Your Wednesday Briefing
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader, is set to accept American military assistance during his visit to Washington.Credit…Nicole Tung for The New York Times
300 days of war in Ukraine
Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian leader, is expected to meet with President Biden at the White House today and then address Congress in person, according to people familiar with the planning who cautioned that the plans could change. The risks of such a visit are high, and tight secrecy would surround any such effort.
It comes after 10 months of fighting, with the leaders of both Ukraine and Russia pledging not to back down. Yesterday, Zelensky traveled to the besieged eastern city of Bakhmut to recognize Ukrainian soldiers. “The east is holding out because Bakhmut is fighting,” he said. And in Moscow, Vladimir Putin, the Russian leader, honored propaganda figures and Russia-installed leaders of the four illegally annexed Ukrainian regions.
Putin has increasingly begun to acknowledge Russian struggles at the front, even if his messaging still masks the extent of the losses. At the same time, Russian propaganda is presenting the war as existential — claiming that the true enemy is a NATO that seeks Russia’s destruction — and trying to brace Russians for further sacrifice.
In other news from the war:
At a holiday celebration in southern Ukraine, some children asked Saint Nicholas for iPhones. Others asked for peace.
U.S. officials said that the Russian military was conflicted about whether to undertake a new offensive in Ukraine this winter.
House committee approves release of Trump’s taxes
The House Ways and Means Committee voted yesterday to publicly release six years’ worth of Donald Trump’s tax returns, the culmination of a yearslong battle during which the former president defied modern tradition by keeping his finances confidential during his campaign and while in office. It could take a few days before anything is available to the public.
Democrats have said they needed those records to assess an I.R.S. program that audits presidents. Republicans have insisted that the rationale was a pretext for a politically motivated fishing expedition. Even before the hearing, committee Republicans made their view clear, holding a news conference by a sign that read, “Dangerous new political weapon.”
The chairman of the committee, Rep. Richard Neal, Democrat of Massachusetts, said the decision to release the information “was not about being punitive. This was not about being malicious.” He also praised the panel’s members because there were no leaks of sensitive information.
Details: Much about Trump’s financial information is already known. The Times in 2020 released findings of an investigation into his tax-return data covering more than two decades. He paid no federal income taxes in 11 of the 18 years examined.
12 hours in a British ambulance
Britain is experiencing an extended period of labor unrest, with unions representing workers such as nurses, rail employees and border control staff members all going on strike at different points this month, often over pay increases. The walkouts come as Britain battles high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis.
The disruption to services such as travel and package delivery cut particularly deep during the holiday period, with residents and tourists alike bracing for the effects. The government has said it would enlist some 1,200 military personnel to help cover ambulance and border patrol services and has called on labor groups to rethink the strikes.
Journalists for The Times spent a day with an ambulance crew to witness the problems faced by the National Health Service in real time. Paramedics gently carried patients down staircases, navigated narrow streets and tried to comfort people during excruciatingly long waits in the hospital parking lot.
THE LATEST NEWS
Around the World
A powerful earthquake in Northern California yesterday morning left at least two people dead and more than 70,000 customers without power.
Turnout in Tunisia’s parliamentary elections was low, at just over 11 percent, prompting calls from the opposition for Kais Saied, the authoritarian president, to step down.
A 97-year-old woman in Germany who worked in a World War II concentration camp was given a two-year suspended sentence for abetting over 10,000 murders.
Six days of turmoil over Fiji’s general election ended with the ousting of a 16-year strongman leader.
Other Big Stories
Elon Musk said that he would resign as Twitter’s chief executive when he found “someone foolish enough to take the job.”
Afghanistan’s Taliban government has barred female students from attending universities. It also released two detained Americans.
With distrust of Beijing running high in the U.S., concerns are rising about the use of the video app TikTok for Chinese influence, spying or possibly both.
Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime minister, apologized for his country’s role in the slave trade.
King Charles III’s portrait will start appearing on British bank notes in 2024.
A new technique, which makes use of geomagnetic data, allows scientists to study Bible-era history with greater confidence.
Doctors in emergency rooms misdiagnose conditions like stroke and sepsis in tens of thousands of patients each year, according to a new study.
Scientists have made rapid progress in customizing drugs for ultrarare diseases. The hard part now is doing so at scale.
Why did so many ichthyosaurs die in what is now the West Union Canyon in Nevada?
A Morning Read
It is an iconic symbol of Jewish pride and resilience: In a 1931 photograph taken by Rachel Posner, a rabbi’s wife in Kiel, Germany, a menorah is framed in a window through which a large Nazi banner can be seen hanging across the street.
This Hanukkah, 90 years since the Posners fled Germany, the menorah was returned to the town where the family once lived.
SPORTS NEWS FROM THE ATHLETIC
The road to the 2026 World Cup: Introducing “My Football Journey,” a special soccer project. We’re following seven young stars from South Korea, India, Australia, England, Mexico, South Africa and Turkey as they chase their dreams on the path to the 2026 tournament.
Inside the greatest World Cup final ever: LionelMessi’s team talk on the bus, more than 5,700 pounds of beef and a gang of witches — this is the story of how soccer’s greatest prize was claimed.
A journey to a postmodern World Cup: Two writers spent more than two weeks getting to the World Cup. They went from London to Doha via 17 countries, taking at least eight different forms of transportation and 17 days to travel just over 5,600 miles.
From The Times: Fresh from the conclusion of the men’s World Cup, soccer’s governing body, FIFA, faces a legal challenge of its rule that allowed players to immediately leave Ukrainian club teams because of Russia’s invasion.
ARTS AND IDEAS
The toll on Ukrainian culture
In addition to the tens of thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has dealt a grievous blow to Ukrainian culture. The Times’s Visual Investigations team has been tracking the war’s effect on museums, monuments, theaters, libraries, churches and more. The team verified the damage of nearly 340 cultural sites.
Pro-Russian forces intentionally targeted some of the sites, the investigation found. Long before the invasion began, Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, claimed that Ukraine had no culture of its own and called Ukrainian nationhood a fiction.
The investigation explores several damaged or destroyed cultural sites in depth, including a monastery that predates Catherine the Great and a library that bridged Ukraine’s linguistic communities, its books now burned. See the evidence of the destruction.
PLAY, WATCH, EAT
What to Cook
Carnivores and vegetarians alike will enjoy this festive mushroom Wellington.
What to Read
“The Tudors in Love,” by the historian Sarah Gristwood, chronicles sex and danger at the English court.
What to Watch
Stream the year’s best horror, science fiction, action and international films.
Now Time to Play
Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Biblical garden (four 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. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha
P.S. Alex Kingsbury will oversee our international Opinion coverage.
“The Daily” is about the call from Congress to prosecute Trump.
Send thoughts, feedback and holiday cheer to Natasha and the team at [email protected].