Your Friday Briefing

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, after he addressed Congress.Credit…Kenny Holston/The New York Times

Zelensky’s speech in D.C.

Volodymyr Zelensky, the leader of Ukraine, is traveling back home after a high-profile visit to Washington. His speech to Congress was carefully calibrated to show him as grateful for the support he had already received while gently demanding more tanks and military aid.

Amid the darkness and cold from Russian missile strikes that have knocked out power for millions of people, the surprise presidential trip buoyed morale in Ukraine. Some Ukrainians said that they had been cheered to see members of Congress chant, during Zelensky’s appearance, the patriotic greeting, “Glory to heroes!”

Separately, an eight-month visual investigation by The Times identified the Russians who killed dozens of civilians in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha. A team of reporters spent months interviewing residents, collecting security-camera footage and obtaining records. In New York, the reporters analyzed the materials and reconstructed the killings along one street.

More on Ukraine

  • The U.S. Senate passed a $1.7 trillion spending bill that includes nearly $50 billion in assistance to Ukraine.

  • Bakhmut has been under fierce Russian attack for months. But through it all, one snack stand remained open.

The labor shortage hitting London restaurants is almost wholly a result of Brexit.Credit…Mary Turner for The New York Times

A troubled festive period in Europe

Restaurants across London are so short-staffed that they have had to curtail operating hours, close on some days of the week and, in extreme cases, shut their doors altogether. While the city’s once-thriving dining scene has also been hurt by the pandemic and by soaring energy prices, the labor shortage is almost wholly a result of Brexit.

London restaurants used to recruit many waiters, chefs and bartenders from Italy, Spain and Greece. That talent pool has dried up since Britain ended the free movement of labor from the E.U. An estimated 11 percent of jobs in Britain’s hospitality industry are vacant, according to a recent industry survey, compared with 4 percent for the broader economy.

More than a third of restaurants, pubs and hotels could face insolvency or even closure by early 2023, according to a recent survey. The Christmas holiday had beckoned as a year-end redemption, but it is now at risk of being spoiled by a double-whammy of the cost-of-living crisis and railway strikes, which have led to canceled holiday-party bookings.

Dimming the Christmas lights: Amid soaring gas prices and the war in Ukraine, holiday fairs across Europe, like Strasbourg’s Christkindelsmärik, face a tough question: “How do you balance magic and responsibility?”

Sam Bankman-Fried was released on a $250 million bond.Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times

Sam Bankman-Fried released on bail

The disgraced cryptocurrency executive Sam Bankman-Fried, who was arrested and charged with fraud this month, was released on a $250 million bond. He will be monitored under house arrest at his parents’ home in Palo Alto, Calif.

The $250 million bond — a written promise to appear in court — will be secured by his parents’ interest in their home. Bankman-Fried was also required to surrender his passport and to receive mental health and substance abuse treatment. Two other top executives of his companies pleaded guilty to fraud charges and were cooperating with prosecutors.

The criminal investigation into FTX, which Bankman-Fried founded, and its related entities has moved with startling speed. In less than two months, FTX went from a flourishing exchange to a bankrupt entity whose executives face criminal charges for some of the financial world’s most serious violations. Prosecutors have said Bankman-Fried’s crimes led to the implosion of his exchange and billions in customer losses.

Regulation: The Securities and Exchange Commission chair, Gary Gensler, said the commission’s existing rules were adequate but warned cryptocurrency issuers and exchanges on compliance.


Around the World

Credit…Alyssa Schukar for The New York Times
  • What forecasters described as a “once-in-a-generation storm” brought vast areas in the middle of the U.S. to a near standstill. Forecasters say conditions will worsen in the days to come.

  • Since China dropped its “zero Covid” policy, the country’s hundreds of thousands of internet censors don’t know how they are supposed to adapt or explain the abrupt policy shift.

