Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

Europe’s effort to stand up to Russia and Vladimir Putin, its president, is being slowed by Viktor Orban and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the strongman leaders of Hungary and Turkey. As the war drags on, strains are building. Peace talks appear to have gone nowhere, and Western sanctions are contributing to economic pain and high inflation at home, as well as in Russia. Follow the latest updates from the war.

Erdogan yesterday blocked a procedural vote to move NATO ahead quickly with the membership applications of Sweden and Finland. And Orban continues to block the E.U.’s embargo on Russian oil. Though outliers in their organizations, the pair are using the need for consensus to see their political concerns addressed.

But the delay may be temporary: Sauli Niinisto, the president of Finland, said yesterday that the Turks “have communicated to us from many sources that Turkey would not block membership.” Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, made a similar statement about Turkey’s intentions on Sunday.

The front: Doctors in eastern Ukraine are opting to amputate limbs rather than try to repair them, in a desperate attempt to save lives.

The world economy is heading into a potentially grim period as rising costs, shortages of food and other commodities and the war in Ukraine threaten to slow economic growth. Policymakers are continuing to grapple with the fallout of the pandemic, including clogged supply chains and lockdowns in China.

Finance ministers from G7 nations will this week meet in Bonn, Germany, to find ways to avoid a slowdown while continuing to exert pressure on Russia for its war in Ukraine. The economic challenges could threaten the West’s united front against Moscow, including its efforts to reduce its reliance on Russian energy.

Central banks are beginning to raise interest rates to help tame rapid inflation, moves that will temper economic growth by raising borrowing costs and could lead to higher unemployment. Christine Lagarde, president of the European Central Bank, last week signaled a possible increase in interest rates in July, which would be the E.C.B.’s first such move in more than a decade.

U.S. markets: Stocks declined sharply on Wednesday after shrinking profits by major retailers reignited Wall Street’s fear of high inflation. The S&P 500 fell 4 percent, its biggest drop since June 2020 and its fourth decline of more than 3 percent in less than a month.

Beware the bear: An estimated 20 million people started trading on their own during the pandemic. As stocks tumble, some are shifting their strategies, while others are getting out.

Some 76 percent of Americans diagnosed with long Covid were not sick enough to be hospitalized for their initial infection, according to a new analysis of tens of thousands of private insurance claims. The results paint a sobering picture of long Covid’s serious and ongoing impact on people’s health and the American health care system.

Long Covid, a complex constellation of lingering or new post-infection symptoms that can last for months or longer, has become one of the most daunting legacies of the pandemic. The new study adds to the growing evidence that people with mild or moderate initial infections can still experience debilitating symptoms later.

While two-thirds of the patients had pre-existing health conditions in their records, nearly a third did not. More than three-quarters of the patients in the study were infected in 2021, most of those in the last half of the year. On average, patients were still experiencing long Covid symptoms that qualified for the diagnosis four and a half months after their infection.

By the numbers: Nearly 35 percent of the patients were between the ages of 36 and 50, while nearly one-third were ages 51 to 64, and 17 percent were ages 23 to 35. Children were also affected: Nearly 4 percent of the patients were 12 or younger, while nearly 7 percent were between ages 13 and 22.

In other pandemic news:

A spouse who commits matricide will almost certainly become a prime suspect, the romance novelist Nancy Brophy wrote in a 2011 blog post titled “How to Murder Your Husband.” The wife, she said, must therefore “be organized, ruthless and very clever.”

Seven years later, on a sunny June morning, her husband, Daniel, was brutally murdered. At first, the police considered Brophy a grieving spouse who seemed only to want to help their investigation. But over time, investigators said, evidence against her began to mount.

In 2017, the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus ended its 146-year run. The nostalgic circus faced sagging sales and a growing public distaste for the exotic animal acts — lions, tigers and elephants — once synonymous with its show. The company announced yesterday that it would return in 2023, sans animals, Sarah Maslin Nir reports.

The revamped show will focus on narrative and human feats — not unlike Cirque du Soleil. In fact, Ringling has hired Giulio Scatola, a veteran of Cirque du Soleil, as a director for the new production. Scatola said he was influenced by “America’s Got Talent,” where contestants’ stories are as significant as their art.

The company’s business model was in need of an update, anyway: Touring cross-country with a crew of 500 people and 100 animals in mile-long trains, as it did for over a century, costs a lot. The circus has since sold off those trains, and performers will drive or fly from city to city and stay in hotels. Logistics are far easier when there’s no longer a need to check in Dumbo.

Go behind the scenes at auditions for the show in Las Vegas.

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