said in April after sealing the deal. “I don’t care about the economics at all.”

He cared a little more when the subsequent plunge in the stock market meant that he was overpaying by a significant amount. Analysts estimated that Twitter was worth not $44 billion but $30 billion, or maybe even less. For a few months, Mr. Musk tried to get out of the deal.

This had the paradoxical effect of bringing the transaction down to earth for spectators. Who among us has not failed to do due diligence on a new venture — a job, a house, even a relationship — and then realized that it was going to cost so much more than we had thought? Mr. Musk’s buying Twitter, and then his refusal to buy Twitter, and then his being forced to buy Twitter after all — and everything playing out on Twitter — was weirdly relatable.

Inescapable, too. The apex, or perhaps the nadir, came this month when Mr. Musk introduced a perfume called Burnt Hair, described on its website as “the Essence of Repugnant Desire.”

“Please buy my perfume, so I can buy Twitter,” Mr. Musk tweeted on Oct. 12, garnering nearly 600,000 likes. This worked, apparently; the perfume is now marked “sold out” on its site. Did 30,000 people really pay $100 each for a bottle? Will this perfume actually be produced and sold? (It’s not supposed to be released until next year.) It’s hard to tell where the joke stops, which is perhaps the point.

Evan Spiegel.

“What was unique about Twitter was that no one actually controlled it,” said Richard Greenfield, a media analyst at LightShed Partners. “And now one person will own it in its entirety.”

He is relatively hopeful, however, that Mr. Musk will improve the site, somehow. That, in turn, will have its own consequences.

“If it turns into a massive home run,” Mr. Greenfield said, “you’ll see other billionaires try to do the same thing.”

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Putin Repeats Unsupported ‘Dirty Bomb’ Claim, Fueling Fears of Escalation

Credit…Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

KYIV, Ukraine — The pharmacies are empty, prices have skyrocketed and the remaining residents of the city of Kherson have been warned by occupying Russian forces that if they stay in their homes, they could be considered hostile and treated accordingly.

They have been offered only one exit route — farther into areas more firmly under the control of Russian forces.

“We live like in a dystopian movie here,” said Katerina, 38, on Tuesday by telephone. She asked that her full name not be used for her safety. She described widespread looting, empty store shelves and an increasingly threatening atmosphere.

“People are trying to get rid of Russian money as soon as possible,” Katerina said.

Unreliable phone and internet services have made it exceedingly difficult to get information about what is happening in Kherson and across Russian-occupied parts of Ukraine. But details seeping out from photos, video, Ukrainian officials and activists suggest a dangerous situation for the thousands believed to still be there.

On Wednesday, explosions rattled windows across the city. Local activists said it was a Ukrainian strike targeting a Russian base being used to train newly mobilized soldiers. The Ukrainian military has not commented on the strike.

Russian news media reported that the local police station was attacked by a rocket-propelled grenade, releasing video of a damaged building in the city.

Fighting raged across Kherson, with the Ukrainian military southern command saying that it struck Russian positions across the region.

“The enemy is conducting defensive operations and trying to hold the occupied frontiers,” the Ukrainian military said. “With aviation, multiple launch rocket systems, cannon artillery and mortars, the enemy is opening fire on Ukrainian forces all over the contact line.”

The Russian hold on Kherson remains precarious. Kirill Stremousov, a top Russian proxy official in Kherson, claimed on the Telegram messaging app that occupation officials had moved over 22,000 people from the west bank, but Ukrainian officials have said far fewer have left, putting the number at several thousand.

Calling people still in the city “waiters” hoping for success of Ukrainian forces, Mr. Stremousov threatened those who remained with prosecution, adding #Stalin to his message.

He posted a video interrogation of what he said was a 17-year-old who was providing information to the Ukrainian military as evidence of the fate that awaits those who help the Ukrainian military. The video could not be independently verified.

Military analysts have said that it appears the Russian military is making preparations to leave the city and fall back across the Dnipro River to its west bank, where Ukrainian officials have said Russian forces were fortifying their position. But there was no indication of a mass flight of Russian soldiers.

President Vladimir V. Putin in September overruled local commanders who wanted to withdraw across the river, U.S. officials have said, and Ukraine says it believes Russian force still plan to fight.

“The Russians are replenishing, strengthening their grouping there,” Oleksiy Arestovych, a senior adviser to Mr. Zelensky, said in an online video late Tuesday. “It means that nobody is preparing to withdraw. On the contrary, the heaviest of battles is going to take place for Kherson.”

Anna Lukinova contributed reporting from Kyiv.

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Elon Musk Seems to Answer to No One. Except for a Judge in Delaware.