  • A court in Nepal ordered the release from prison of a 78-year-old French killer who targeted Western tourists in Asia in the 1970s and ’80s.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Jeff Chiu/Associated Press
  • Elon Musk has reinstated thousands of suspended Twitter users. They’re back to posting Covid skepticism and election denial.

  • An intelligence officer in Germany was arrested on suspicion of spying for Russia and is being charged with treason.

  • While Donald Trump was president, and in the years before he took office, the U.S. federal tax agency assigned just one agent to examine his tax returns.

The Week in Culture

  • Songs by Rihanna, Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga were nominated for best original song at the Oscars.

  • Amber Heard decided to settle a defamation case involving her ex-husband, Johnny Depp.

  • In sports and in fashion, when the teams are brands and the brands are stars and the fans are consumers, everything blends into one enormous business opportunity.

  • The Chinese app TikTok conquered the planet — and now the U.S. is threatening to shut it down. Can the world’s biggest virality machine survive?

  • Journey’s founding guitarist asked the group’s keyboardist to stop performing Journey songs at events for Donald Trump.

  • Learn the Ukrainian history behind the “Carol of the Bells,” which this year has new relevance.

A Morning Read

Credit…Gianni Cipriano for The New York Times

Officials at the archaeological park of Pompeii, a city buried alive by a volcanic eruption in A.D. 79, were concerned that out-of-control foliage could rebury the site. Pompeii is now preserved with high-tech tools, including drones and A.I. software, but custodians found an appropriately ancient solution to the overgrowth: hungry sheep.

“If they didn’t do it, we’d have to,” one of the site’s maintenance workers said.

Lives Lived

Ali Ahmed Aslam, the Glasgow restaurateur who was often credited with the invention of chicken tikka masala, died on Monday at 77.


End of an era at Liverpool? Inside the changing hierarchy and what it all means for the soccer club, which is open to a sale.

Inside the biggest party Buenos Aires has ever staged: Four million fans turned out in Buenos Aires to celebrate Lionel Messi and friends, but there was a dark side to the euphoria.

Why Argentina is not No. 1 in FIFA’s world rankings: Argentina is below Brazil in FIFA’s latest set of rankings despite having been crowned world champion.


Credit…Clockwise from top left: Lynsey Weatherspoon/Orion Pictures; A24; Sony Pictures; Scott Garfield/Paramount Pictures; Focus Features; Merie Weismiller Wallace/Universal Pictures, via Amblin Entertainment

The year’s most intense Oscars race

All eyes are on the best-actress race this year, our award season columnist Kyle Buchanan writes, because women stole the show in so many of 2022’s most acclaimed films. Current front-runners include Cate Blanchett, as a conniving conductor in “Tár,” and Michelle Yeoh as the multiverse’s last hope in “Everything Everywhere All at Once.” Even a dark-horse candidate like Mia Goth in “Pearl” may deserve a look.

But should acting prizes segregate by gender at all? The question has been percolating for years, with zealous arguments for and against. As of last year, the Gotham Awards no longer breaks out its prizes by gender, with a single category for outstanding lead performance, and the MTV Movie & TV Awards stopped separating acting prizes by gender in 2017.

“If we separated categories by the colors of eyes, hair or skin, people would go, ‘This is unacceptable,’” the nonbinary actor Asia Kate Dillon said in 2019. “That’s how I feel about gender categories. At this point, it feels unacceptable and unnecessary and archaic.”


What to Cook

Credit…Chris Simpson for The New York Times. Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero. Prop stylist: Sophia Pappas.

This festive pie, from Yotam Ottolenghi, conceals a cheesy filling of butternut squash and chard.


Spend 36 hours in London.

What to Read

In “Blaze Me a Sun,” murders and disappearances pile up in a small Swedish town.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Extremely cold (five letters).

And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. And Merry Christmas to those who are celebrating. See you next week. — Natasha

P.S. Two Times podcasts from Serial Productions — “The Trojan Horse Affair” and “We Were Three” — made Vulture’s list of the year’s best podcasts.

“The Daily” is about the political crisis in Peru.

You can reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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