First Thing: Zelenskiy invokes Franklin Roosevelt in defiant speech to US Congress – The Guardian US

Ukrainian president’s first foreign trip since Russia invaded was made amid concern Republicans might oppose future funding proposals. Plus, one dog’s 1,600-mile journey
Good morning.
Washington’s continued support is key to ultimate victory in Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, told a joint session of the US Congress in a defiant address in which he vowed that his country would never abandon its resistance to Russian aggression.
The Ukrainian president was received with a standing ovation as he arrived to speak wearing his now trademark green military-style trousers and shirt. He was repeatedly met with long bursts of applause as he invoked US battles against Nazi Germany and President Franklin Roosevelt’s wartime commitments in a move to keep American weapons supplies flowing for the war against Russia.
“Our two nations are allies in this battle and next year will be a turning point. I know it. The point when Ukrainian courage and American resolve must guarantee the future of our common freedom. The freedom of people who stand for their values,” he said.
The Ukrainian president left his country for the first time since Russia invaded 300 days ago, crossing into Poland earlier in the day and then flying to Washington, to make a direct appeal to Congress for continued military aid amid concern that the incoming Republican leadership of the House of Representatives might oppose proposals for an additional $45bn in weapons and other assistance next year.
Will the White House give more aid to Ukraine? Yesterday, the White House announced a further $1.85bn in aid including, for the first time, Patriot air defence missiles to protect Ukraine’s infrastructure.
How did Congress react to his speech? It takes a lot to impress long-in-the-tooth politicians but Zelenskiy’s combination of star quality and steel core was enough. As every member rose to their feet, applauding and hollering, even he was overwhelmed for a moment. “It’s too much for me,” he said.
A federal prosecutor says two associates of Sam Bankman-Fried have pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the collapse of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX.
Carolyn Ellison, the former chief executive of Alameda Research, a trading firm started by Bankman-Fried, and Gary Wang, who co-founded FTX along with Bankman-Fried, pleaded guilty to charges “related to their roles in the fraud that contributed to FTX’s collapse”, the US attorney Damian Williams said on Wednesday night.
According to the SEC’s complaint, between 2019 and 2022, Ellison, at the direction of Bankman-Fried, furthered the scheme by manipulating the price of FTT, an FTX-issued exchange crypto security token, by buying large quantities on the open market to prop up its price. FTT served as collateral for undisclosed loans by FTX of its customers’ assets to Alameda, a cryptocurrency hedge fund owned by Wang and Bankman-Fried and run by Ellison.
The complaint also alleges that Wang created FTX’s software code that allowed Alameda to divert FTX customer funds, and Ellison used misappropriated FTX customer funds for Alameda’s trading activity.
What’s happening with Bankman-Fried? As the guilty pleas were announced Bankman-Fried was being flown to the US from the Bahamas by US law enforcement to answer to charges tied to his role in FTX’s failure.
A member of the rock band Journey has served a fellow bandmate with a cease-and-desist order for performing their hit Don’t Stop Believin’ with several high-profile Republicans for Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago last month, calling the performance “harmful” to the band.
The keyboardist Jonathan Cain, guitarist Neal Schon and singer Steve Perry co-wrote the 1981 song, which returned to public consciousness 30 years later when it was used in the final episode of The Sopranos.
Cain, 71, is a member of Trump’s inner circle because his wife, the televangelist Paula White-Cain, is the former US president’s spiritual adviser.
In November, Cain performed Don’t Stop Believin’ with the Republicans Marjorie Taylor Greene, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Kari Lake for Trump at his Florida resort. Yesterday, it was revealed by Variety that Schon’s attorney had issued a cease-and-desist letter to Cain over the performance.
What did the cease-and-desist letter say? “Mr Cain has no right to use Journey for politics … he should not be capitalising on Journey’s brand to promote his personal political or religious agenda to the detriment of the band,” the letter said, calling the performance a “harmful use of the brand”.
Has Cain responded? Referring to an ongoing legal battle between the pair, a spokesperson for Cain told Variety: “Schon is just frustrated that he keeps losing in court and is now falsely claiming the song has been used at political rallies.”
Nearly two months after the election in Brazil, with the leftist former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva poised to take power, thousands of citizens continue to protest outside military installations across the country, demanding a coup that never comes.
Facing imminent investigation by House Republicans, Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, has hired a high-profile Washington lawyer who represented Jared Kushner in Congress, as well as during the investigation of Russian election interference and links between Donald Trump and Moscow.
Fiji’s military will assist police in maintaining “security and stability” after last week’s election delivered a hung parliament, Fiji’s police commissioner has said – an alarming development in a country where there have been four military coups in the past 35 years.
Henry Berg-Brousseau, a transgender rights advocate whose story helped inspire opposition to trans-restrictive legislation in Kentucky, has died. He was 24. His mother, Virginia state senator Karen Berg said he killed himself after “difficulty finding acceptance”.
The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has said it seized enough fentanyl in 2022 to kill every person in the US. In a statement on Tuesday, the DEA said it had seized 50.6m fentanyl-laced fake prescription pills and more than 4,536kg (10,000lb) of fentanyl powder this year – seizures that in total represent more than 379m deadly doses. Fentanyl is an opioid with a strength from one and a half to 50 times stronger than heroin. It can impair a user’s ability to breathe. According to the DEA, fentanyl is the most deadly drug threat facing the US. Two milligrams of the opioid, enough to fit on a pencil tip, is considered a potentially deadly dose.
Public library systems in Louisiana are seeing books and materials, many with LGBTQ+ themes and characters, challenged by conservative groups in the state, which are calling for them to be taken off the shelves. St Tammany parish, which includes Covington, is the latest parish – the term Louisiana uses for county – to see a showdown between pro and anti-censorship groups. Borrowing rhetoric already seen in other parts of the US, the pro-censorship groups say the books are inappropriate for children, labelling them as pornographic and paedophilic, and charging them with “grooming”. Far-right groups are increasingly using the term as a homophobic slur against queer people.
US college-level biology textbooks miss the mark on offering solutions to the climate crisis, according to a new analysis of books over the last 50 years. Fewer than three pages in a typical 1,000-page biology textbook from recent decades address climate change despite experts warning it is humankind’s biggest problem. While sentences focused on climate solutions peaked in the 1990s, that emphasis declined by 80% in recent decades. The average coverage of climate change in biology textbooks from the past decade was 67 sentences, a step up from 51 sentences in the 2000s.
The extreme cold settling over the US this week will be biting, as a blast of arctic air and strong winds threaten to plunge several regions into sub-zero temperatures. Roughly 150 million people across the US will be forced to face the frigid conditions. Blistering cold events aren’t exactly new, but they are becoming more stark. The dramatic shift in severity, from record highs to precipitous plunges, can have a profound effect on plants, animals and ecosystems. Scientists are debating links between the cold snap and the climate crisis but it’s clear the underlying impacts caused by global heating may make them harder to endure.
A dog missing from its California home for more than a year has been found alive and well – albeit 1,600 miles away in Kansas. No one knows how Zeppelin, a three-year-old German shepherd mix, made the journey across a giant swathe of the US, but he is alive and well and is heading home for Christmas, NPR reported. Zeppellin went missing from his home in West Sacramento in October 2021, his owner, Sandra O’Neill, told the public radio network. The family suspected he had befriended workers on a local construction site and someone had decided to keep him.
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