Judge Kathaleen St. J. McCormick has become a very important person in the rambunctious life of Elon Musk.

The Delaware Chancery Court judge has given Mr. Musk until Friday to close his long-promised, $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter. If he doesn’t, Judge McCormick will preside over a trial in November that could end with Mr. Musk being forced to make good on the deal he made with Twitter in April.

The 43-year-old judge is also expected to preside over another case involving Mr. Musk in November. A Tesla shareholder accused him in a lawsuit of unjustly enriching himself with his compensation package while running the electric vehicle company, which is Mr. Musk’s main source of wealth. The package, which consisted entirely of a stock grant, is now worth around $50 billion based on Tesla’s share price.

Judge McCormick is also overseeing three other shareholder lawsuits against Mr. Musk, though it is not yet clear whether those will go to trial, too.

before it represented Mr. Musk. But, he said, “the deal will either close and then she will be a hero. Or not and Musk will look really bad.”

As a young girl, Judge McCormick played first base on the softball team and managed the high school football team. She has a long-held soft spot for the book “To Kill a Mockingbird,” about a Black man in small-town Alabama who was wrongfully accused of sexual assault.

unsolicited bid worth more than $40 billion for the social network, saying he wanted to make Twitter a private company and allow people to speak more freely on the service.

She then worked as a staff attorney with the Community Legal Aid Society, where she represented the needy and victims of domestic violence. She moved to a corporate law role at the firm Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor in 2007, a mainstay in the Delaware legal circuit.

In 2018, she was nominated by John Carney, the governor of Delaware, to serve as vice chancellor on the state’s high court, the Delaware Chancery Court. In 2021, Gov. Carney nominated Ms. McCormick to become the first woman to lead the court.

More than 1.8 million businesses are incorporated in Delaware, including more than two thirds of Fortune 500 companies — and they all look to the court for guidance. When Twitter filed its lawsuit against Mr. Musk in July forcing him to close his acquisition, its case went to Delaware, where the company, like many others, is incorporated.

Judge McCormick, who has first dibs on any proceeding that comes before the court, chose herself of among a court of seven judges to oversee one of the most high profile corporate court battles in years.

At a hearing in September, as lawyers for Mr. Musk argued to delay the trial to take into account new claims from a whistle-blower, she poked at the billionaire’s decision to skip due diligence in his race to sign the deal in April. When Mr. Musk’s lawyer argued it would have been impossible to find out about the whistle-blower before the deal, she interjected, “We’ll never know, will we?” She added that “there was no due diligence.”

wrote in a ruling.

“She evidently was not putting up with any nonsense,” said Lawrence Hamermesh, a professor of law at Delaware Law School.

In October, after weeks of presiding over bruising back and forth arguments between the two sides, Judge McCormick granted Mr. Musk’s requests to put the trial on hold to give him more time to complete his financing for the acquisition. Judge McCormick granted him until Oct. 28 — a three-week delay.

“She had one eye on the clock,” said Brian Quinn, a professor at Boston College Law School, noting the two sides did not seem ready for a trial just two weeks away. “Another eye,” Mr. Quinn said, was “on potential appeals. She is looking forward saying, ‘Well, what if I ruled against Musk, and he appealed, and his appeal is that I pushed him — I rushed him toward the trial when he wanted to close the deal.’”

Judge McCormick is well-versed in trials involving deals with buyers that tried to walk away. As an associate at the law firm Young Conaway Stargatt and Taylor, she worked on cases involving deals that went awry when the stock market crashed in 2008. That included representing the chemical company Huntsman in 2008 when the private equity firm Apollo Global Management scuttled the deal it had struck to combine the chemical company with another it owned.

That deal, and others like it, paved the way for the kinds of contracts Twitter signed with Mr. Musk. Sellers learned how to prevent buyers from trying similar escape hatches. Companies increasingly structure deals with “specific performance” clauses allowing them to force a deal to close.

to follow through with its acquisition of a cake supplier after it argued that the pandemic had materially damaged the business by curbing demand for party cake.

Kohlberg contended it could not complete the deal because its debt financing had fallen apart. Judge McCormick did not buy that argument.

If Mr. Musk does not come through with Twitter’s money by Friday, that could ding his credibility in court, legal experts say. That could matter in November, when Judge McCormick is set to preside over a separate trial involving Mr. Musk and his compensation.

The case, filed in 2018, had originally been assigned to another judge on the Delaware Chancery Court, Joseph R. Slights III, before he retired in January. Judge McCormick picked up the case on Jan. 12, the same month Mr. Musk began to buy up shares of Twitter stock that ultimately led to his planned purchase of the company.

