U.S.-Russia, Interest Rates, Kevin Durant: Your Wednesday Evening Briefing

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Good evening. Here’s the latest.

1. Presidents Biden and Vladimir Putin offered broad claims of good will after their first in-person summit, but it was clear that divisions remain.

Putin denied Russian responsibility for a surge in cyberattacks against U.S. institutions and rebuffed U.S. criticism of human rights abuses. Biden said that he had handed the Russian leader a list of 16 examples of critical infrastructure that were off limits to cyberattacks, and said he made clear that if they were attacked, “we have significant cyber-capabilities” and would respond “in a cyber way.”

Among the outcomes was an agreement to open U.S.-Russia talks on cybersecurity and arms control, and for ambassadors to return to their posts in Moscow and Washington. Here are the latest updates.

“I did what I came to do,” Biden said after the summit. Speaking separately, Putin said: “I think that in this situation, there can’t be any kind of family trust. But I think we’ve seen some glimmers.”

2. The Federal Reserve now predicts it will increase interest rates from rock bottom in 2023, moving up its projections as the economy heals.

Fed policymakers expect to make two interest rate increases by the end of 2023, a sign that a recovering labor market and rising inflation are giving policymakers confidence that they will achieve their full employment and stable price goals in coming years.

Jerome Powell, the Fed’s chair, said at a news conference, “We’re going to be in a very strong labor market pretty quickly here.”

In Washington news, the Education Department says it has interpreted a Supreme Court ruling to mean that discrimination against transgender students is prohibited under Title IX, a reversal of its Trump-era position.

3. 600,000.

That’s how many lives Covid-19 has claimed in the U.S. Even as the country has made big gains in its fight, the virus is still killing hundreds of people daily, nearly all of them unvaccinated, experts say. The lawyer who led the inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks has quietly laid a foundation for a nonpartisan commission in the U.S. to investigate the pandemic.

In Europe, warmer weather and low case numbers are raising hope in some countries that vaccine rollouts might permit a more normal summer. American tourists may be allowed back into the E.U. as early as Friday.

In vaccine news, problems at Emergent BioSolutions broke into view in March after workers failed to take steps to prevent contamination of millions of vaccine doses at its Baltimore plant. As Congress was investigating the incident, the company’s top executives received $8 million in bonuses.

4. International mediators rushed to calm tensions between Israel and Hamas after an escalation of hostilities overnight.

After Israeli military airstrikes were launched in response to incendiary balloons sent into southern Israel by Hamas, diplomats from Egypt and the U.N. mediated discussions and hoped to restore a cease-fire. The exchange was the first armed conflict between Israel and Hamas since an 11-day air war between the two sides ended last month.

Although no casualties were reported, the overnight conflict was an opening test for the new Israeli coalition government just three days into its term. The exchange appeared to have been set off by the Israeli government’s decision to permit a far-right Jewish march to pass through Palestinian areas of Jerusalem on Tuesday despite threats from Hamas that it would retaliate.

5. Delaying motherhood isn’t just the domain of the highly educated anymore: Women of all classes are increasingly prioritizing career goals.

The result has been the slowest U.S. population growth since the 1930s. Since 2007, the birthrate for women in their 20s has fallen by 28 percent, and the biggest recent declines have been among unmarried women. According to a Times analysis, the birthrate is falling fastest in places with the greatest job growth — where women have more incentive to wait.

Separately, an expanded Child Tax Credit distributed as monthly checks will start reaching households in July and last through the end of the year.

7. A contentious vote within the Southern Baptist church underscored sharp divisions within the nation’s largest Protestant denomination.

8. Goodbye Angels, hello Megan Rapinoe.

Victoria’s Secret, the embattled lingerie giant, is attempting the most extreme brand turnaround in recent memory: an effort not just to redefine itself but also what “sexy” is — and who it’s for.

That means the Angels, their wings and rhinestone-studded lingerie will be replaced with the Collective: seven women famous for their achievements, including Rapinoe, the soccer star; Paloma Essler, a size 14 Vogue cover model, above center; and Priyanka Chopra Jonas, a 38-year-old Indian actor and tech investor.

The company will still sell lacy lingerie but its purview will expand, especially in areas like sportswear. Will women buy it? $5 billion in annual sales is riding on the answer.

9. Kevin Durant’s performance on Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks will be one that’s talked about for years to come.

With a slew of team injuries, the Brooklyn Nets needed Durant to carry their offense in Game 5. And Durant delivered, finishing with 49 points, 17 rebounds and 10 assists, becoming the first player in league history to record those totals in a playoff game. The Nets are now up 3 to 2 in the series.

Body control, footwork, passing — our basketball reporter unpacked what makes the wiry 6-foot-10 forward unstoppable. The Times Magazine recently profiled him and the Nets, possibly the greatest team ever.

10. And finally, it’s grill season.

Fire almost always makes vegetables taste better, caramelizing their sugars and intensifying their sweetness, and the smoke flavor adds complexity to a vegetable’s already vibrant taste. Even leafy greens benefit from a brief turn.

The barbecue master Steven Raichlen recommends two methods: direct grilling, which is best for soft, moist vegetables, leafy ones and sliced ones; and indirect grilling, with the grill lid closed to capture the heat. This is the preferred method for large and firm vegetables.

“No one gathers around a stove to watch you boil or steam broccoli,” Raichlen writes. “But sear that broccoli over a hot fire on the grill, and you both become stars of the show.”

Have a savory night.

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

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