Your Friday Briefing – The New York Times

In its campaign to batter Ukraine’s civilians by cutting off their power and running water, Russia subjected the country to a wave of devastating missile strikes this week, taking all of Ukraine’s nuclear power plants offline for the first time. Engineers and emergency crews worked desperately yesterday to restore services through darkness, snow and freezing rain.

Throughout the country, people dealt with the deprivations. Surgeons donned headlamps to work in the dark, and miners were pulled from deep underground by manual winches. Residents of high-rises where elevators had stopped running lugged buckets and bottles of water upstairs, and shops and restaurants used generators or candles to keep business going.

Millions remained without power last night as the persistent missile strikes took a growing toll. At least 10 people were killed on Wednesday, the Ukrainian authorities said. After each strike, repairs have become more challenging, blackouts have lasted longer, and the danger to the public has increased.

Strikes: Since a blast on Oct. 8 on the Kerch Strait Bridge, which links the occupied Crimean Peninsula to Russia, the Russian military has fired around 600 missiles at critical Ukrainian infrastructure.

Related: The parent firm of the major Russian tech company Yandex wants to cut ties with the country to shield its new businesses from the fallout of the war, a potential setback to Russia’s efforts to develop homegrown substitutes for Western goods and services cut off by sanctions.

As China’s harsh Covid rules extend deep into their third year, there are growing signs of discontent across the country. The rare displays of defiance are a test of Xi Jinping’s leadership and underscore the urgent political question of how he can lead China out of the Covid era.

In central China, thousands of factory workers clashed with riot police officers over a dispute about delayed pay and poor Covid isolation protocols. Protesters in Guangzhou broke out of locked-down buildings to confront health workers and ransack food provisions. And online, many Chinese raged after the death of a 4-month-old girl whose father said access to medical treatment for her had been delayed because of Covid restrictions.

Signs of frustration and desperation with the lockdowns, quarantines and mass testing that have upended everyday life are growing more visible. The anger, combined with outbreaks of Covid across the country that have driven cases to a record high, augurs a dark winter ahead.

Context: Earlier this month, officials said they would adjust Covid restrictions to limit the impact the disruptions have had on the economy and government resources. The latest surge in cases has called that pledge into question, with many officials falling back on familiar heavy-handed measures to try to stop the spread of the virus.

By the numbers: On Wednesday, the country reported 31,444 cases, surpassing a record set in April, Reuters reported. Cases have increased by 314 percent from the average two weeks ago.

As recently as the summer, American officials still had hopes of reviving the nuclear deal with Iran. Those days now seem very far away: In the past week, Iran has told international inspectors that it plans to begin making near-bomb-grade nuclear fuel deep inside a mountain. It also intends to dramatically expand its nuclear fuel production.

These announcements came after weeks of violence, in which Iranian forces shot or locked up antigovernment protesters and provided Russia with drones for its war in Ukraine. Some intelligence agencies suspect it may also be negotiating to produce missiles for Russia’s depleted arsenal.

A new era of direct confrontation with Iran has burst into the open. President Biden’s hope of re-entering the nuclear deal has all but died. National security meetings now focus on how to undermine Iran’s nuclear plans, support protesters and interrupt the country’s supply chain of weapons to Russia, officials said.

Quotable: “There is no diplomacy right now underway with respect to the Iran deal,” John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council at the White House, said last month. “We are at an impasse right now, and we’re not focused on that.”

Legends tell of an echoless chamber in an old Minneapolis recording studio that drives visitors insane. Could Caity Weaver, a writer for The New York Times Magazine, survive the world’s quietest place — and perhaps even set a record for the longest time spent within its walls?

“The rustling of my paper as I jotted down notes was extremely loud,” she writes. “But always, whenever my movements ceased, the silence of the chamber rushed back in, like the tide obliterating a footprint in the sand.”

What happened to the Germans at the World Cup? Germany dominated the first half but went missing in the second against Japan, and senior players were quick to point out their failings.

The many layers of U.S. vs. England: The connections between the USMNT and England run deep, making Friday’s match between the two sides a proving ground for the Americans.

Cristiano Ronaldo claims another record: Portugal’s captain became the first man to score in five World Cups after converting a penalty in his side’s dramatic victory against Ghana.

After being on the brink of extinction, the ancient tongue is experiencing a revival on the Isle of Man, thanks in part to an elementary school of 53 students and some impassioned parents, Megan Specia reports from the island.

“It sort of was on the brink, but we’ve brought it back to life again,” said Julie Matthews, the head teacher at the school, Bunscoill Ghaelgagh. Her students’ efforts have prompted UNESCO to recategorize Manx as a “revitalized” language, from “extinct.” Across the island, people are trying to infuse it into their daily lives, with many adults taking Manx lessons and Manx-language bands performing in pubs.

For centuries, Manx — part of the Celtic language family, like Irish and Scottish Gaelic — was how people on the island communicated. But by the 19th century, the English language had overtaken it, and many on the Isle of Man, a self-governing British crown dependency, raised their children to speak only English.

“The survival of Manx into the 21st century is a testament to the island’s sense of itself as a place apart, with its own identity — and political autonomy,” Megan writes.

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