Your Wednesday Evening Briefing – The New York Times

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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Wednesday.

2. Consumer prices are still rising fast, though inflation has flattened slightly.

The Consumer Price Index was up by 8.3 percent in April, a new report found. Inflation moderated by a small amount for the first time in months, partly because gas prices dropped. But core inflation, a measure of where inflation is headed, increased.

Food prices also rose sharply last month. President Biden, touring an Illinois farm, called inflation his “top economic priority.” He said his administration would offer more insurance to farmers who planted a second crop in a year, help farmers access technology that reduces the need for fertilizers and double federal investment in fertilizer production.

Stocks fell on the mixed inflation report. Consider this advice from our Strategies columnist.

3. E.U. talks over a bid for a continentwide Russian oil embargo broke off today after Hungarian opposition.

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s far-right prime minister, has argued that a ban on Russian oil will devastate his country. Some analysts fear Western unity may fracture as the war drags on: While Europe continues to support the U.S., some of its countries don’t want a long war that might escalate and are focused on a cease-fire and a Russian troop withdrawal from Ukraine.

Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, may be hoping simply to outlast the West, which is beleaguered by inflation, energy disruptions, depleted public finances and a pandemic. A former U.S. ambassador to Russia admitted that he was worried “about Western fatigue, which is why the leaders of the free world should do more now to hasten the end of the war.”

4. Drug overdose deaths continued to reach record-breaking levels in 2021.

A nearly 15 percent increase in such deaths followed a steeper surge of almost 30 percent in 2020, according to preliminary C.D.C. data. Almost 108,000 people overdosed in 2021. Deaths involving synthetic opioids — largely fentanyl — rose to 71,000 from 58,000, while those associated with stimulants like methamphetamine grew to 33,000 from 25,000.

Experts said that social isolation and economic dislocation from the pandemic did not fully explain the increase. The supply of fentanyl, which can be made in a lab, has risen significantly, pushing other drugs out of the market with its low cost.

5. Anxious parents are struggling with a baby formula shortage.

The out-of-stock rate for formula reached 43 percent last week. In San Antonio, Texas, 56 percent of normal supplies were out of stock as of Tuesday. Many mothers, dependent on formula because of health issues or jobs in which they cannot breastfeed, say they are rationing. Some have driven hours only to find empty shelves. Online, private sellers are gouging prices.

The shortage became acute this year with a recall of a defective brand and was worsened by supply chain woes and labor shortages. The F.D.A. said officials were working with Abbott Nutrition, the company involved in the recall, to restart production.

When the pandemic hit, working mothers mostly stayed on the job, new reports show, and college graduates with babies and toddlers became significantly more likely to work.

6. In Nebraska and West Virginia primaries, candidates endorsed by Donald Trump had a mixed scorecard yesterday.

In the West Virginia Republican primary, Representative Alex Mooney, backed by Trump, trounced Representative David McKinley, whom Mooney painted as a supporter of Biden’s “trillion-dollar spending spree.” In Nebraska, Charles Herbster made Trump a pillar of his campaign for governor but lost to Jim Pillen, a University of Nebraska regent with establishment support.

Next week: Pennsylvania will hold its Senate Democratic primary as Democrats wrestle with an extremely challenging environment. Kathy Barnette, who has pulled into contention with Dr. Mehmet Oz in the Republican Senate primary, won last-minute backing from the Club for Growth.

In other political news, Hunter Biden has turned to a Hollywood lawyer for money and counsel, and White House allies are concerned.

7. For pot dealers who want to go legal, it’s complicated.

Lou Cantillo and Byron Bronson sold pot independently until meeting in 2013. They now run Buddy’s Bodega, a prominent illicit cannabis wholesale business in the New York City area. But New York legalized pot last year and the two hope to go legal soon.

They’ll face start-up costs, high taxes, administrative demands and competition from big-money players. Buddy’s, for instance, sells buzzy California designer strains. But legal dealers can’t peddle out-of-state products while marijuana is federally banned. Will it all be worth it, Bronson wonders, if the company goes from “having the best weed in the world to the worst weed in the world”?

8. A Times Magazine writer tried a diet app. He lost weight — but kept his inner “Fat Sam.”

My colleague Sam Anderson was the “fat kid.” By high school, he had slimmed down and become a decent athlete. But like many Americans, he dealt with pandemic anxiety by snacking. That led to “a muffin top, moobs and — most especially — love handles.”

Jarred by a shopkeeper who looked him over and confided he himself had used an app to lose pandemic weight, Sam downloaded Noom. His article tracks his journey using the app. Spoiler: Sam’s pounds are gone. “But I was, after all that change, still only myself,” he wrote.

9. Farewell to the iPod.

When Apple began marketing iPods in October 2001, it hoped to enhance Macintosh computer sales. The earliest devices were white, pocket-size rectangles, weighing 6.5 ounces and holding 1,000 songs.

They exploded in popularity in the years that followed, creating what became known as the iPod generation. Some 450 million iPods later, the device has upended how music is consumed, and set a blueprint for the company for decades, spawning iTunes, the iPhone and the App Store.

But only three million iPods were sold last year, and Apple said yesterday that it had discontinued the remaining iPod Touch line.

10. And finally, “The Bachelor” comes to Brooklyn.

Elan Ashendorf, 30, is gainfully employed. He likes bike rides, Lego bricks and Google sheets. But he has had trouble making the jump from “situationships” to relationships. Enter a tight group of childhood friends to make it happen.

Together they conceived “The Bushwick Bachelor,” a YouTube reality series modeled on the ABC franchise. In 2021, they papered the Brooklyn neighborhood with fliers, pitching Ashendorf as a software engineer with “his very own bed frame.” Using borrowed cameras, they filmed him with 10 women who applied. Did he find love? The host would say only that she “was very happy with the choice.”

Have a romantic evening.

Eve Edelheit compiled photos for this briefing.

Correction: Yesterday’s Evening Briefing misstated the size of the aid package to Ukraine that the House planned to vote on. It is almost $40 billion, not almost $40 million.

Your Evening Briefing is posted at 6 p.m. Eastern.

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