“It’s not ideal for him,” said Ann Lipton, a professor of corporate governance at Tulane Law School, of Mr. Musk’s multiple run-ins with Judge McCormick. “She’s uniquely low drama, which is the opposite of Musk. ”

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U.K. Live Updates: Rishi Sunak Will Become the U.K.’s Next Prime Minister on Tuesday

Rishi Sunak already has experience steering Britain’s public finances through a crisis, but that is unlikely to make tackling the country’s economic challenges any less daunting.

As chancellor of the Exchequer from February 2020 to July this year, Mr. Sunak spent heavily to shield households and businesses from some of the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic. Back then, inflation was low and the Bank of England was buying government debt, helping keep interest rates low as borrowing ballooned to pay for the large increase in spending.

Now, Mr. Sunak, who is set to be Britain’s next prime minister after being named leader of the Conservative Party on Monday, will face a very different economic backdrop: The inflation rate has topped 10 percent, the highest in 40 years and, like many countries, the economy is slowing down and at risk of falling into a recession. Meanwhile, the Bank of England is continuing to raise interest rates to curb inflation, and won’t be there to purchase government debt because starting next month it is planning to slowly sell its holdings of bonds. That means the government will rely more on investors, who have been demanding higher interest rates, than the central bank to buy bonds.

In these circumstances, Mr. Sunak has several urgent issues to resolve. One is how to support households squeezed by rising energy costs, after Russia’s war in Ukraine introduced huge volatility into global energy markets. As things stand, household bills have been frozen from this month through to April at an average of 2,500 pounds ($2,826) a year, but after that the government is expected to develop a cheaper policy to help the most vulnerable households. A similar policy is in place to help businesses for six months.

After setting aside tens of billions of pounds to keep energy bills down, the government is also under pressure to show how it will keep borrowing in check, in an effort to restore Britain’s fiscal credibility in markets. Jeremy Hunt, the finance minister recently installed by Liz Truss but a supporter of Mr. Sunak, is scheduled to deliver a fiscal statement on Oct. 31 that he said would show Britain’s debt falling as a share of national income over the medium term.

To bring down debt levels, “decisions of eye-watering difficulty” on spending and tax will need to be made, Mr. Hunt has said. He said he will be asking every government department to find ways to save money despite their already stretched budgets. At the same time, Mr. Hunt said taxes are likely to rise as well. Mr. Sunak, however, is not obligated to keep Mr. Hunt as chancellor or stick to the current timetable for the fiscal statement, though many analysts expect him to.

“The United Kingdom is a great country, but there is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge,” Mr. Sunak said on Monday in a short speech. “We now need stability and unity.”

At this stage, Mr. Sunak hasn’t revealed details about his economic plan as prime minister but investors appear to be taking the prospect of his premiership in their stride.

The pound is trading at about $1.13, a little higher than it was on Sept. 22 before the tax-cutting plan by Ms. Truss that roiled markets, pushing the pound steeply lower and borrowing costs higher. Government bonds yields have fallen from their recent highs. On Monday afternoon, the yield on 10-year bonds was at about 3.75 percent, after closing at 4 percent on Friday. It’s the lowest level since the fiscal statement by Ms. Truss’s government in September.

Lower interest rates will be a comfort to Mr. Sunak. For one, lower rates will shrink the amount of money the Treasury will need to set aside for interest rate payments, which could ease spending cuts and tax increases. But there are other reminders of the economic difficulties Britain faces.

On Monday, a measure of economic activity in Britain dropped, as the services industry posted its worst monthly decline since January 2021, according to the Purchasing Managers’ Index which measures economic trends. The index for both services and manufacturing activity fell to 47.2 points. A reading below 50 means a contraction in activity.

The data showed that the pace of economic decline was gathering momentum, said Chris Williamson, an economist at S&P Global Market Intelligence.

And on Friday, the credit ratings agency Moody’s changed its outlook on Britain to negative, from stable, while reaffirming the country’s current Aa3 investment grade rating. A lower credit rating tends to lead to higher government borrowing costs.

Moody’s said the outlook was changed to negative because of the “heightened unpredictability in policymaking amid weaker growth prospects and high inflation.” There was also a risk that increased borrowing would challenge Britain’s debt affordability, especially if there was a “sustained weakening in policy credibility.”

These are just the latest in a laundry list of the government’s economic concerns. They include supporting low-income households against the rising cost of living, encouraging investment to improve weak productivity growth, smoothing Britain’s trading relationship with the European Union and growing the labor market to ensure businesses can find people with the right skills.

