February 2, 2023

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Your Thursday briefing – The New York Times

According to German prosecutors and secret service employees, a nationwide right-wing extremist terror network in Germany planned to storm the Bundestag, arrest MPs and execute the chancellor. Thousands of police and special forces swarmed across the country yesterday to search 150 homes and arrest 25 suspected co-conspirators.

Among those arrested were an active-duty soldier, a former elite special forces officer, a police officer and at least two army reservists. Among the items uncovered was a list of 18 names of politicians considered enemies who may face deportation or execution, including German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

It was the latest in a series of schemes uncovered in recent years in which extremist networks were preparing for a day when democratic order collapses, a day they are calling Day X, the subject of a podcast series the New York Times last year. It is not clear how capable the conspirators would have been of carrying out such an attack, nor when they hoped to carry out their plan.

Analysis: “This represents an escalation,” said Stephan Kramer, head of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Thuringia, where several of the raids took place. “They had plans to invade Berlin and take out part of the federal government. In their plan to overthrow the government, they were willing to risk death.”

Relatives: Prince Henry XIII. von Reuss, 71, a real estate agent and descendant of a 700-year-old noble family that once ruled a tiny state in eastern Germany, has been named as one of the group’s leaders.

As his war in Ukraine entered its 10th month, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned citizens the struggle would be protracted but sought to allay the worst fears of an increasingly war-weary populace. For the time being, he said, the Kremlin will not call up any more combat troops for what he continues to call a “military special operation.”

His comments before the Kremlin’s Human Rights Council came after three Ukrainian drone strikes hit targets deep within Russian territory and brought the reality of the war closer to a largely apathetic Russian population. Russia has regularly attacked civilian targets across Ukraine with rockets, drones and grenades.

How Russia could face the task of fighting a protracted war without conscripting more men was unclear, although the Kremlin says many of the 300,000 soldiers conscripted in September have yet to see a battlefield. About 77,000 conscripts are employed in combat in Ukraine, Putin said, and others serve in territorial defense units or assist in training efforts.

Changing messages: Putin also downplayed the possibility of using nuclear weapons, despite his veiled past threats that they were an option in Ukraine. He said that although the threat of nuclear war is “growing”, Russia is “not crazy” and the Kremlin will not “wield these nuclear weapons like a razor”.

More news from the war:

A UN report documented 441 killings of civilians by the Russian army in the first month of fighting, naming summary executions as probable war crimes.

In a remarkable turning point in three years of policy to eliminate the coronavirus, the Chinese government yesterday announced a broad rollback of those rules, an implicit concession after mass street protests last month presented 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 supreme leader, to change course without acknowledging that widespread opposition and economic pains had forced him to do so. China’s state media portrayed the move as a planned transition after Xi’s zero-tolerance approach secured victory over a weakened virus.

The move, while it may reassure protesters, will most likely result in a surge of infections as lockdowns are lifted, schools reopen and people try to resume normal life. The government must now give the issue of vaccination much more emphasis: Only two thirds of those over 80 are vaccinated, compared to 90 percent of the total population.

Policies: The new rules limit the scope of lockdowns, scrap mandatory hospitalizations and mass quarantines, and tell pharmacies not to control the sale of cold and flu medicines – a policy intended to prevent people from using over-the-counter medicines to reduce fever and avoid detection.

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

From The Times: France and England, Argentina and Brazil, Messi and Ronaldo: The quarter-finals offer everything but an easy route to the cup. Here’s what you need to know.

Social obligations, suffering from gifts, family tensions, travel problems, financial worries: the holidays are stressful. We asked experts for some solutions.

learn to say no Inger Burnett-Zeigler, an associate professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, recommended three different types of denial. You can just say ‘no’ because ‘no’ is a complete sentence,” she explained. You can say, “No, not now” and suggest a different schedule, or you can say, “I can’t do this, but I can do that.”

Don’t strain yourself financially. Once you have a budget, discuss with loved ones what you value most about the season 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 museum trip, or switching to a potluck dinner.

Try to be present. Focusing on the task at hand instead of reading email at the same time can help reduce stress, said Angela Neal-Barnett, a psychology professor at Kent State University. When we’re distracted, our mind wanders from one thought to the next, making us feel overwhelmed. Downtime grants us a time to do nothing, she added.

Do you have any solutions to cope with the holiday stress? Let us know your plans for inclusion in a future newsletter at briefing@nytimes.com.