Good morning. We’re covering a possible prisoner swap between the U.S. and Russia, and another rate increase by the Fed.
U.S. proposes a prisoner swap
The U.S. offered a prisoner swap to Russia: Viktor Bout, a notorious Russian arms dealer, for Brittney Griner, the W.N.B.A. star, and Paul Whelan, a former Marine.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday that he would speak to Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, for the first time since Russia invaded Ukraine about a “substantial proposal” to free Griner and Whelan. The U.S. State Department says the two were wrongfully detained.
Blinken’s comments came the same day that Griner, who has been detained in Russia on drug charges since February, testified in court. She said that she had been tossed into a bewildering legal system with little explanation of what was happening. Here are live updates.
The unusually large interest-rate move comes even as the U.S. economy begins to slow. Jerome Powell, the chair of the Fed, said that a third “unusually” large three-quarter-point rate could be coming in September. He stressed that he did not think the U.S. is in a recession.
Still, Powell said, “We need growth to slow. We don’t want this to be bigger than it needs to be, but ultimately, if you think about the medium to longer term, price stability is what makes the whole economy work.”
Reaction: His comments appeased investors. The S&P 500 stock index ended the day up 2.6 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite posted its best day since April 2020.
What to Know About Brittney Griner’s Detention in Russia
Background: The Fed began raising interest rates from near-zero in March. After making a quarter-point move to start, the central bank raised rates by half a point in May and by three-quarters of a point in June, the largest single step since 1994. Consumer prices climbed by 9.1 percent in the year through June.
Explanation: Here’s how rate increases act as America’s main tool for cooling down prices and what they mean for mortgages and credit cards.
Lufthansa cancels flights
Lufthansa Airlines canceled virtually all its flights in and out of Frankfurt and Munich yesterday after around 3,000 employees walked off the job to protest for better wages. Nearly 130,000 travelers were stranded.
The protest was scheduled to end at 6 a.m. this morning, but the wage fight is likely to continue. A union official said that salaries were “not high enough to account for inflation,” while Lufthansa outlined pay increases that it had already offered.
This strike is just the latest travel interruption in Europe. Airport and other transport employees have been striking throughout the summer to demand better staffing and pay.
And even as international Covid-related restrictions continue to wane, the pandemic has left deep scars across the travel industry: Airports and airlines who let employees go during the pandemic are now struggling to meet a recent surge in demand.
Airports: Heathrow, in London, and Schiphol, in Amsterdam, have both tried to limit the number of passengers in August. Heathrow’s announcement came after photographs of luggage piled up at the airport circulated on social media.
Digital media is changing language — sometimes rapidly. American Sign Language is no exception.
Check out this video-filled story on how people who are deaf or hard of hearing are responding to the spread of smartphones and video.
Live Lived: James Lovelock, a British ecologist, captured the scientific world’s imagination with his Gaia theory, which portrays the Earth as a living creature. He died on Tuesday, his 103rd birthday.
The Plight of Brittney Griner in Russia
The American basketball star has endured months in a Russian prison on charges of smuggling hashish oil into the country.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The year of Barbie
The color of the season is pink. The inspiration: Barbie.
It started with the high-fashion world. During Paris Fashion Week, Valentino debuted a pink collection, and in Rome this month, Anne Hathaway attended his show in a hot-pink sequined dress. Lizzo, Lil Nas X, Kim Kardashian and other celebrities have also been spotted in pink.
The trend, dubbed “Barbiecore,” is also popular among millennials and Gen Z. As the website Who What Wear put it: “Yes, the dolls you played with as a child are leading the sartorial charge right now. Talk about a true nostalgic revival.”
Then there’s the live-action Barbie movie that comes out next year, directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken. Photos of the actors rollerblading in extremely bright outfits have been hard to miss online: “the social media dopamine hit of summer,” as described by Vanessa Friedman, the fashion director and chief fashion critic for The Times.