Plus what’s at stake in the U.S. midterms and what China’s delay in releasing economic data means

People Shopped In A Supermarket In Kharkiv, Ukraine, As The City Suffered A Power Outage On Monday.
Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine said yesterday that Russian attacks over the past eight days had destroyed 30 percent of Ukraine’s power stations and caused “massive blackouts across the country.”

The latest strikes have increased the likelihood of a miserable winter, with residents having to do without basic services such as heat and water.

The World Health Organization warned of the potential for a spiraling humanitarian crisis that “could become a matter of life or death if people are unable to heat their homes.”

The strikes on Ukraine in recent weeks have targeted both electrical infrastructure and thermal power plants. In the capital, some billboards are no longer lit up at night, and streetlights are being partly turned off in order to conserve energy. Other towns and cities across Ukraine are dealing with rolling blackouts or going without power entirely.

Energy crisis: The E.U. unveiled proposals for new measures to tackle the energy crisis that has rocked the continent, such as joint purchasing of gas and strengthening fuel sharing between countries in case Russia turns off the natural gas taps completely.

Not all ties severed: The E.U. has cut some economic ties with Russia to support Ukraine. But even now, some goods, like diamonds and uranium, remain conspicuously exempted.

Gabriela Bhaskar for The New York Times

Election Day for the U.S. is Nov. 8, and the results will have a profound impact on the country.

The midterm elections are held in the middle of a sitting president’s four-year term. This year, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs, as are those of 35 of the 100 Senators and 36 of the 50 state governors — in addition to positions in innumerable state and local offices.

President Biden’s Democratic Party barely controls Congress. If Republicans win a majority in either chamber, they can effectively block legislation, appointments and some key priorities of Biden’s agenda.

The party in power almost always loses in the midterms. The losses are worse if the sitting president is unpopular (like Biden) and when the economy is bad (as it feels for most people, with inflation soaring).

But 2022 is a very unusual year: Issues such as the loss of the constitutional right to abortion, which many Democrats have emphasized in their campaigns, could help them. Donald Trump may not be on the ballot, but he is still in headlines and has played the role of a Republican kingmaker, even though his favored candidates have sometimes struggled in campaigns.

Many Republicans have tried to focus on crime, immigration and the economy, while others have wholeheartedly embraced Trumpian talking points, including lies about a stolen 2020 election.

A nail-biter: A New York Times/Siena College poll this week showed that Republicans had a slim but significant advantage among likely voters, as well as a 10-percentage point lead among crucial independent voters.

Tingshu Wang/Reuters

China’s decision to delay announcing routine growth data this week is the latest example of how hard it has become to peer into China’s economy, our colleague Keith Bradsher reports from Beijing.

Questions have long been raised about whether China’s economic growth statistics may be inflated or smoothed from one year to the next. But in the past, China also released more granular data that made it possible to draw conclusions about the economy’s overall health.

But that’s changing, too. China stopped releasing data on inflation in construction costs, which gave a measure of the rising value of new office complexes, rail lines and other investment projects. In recent years, the National Bureau of Statistics has quietly discontinued hundreds of series of data on narrow subjects, like the output of specific types of coal or raw silk.

Takeaway: Foreign economists used to rely on some of these now discontinued reports to double-check the veracity and plausibility of broader government data, such as overall economic growth statistics. One chief economist said that “has become progressively harder over the past few years as China has become a lot less open.”


Ronen Zvulun/Reuters

World News


What Else Is Happening

Beatrice Sirinuntananon/Shutterstock

A new study shows that generic bananas found in supermarkets have genetic markers tying them to three types of wild bananas that have not yet been discovered by botanists. Knowing that these mysterious wild ancestors are out there could change the way we see bananas and the communities that bred and traded them — and could provide potential ways to strengthen the crops against disease in the future.

Kevin Amato for The New York Times

Over the last 30 years, Atlanta’s constantly regenerating rap scene has become one of the most consistent and consequential musical ecosystems in the world.

Dominique Jones, better known as Lil Baby, is nothing if not a product of the city’s extensive rap lineage, but he has been equally influenced by the nonmusical history of Atlanta, which one historian described as “a bastion of both white supremacy and Black autonomy.”

The fact that Lil Baby and his forebears all happen to share geographic roots with Martin Luther King Jr. and the Ku Klux Klan, Uncle Remus and Spike Lee, “Gone With the Wind” and the Black spring-break party Freaknik is not a coincidence. It could only have been Atlanta, our colleague Joe Coscarelli writes.

The generations of local artists who have emerged from Atlanta have routinely exploded the expectations of what a Black man from little or nothing could hope to achieve in the wider American consciousness.

“Honestly, I think there’s something in the water,” Lil Baby said. “It’s the upbringing, it’s the culture, it’s the things we see, the people we watched on TV. It’s a repeating cycle of greatness.”

Joel Goldberg for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne. Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks.

Easy pasta recipes, including one-pot wonders, can mean that your meal comes together in 15 minutes.

A sports medicine doctor offers ways to prevent running injuries.

These six podcasts can help you get organized.

Play the Mini Crossword, and a clue: “___ well that ends well” (4 letters).

Here are the Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Lauren and Daniel

P.S. President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine and Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Meta, will be among the speakers at the Dealbook Summit.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about Hurricane Ian’s effect on housing in Florida.

You can reach Lauren, Daniel and the team at [email protected].

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