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

1. The E.U. is moving closer to a phased embargo of Russian oil.

The embargo has been weeks in the making. Member states are expected to give their final approval by the end of next week, officials and diplomats told The Times.

The oil embargo would be the biggest and most important new step in the E.U.’s sixth package of sanctions since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Russia is Europe’s biggest oil supplier, providing about one-quarter of the bloc’s yearly needs. The E.U. plans to make up the shortfall by increasing imports from other sources, including Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and Persian Gulf countries.

2. Inflation grew 6.6 percent in the last year, the fastest pace since 1982.

Much of the rise was driven by a jump in energy prices linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, as well as rising food costs. After stripping out food and fuel prices, prices climbed by a more muted 5.2 percent in the year through March.

Inflation increased by 0.3 percent in March, slightly slower than its pace the previous month. Consumer spending also remains strong. The report had positive news for workers too: Private sector wages and salaries rose 1.3 percent.

Stock markets deepened their weekly gloom in the wake of the inflation news, with the S&P 500 falling 3.6 percent. The index plunged nearly 9 percent in April, its worst monthly decline since March 2020.


3. A criminal justice bill is in trouble, in a Congress already paralyzed by November’s midterm elections.

The Equal Act, which would end racial disparities in federal prison sentences for different forms of cocaine, easily passed the House, has filibuster-proof bipartisan support in the Senate and the endorsement of President Biden and the Justice Department.

But with the midterms coming and Republicans sharpening a law-and-order message, the measure still might not get its own day in court. Democrats worry that Republicans could demand a series of votes on amendments that could make them look soft on crime and lax on immigration — a sign that Capitol Hill may find it difficult to pass significant legislation this year.


4. Donald Trump seems unlikely to face criminal charges from the Manhattan grand jury that is wrapping up a look at his business practices.

At least three of the potential witnesses central to the case have either not heard from the district attorney’s office in months, or have not been asked to testify, according to people with knowledge of the matter. Other sources with knowledge of the inquiry said a prosecutor who played a key role in the investigation has stopped focusing on a potential case against Trump.

Some people close to the inquiry, which is exploring whether Trump falsely inflated the value of his assets, believe that it will not result in an indictment of the former president unless a new witness unexpectedly cooperates — a long shot in an investigation that has been running for more than three years.


5. An “Oh my God” moment for the mass extinction of sea life.

A new study modeling climate scenarios has concluded that unabated carbon emissions would trigger by 2300 the loss of ocean species on par with Earth’s five mass extinctions. The most recent of those wiped out the dinosaurs.

However, the research came with an important caveat: There is still time to avoid it.

Reining in emissions within the upper limit of the Paris climate agreement would reduce ocean extinction risks by more than 70 percent, researchers found. In that scenario, about 4 percent of ocean species would become extinct by the end of this century.


6. Elon Musk’s deal to buy Twitter could cause complications in China.

Tesla, Musk’s hugely valuable electric car company, is deeply dependent on China, which is its second-largest market and home to many of its suppliers. And Chinese authorities have shown a willingness to punish companies that cross political red lines.

China has banned Twitter within its borders but has used the social platform extensively to push its own foreign policy around the globe — often using false or misleading information.

Inside Twitter, content moderators warn that Musk doesn’t appear to understand the issues that he will face if he fulfills his promise to remove guardrails around free speech.


8. Working 9 to 2, then again after dinner.

For many remote workers, the workday has fragmented. Many are working most of the day with a few short breaks, then adding a third shift during their evenings — what Microsoft researchers call the “third peak” of productivity, following the midmorning and after-lunch crunches.

While these new schedules have enormous upsides for some parents and caregivers, they also create new sources of stress — including the feeling that the workday never ends.

In other return-to-office news, Airbnb told its 6,000 employees that they could work remotely forever. And retailers, eager to tempt a dazed customer base returning to the office, are fully embracing the “power casual” wardrobe.

9. Don’t judge a dog by its breed.

New research based on thousands of owner surveys and genetic studies found that dog breeds are essentially useless for predicting canine behavior. The findings call into question the popular stereotypes of breeds like pit bulls and Labradors.

On average, breed accounts for only about 9 percent of the variations in any given dog’s behavior. And no behaviors are restricted to any one breed, even howling, though the study found that behavior was more strongly associated with breeds like Siberian huskies.

And yet, paradoxically, the study found that many dog behaviors like friendliness are strongly inherited. It’s just that the genes for those behaviors date from long before the 19th century, when most modern breeds were created. Breeding since then has been primarily for physical characteristics.


10. Distressed about your job, climate change or war? Blame this fish.

Internet meme makers have identified a culprit for our modern-day woes: the 375-million-year-old Tiktaalik (pronounced tic-TAH-lick), one of the first vertebrates to move onto dry land.

Think about it: Our modern woes would never have existed if our ancestors had not left the water. The memes yearn to thwack Tiktaalik with a rolled-up newspaper or poke it with a stick — anything to shoo it back into the water and avoid our eventually having to go to work and pay rent.

Alas, we probably can’t trace our family tree directly back to the limbed fish, although the group of fish that moved onto land did give rise to almost half of all modern vertebrates. Furthermore, as one researcher put it: “You don’t hate Tiktaalik,” he said. “You hate capitalism.”

Have a guilt-free night.


Hannah Yoon compiled photos for this briefing.

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