“We need a clear long-term vision of how the new prime minister will deal with the challenges ahead,” Shevaun Haviland, the director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said in a statement, “and create the business conditions that allow firms, and the communities that rely on them, to thrive.” 

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Beazer Homes USA, Inc. to Webcast Its Fourth Quarter and Full Year Fiscal 2022 Financial Results Conference Call on November 10, 2022

ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Beazer Homes (NYSE: BZH) (www.beazer.com) has scheduled the release of its financial results for the quarter ended September 30, 2022 on Thursday, November 10, 2022 after the close of the market. Management will host a conference call on the same day at 5:00 PM ET to discuss the results.

The public may listen to the conference call and view the Company’s slide presentation on the “Investor Relations” page of the Company’s website, www.beazer.com. In addition, the conference call will be available by telephone at 800-475-0542 (for international callers, dial 517-308-9429). To be admitted to the call, enter the pass code “8571348.” A replay of the conference call will be available, until 10:00 PM ET on November 18, 2022 at 888-566-0411 (for international callers, dial 203-369-3041) with pass code “3740.”

About Beazer Homes

Headquartered in Atlanta, Beazer Homes (NYSE: BZH) is one of the country’s largest homebuilders. Every Beazer home is designed and built to provide Surprising Performance, giving you more quality and more comfort from the moment you move in – saving you money every month. With Beazer’s Choice Plans™, you can personalize your primary living areas – giving you a choice of how you want to live in the home, at no additional cost. And unlike most national homebuilders, we empower our customers to shop and compare loan options. Our Mortgage Choice program gives you the resources to easily compare multiple loan offers and choose the best lender and loan offer for you, saving you thousands over the life of your loan.

We build our homes in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. For more information, visit beazer.com, or check out Beazer on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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Suzanne Scott’s Vision for Fox News Gets Tested in Court

The Murdochs, however, have been forced to make hard choices about even their most favored chief executives when scandal overwhelms. In 2010, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of Fox Corporation, reluctantly pushed out Rebekah Brooks, who ran his British newspapers and was a close protégé, amid a police investigation into phone hacking by journalists who worked for her.


How Times reporters cover politics. We rely on our journalists to be independent observers. So while Times staff members may vote, they are not allowed to endorse or campaign for candidates or political causes. This includes participating in marches or rallies in support of a movement or giving money to, or raising money for, any political candidate or election cause.

Ms. Scott maintains a much more discreet profile than her predecessor, Roger Ailes, a whisperer to Republican presidents who cultivated a Svengali-like image in the media before numerous accusations of sexual harassment led to his downfall.

She grew up in Northern New Jersey, where she lives today with her husband and teenage daughter. Her first job for Fox was as an assistant to one of Mr. Ailes’s top deputies. Her first big promotion was to a senior producer position on Greta Van Susteren’s show. She would go on to oversee network talent, and then programming.

Colleagues say she pays careful attention to what’s on Fox, often watching from her office with the sound off and occasionally offering advice to producers and hosts on how sets could look better, outfits sharper and guests could be more compelling.

Under her direction, Fox News has maintained not only one of the biggest audiences in cable but in all of television, occasionally drawing more viewers than traditional broadcast networks like ABC. And Fox News collects far higher ad rates than its competitors — an average of almost $9,000 for a 30-second commercial in prime time, compared with about $6,200 for CNN and $5,300 for MSNBC, according to the Standard Media Index, an independent research firm. (The writer of this article is an MSNBC contributor.)

As chief executive, Ms. Scott has adopted a mostly deferential view of dealing with talent, current and former hosts said.

Mr. Ailes believed that no host should ever assume they were bigger than the network — or him. In 2010, for instance, after Mr. Hannity made plans to broadcast his show from a Tea Party rally in Cincinnati where organizers had billed him as the star attraction, Mr. Ailes ordered the host to scrap his plans and return to New York, threatening to “put a chimpanzee on the air” if he didn’t make it back in time, recalled one former Fox employee.

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How Credit Suisse Became a Meme Stock

“Credit Suisse is probably going bankrupt.”

It was Saturday, Oct. 1, and Jim Lewis, who frequently posts on Twitter under the moniker Wall Street Silver, made that assertion to his more than 300,000 followers. “Markets are saying it’s insolvent and probably bust. 2008 moment soon?”

Mr. Lewis was among hundreds of people — many of them amateur investors — who had been speculating about the fate of Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank. It was in the middle of a restructuring and had become an easy target after decades of scandals, failed attempts at reform and management upheavals.

