of viral load early in the infection; the reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus; and Type 2 diabetes. The researchers and other experts said that it might turn out that diabetes is only one of several medical conditions that increase the risk of long Covid.
Separately, while Omicron surges appear to be cresting in some nations, new cases are still climbing in regions with low vaccination rates. The global vaccine gap could set the stage for another dangerous variant, the World Health Organization said.
5. The US Coast Guard continued its search for 38 people whose boat capsized in the Florida Straits over the weekend, but the prospects of survival are fading.
The search operation began at about 8 am yesterday when a 25-foot boat was reported capsized. One man was rescued and told the authorities that they had left the Bahamas on Saturday night. No one was wearing a life jacket. The voyage appeared to be part of a human-smuggling operation, the Coast Guard said.
A recent surge in maritime smuggling of migrants to Florida and California has occurred as technology deployed along the land borders has made it increasingly difficult to elude capture. In the past year, some 700 people have been intercepted at sea off South Florida.
6. A Kurdish-led militia said it had recaptured a Syrian prison from the Islamic State.
After six days of deadly battles in northeastern Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces besieged the remaining militants into surrender, three militia officials said. The reassertion of control ended one of the most audacious attacks by Islamic State fighters in three years.
ISIS had attacked the prison, in the city of Hasaka, in an effort to free thousands of the group’s fighters, who had been taken captive as the caliphate fell apart, as well as about 700 boys whose families had joined the militant group. SDF officials had deemed the children dangerous, but human rights activists said their detention could violate international law and potentially radicalize them, creating a new generation of jihadists.
7. Iceberg A68a, one of the biggest icebergs ever seen, has melted. It broke off from the Antarctic Peninsula in 2017.
In its prime, A68a was more than 100 miles long, 30 miles wide and nearly 800 feet thick, though all but 120 feet of that was hidden below the waterline. As it traveled to the South Atlantic, it melted from below, eventually releasing about 150 billion tons of fresh water into the sea and meeting its end near the island of South Georgia.
New research reveals a potential threat from the meltwater to ecosystems near the island: The influx of so much fresh water could affect plankton and other organisms in the marine food chain.
In other climate news, older Americans who regularly breathe even low levels of soot face a greater chance of dying early, according to a major study.
8. A new generation is about to be introduced to America’s profoundest and most challenging sculptor, our critic Jason Farago writes.
With four surveys, including at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, Charles Ray has redefined his art form in a flat-screen world. His monumental sculptures are rooted in everyday American culture, but unlike contemporaries such as Jeff Koons, Ray has channeled his Americana through a deep engagement with the whole history of Western sculpture.
The potter Keith Brymer Jones also finds inspiration in the everyday: He hosts “The Great Pottery Throw Down,” where the work of skilled amateurs regularly brings him to tears.
9. Fashion was supposed to be back. But the return never quite happened. So what do we wear now?
At this week’s couture shows in Paris, Schiaparelli, Chanel and Dior grappled gorgeously with the question. “That’s the alchemy of the gig: to take even our general malaise, and make it into something beautiful,” writes Vanessa Friedman, our chief fashion critic.
The men’s shows also offered up a mood elevator. Storied labels like Dior and Hermès doubled down on heritage; Rick Owens’s collection was inspired by his recent trip to Egypt; and Jonathan Anderson at Loewe used fiber optics to flirt with the metaverse.
10. And finally, slurp.
Few pleasures compare to a long cool drink on a hot day. Scientists have known for some time that thirst is controlled by neurons that send an alert when you’ve had a big enough gulp. Now they’re starting to understand what tells those neurons that your thirst has been quenched.
In mice, scientists followed the signals that shut down thirst down the neck, through one of the body’s most important nerves, into the gut and finally to an unexpected place: a set of small veins in the liver. Water changes the concentration of nutrients in your blood, and researchers believe that this is the trigger for real satiation.
Have a refreshing night.
Eve Edelheit compiled photos for this briefing.
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