Your Friday Briefing: Russia Proposes a Short Cease-Fire

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President Vladimir Putin ordered a unilateral cease-fire for Russian troops from midday today to the end of tomorrow to observe the Orthodox Christmas, according to the Kremlin.

A senior Ukrainian official quickly dismissed the move as a “banal trick” and a “propaganda gesture,” though it remained unclear what Kyiv’s ultimate response would be and whether hostilities would actually cease along a nearly 700-mile front line.

Ukraine has expressed skepticism over Moscow’s previous pledges to exercise military restraint. In March, it accused Russia of violating a humanitarian cease-fire, which was meant to allow evacuations from the besieged city of Mariupol. Some pro-war Russian nationalists also dismissed the proposal, underlining the depth of mutual animosity.

Context: The cease-fire would be the broadest of its kind since Russia invaded Ukraine.

Diplomacy: Russia’s announcement came hours after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, who has positioned himself as a mediator, spoke to Putin and called for a cease-fire.

Kevin McCarthy has now lost eight consecutive votes to be the speaker of the House of Representatives, essentially paralyzing the chamber at the start of the Republican rule. Here are live updates.

House precedent dictates that members continue to take successive votes until someone secures the majority to prevail. But until a speaker is chosen, it cannot pass laws or even swear in its members.

McCarthy privately agreed to more demands from right-wing dissidents. He embraced measures that would weaken the speakership considerably. But the latest vote indicated that the concessions were still not enough to corral the votes he needed to succeed.

What’s next: Either McCarthy puts together the votes to become speaker, or eventually his colleagues encourage him to drop out. Steve Scalise, the No. 2 Republican, is seen as a possible backup. He’s deeply conservative and always on message, but it’s not clear that he could win votes any more readily than McCarthy.

As Japan’s population ages, and its birthrate has plummeted, nearly 60 percent of its business owners don’t know who will succeed them. Policymakers fear that the country could soon be hit by a surge in closures as Japan’s business owners, whose average age is around 62, begin retiring en masse.

Hidekazu Yokoyama, 73, is a poignant example of the coming problem. He has spent three decades building a thriving logistics business in Hokkaido, a snowy northern island that provides much of Japan’s milk.

Last year, he felt too old to carry on much longer. But his children weren’t interested in running the business. Neither were his employees. Few potential owners wanted to move to the remote, frozen north. So he settled on a radical solution: He decided to advertise the business and give it all away, free, to a 26-year-old dark-horse applicant.

Context: Japan’s trade ministry projected that by 2025, around 630,000 profitable businesses could close up shop, costing the economy $165 billion and as many as 6.5 million jobs.

A community of older gay men in the Philippines calls itself the Golden Gays. It was established in the 1970s, after a lawmaker and AIDS activist opened his home to outcasts.

Today, they still host pageants and shows to make ends meet. “Our philosophy — because we are showgirls — is that the show must go on,” said the 72-year-old president of the community. “The course of life must keep flowing.”

Prince Harry’s new book, “Spare,” is set to be released on Tuesday. It may cast the harshest spotlight yet on the rift with his royal family.

In the book, Harry accuses Prince William of attacking him during a furious argument about Meghan Markle, according to The Guardian, which said it had obtained an advance copy of the memoir. “It all happened so fast,” Harry writes, adding, “he grabbed me by the collar, ripping my necklace, and he knocked me to the floor.”

The book has been awaited with dread by the royal family and with anticipation by millions of others riveted by the long-running House of Windsor soap opera.

In recent days, Harry has dribbled out unsavory details of his rift with the family to stoke interest. “I would like to get my father back. I would like to have my brother back,” he said in a promotional teaser for a TV interview. “They’ve shown absolutely no willingness to reconcile,” he added, apparently referring to William and King Charles III.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Have a lovely weekend! — Amelia

P.S. Do you have a surprising pet name for someone you love? Tell us about it. We may use your submission for a special Valentine’s Day project about language and love.

“The Daily” is about George Santos, a Republican representative-elect who has lied about his past.

You can always reach me at [email protected].


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