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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Thursday.
1. As Russia began a military call-up, waves of men fled the country.
One day after President Vladimir Putin announced a plan to bring 300,000 civilians into military service, thousands of Russians received draft papers and boarded buses to training sites. Many others left the country in a rush, paying rising prices to catch flights to Armenia, Georgia, Montenegro and Turkey, which allow them to enter without visas.
The founder of Kovcheg, a group that helps Russians who oppose the war settle abroad, said her organization had seen a surge in requests for help after Putin’s announcement.
At a U.N. Security Council meeting in New York, Ukraine’s foreign minister said that Putin’s escalation was an announcement of “his defeat.” “He will not win this war,” he added.
In other news about Russia, a New York Times investigation of nearly 160,000 leaked files from Russia’s powerful internet regulator provides a rare glimpse inside Russia’s digital crackdown.
2. Donald Trump insists that as president he could declassify documents “by saying ‘it’s declassified’ — even by thinking about it.” But there’s no evidence that he declassified any of the documents he took home from the White House.
National security experts have dismissed the former president’s claims, saying that he would need to notify others of a declassification for it to have any consequence.
The American public’s view of Trump has remained remarkably stable in recent months, according to the most recent New York Times/Siena College poll. Overall, 44 percent of voters viewed him favorably, and 53 percent viewed him unfavorably.
In Jan. 6 news, a federal judge sentenced a Nazi sympathizer to four years in prison for storming the Capitol. Also, Virginia Thomas, the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas, agreed to sit for an interview with the House committee investigating the attack.
3. Central banks around the world are raising interest rates.
In the last 30 hours, policymakers in the U.S., the U.K. and Switzerland all made it more expensive to borrow money in their countries. The strategy aims to slow down economies in the short term, which can be painful for businesses, to avoid sustained high inflation.
The last time inflation was this elevated, four decades ago, the Fed was able to bring it down from 11 percent to under 4 percent in four years. But it came at the cost of two recessions, sky-high unemployment and horrendous volatility in financial markets.
In Japan, the yen has lost over 20 percent of its value against the dollar over the past year as officials have steadfastly kept interest rates low. The government intervened today to prop up the yen’s value.
4. Herschel Walker, Georgia’s Republican candidate for Senate, said he donated some profits from his company to charity. But there is little evidence of that.
Walker, a former football star, pledged that 15 percent of profits from his food-distribution company would go to charities, naming four in particular. Three of those charities said they had no record or recollection of any gifts from Walker’s company, and the fourth declined to comment.
A campaign spokesman said, “Herschel Walker has given millions of dollars to charities,” but he declined to provide details.
In Indiana, a judge temporarily halted the state’s ban on most abortions a week after the law took effect.
5. In Mississippi, several well-connected figures are accused of pocketing welfare funds.
Federal money earmarked for needy families in Mississippi — the nation’s poorest state — instead went to a motley assortment of political appointees, former football stars, onetime professional wrestlers, business figures and various friends of the state’s former Republican governor, according to a lawsuit filed by the state.
The former football star Brett Favre funneled $1.1 million in welfare funds toward a new volleyball stadium, according to court filings. Ted DiBiase, a retired wrestler, and those around him, received about $5 million for fictitious services and first-class travel.
In other legal news, the Infowars host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones testified before a court that will determine how much he must pay families of Sandy Hook shooting victims who successfully sued him for defamation.
6. The World Bank president, accused of climate denial, offered a response.
David Malpass, the leader of the international financial institution, faced calls from activists and climate experts to be removed from his post after he refused to acknowledge that the burning of fossil fuels is warming the planet.
He tried to restate his views on climate change today, saying in an interview with CNN: “It’s clear that greenhouse gas emissions are coming from man-made sources, including fossil fuels.”
At a New York Times event this week, Malpass would not say whether he accepted that man-made emissions had created a worsening climate crisis. “I’m not a scientist,” he said.
In other climate news, new research shows that smoke from wildfires has worsened over the past decade, potentially reversing decades of improvements made under the Clean Air Act.
7. Why is the Omicron variant sticking around?
When Omicron arrived in November 2021, it was the 13th named variant of the coronavirus in less than a year. But 10 months have passed since then, and the next letter in line, Pi, has yet to arrive.
That’s because the coronavirus may have entered a new stage. All of the virus’s most significant variations now descend from Omicron, which appears to have a remarkable capacity for new tricks. It’s a trend we can expect to continue: At least one new subvariant of Omicron can evade immune responses particularly well.
In other health news, New York State health authorities are investigating eight possible cases of Legionnaires’ disease. Here’s what you should know about spotting symptoms and protecting yourself.
8. Celeste Ng’s “Our Missing Hearts” explores a dystopia uncomfortably close to reality.
In this tale of government scapegoating, Asian people in general and Chinese Americans in particular are held responsible for everything that’s gone wrong. Children of parents considered subversive — such as the book’s main character — are “re-placed” in foster families.
In a review, Stephen King writes that “Ng’s dystopian America is milder, which makes it more believable — and hence, more upsetting.”
Another book recommendation comes from the novelist Andrew Sean, who lists “Maybe,” by Lillian Hellman, among his favorites. “It is the nuttiest book by a wild author; it only makes sense when you realize all the characters are drunk,” he said.
9. They counted Earth’s ants. It’s a big number.
A team of ecologists released the results of a new global census for ants: There are 20 quadrillion — that’s 20 with 15 zeros. Ants outnumber humans at least 2.5 million to 1.
Their abundance is a boon to ecosystems: They spread seeds, churn up soil and speed up decomposition. They forage and hunt and get eaten. “I would argue most ecosystems would simply collapse without ants,” said Patrick Schultheiss, an ecologist.
In other science news, the James Webb Space Telescope took some of the best pictures of Neptune we’ve seen in decades, capturing the planet’s rings in infrared.
10. And finally, the women’s wear that shaped the world.
In many ways, any history of fashion is a history of us all. With that in mind, T Magazine assembled a panel of fashion experts to choose the 25 most influential women’s wear collections since the end of World War II.
There were a few clear favorites — everyone agreed to include at least one season of Comme des Garçons — and many tough omissions. The first the judges agreed on: Yves Saint Laurent’s Spring 1971 collection, all of which was inspired by a single 1940s dress that Saint Laurent’s friend, Paloma Picasso, picked up at a flea market.
Have a stylish evening.
Brent Lewis compiled photos for this briefing.
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