Your Thursday Briefing

We’re covering Germany’s new government and the guilty verdict for the men who murdered Ahmaud Arbery.

Olaf Scholz, center, with leaders of parties in the new government.Credit…Clemens Bilan/EPA, via Shutterstock

Germany’s new post-Merkel government

Germany will have a center-left government for the first time in 16 years and a new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat, whose job will be to fill the very big shoes of Angela Merkel.

After much anticipation, Scholz and his coalition partners from the progressive Greens and the pro-business Free Democrats announced on Wednesday a 177-page governing deal that they had been negotiating under strict secrecy since the Sept. 26 election.

Despite differences, they said they had found enough common ground to push forward with plans to beat back the coronavirus pandemic, increase the minimum wage and put Germany on a path to quit coal.

Who is Olaf Scholz? The new chancellor, who will be sworn in next month, succeeded in his campaign by convincing voters that he would be very much like Merkel, but rarely has a German leader come into office amid so many crises.

His to-do list: Scholz’s government faces a pandemic that is spiraling quickly upward and border conflicts in Belarus and Ukraine. His two more hawkish coalition partners might force the new chancellor to rethink some past policies.

Changes ahead: Germany’s new government wants to legalize marijuana, a measure that Merkel’s party blocked for years.

Outside the courthouse in Brunswick, Ga., after the jury reached a guilty verdict in the Ahmaud Arbery murder case.Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

A guilty verdict in the murder of Ahmaud Arbery

The case ignited an uproar over racism in the U.S., after the killing of George Floyd. A jury on Wednesday found three white men guilty of murder for pursuing and fatally shooting Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man, last year. Here’s our live blog.

The three defendants — Travis McMichael, 35; his father, Gregory McMichael, 65; and their neighbor William Bryan, 52 — face sentences of up to life in prison.

What happened: Arbery was chased through a Georgia neighborhood by three white men in February 2020 and shot at close range. The defense lawyers argued that the men were trying to make a citizen’s arrest. The neighbor who filmed the attack was also charged. Here’s the full timeline.

The trial: Over the 10 days of testimony, prosecutors challenged the defense’s claim that Arbery, who was unarmed and never spoke to his pursuers, could be considered a threat to armed men. The case touched on some of the most combustible themes in American criminal justice, including vigilantism, self-defense laws, the effects of widespread gun ownership and the role of race in jury selection.

Moving a Covid patient at King’s College Hospital in London earlier this year.Credit…Pool photo by Kirsty Wigglesworth

Has Britain reached herd immunity?

As Britain records more than 40,000 new coronavirus cases a day, a top scientific adviser has revived the debate over herd immunity, claiming that the country has reached the elusive threshold at which most of the population is protected against Covid-19. It comes as Europe is reimposing restrictions and facing a winter surge.

The comments by Neil Ferguson, an epidemiologist at Imperial College in London, are likely to raise new questions about Britain’s status as a Covid outlier: a country willing to tolerate a widely circulating virus and a steady death toll as the price of a return to economic normalcy.

Ferguson said he expected Britain to mostly avoid the sharp increase in cases seen on the continent in recent weeks, and suggested further restrictions like lockdowns were unnecessary. This is in part, he said, because so many Britons have already been infected.

But critics say there are too many wild cards, like virus variants and waning vaccine immunity. The risks are increasing as masks are rare in public in England.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other developments:

  • New Zealand plans to welcome back international visitors by April.

  • Lalisa Manoban, who performs as Lisa in the K-pop group Blackpink, tested positive for the coronavirus.


Around the World

Belarusians who fled the crackdown at home living in Vilnius, Lithuania.Credit…Emile Ducke for The New York Times
  • Two streams of migrants are converging in Lithuania. Belarusians are welcomed, but Middle Eastern migrants face a harsher fate.

  • Iran rebuffed a request from the U.N. nuclear watchdog to replace key equipment needed to monitor its nuclear program.

  • Wall Street is begrudgingly allowing remote work after bankers pushed back on returning to the office.

  • At least 31 people drowned off the coast of France after a boat carrying migrants trying to reach Britain capsized in the English Channel.

  • Jon Batiste, the composer and bandleader, was nominated for 11 Grammy Awards, including for his album “We Are.” Justin Bieber, Olivia Rodrigo and Billie Eilish were also among the nominees.

Asia Pacific

Peter Dutton, Australia’s minister of defense.Credit…Pool photo by Andrew Harnik
  • Australia’s defense minister won a defamation case over a six-word tweet that called him a “rape apologist.” Critics said it was a sign of a speech crackdown on ordinary citizens.

  • Zhang Gaoli, the former Chinese vice premier accused of sexual assault by the tennis star Peng Shuai, played a key role in setting up the Beijing Winter Olympics, The Wall Street Journal reports.

  • The U.S. announced new restrictions on exports of American technology to 27 foreign entities and individuals in China, Japan, Pakistan and Singapore.

  • Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase, apologized for saying that his company would outlast the Chinese Communist Party.

Morning Reads

Hayao Miyazaki outside his atelier near Studio Ghibli in Tokyo last month.Credit…Takahiro Kaneyama

At 80, Hayao Miyazaki is coming out of retirement with a new movie. Miyazaki has long preferred not to speak to the press, but T Magazine sat down with him for an hour. “I am making this movie because I do not have the answer,” he said of his next film.


Peng Shuai at the U.S. Open in 2019.Credit…Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

Do sports need China?

Teams, leagues and athletes have jumped at the chance to reach Chinese consumers in recent years. But now some wonder if the risks are too high.

The sports world last week received a hint of a changing dynamic when the Women’s Tennis Association threatened to stop doing business in China if the government failed to confirm the safety of Peng Shuai, who disappeared from public view recently after accusing a powerful former vice premier of sexual assault.

For most organizations, the W.T.A.’s position remains an outlier. Sports organizations with multimillion-dollar partnerships in China — whether the N.B.A., the Premier League in England, Formula One auto racing or the International Olympic Committee — have mostly brushed aside concerns. Some have even acquiesced at times to China’s various demands. A few have issued humbling apologies.

But public opinion is changing. A Pew Research Center study this year found that 67 percent of Americans had negative feelings toward China, up from 46 percent in 2018. Similar shifts have occurred in other Western democracies.

Mark Dreyer, a sports analyst for China Sports Insider, based in Beijing, said the W.T.A.’s standoff with China represented an escalation in the “them or us” mentality that appeared to be forming between China and its Western rivals.

The threat from the W.T.A., then, could serve as a sign of showdowns to come, in which case, Dreyer said, China could be the one losing out.


What to Cook

Credit…Linda Xiao for The New York Times

This instant pot khichdi is a version of the comforting South Asian stew typically made with lentils and rice.


Exercise affects your appetite in unexpected ways.

What to Read

Here are eight new books to look for in December.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Rudely overlook (four letters).

And here is today’s Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. See you next time. — Melina

P.S. Andrew Lavallee will be The Times’s new editor of Arts and Leisure.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about India’s farmers.

You can reach Melina and the team at [email protected]. Send us your feedback.

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