Your Friday Briefing

We’re covering the migrant camp closure at the Poland-Belarus border and the tennis world speaking out about China’s Peng Shuai.

Migrants walking from the Polish border to a warehouse shelter on Thursday in Belarus.Credit…James Hill for The New York Times

As border camps close, where will the migrants go?

The migrant encampments at the main crossing into Poland from Belarus were cleared by the Belarusian government on Thursday, removing, for the moment, a major flash point that had raised tensions across Europe.

Some migrants were giving up and going home, despite spending thousands of dollars on a journey that they hoped would give them better lives. A plane repatriating migrants from Belarus landed in Iraq.

Thousands of Iraqis are believed to still be in Belarus. The authorities have given little indication of where they might go.

Western leaders were skeptical that Belarus’s moves would end the crisis, which they say was engineered by the country’s leader, Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Merkel’s role: The decision by Belarus to clear the camps followed a phone call from Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany with Lukashenko on Wednesday. Leaders of Poland and the Baltic nations have said that engaging with Lukashenko would offer him legitimacy.

Peng Shuai during a match at the Australian Open in Melbourne last year.Credit…Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

China can’t stamp out anger over missing tennis star

After the Grand Slam doubles champion Peng Shuai made a #MeToo accusation against one of China’s top leaders, she disappeared from public view.

The Chinese authorities have for weeks sought to suppress any mention of her story, and the latest attempt to assuage public anger was to release an email purportedly written by Peng. Critics and tennis officials immediately dismissed it as a fraud.

The email said that the assault accusations were not true and asked officials who run women’s tennis to stop meddling. The Women’s Tennis Association executive director responded, saying, “I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her.”

Stars weigh in: Some of the world’s best-known tennis players have also joined in drawing public attention to Peng. Naomi Osaka wrote, “Censorship is never OK at any cost.”

Related: President Biden said that the U.S. was considering a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games in Beijing to protest human rights abuses.

People rode a boat across Yamuna river, on a smoggy morning in New Delhi, India, on Thursday.Credit…Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

Choking pollution halts life in India’s capital

A thick blanket of noxious haze has settled over New Delhi, burning eyes and lungs, forcing schools to close and prompting calls from residents for action. India’s leaders have responded by pointing fingers at one another.

The central government is accusing city officials of inaction, and vice versa. The Supreme Court stepped in to shutter factories and order farmers to stop burning fields. But few measures have been taken despite years of calls.

Delhi’s emergency rules went into effect this week, including bans on construction activity, diesel generators and trucks, school closures, and the closures of six power plants outside New Delhi.

Context: Broadly, India’s air quality suffers from its appetite for fossil fuels, which has only grown after two decades of rapid economic growth.


Asia Pacific

Protesters demanding the bodies of  civilians who were killed for proper burial, in Srinagar, Kashmir, on Thursday.Credit…Mukhtar Khan/Associated Press
  • Tensions in Kashmir are rising days after four people were killed in a raid by Indian security forces, stirring fears that the conflict could be sliding into another deadly phase.

  • Alibaba reported its slowest sales growth in a year and a half — the effect of Beijing’s clampdown on internet giants and tough competition in China’s online retail market.

  • Afghanistan’s national soccer team played a rare match this week. But what, and whom, does the team represent?

Virus Updates

  • Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany’s Covid situation is “extremely dramatic” and announced restrictions. Cases are up 60 percent in the past two weeks. Germany canceled the Munich Christmas market for the second year.

  • The first known coronavirus patient was a vendor in a large Wuhan animal market, not an accountant who lived many miles from it, according to a report in the journal Science.

  • As India limits its syringe exports, a supply crunch is expected to hit African countries the hardest.

  • Full-capacity audiences will be allowed at the Australian Open and the annual Boxing Day cricket test match in Melbourne.

Around the World

Muhammad Aziz, left, and Khalil Islam were convicted of murdering Malcolm X in a case that a new investigation found was plagued with problems.Credit…Associated Press
  • Two of the men jailed for the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965 had their convictions thrown out, after an investigation found that the government withheld crucial evidence.

  • Americans’ appetite for leather upholstery in luxury vehicles is helping to drive illegal deforestation in the Amazon, an investigation from The Times has found.

  • The leaders of the U.S., Canada and Mexico met at the White House to discuss migration, vaccine-sharing and trade. The summit returned after a five-year hiatus during the Trump administration.

  • Jason Mott won the National Book Award for his novel “Hell of a Book.” The nonfiction prize went to Tiya Miles for “All That She Carried.”

A Morning Read

Nour Emam wants to fight the notion that women’s sexuality is “wrong and shameful and sinful.” Credit…Heba Khamis for The New York Times

A collective of women is bringing sex education to the Arab world, shattering myths and misinformation, and in some cases changing women’s lives. ​ In Cairo, Nour Emam started a podcast on sexual and reproductive health; the first episode, on orgasms, drew tens of thousands of listeners.


A family enjoying a Melbourne beach last year.Credit…William West/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

What makes people happy

Of all of the things that people list as providing meaning in their lives — family, community, careers, health — many of the answers from around the world are what you would expect.

Most people in a Pew Research Center survey of nearly 19,000 adults in 17 wealthy countries released on Thursday said that family and children made them the happiest, with work and careers coming in second.

But the priorities among cultures and income groups, and the effects of the pandemic, shed light on how people form values.

For instance, the emphasis placed on family and careers varied: In Australia, 56 percent of respondents said they found meaning in their family. New Zealand, Greece and the U.S. followed closely behind. People in South Korea ranked family third. Australians were the most likely to bring up friends as a source of meaning.

In Italy, 43 percent of people mentioned work and their careers as a major source of meaning.But respondents in South Korea ranked it third, and in Taiwan it did not even rank it in the top five most important aspects of life.

Most people in South Korea chose material well-being first while most Japanese respondents ranked family first.

Many shared their appreciation for “the little things” in their lives. “Living in the country with animals, my loving partner, family and chocolate,” said one woman from Britain. A respondent in Italy summed it up this way: “Love, children, work, dogs.” — Melina


What to Cook

Credit…Bryan Gardner for The New York Times. Food Stylist: Barrett Washburne. Prop Stylist: Paige Hicks.

These vegetable-packed fritters are crispy and tender.

What to Read

Books about food are taking over the best-seller list.

What to Listen To

In her new album “30,” which arrives on Friday, Adele combats misery with virtuosity, our reviewer writes.

What to Watch

A partial lunar eclipse, the longest in 580 years, will be visible across parts of Asia and Australia. Here’s how to watch it.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Renowned museum on New York’s Upper East Side, with “The” (three 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. A new Times documentary looks at race and sexism in the Super Bowl scandal that shook the world in “Malfunction: The Dressing Down of Janet Jackson.”

The latest episode of “The Daily” is about a disconnect between the state of the U.S. economy and how Americans perceive it.

You can reach Melina and the team at [email protected].

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