There seemed to be no immediate provocation for Mr. Lewis’s weekend tweet other than a memo that Ulrich Körner, the chief executive of Credit Suisse, had sent employees the day before, reassuring them that the bank was in good financial health.

But the tweet, which has been liked more than 11,000 times and retweeted more than 3,000 times, was one of many that helped ignite a firestorm on social media forums like Twitter and Reddit. The rumor that Credit Suisse was in trouble ricocheted around the world, stumping bank executives and forcing them to call shareholders, trading partners and analysts to reassure them that everything was fine before markets reopened on Monday.

prop up the shares of GameStop, the video game retailer, determined to outsmart hedge funds that had bet the company’s shares would fall.

But what started as a spontaneous effort to take down Wall Street has since become an established presence in the market. Millions of amateur investors have embraced trading, including more sophisticated strategies such as shorting. As the Credit Suisse incident shows, their actions highlight a new source of peril for troubled companies.

Founded in Switzerland in 1856 to help finance the expansion of railroads in the tiny European nation, Credit Suisse has two main units — a private wealth management business and an investment bank. However, the bank has often struggled to maintain a pristine reputation.

It has been the repository of funds from businesspeople who are under sanctions, human rights abusers and intelligence officials. The U.S. government has fined it billions of dollars for its role in helping Americans file false tax returns, marketing mortgage-backed securities tied to the 2008 financial crisis and helping customers in Iran, Sudan and elsewhere breach U.S. sanctions.

In the United States, Credit Suisse built its investment banking business through acquisitions, starting with the 1990 purchase of First Boston. But without a core focus, the bank — whose top bosses sit in Switzerland — has often allowed mavericks to pursue new revenue streams and take outsize risks without adequate supervision.

collapsed. Credit Suisse was one of many Wall Street banks that traded with Archegos, the private investment firm of Bill Hwang, a former star money manager. Yet it lost $5.5 billion, far more than its rivals. The bank later admitted that a “fundamental failure of management and controls” had led to the debacle.

surveillance of Credit Suisse executives under his watch. He left the bank in a stable and profitable condition and invested appropriately across its various divisions, his spokesman, Andy Smith, said.

Credit Suisse replaced Mr. Thiam with Thomas Gottstein, a longtime bank executive. When Archegos collapsed, the bank kept Mr. Gottstein on the job, but he started working with a new chairman, António Horta-Osório, who had been appointed a few months earlier to restructure the bank.

resigned after an inquiry into whether he had broken quarantine rules during the pandemic. But he made swift changes in his short tenure. To reduce risk taking, Mr. Horta-Osório said, the bank would close most of its prime brokerage businesses, which involve lending to big trading firms like Archegos. Credit Suisse also lost a big source of revenue as the market for special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, cooled.

By July, Credit Suisse had announced its third consecutive quarterly loss. Mr. Gottstein was replaced by Mr. Körner, a veteran of the rival Swiss bank UBS.

Mr. Körner and the chairman, Axel Lehmann, who replaced Mr. Horta-Osório, are expected to unveil a new restructuring plan on Oct. 27 in an effort to convince investors of the bank’s long-term viability and profitability. The stock of Credit Suisse has dipped so much in the past year that its market value — which stood around $12 billion — is comparable to that of a regional U.S. bank, smaller than Fifth Third or Citizens Financial Group.

appeared on Reddit.

Mr. Macleod said he had decided that Credit Suisse was in bad shape after looking at what he deemed the best measure of a bank’s value — the price of its stock relative to its “book value,” or assets minus liabilities. Most Wall Street analysts factor in a broader set of measures.

But “bearing in mind that most followers on Twitter and Reddit are not financial professionals,” he said, “it would have been a wake-up call for them.”

The timing puzzled the bank’s analysts, major investors and risk managers. Credit Suisse had longstanding problems, but no sudden crisis or looming bankruptcy.

Some investors said the Sept. 30 memo sent by Mr. Körner, the bank’s chief executive, reassuring staff that Credit Suisse stood on a “strong capital base and liquidity position” despite recent market gyrations had the opposite effect on stock watchers.

Credit Suisse took the matter seriously. Over the weekend of Oct. 1, bank executives called clients to reassure them that the bank had more than the amount of capital required by regulators. The bigger worry was that talk of a liquidity crisis would become a self-fulfilling prophecy, prompting lenders to pull credit lines and depositors to pull cash, which could drain money from the bank quickly — an extreme and even unlikely scenario given the bank’s strong financial position.

“Banks rely on sentiment,” Mr. Scholtz, the Morningstar analyst, said. “If all depositors want their money back tomorrow, the money isn’t there. It’s the reality of banking. These things can snowball.”

