Your Monday Briefing

How the war in Ukraine changed Europe

The war in Ukraine has transformed Europe more profoundly than any event since the end of the Cold War in 1989. A peace mentality, most acute in Germany, has given way to a dawning awareness that military power is needed in the pursuit of security and strategic objectives.

The E.U. was built on the idea that economic exchanges, trade and interdependence were the best guarantees against war. “Many of us had started to take peace for granted,” Sauli Niinisto, Finland’s president, said this month. Now, a continent on autopilot has been galvanized into an immense effort to save liberty in Ukraine, a freedom widely seen as synonymous with its own.

As a long war looms, the E.U. will grapple with how to reinforce its militaries; how to navigate tensions between frontline states intent on Russia’s complete defeat and those, like France and Germany, that are inclined toward compromise. The E.U. will also need to navigate an American election next year that will feed anxieties over whether Washington will stay the course.

Changes: Finland and Sweden, long content to remain neutral, are pushing to join NATO. Germany has announced a $112 billion investment in its armed forces. And nations like France, concerned about Europe’s military dependence on the U.S., are calling for “strategic autonomy.”

In other news from the war:

Russia pounded the front line in Ukraine’s south and east with artillery strikes.

Russians around the world took to the streets of more than 100 cities to voice their opposition to the war.

New support for lab leak hypothesis

A new intelligence report has prompted the U.S. Energy Department to conclude that an accidental laboratory leak in China most likely caused the coronavirus pandemic, though U.S. spy agencies remain divided over the origins of the virus, American officials said. The department had earlier said that it was undecided on how the virus emerged.

Some officials briefed on the intelligence said that it was relatively weak and that the Energy Department’s conclusion was made with “low confidence,” suggesting that the agency’s level of certainty was not high. While the department shared the information with other agencies, none of them changed their conclusions, officials said.

The intelligence has not been disclosed, but many of the Energy Department’s insights come from its network of national laboratories, some of which conduct biological research, rather than more traditional forms of intelligence, like spy networks or communications intercepts. Scientists say there is a responsibility to explain how the pandemic began.

Background: The F.B.I. previously concluded, with moderate confidence, that the virus first emerged accidentally from the Wuhan Institute of Virology, a Chinese lab that worked on coronaviruses. Other U.S. intelligence agencies believe that the virus most likely emerged through natural transmission, while some scientists say the evidence points to a large food and live animal market in Wuhan.

A Northern Ireland trade deal nears

After two weeks of false starts and closed-door wrangling, leaders in Britain and the E.U. yesterday announced that they had neared a landmark agreement on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland. Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, plans to travel to Britain today to finalize the details with Rishi Sunak, the British prime minister.

If successful, the deal could resolve the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol, which governs trade in the territory and is one of the most bedeviling legacies of Brexit. And while the deal could still fall apart, diplomats said it was highly unlikely that the leaders would agree to meet if they were not ready to sign.

Sunak was expected to unveil a deal last week, only to pull back amid signs of a rebellion by the main pro-British party in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionists, and the hard-line supporters of Brexit in his own Conservative Party. Sunak’s latest remarks suggested he was ready to face a confrontation with holdouts in his party to settle a chronic dispute with Brussels.

Sunak: Speaking to The Sunday Times, a London newspaper, Sunak said that he was optimistic there would be a “positive outcome.” He added, “As someone who believes in Brexit, voted for Brexit, campaigned for Brexit, I want to demonstrate that Brexit works, and it works for every part of the United Kingdom.”


Around the World

Demonstrations took place in more than 100 Mexican cities against the recent overhaul of the country’s electoral watchdog.

After decades of restricting the number of children that its citizens can have, China is desperate for a baby boom.

The first results from Nigeria’s election have begun to trickle in, the BBC reports.

At least 59 people drowned after a boat carrying 130 to 180 migrants broke apart near southern Italy early yesterday.

A Palestinian gunman killed two Israelis as American, Israeli and Arab officials met to discuss ways to lower tensions. Then Jewish settlers in the West Bank went on a deadly rampage.

Other Big Stories

Despite aggressive interest rate increases and signs that the labor market is cooling off, most U.S. companies hope to retain employees and have not cut jobs.

Anxiety disorders are common among older people. Should the conditions be included in routine screenings?

Hundreds of American newspapers will ax the “Dilbert” comic strip after its creator, Scott Adams, made racist comments about Black people.

From Opinion

Commentaries that focus solely on President Biden’s central weakness — his age — are missing his mounting strengths, Ezra Klein says.

Kids are in terrible pain, and we should look to technology, not politics, to understand why, Michelle Goldberg says.

Russian imperialism should have been identified as a problem far earlier, Oksana Zabuzhko argues.

Jeneen Interlandi takes a look at a radical new approach to America’s overdose crisis.

A Morning Read

In Himalayan Buddhism, the roles of nuns have long been restricted. But a religious order known as the Kung Fu Nuns is changing that, mixing meditation with martial arts and environmental activism.


How ‘Drive to Survive’ remade Formula One for U.S.: As Season 5 debuts, Netflix sticks with the formula that made F1 digestible for the sport’s American audience.

The stories behind the entrance music in the Premier League: Whether it’s a “Star Wars” composition or a song by the Stone Roses, the music teams use to walk out onto the field is important for atmosphere and tradition.

The man who understands what the Wrexham evolution means: Geraint Parry is Wrexham’s longest-serving employee, and his stories hammer home the extraordinary situation at the club.


The worst job in art

An anonymous but high-profile “Art World Family” is seeking someone to do it all: an “Executive/Personal Assistant” with “a high level of discretion,” who will be expected to undertake a highly detailed list of tasks laid out with blithe oblivion in a recent job listing.

The ad, later described in a post on the art blog Filthy Dreams, immediately caught fire across the internet, perhaps because it was only slightly crazier than the sorts of jobs many young people — the overeducated assistants, the underemployed M.F.A.s — already put up with to get a toehold in what looks like the glamour of the art world.

Domestic chores include “apartment rooftop garden maintenance.” The aspiring subordinate would also “serve as the central point of communication to household staff (includes chef, nannies, landscapers, dog walkers, housekeeper, contractors, and building managers)” and also would be left alone with the couple’s 4-year-old.

In short, as the ad’s one-sentence synopsis put it: “The ideal candidate must be dedicated to a simple goal: make life easier for the couple in every way possible.” The listing has now been removed.


What to Cook

Try this rich, creamy coconut and kale dal.

Tech Tip

Digital clutter can be overwhelming. Here’s how to clean up.

What to Watch

“On the Adamant,” a French documentary, won the top prize at the Berlin International Film Festival.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Move like water (four letters).

And here are today’s Wordle and the Spelling Bee.

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining me. — Natasha

P.S. Take a by-the-numbers look at The Times’s reporting on the war in Ukraine.

Start your week with this narrated long read on Elon Musk’s appetite for destruction, and here’s Friday’s edition of “The Daily,” about a year of war in Ukraine

Reach Natasha and the team at [email protected].

A correction: Friday’s newsletter incorrectly described population changes in Africa. The median age on the continent is not getting younger; it is slowly getting older, even if it is much younger than the global average.

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