Your Thursday Briefing – The New York Times

A nationwide far-right terrorist network in Germany planned to storm the German Parliament, detain lawmakers and execute the chancellor, according to German prosecutors and intelligence officials. Thousands of police officers and special forces personnel fanned out across the country yesterday to raid 150 homes and arrest 25 suspected co-conspirators.

Those arrested included an active-duty soldier, a former officer in the elite special forces, a police officer and at least two army reservists. Among the items uncovered was a list containing 18 names of politicians considered enemies, possibly to be deported or executed, including the chancellor, Olaf Scholz.

It was the latest in a series of plots discovered in recent years involving extremist networks preparing for a day the democratic order collapses, a day they call Day X, the subject of a New York Times podcast series last year. It is not clear how capable the plotters would have been of executing such an attack, nor when they hoped to implement their plan.

Analysis: “This represents an escalation,” said Stephan Kramer, head of domestic intelligence in the state of Thuringia, where several of the raids took place. “They had plans to march into Berlin and take out part of the federal government. In their plan to overthrow the government, they were willing to accept deaths.”

Related: Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss, 71, a real estate broker and a descendant of a 700-year-old noble family that once reigned over a tiny state in eastern Germany, was named as one of the leaders of the group.

As his war in Ukraine dragged into its 10th month, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, warned citizens that the battle would be protracted but tried to allay the worst fears of an increasingly war-weary population. For now, he said, the Kremlin will not call up more combat troops to serve in what he continues to call a “special military operation.”

His comments, made to the Kremlin’s human rights council, came after three Ukrainian drone strikes hit targets deep in Russian territory, bringing the reality of war closer to a largely apathetic Russian population. Russia has regularly been attacking civilian targets across Ukraine with missiles, drones and shells.

How Russia could rise to the task of waging a protracted war without drafting more men was unclear, though the Kremlin says many of the 300,000 soldiers conscripted in September have yet to see a battlefield. About 77,000 conscripts are engaged in fighting in Ukraine, Putin said, and others are serving in territorial defense units or aiding training efforts.

Changing messaging: Putin also played down the possibility of using nuclear weapons, despite his veiled threat in the past that they were an option in Ukraine. He said that even though the threat of a nuclear war was “growing,” Russia was “not crazy” and the Kremlin was not going to “brandish these nuclear weapons like a razor.”

In other news from the war:

  • A U.N. report documented 441 killings of civilians by the Russian Army during the first month of fighting, describing summary executions as likely war crimes.

In a remarkable pivot from three years of policies designed to eliminate the coronavirus, the Chinese government yesterday announced a broad rollback of those rules, an implicit concession after mass street protests last month posed the most widespread challenge to the ruling Communist Party in decades.

The party appears to be attempting a tactical, face-saving retreat that would allow Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, to change tack without acknowledging that widespread opposition and economic pain had forced his hand. China’s state media depicted the move as a planned transition after Xi’s zero-tolerance approach secured a victory over a virus that had weakened.

The move, even as it may assuage protesters, will most likely result in a surge of infections as lockdowns lift, schools reopen and people try to resume normal life. The government must now place much greater urgency on vaccinations: Just two-thirds of people 80 and older are vaccinated, compared with 90 percent of the population overall.

Policies: The new rules limit the scope of lockdowns, scrap mandatory hospitalization and mass quarantines and order pharmacies not to control the sale of cold and flu medication — a policy used to prevent people from using over-the-counter drugs to reduce fevers and avoid detection.

In pictures: Our photographers captured life under “zero Covid” policies in China.

From The Times: France and England, Argentina and Brazil, Messi and Ronaldo: The quarterfinals offer everything except an easy path to the trophy. Here’s what you need to know.

Social obligations, gift-giving woes, family tensions, travel challenges, financial concerns: The holidays are stressful. We asked experts to provide a few solutions.

Learn to say no. Inger Burnett-Zeigler, an associate professor at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, recommended three different ways of declining. You can simply say “No,” because “‘No’ is a complete sentence,” she explained. You can say, “No, not right now,” and suggest a different timeline, or you can say, “I can’t do this, but I can do that.”

Don’t stretch yourself financially. Once you have a budget, discuss what you cherish most about the season with your loved ones and prioritize spending on those things, said Judith Gruber, a social worker and financial therapist. That might mean opting for a gift exchange, organizing a group experience like a hike or a museum trip or switching to a potluck dinner.

Try to be present. Focusing on the task in front of you instead of simultaneously catching up on emails can help soothe stress, said Angela Neal-Barnett, a psychology professor at Kent State University. When we’re distracted, our minds ping from one thought to another, making us feel overwhelmed. Time off grants us a period to do nothing, she added.

Do you have solutions for how to manage holiday stress? Let us know your plans, for inclusion in a future newsletter, at

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