(Want to get this newsletter in your inbox? Here’s the sign-up.)
Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Friday.
1. Sanctions hit President Vladimir Putin’s former wife and his rumored girlfriend.
Britain added Putin’s former wife, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, and the woman long considered to be his mistress, Alina Kabaeva, to its sanctions list as the West deepened its efforts to combat Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A former K.G.B. operative, Putin has kept his personal life shrouded in secrecy, but the sanctions are lifting that veil.
On the battlefields, Ukrainian forces decimated a Russian battalion as it tried to cross a river in the northeast, the British defense ministry said. Separately, a Russian soldier accused of shooting a civilian on a bicycle went on trial in Ukraine for war crimes.
In Russia, a court extended the pretrial detention of the W.N.B.A. star Brittney Griner by one month. She has been in Russian custody since mid-February on drug charges that can carry up to 10 years in prison.
2. Elon Musk’s $44 billion deal to buy Twitter got a little weirder.
In a pre-dawn tweet, Musk announced that he was putting his deal on hold until he nailed down the total volume of Twitter’s spam and bots. Two hours later, he said in a second post that he was “still committed” to the acquisition. The messages left some wondering if Musk was getting cold feet, was trying to drive down the sale price or was simply in need of attention. Twitter’s stock seesawed, but the carmaker Tesla, which Musk runs and would draw on for financing, saw its stock rise.
In other business news, real-world problems may be crashing the market’s party. Despite today’s 2.4 percent rise, the overall market has declined for the sixth consecutive week, the first time that has happened since 2011.
3. Israeli police attacked mourners at the funeral of the prominent Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Video showed police beating and kicking pallbearers as they carried Abu Akleh’s coffin through East Jerusalem. One pallbearer almost dropped the coffin. Police said in a statement they acted because some mourners were chanting “nationalist incitement.”
Abu Akleh, an Al Jazeera reporter, was shot dead on Wednesday in the occupied West Bank during an Israeli raid. Witnesses said she was killed by an Israeli soldier. The Israeli Army said that while it was possible she was mistakenly killed by Israeli fire, its initial investigation suggested that she might also have been hit by a Palestinian gunman.
Back in the U.S., Robert McFarlane, who was President Ronald Reagan’s national security adviser and who fell from grace in the Iran-contra scandal, died. He was 84.
4. Texas families who allow transgender children to transition may be investigated for abuse, the Texas Supreme Court ruled.
The ruling followed an appeal by state officials, including Gov. Greg Abbott, who want certain treatments for transgender youth — including hormones or puberty suppressants — to be investigated as abuse. The family of a 16-year-old transgender girl had challenged the governor’s order in court. In March, a judge placed an injunction that stopped the investigations. Today’s verdict removes that injunction.
But the court also said the family who brought the original suit shouldn’t be investigated further. And it found that Abbott himself can’t order investigations. Rather, those directives will be left to state Family and Protective Services.
In other court-related news, with the Supreme Court seemingly poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, some voters question if they should continue to support Republicans.
5. Pressure is mounting on China to change its “zero Covid” strategy.
Multinational companies have grown wary of further investments in the country. Chinese citizens have grown restless, pushing back against being forced to stay home or to move into government-run isolation facilities.
This week, the World Health Organization called China’s pandemic strategy “unsustainable.” But abandoning the strategy risks a surge in deaths, especially among China’s tens of millions of unvaccinated older people. Only 72 percent of those 70 or older have received two shots, and the vaccines are less effective than those in the West.
In other Covid news, North Korea made a rare admission that six people have died and 187,800 are in quarantine, as the virus spreads there.
6. It’s unclear if a downbeat Rafael Nadal can even play the French Open.
The most successful clay-courter in history finished the Italian Open last night with 34 unforced errors and just 13 winners. He was often late to the ball, sometimes limped, and winced on changeovers during a final match with Denis Shapovalov of Canada. Nadal is dealing with a chronic left foot problem.
The French Open, which he’s won a record 13 times, starts May 22. “I will fight for it,” Nadal said. “I will continue to believe during this week and a half.”
In other sports news, Manny Machado, an All-Star hitter for the San Diego Padres, plays fiercely off the field — on a chess board.
7. Many of last year’s job quitters are actually job swappers, according to new data.
In what’s called the Great Resignation, more than 40 million people quit jobs last year, many in retail or hospitality. As businesses grew desperate for employees, workers saw they had more leverage.
Now, Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows there was almost a one-to-one correlation between job quitting and swapping. Workers traded up for more hours, more flexibility and better pay. Wages grew nearly 10 percent in leisure and hospitality over the last year, and more than 7 percent in retail.
8. Some people under 35 are throwing caution, and cash, to the wind.
After months locked down and with climate change making the future look bleak, some Americans have decided it’s better to spend than to save.
A recent study found 45 percent of those 18 to 35 see no point in “saving until things return to normal,” and 55 percent have put retirement planning on hold. Instead, they’re indulging passions like coral farming or splurging on Barcelona music festivals.
“If you have an apocalyptic vision of the future, why would you save for it?” said Brad Klontz, a financial psychologist. “Of course you wouldn’t.”
9. Eurovision, the world’s largest and perhaps most eccentric singing contest, airs tomorrow. Ukraine is favored to win.
At least 180 million people are expected to watch the competition’s final, held in Italy this year. Thirty-five countries have already competed in semifinals, but Russia was barred because of the invasion. The rap and folk band Kalush Orchestra is representing Ukraine with its song “Stefania,” an ode to the mother of one of the band members. Here’s what else to expect.
10. And finally, a mission to make composting cool.
Domingo Morales, 30, grew up in the Bronx. His street name was “Reckless” and his goal was to make it to 18 alive. But one day, Morales saw a notice for a nonprofit training young people in low-income housing for green jobs.