Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

A day after polls closed across the U.S., President Biden struck an optimistic tone at the White House, even as control of the Senate remained up in the air. (Georgia’s Senate race will head to a runoff, while races in Arizona and Nevada have yet to be called.) “It was a good day for democracy and I think a good day for America,” Biden said.

With Republicans still clawing their way toward a slim majority in the House, Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and the minority leader, on Wednesday announced his bid to be speaker, as G.O.P. leaders began jockeying for power after a disappointing midterm showing.

As partisans and pundits digested the shock of the 2022 midterm elections, some new themes have emerged. Here are four takeaways:

The withdrawal order came after Sergei Surovikin, Moscow’s commander in Ukraine, said that heavy Ukrainian shelling had made Russia’s position untenable. In a televised meeting of top military leaders, Russia’s defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said: “Take all measures to ensure safe transfer of troops, weapons and equipment to the other bank of the Dnipro River.”

Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, was not present at the meeting, distancing him from both an embarrassing defeat and a decision to retreat that, Kremlin analysts say, only he could have made. Kherson, an important port seized early in the war, has been a symbolic prize of the invasion and the only regional capital Russia captured.

Concerns: Some Ukrainians remained cautious in their assessment of Russian actions, warning that Russians have laid mines and destroyed roads to slow advancing Ukrainian forces. If the Russians do abandon Kherson, they could then devastate it with artillery from across the river or with flooding by breaching the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam upstream.

From Opinion: Recapturing Kherson suggests Ukraine can take back Crimea from Russia, too, Orysia Lutsevych argues.

In other news from the war:

Binance, a major crypto exchange, late yesterday reversed course on its decision to bail out FTX, a rival exchange that tanked after Twitter posts from a rival questioned the stability of its business. The tweets sparked what was essentially a three-day bank run of an estimated $6 billion that sent FTX into crisis.

Binance issued an unusually harsh statement explaining why it backed out of the deal, citing “mishandled customer funds” and investigations by regulators. The investigations could not be confirmed. Internally, Sam Bankman-Fried, FTX’s chief executive, told employees that Binance “had not previously informed us or expressed those reservations.”

The deal’s collapse has sent shudders through the entire crypto industry. As news spread of FTX’s collapse, crypto markets took a battering, with Bitcoin and Ether both dropping more than 20 percent in value since Tuesday.

Background: Bankman-Fried, a 30-year-old entrepreneur who built FTX into a $32 billion company, was a major political donor to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign. His business was built on a type of risky trade — in which investors borrow money to make big bets on the future value of cryptocurrencies — that remains illegal in the U.S.

Adventurous chefs are hosting semi-clandestine dinners that incorporate marijuana. Does it impart a unique flavor? Or is it there for the buzz?

“It’s very much like drinking a bottle of wine,” one chef said. “You’d sip on a bottle of wine over the course of a few hours, you’d get warm, feel better, feel good. Same thing with cannabis.”

The World Cup ‘injury crisis’: It has become accepted wisdom that Qatar 2022 will be the most injury-ravaged tournament ever, in comparison to its summer counterparts — but does the data back that up?

U.S.M.N.T. World Cup roster revealed: The list includes a few surprises, most notably omitting goalkeeper Zack Steffen and bringing forward Haji Wright and center back Tim Ream. But much of the roster is as expected, with Christian Pulisic headlining the squad.

From The Times: Francesco Totti, a Roman soccer legend, and his wife, Ilary Blasi, once shared a storybook love. Now she’s hiding his Rolexes, and he’s holding hostage her Jimmy Choos.

This time, developing countries put “loss and damage” funding, a form of climate reparations, on the summit agenda. But if wealthy nations are serious about Africa’s future, this funding would need to go beyond the “clever mathematics” of loans and rerouted aid, Eric Njuguna, a 20-year-old Kenyan activist, said: “We need for this COP to deliver climate justice for Africa.”

“Our continent only contributed 1 percent of the damage that’s been done to the climate,” South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, above, said this week. Industrialized countries, he said, “need to live up to the commitment that they have made.” — Lynsey Chutel, a Briefings writer in Johannesburg.

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