What had snowballed was the volume of trading in Credit Suisse’s stock by small investors, which had roughly doubled from Friday to Monday, according to a gauge of retail activity from Nasdaq Data Link.

Amateur traders who gather on social media can’t trade sophisticated products like credit-default swaps — products that protect against companies’ reneging on their debts. But their speculation drove the price of these swaps past levels reached during the 2008 financial crisis.

Some asset managers said they had discussed the fate of the bank at internal meetings after the meme stock mania that was unleashed in early October. While they saw no immediate risk to Credit Suisse’s solvency, some decided to cut trading with the bank anyway until risks subsided.

In another private message on Twitter, Mr. Lewis declined to speak further about why he had predicted that Credit Suisse would collapse.

“The math and evidence is fairly obvious at this point,” he wrote. “If you disagree, the burden is really on you to support that position.”

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Working a 65-hour week and struggling to make ends meet: welcome to Phoenix

José Beltrán wakes up at 4.45am, has a cup of coffee and lets his dog out before heading to the hospital for his 6.30am shift. For the next 12 hours, he works as a certified nursing assistant in a Covid unit, helping patients who are on mechanical ventilation. When he gets home, he has a couple of hours before bedtime – time he’ll spend having dinner with his family, then hitting the books as he studies to get into nursing school himself.

It’s a grueling routine: last week alone, he was scheduled to work 57.5 hours at the hospital. The job can be harrowing and requires absolute focus: when there’s a code blue, a patient needs resuscitation and it’s up to Beltrán to help save a life. “It’s the highest thrill in my field,” he says. “It’s a privilege to be able to do that. I couldn’t do it if I didn’t love it.”

But in the past year, things have gotten tougher.

.

Beltrán lives in Phoenix, Arizona, which in August saw inflation hit 13% over the preceding 12 months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – a record for any US city over the past two decades. Nationally, the figure was 8.3%. Gas prices were up 33.5% in the area versus 26.2% across the US. Economists have pointed to the surging housing costs and rapid post-lockdown job growth as key drivers of inflation in the Phoenix region – among the fastest-growing in the country – where the average household devotes 34% of its budget to housing.

Beltrán and his wife, a full-time accountant, have felt the soaring prices at the gas station and the grocery store. A gallon of milk cost $1.98 in the city in 2018; at Beltran’s local supermarket, it’s now $3.49.

Adding to the hardship is the fact that Beltrán’s hospital work depends on the number of patients who need care – on any given day, he could get a 4.30am text informing him that his shift is canceled. “If I don’t make full-time hours, I might be in a bind by the end of the month,” he says. “Those days of working one job and sustaining a household on one income – those days are long gone.”

As prices have gone up, Beltrán has taken on even more work to make ends meet: on top of his hospital hours, last year he began taking shifts for two other healthcare agencies, sometimes pushing his weekly working hours to 65. And he’s not alone in his field; he says he doesn’t know of a nursing assistant on his floor who doesn’t have to work two jobs.

Beltrán, 34, is a warm, soft-spoken host in his tidy living room, where a test-prep book for nursing school is a constant presence on the table and his dog, Solo, is a constant presence under it. Still in his scrubs after a long day, he describes growing up in San Diego and moving to Phoenix in 2015, when he was “in search of a place or a state where I could afford to live by myself,” he says. “Now in 2022, we’re slowly leveling to that cost of living where I came from.”

Many in the Phoenix area can identify with Beltrán’s plight.

At Matthew’s Crossing, a food pantry in nearby Chandler, adults and their children check in at a window and receive a brightly colored card with a large number, which they display on their cars in the baking Phoenix heat. Inside, cheerful volunteers inspect food donations and assemble packages. Then they emerge to greet the waiting families, with a dolly full of food and other supplies.

More and more people working with full-time jobs are struggling to put food on the table. According to Jan Terhune, the executive director of Matthew’s Crossing, “well over 50%” of the site’s clients worked full-time as of a year and a half ago,” the last time they conducted a review. Now, “I don’t think it would be a stretch to say it’s upwards of 60%,” she says.

Ten per cent of those who visit each month are typically new clients. But these days, it’s more than 20%, Terhune says. “The majority of those new clients will share with you that they never thought they’d ever see themselves having to ask others for help.”

That’s an experience Stephanie Cudjo, 40, hopes her two children will never have as adults.

