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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Wednesday.
1. Ukraine will receive some of the Western tanks that it has long asked for.
After weeks of international pressure, Olaf Scholz, Germany’s chancellor, said he would send 14 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and allow other nations to send their own ahead of an expected Russian offensive.
Hours later, President Biden announced that the U.S. would send 31 M1 Abrams tanks. American officials said it could take a year or longer for the tanks to reach the battlefield, but Biden’s move appeared to be intended to assuage Germany’s reluctance to send tanks as much as it was to boost Ukraine’s military.
President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine, who has pressed for the tanks to counter Russia’s advantage in arms and men, called the announcements “an important step on the path to victory.” However, the Western pledges so far fall short of the 300 tanks that Ukraine has said it needs to make a difference.
In other news from the war, Ukrainian forces retreated from the town of Soledar, acknowledging a military gain for Russia that brings them closer to encircling the eastern city of Bakhmut.
2. Donald Trump’s Facebook and Instagram access will be reinstated, ending a two-year ban.
Meta announced today that it would allow the former president back on its social media platforms in the coming weeks, reversing a decision it made a day after the Jan. 6, 2021, storming of the Capitol.
When it suspended Trump, who had the most followed account on Facebook, it had cited the risk of him inciting more violence. But today, Meta said that the risk to public safety had “sufficiently receded.”
In other politics news, Republican lawmakers are pushing more sweeping anti-transgender bills than ever before. Some want to ban transition care for young adults up to 26.
Also, the most significant American election this year will probably be the Supreme Court race in Wisconsin. With abortion and voting maps at stake, some candidates have shed any pretense of judicial neutrality.
3. School officials were repeatedly warned before a 6-year-old shot his teacher, a lawyer said.
Administrators at an elementary school in Newport News, Va., were warned three times that a boy might have a gun hours before the boy shot his first-grade teacher, according to the teacher’s lawyer. One child, the lawyer said, tearfully reported that the boy had shown him the gun at recess.
The lawyer said that the injured teacher, Abigail Zwerner, intended to file a lawsuit against the school district. Zwerner, 25, was shot in the chest, and a bullet remains lodged in her body.
Amid a plague of shootings, several civilians have put their bodies on the line to stop gunmen. But in a nation trained to “Run, Hide, Fight,” many say it should never have come to that.
4. Climate change may usher in a new era of trade wars.
As governments in major economies look to mitigate climate change and avert environmental catastrophe, they have enacted policies — including subsidies and tariffs — that may result in more frequent cross-border trade conflicts.
Proponents of the measures say governments must take aggressive action in order to avoid disaster. But critics say the policies put other countries and companies at a disadvantage. The policies depart from a status quo in trade, in which Western leaders encouraged global trade as mutually beneficial.
In other environmental news, the Biden administration announced that it had banned logging and road-building on about nine million acres of the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska.
5. Britain, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, has a cost of living crisis.
While employment growth in recent years has meant fewer out-of-work households in the country, an increasing number of Britons who have jobs are struggling to pay for basic necessities.
As the costs of groceries and heat hit records, a growing number of workers are struggling to feed their children — and many are heading to food banks for the first time.
In other international news, Spanish police arrested a 74-year-old man on suspicion of sending out a series of letter bombs late last year. U.S. officials have said that Russian intelligence officers might have directed the attacks.
6. Do rapid Covid tests still work?
The answer to that question, for the most part, is yes: Several studies have found that the accuracy of rapid tests has not declined as the coronavirus has mutated. But it’s important to understand the factors that could lead to a false result.
To receive F.D.A. approval, the tests need to have provided data that shows they are at least 80 percent accurate — meaning that around one in five of them will return a false negative. So, if you think you may have been exposed, it’s worth taking multiple tests. It can also be helpful to wait a day or two for the second test: The viral load can be too low early on to have a positive rapid test.
In other Covid news, an analysis found that long Covid is having a significant effect on America’s work force.
7. The never-ending fight against fake online reviews.
Each year, hundreds of thousands of fraudulent reviews are published on sites like Yelp and Tripadvisor — some posted by paid writers, others by patrons who are pressured to do so — making it difficult for users to figure out which ones to believe.
Now some of the major review companies, as well as the federal government, have begun working together to weed out the fake posts. The sites rely on specialized detectives who search proactively for potential abuses. Sometimes they conduct sting operations on sites that sell reviews.
Elsewhere in the digital world, an increasing number of sites and apps ask for users’ email addresses. Our consumer tech writer suggests that you think twice before sharing yours.
8. Just months after he was brutally attacked, Salman Rushdie is releasing a new novel.
“Victory City,” set for release in early February, tells the story of a gifted poet who creates a new civilization through the sheer power of her imagination. It’s a book about mythmaking, storytelling and the enduring power of language.
It’s also a triumphant return to the literary stage for Rushdie, who has withdrawn from public life since he was stabbed onstage during an event in New York last year. Other writers said the book’s overarching message — that stories will outlast political clashes and the collapse of civilizations — has taken on a heightened resonance in light of what Rushdie has endured.
In other publishing news, hundreds of Elin Hilderbrand’s fans flocked to Nantucket, Mass., this month to dance, shop and drink espresso martinis with their favorite author.
9. Jason Segel knows you like him. Now he wants to squander that feeling, for comedy’s sake.
For years, the actor’s characters — a puppyish high schooler on “Freaks and Geeks” and a loving, excitable husband on “How I Met Your Mother” — have drawn in audiences. His sad eyes and shambling 6-foot-4-inch frame have felt friendly and familiar.
But in “Shrinking,” which premieres Friday on Apple TV+, Segal’s character isn’t meant to be liked. Starring opposite Harrison Ford and Jessica Williams, he plays Jimmy, a cognitive behavioral therapist crushed by personal grief. He self-medicates with pills, is a neglectful father and approaches patient care in a way that would make an ethics panel weep.
10. And finally, you’re never too old for yoga.
Aches and pains are often part of the body’s aging process. One reliable way to ease some of the soreness is by rolling out a mat and practicing yoga. And seniors who regularly practiced yoga were observed performing better than a control group on certain cognitive tasks.
“It’s not about getting younger, but it is about slowing the inevitable aging process,” said one 72-year-old yoga devotee.
Have a restorative night.
Brent Lewis compiled photos for this briefing.
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