Your Wednesday Evening Briefing – The New York Times

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

1. The C.D.C.’s director rebuked her agency’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and called for an overhaul.

Dr. Rochelle Walensky said her agency had failed to respond quickly enough and had offered “confusing and overwhelming” guidance to the public. In a meeting with senior staff, she outlined a new plan to prioritize public health needs and preparation for future outbreaks.

The announcement followed an external review and months of scathing criticism. Its public messages on masking and other mitigation measures were sometimes so confusing or abruptly modified that they seemed more like internal drafts than carefully considered proclamations.

In New York, public health experts have embraced wastewater as a critical tool for tracking Covid, monkeypox and even a recent circulation of polio. Here’s a visual guide of the sewage surveillance process at one hospital.

3. Mike Pence called on Republicans to stop assailing the F.B.I. after its raid on Donald Trump’s Florida Mar-a-Lago club and residence.

Speaking at a political event in New Hampshire, the former vice president said that Republicans could hold the agency accountable “without attacking the rank-and-file law enforcement personnel.” Republican lawmakers, including members of leadership, have reacted with fury to the Aug. 8 search.

The remarks by Pence, who appears to be positioning himself to run for president, highlight his readiness to separate himself from the wing of the party most loyal to Trump.

Related: Rudy Giuliani, the former New York mayor and a lawyer to Trump, appeared before a grand jury in Atlanta. He is a target in the investigation concerning whether Trump and his associates tried to illegally influence the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.

4. Guerrilla fighters have taken a more prominent role in the war in Ukraine, rattling Russian forces.

Slipping back and forth across the front lines, guerrilla fighters — known in Ukraine as partisans — have played a significant role in the Ukrainian counteroffensive in the country’s south. Sabotaging rail lines, killing collaborators and identifying Russian targets for Ukrainian artillery and long-range rockets provided by the U.S., these clandestine fighters have managed to rattle the stronger Russian forces in areas they thought to be safe.

5. Federal Reserve officials see inflation staying “uncomfortably high.”

According to the minutes of their meeting in July, officials viewed their efforts to tame inflation as beginning to have an effect, but they also remained committed to further raising interest rates — a near certainty when they next meet Sept. 20-21.

Another three-quarter-point increase would indicate that policymakers are determined not to relax their efforts. A half-point increase, large by historical standards, would suggest that the Fed believes inflation can ease up. Retail sales and earnings reports in July showed mixed results.

In the U.K., inflation jumped to 10.1 percent from a year earlier, pushed higher by food prices. “Before, we were keeping our head just above the water. Now, we are literally sinking,” a single mother of three told The Times.

6. “I’m done with him.”

The mother of Hadi Matar, who is accused of trying to kill the writer Salman Rushdie, disavowed her son and said that he was a changed man — more reclusive and focused on religion — following his return from a 2018 trip to the Middle East.

A portrait of Matar, whose mother said she had not spoken to him since the attack, has begun to emerge. At 24, he worked a low-level job at a discount store and made clumsy attempts at boxing. His email avatar featured a circular image of Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader and the successor to Ayatollah Khomeini, who issued the fatwa calling for the death of Rushdie in 1989.

Rushdie, who was stabbed roughly 10 times, remains hospitalized with what relatives have described as life-altering injuries.

7. A treasured Galileo manuscript turned out to be a forgery.

For decades the University of Michigan Library has prized a manuscript related to Galileo’s discovery of moons orbiting Jupiter — a crack in the notion that everything in the universe revolved around the Earth.

But some of the letter forms and word choices seemed strange to Nick Wilding, a historian with a reputation for unmasking forgeries. Wilding traced the manuscript’s paper back to about 1770, about 150 years after it was supposedly written.

Now the staff of the Michigan library is considering ways to use the object to examine the methods and motivations behind forgeries. “The forgery is a really good one,” said the interim dean of the university’s libraries. “The discovery in some ways makes this a more fascinating item.”

8. Summer travel has been a mess. But booking trips online is getting a little bit easier.

Finding good deals on flights, hotels and rental cars has long demanded endless scrolling and several frustrating snags. But this summer — as cancellations and delays have added up — a few travel platforms have announced fixes that make travel planning easier, by refining searches and creating more informative maps. We’ve pulled together a guide of those changes.

9. The tank top is enjoying a renaissance.

As summer temperatures peak, there’s no denying that the season belongs to this old-fashioned undergarment. The first look at Matthieu Blazy’s debut for Bottega Veneta was a plain ribbed tank top. A tank top opened Prada’s fall 2022 show as well, and the actor Elliot Page posed for the cover of Esquire in a Polo Ralph Lauren tank.

“It’s such a great vernacular piece of clothing,” said Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology. “It makes an outfit look sexy and young but not in a way that’s bourgeois, expensive or uptight,” she said.

In other fashion news, Givenchy’s fabric buyer co-founded Nona Source, a trove of unused high-fashion “deadstock” fabric available for clients to purchase.

10. And finally, a music superstar’s long encore.

At 89, Willie Nelson has reached the age when most people would be deep in retirement. Career-wise, though, he’s going strong as ever.

With music dating back to the Eisenhower era, Nelson has proved an exception in the youth-obsessed music industry. He didn’t reach superstardom until he was 45, and once he did, he never stopped working. Over the past two decades he has made 36 albums, including forays into reggae and gospel.

“It’s a decent job,” Nelson said. “Best one I’ve had, at least.”

Have an unwavering night.

James Gregg compiled photos for this briefing.

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