Seated outside her office on a lunch break this month, Cudjo has a broad smile and an easy composure. But like Beltrán, Cudjo has found that a single, full-time job isn’t enough to support her daughter and son, who are now 16 and 11. After her day job at a law firm, where she often works more than 90 hours in a two-week pay period, she’ll run errands, cook, and help her kids with their homework. In the late evenings, she goes online to her second job, doing clerical work for a multinational company. “My son says, ‘Mom, you come home and you just go back to work again.’ I go, ‘Well, how are we gonna survive?’”

Cudjo, whose mother died when she was 11 and whose father was largely absent, spent her early years moving between caretakers and battling for basic needs. “A lot of [my] childhood was on the streets, homeless, losing apartments, living in hotels, not knowing where we were gonna get food,” she says of herself and her brother.

Cudjo’s young adulthood was marked by a battle with cancer that forced her to move to Phoenix eight years ago. Her illness meant that her children might have been placed in foster care had she not moved closer to family. Arriving with no job, she and her kids bounced from place to place until she found low-income housing and work as a legal support clerk at the firm in downtown Phoenix – a job she loves.

Her housing situation remains uncertain: “My fear is to be homeless again. Jumping here and there, living out of your car – that’s my fear,” she says.

Through it all, Cudjo remains upbeat. “I’ve overcome a lot. I’m learning from the struggles I went through,” she says. “As long as I’m working and I can provide for the children and have a roof over our head, that’s all I want. I don’t try to think bigger, better. I’m trying to live for now.”

Beltrán echoes those sentiments. Having grown up in federally subsidized housing, he now has his own place and a job in healthcare – a goal he’s had since childhood, when he learned to help his grandmother manage her diabetes. He’s worked in the industry for 12 years: “What keeps me here is the fact that you learn something new every day.”

He adores Phoenix: “If it was up to me, I wouldn’t leave,” he says on a trip to the local supermarket. But he has considered moving once again in search of a lower cost of living. Pointing to staples like bread, eggs and cheese, Beltrán reflects on surging prices. “Essentially, we plan to pay double now” for groceries, he says. “You figure out what your needs are rather than what your wants are.”

As we enter another aisle, an older man passes on his way to the checkout area. Perhaps seeing Beltrán’s scrubs, he says out of the blue: “Have a blessed night.” Beltrán has never met him.

“Today was literally a 13-hour day,” Beltrán says afterward. “That kind of comment makes it all worth it.”

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How Ukraine’s Surrogate Mothers Have Survived the War

KYIV, Ukraine — After months huddled in a basement to escape shelling, a surrogate mother named Viktoria was able to get her family, and the unborn child she carried for foreign clients, away from the fighting in northeastern Ukraine.

She could do so, she said, because her employer, a surrogacy agency, had offered financial aid and an apartment in the capital, Kyiv, to ensure her safety and the baby’s. And although she had initially been reluctant to leave her home, Kharkiv, even under artillery attacks, she is now glad to live in relative security.

“I would not have left if the clinic had not persuaded me,” she said.

Viktoria is one of hundreds of surrogate mothers who have brought pregnancies to term over seven harrowing months, running for safety as air-raid sirens sounded, surviving in bomb shelters, then fleeing from ruined towns to deliver children for parents abroad.

Before Russia invaded in February, Ukraine was a major provider of surrogacy, one of the few countries that allows it for foreign clients. After a pause in the spring, surrogacy agencies are resuming their work, reviving an industry that many childless people rely on but that critics have called exploitative and that, in peacetime, was already ethically and logistically complex.

the business would unravel — especially as Russia tried and failed to seize Kyiv in the war’s early weeks — have proved overblown. Life in western and central Ukraine has largely stabilized despite fighting in southern and eastern regions and the continued risks of long-range missile strikes.

“We did not lose a single one,” said Ihor Pechenoha, the medical director at BioTexCom, Ukraine’s largest surrogacy agency and clinic. “We managed to bring all our surrogate mothers out from under occupation and shelling.”

marooned in a basement nursery in Kyiv. For weeks and months, it was difficult or impossible for biological parents to reach their children in Ukraine, but by August, all of the babies had gone home.

The war has not diminished the appeal of surrogacy for couples desperate to have children, said Albert Tochylovsky, the director of BioTexCom. “They are in a hurry,” he said. “To explain, ‘We have a war going on,’ doesn’t work.”

Before Russia launched its full-scale invasion, BioTexCom was impregnating about 50 women per month. Since the beginning of June, the company has begun at least 15 new pregnancies.

With the money that the business brings in, Mr. Tochylovsky said, surrogate mothers have been moved from frontline towns and Russia-occupied regions to safer places, like Kyiv.

criticism that it leaves poor women vulnerable to exploitation by clients and agencies. Advocates of gestational surrogacy, in which surrogate mothers undergo in vitro fertilization to deliver the babies of clients who cannot have children on their own, say the practice is invaluable to such couples and offers a potentially life-changing sum for surrogates.

