Russia gains key ground as Ukraine’s army risks reaching its breaking point. Mexico is stopping nearly three times as many migrants as it did last year, data shows. And meet the best dog at least by the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show’s standards. 

Here’s what to know today.

Russia makes gains around Ukraine’s second city

Russia’s new offensive gained momentum today around Ukraine’s second-largest city, the latest morale gut punch for Kyiv as it struggles to contain this new front in the war following delays in crucial military aid from the United States.

Even as Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in the country to reassure it of Washington’s support, Ukraine was dealt new setbacks by the advancing Russian military in the northeast.

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Ukraine’s army said it had withdrawn some of its forces from more areas around the city of Kharkiv, while local officials said Russian troops had taken up positions inside the key front-line town of Vovchansk.

It’s part of a new, armored assault launched by Russia last week, which could strain an already stretched Ukrainian army to breaking point. Kyiv, which has been pleading for more help from the West, fears Moscow may also be massing troops for new border incursions elsewhere. Last month, Congress approved $60 billion of military aid for Ukraine, but only after months of political wrangling and resistance by Republicans. That delay has offered the Kremlin a window for a summer offensive that was threatening to make crucial gains on the battlefield while its forces bombarded Kharkiv from the air.

How Mexico is keeping U.S. border crossings down

Isaac Guzman / AFP via Getty Images

Mexico’s increased efforts to stop migrants who have crossed its southern border has helped blunt the surge of crossings usually seen at the U.S.-Mexico border at this time of year. According to U.S. officials, Mexico is stopping nearly three times as many migrants in the country as it did a year ago — and in March, more migrants were stopped inside Mexico than in the U.S.

Early last year, Mexico interdicted roughly 100,000 migrants per month at its southern border or inside the country, and the U.S. was apprehending more than 193,000 migrants monthly at the U.S.-Mexico border. In March of this year, more than 280,000 migrants were stopped inside Mexico, and 189,000 were stopped in the U.S., according to figures obtained by NBC News.

Customs and Border Protection officials said April’s figures, which have yet to be publicly released, are expected to continue to show relatively low numbers compared to the seasonal uptick usually seen in April and May. 

The high numbers of migrants stopped in Mexico show how chaotic the U.S. border could become if Mexico cannot sustain its interdiction efforts. Another spike in border crossings could hurt President Joe Biden in the coming election, especially as former President Donald Trump claims his administration was more successful at controlling the border. 

U.S. officials say Mexico’s willingness to interdict more migrants is in large part due to increased dialogue between the two countries on issues such as immigration, fentanyl and illegal firearms tracking. But the Biden administration is not the first to work jointly with Mexico to address migration and other border issues.

Read the full story here.

Inflation is expected to plateau, but some prices are coming down

The Bureau of Labor Statistics will release new data today on the consumer price index for the month of April, and economists expect the numbers to be virtually unchanged from March’s 3.5%. Rent growth is the likely culprit keeping figures elevated, economists say. And costs in the so-called services category — everything from haircuts to auto repair to visits to the doctor — have also continued to grow. The Federal Reserve is targeting a 2% inflation rate.

Despite some higher prices, there are some bright spots. Food and energy prices climbed at a rate essentially in line with the Fed’s goal, at 2.2% and 2.1% in March. Car prices are also coming down after a pandemic boom. And incomes are still growing.

Cohen faces tense questioning from Trump’s attorneys

Michael Cohen returned to the witness stand in Trump’s hush money trial for a cross-examination that was tense at times as the defense tried to paint Trump’s former lawyer as dishonest. But before that, prosecutors finished up their questioning, asking Cohen about the FBI raid on his home and office in 2018, Trump’s promise to protect him and Cohen’s decision to break with the former president.

Cross-examination began in fiery fashion when Trump attorney Todd Blanche told Cohen that they had never met but that Cohen referred to him on TikTok as a “crying little s—.” The comment was met with an immediate objection. 

From there, Blanche hopped around between different topics and time frames, covering the lies Cohen told “to protect” Trump and Cohen’s media appearances and the different ways he’s insulted Trump. The defense also worked to establish Cohen’s interest in cooperating with the prosecution. Read more takeaways from Day 17 of the trial. 

