Your Friday Briefing

Ukrainian regional police officers patrolling the city of Lysychansk.Credit…Ivor Prickett for The New York Times

Donbas’s fate is ‘being decided’

President Volodymyr Zelensky described the battle for Sievierodonetsk as a crucial moment in what is increasingly a war of attrition in eastern Ukraine. “The fate of our Donbas is being decided there,” he said.

Ukrainian forces are outgunned by the Russians. The city is burning as the sounds of gunfire echo from vicious street-by-street combat. If Sievierodonetsk and its sister city Lysychansk fall, Russia will control all of Luhansk, one of two provinces in the Donbas region.

Ukraine’s defense minister said his country “desperately needs heavy weapons, and very fast.”

Both sides are still struggling to control what Zelensky has called “dead cities,” as Russian bombardment further destroys the metropolises in the east. Here are live updates.

Deaths: Ukraine is keeping its casualty numbers secret. But on the front lines, fresh graves show how relentless the fighting has become.

Representatives Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney on the first day of hearings on the Capitol riot.Credit…Kenny Holston for The New York Times

The U.S. begins Jan. 6 hearings

The House panel investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol opened public hearings in Washington on Thursday night and began setting out the findings from its nearly yearlong investigation.

Lawmakers began the session by presenting previously unreleased video testimony from people close to former President Donald Trump. They also shared footage revealing the role of the far-right group the Proud Boys in the riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

Together, the testimony and the lawmakers’ interpretations were used not only to highlight the threat that the activities that led up to the attack posed to American democracy but also to put Trump in the center of what Representative Bennie Thompson, the committees’s chairman, called “a sprawling, multistep conspiracy aimed at overturning the election.”

“Jan. 6 was the culmination of an attempted coup,” he said.

Resources: The Times has constructed an exhaustive timeline of the attack — the planning beforehand, the events at the Capitol and the preparation for the hearings.

Trump: Lawyers plan to question Trump under oath as part of a separate investigation into his business practices that is being led by the New York State attorney general’s office.

Related: The F.B.I. arrested Ryan Kelley, who is running for governor in Michigan. He faces misdemeanor charges, including disorderly conduct, in connection with the Capitol riot.

Members of a W.H.O. investigative team in Wuhan, China, in February 2021.Credit…Hector Retamal/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

A new report on Covid’s origins

A team of international scientists assembled by the World Health Organization to look into the origins of the pandemic said that bats likely carried an ancestor of the coronavirus that may have then spilled over into a mammal sold at a wildlife market.

But the experts said that more Chinese data was needed to study how the virus spread to people — including the possibility that a lab leak played a role.

The team, which was appointed by the W.H.O. in October as it tried to reset its approach to studying the pandemic’s origins, said that Chinese scientists had shared information with them, but gaps in Chinese reports made it difficult to determine when and where the outbreak emerged. No new data pointed to a lab leak, the new report said, but the group said that they wanted to evaluate any evidence that emerges in the future.

Looking ahead. Independent experts said it was unclear how the team, which follows a previous group of scientists that the W.H.O. sent to China in early 2021, could help the organization break through the political barriers in China that have stalled the publication of most information about the virus’s origins.


Around the World

Credit…Peter Dejong/Associated Press
  • As inflation continues to rise, the European Central Bank says that it will raise interest rates next month for the first time in 11 years.

  • Iran began dismantling the U.N. system used to monitor its nuclear program this week, at a moment when the country is again on the verge of possessing enough fuel for a bomb.

  • Prime Minister Naftali Bennett of Israel made a snap trip to the United Arab Emirates, the latest display of the strengthening alliance between the two countries and their united front against Iran.

  • In a visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo, the king of Belgium returned a wooden mask taken from the country, but so far he has not apologized for decades of brutal Belgian rule.

Other Big Stories

Credit…Federico Rios for The New York Times
  • At the Americas summit, the U.S. and Latin American countries planned to commit to receive more migrants and provide avenues for them to secure humanitarian protection and earn a living.

  • The U.S. House passed a package of gun control measures, but the bill stands no chance of becoming law because of Republican opposition in the Senate.

  • A white police officer in Michigan who fatally shot Patrick Lyoya, a Black man, during a traffic stop in April was charged with one count of second-degree murder.

What Else Is Happening

  • Australia has taken baby steps toward severing ties with Queen Elizabeth II and making the country a republic.

  • Asteroid samples brought back to Earth by the Japanese space mission Hayabusa2 in December 2020 could shed new light on the chemistry of the solar system.

  • Two American tourists caused 25,000 euros in damage to the Spanish Steps in Rome after throwing a scooter down them.

A Morning Read

Credit…Patrick Junker for The New York Times

Germany, the world’s fifth-largest per capita beer consumer, is facing a severe shortage of beer bottles, partly because of the war in Ukraine. The country has a returnable-bottle system that is climate-friendly and appeals to Germans’ obsession with recycling, but it comes with one major problem: getting people to return their empties.

Dragging a crate of empty glass bottles back to a store can be a hassle, even if it means getting back a deposit fee. Still, beer itself is in good supply and brewers remain optimistic. “We will get through this,” said Stefan Fritsche, who runs a brewery that has existed for centuries.


Credit…Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

A controversial golf tour

An upstart professional golf circuit, the LIV Series, held its first event yesterday in Britain. The tour has attracted stars including Phil Mickelson, above right, and Dustin Johnson to help it compete with the dominant PGA Tour.

But it has also attracted scorn because of its biggest investor: the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.

Why are golfers going to LIV? The Saudis’ remarkably large purse. Mickelson was reportedly paid $200 million to join, and Johnson $150 million. The prize money for this weekend’s event alone is $25 million; Tiger Woods, by contrast, has won $120 million over his entire PGA career.

What’s the controversy? Critics have accused Saudi Arabia of using its oil profits to buy major sports organizations and sanitize its image. Mickelson lost endorsements after joining, and he acknowledged that Saudi Arabia had a “horrible record on human rights,” including the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

What is the PGA’s reaction? It has aggressively sought to thwart the Saudi tour. Yesterday, the PGA Tour said it had suspended the 17 players who had taken part.

The latest: A news conference yesterday grew tense as players evaded questions about Saudi Arabia’s record. — Tom Wright-Piersanti, a Morning editor


What to Cook

Credit…Mark Weinberg for The New York Times. Food Styling by Barrett Washburne.

This crispy gnocchi with tomatoes and red onion is inspired by Tuscan panzanella, with the gnocchi taking the place of the traditional stale bread.

What to Read

Disinformation and misinformation are all around us. Here are the best books on its history, techniques and effects.


Norway is hoping that its new National Museum in Oslo, the Nordic region’s largest museum, will help it step out of its Scandinavian neighbors’ shadows.


Lots of people apply sunscreen wrong. Here’s how to do it right.

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Scrumptious (5 letters).

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

You can find all our puzzles here.

That’s it for today’s briefing. Thanks for joining us. — Jonathan and Amelia

P.S. Kevin Quealy will be the next editor of The Upshot.

The latest episode of “The Daily” is on the Proud Boys’ path to the Capitol riot.

You can reach Jonathan, Amelia and the team at [email protected].

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