“I do it for money, but why not?” said Olha, 28, who started a new surrogate pregnancy this summer. “I have good health and can help people who have money” and want children, she added.

Before the war, the business thrived in Ukraine, where surrogate mothers typically earn about $20,000 per child they deliver. The war has made financial security even more urgent.

One 30-year-old surrogate mother, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she had evacuated from Melitopol in Russia-occupied southern Ukraine and feared she could be targeted for reprisal, said she credited the job with getting her family out. “With the help of surrogacy,” she said, “I saved my family.”

many new quandaries for the women, clients and medical personnel. Viktoria and her family face one such dilemma: Her payment will help them survive, but it is far from clear where they should go after her recovery from a C-section. The family has remained in the apartment rented by the clinic in Kyiv; her hometown, Kharkiv, is still hit by regular shelling.

For many surrogate mothers, the question was about where to deliver. Threats included not just fighting, but how the authorities established by the Russian occupation government would handle a surrogate birth.

A surrogate named Nadia lived in a village in Russia-occupied territory that was not at risk of artillery shelling. But she decided to evacuate to Ukrainian-controlled territory to deliver the baby, lest the biological parents be deprived of custody, and she lose the fee.

She spent two days with her husband and 11-year-old daughter sleeping in a car on a roadside that is sometimes shelled, waiting to cross the front line.

Ms. Burkovska, the small-agency owner, went into the war with two stranded surrogate babies in her care. In contrast to most surrogacy agencies, she cares for newborns in her own home before biological parents pick them up. For a time, she had to shelter in a basement with the newborns, her partner and her own children.

As more babies arrived in the first months of war, she wound up with seven newborns whose biological parents could not immediately retrieve them, as travel to wartime Ukraine became difficult and as some remaining coronavirus restrictions, like China’s, caused delays.

Ms. Burkovska’s own children helped care for the infants until their parents could get them. By August, most of the parents had arrived to pick up their children.

A Chinese client with BioTexCom, Zhang Zong, was one of those who struggled to reach Kyiv through travel delays. He said the wait had been excruciating. “I was very worried because of the war,” he said.

Meeting his 6-month-old son, he said, was both thrilling and a little strange. “I was extremely excited when they let me hug him,” Mr. Zhang said. “He has been here for a long time and everyone hugs him, everyone likes him, and I am not so special.”

But he added that was only for now. “When he grows up,” Mr. Zhang said, “I can tell him this story.”

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Democrats Spent $2 Trillion to Save the Economy. They Don’t Want to Talk About It.

“We in Georgia found ourselves trying to claw back from a historic pandemic, the likes of which we haven’t seen in our lifetime, which created an economic shutdown,” he said. “And now, seeing the economy open up, we’ve experienced major supply chain issues, which have contributed to rising costs.”

Direct pandemic payments were begun under Mr. Trump and continued under Mr. Biden, with no serious talk of another round after the ones delivered in the rescue plan. Most Democrats had hoped the one-year, $100 billion child credit in the rescue plan would be made permanent in a new piece of legislation.

But the credit expired, largely because Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia and a key swing vote, opposed its inclusion in what would become the Inflation Reduction Act, citing concerns the additional money would exacerbate inflation.

Senator Michael Bennet, Democrat of Colorado, was one of the Senate’s most vocal cheerleaders for that credit and an architect of the version included in the rescue plan. His campaign has aired Spanish-language radio ads on the credit in his re-election campaign, targeting a group his team says is particularly favorable toward it, but no television ads. In an interview last week outside a Denver coffee shop, Mr. Bennet conceded the expiration of the credit has sapped some of its political punch.

“It certainly came up when it was here, and it certainly came up when it went away,” he said. “But it’s been some months since that was true. I think, obviously, we’d love to have that right now. Families were getting an average of 450 bucks a month. That would have defrayed a lot of inflation that they’re having to deal with.”

Mr. Biden’s advisers say the rescue plan and its components aren’t being deployed on the trail because other issues have overwhelmed them — from Mr. Biden’s long list of economic bills signed into law as well as the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade that has galvanized the Democratic base. They acknowledge the political and economic challenge posed by rapid inflation, but say Democratic candidates are doing well to focus on direct responses to it, like the efforts to reduce costs of insulin and other prescription drugs.

Ms. Lake, the Democratic pollster, said talking more about the child credit could help re-energize Democratic voters for the midterms. Mr. Warnock’s speech in Dunwoody — an admittedly small sample — suggested otherwise.

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