Cross-examination picks back up tomorrow. There is no court today.

More Trump news: 

  • The lower Manhattan courthouse has turned into a proving ground for Trump’s vice presidential prospects, with supporters such as Sen. JD Vance, House Speaker Mike Johnson and former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy attending trial and show their support. 

Truck driver charged in Florida crash that killed 8 people, injured 40

The driver of a pickup truck that collided with a bus carrying farmworkers in Florida has been charged, officials said, hours after the crash killed eight people and hospitalized 40 others. Bryan Maclean Howard has been charged with eight counts of driving under the influence-manslaughter, officials said. There is a “high probability that the death count could rise because many of the injured were in “very serious condition,” Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Pat Riordan said.

The crash happened early yesterday on a rural, rain-slicked road about 80 miles north of Orlando. The pickup truck driven by Howard sideswiped the bus traveling in the opposite direction, causing the bus to barrel off the roadway, go through a fence, strike a tree and land overturned in a field, Riordan said. The farmworkers aboard the bus are in the U.S. on work visas, said Dominique O’Connor of the Farmworker Association of Florida. Here’s what else we know.

Meet the best dogs — at least by the Westminster Kennel Club’s standards

Westminster Dog Show highlights cover gif May 15, 2024.
AP; Getty Images

Every dog has its day — and yesterday it was for Sage the miniature poodle, the Westminster Kennel Club’s best in show. The victory was extra special for her handler, Kaz Hosaka, who said last night’s show was his last after 45 years of competing in Westminster. Mercedes the German shepherd was awarded reserve best in show, essentially second place.

Sage beat out dozens of other good boys and girls to be awarded the year’s top dog. See photos from this year’s competition.

Politics in Brief 

Primary results: Angela Alsobrooks defeated self-funding opponent Rep. David Trone in Maryland’s Democratic Senate primary after a bitter and expensive campaign. She faces Republican Larry Hogan, a popular former two-term governor, in November.

Maryland state Sen. Sarah Elfreth won the Democratic primary for an open House seat, defeating Harry Dunn, a 15-year veteran of the Capitol Police force who battled rioters on Jan. 6.

And Derrick Evans, who pleaded guilty for his actions on Jan. 6 but has since rebranded himself as a “political prisoner,” lost a Republican House primary race in West Virginia against Rep. Carol Miller.

Here are other results from notable races in Maryland, Nebraska and West Virginia.

Chuck Todd analysis: Results from The New York Times’ surveys of presidential battlegrounds indicate that Democrats have a Biden problem right now more than a party-brand problem. NBC News chief political analyst Chuck Todd explores what it might take for Biden’s campaign to change voters’ perceptions before Election Day.

Want more politics news? Sign up for From the Politics Desk to get exclusive reporting and analysis delivered to your inbox every weekday evening. Subscribe here.

Staff Pick: Why meme stock mania is back

The most influential person on Wall Street right now is not a banker, a CEO or a venture capitalist. It’s a guy who, armed solely with an X account, has made the stocks of at least a half-dozen faltering companies roar back to life. With a single post under his “Roaring Kitty” account, Keith Gill, a father in his 30s, sent the stocks of GameStop, AMC, Blackberry and others soaring.

Nothing in these businesses has actually changed, but there have already been real-world consequences. For one, people who were betting against these companies, known as short sellers, have now lost at least $2 billion. — Rob Wile, business reporter 

In Case You Missed It

  • The ship that caused the Baltimore bridge collapse in March lost power twice before it slammed into the bridge, a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board showed.
  • Caitlin Clark struggled in her pro basketball debut as the Connecticut Sun claimed a 92-71 victory over the Indiana Fever.
  • Boeing could be subject to prosecution after the Justice Department said the company violated a 2021 agreement that protected it from criminal charges tied to fatal 737 Max crashes.
  • The United Nations’ new breakdown of the number of women and children killed in Gaza has sparked confusion and anger.
  • Kansas City Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker railed against Pride month and Biden during a commencement speech.

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