Your Monday Briefing

Prince Heinrich XIII as he was arrested last week.Credit…Boris Roessler/Picture Alliance, via Getty Images

The prince caught up in a far-right conspiracy theory

Prosecutors and intelligence officials in Germany have accused Prince Heinrich XIII of hosting meetings at his hunting lodge in Bad Lobenstein, in the state of Thuringia, where they say he and a band of far-right co-conspirators plotted to overthrow the German government and execute the chancellor.

The Waidmannsheil lodge, a three-hour drive south of Berlin, was one of 150 targets raided by security forces in one of postwar Germany’s biggest counterterrorist operations. By Friday, 23 members of the cell had been detained across 11 German states, and 31 other members were placed under investigation. The police discovered arms and military equipment as well as a list of “enemies.”

Nostalgic for the pre-1918 German empire, when his ancestors reigned over a state in eastern Germany, Heinrich XIII, 71, had openly embraced the far-right conspiracy theory that Germany’s postwar republic is not a sovereign country but a corporation set up by the Allies after World War II.

As a well-off descendant of a 700-year-old noble family, prosecutors say, he was designated by his co-conspirators to become head of state in a post-coup regime.

Context: Followers of this conspiracy theory call themselves Reichsbürger, or Citizens of the Reich. Many live in southeastern Thuringia, the state where the Nazis first won power more than 90 years ago and where the biggest political force is the far-right Alternative for Germany party, or AfD.

A billboard in Melitopol seeking recruits for a Russian battalion.Credit…Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

Ukraine strikes Russian-occupied city of Melitopol

Ukrainian forces struck the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol over the weekend, the authorities said, signaling the importance of longer-range artillery in the next phase of Ukraine’s campaign to recapture land in the south of the country. The attack hit a church that was being used as a base by Russian soldiers, according to the exiled mayor of the city.

A state-owned Russian news agency reported that a strike on Melitopol using a long-range HIMARS system had killed two people and wounded 10 others. Ukrainian partisans working behind Russian lines have for months launched attacks on targets around the city.

Ukraine recaptured the city of Kherson in mid-November, forcing Moscow to withdraw its troops to the east bank of the Dnipro River and opening a new phase of the battle for the south of the country. But military experts caution that Ukrainian progress is likely to be slow. Russian forces have improved their defenses in the south and east of the country in recent weeks.

Related: All of Ukraine’s thermal and hydroelectric power plants have been damaged by the recent waves of Russian strikes targeting the country’s power grid, Ukraine’s prime minister said yesterday.

In other news:

  • Starved of natural gas and electricity because of the conflict in neighboring Ukraine, Moldova is confronting street rallies bankrolled by a pro-Russian politician to target its pro-Western government.

  • Detaining foreigners to wring concessions from their home country’s government holds perils for both sides, but especially, perhaps surprisingly, for the hostage takers, Max Fisher writes in The Interpreter.

The wreckage of the 747 Pan Am airliner that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.Credit…Roy Letkey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Lockerbie suspect to be extradited to the U.S.

Abu Agila Mohammad Mas’ud, a Libyan intelligence operative charged in the 1988 bombing of an American jetliner over Lockerbie, Scotland, was arrested by the F.B.I. and is being extradited to the U.S. to face prosecution for one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history.

The arrest was the culmination of a decades-long effort by the Justice Department to prosecute him. It is unclear how the U.S. government negotiated his extradition. Mas’ud, who is accused of building the explosive device used in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 270 passengers, including 190 Americans, was being held at a Libyan prison for unrelated crimes.

Mas’ud confessed to the bombing in 2012 to a Libyan law enforcement official. His suspected role in the bombing received new scrutiny in a three-part documentary on “Frontline” on PBS in 2015.

What’s next: Extradition would allow Mas’ud to stand trial. But legal experts have expressed doubts about whether his confession, obtained in prison in war-torn Libya, would be admissible as evidence.


Around the World

Credit…Eric Vidal/European Parliament, via Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
  • The Belgian authorities charged four people with corruption and other crimes in an investigation into suspected bribes from Qatar to current and former European Parliament officials and lawmakers. Above, the European Parliament vice president Eva Kaili.

  • Some Chinese youth who protested Covid restrictions remain frustrated about the country’s slow economy.

  • Indigenous Australians fear the effects of new gas drilling and processing projects in Western Australia, which they say threaten heritage sites.

  • The price of a New York City subway ride could rise to more than $3.

  • SpaceX launched a lunar lander made by a Japanese company.

From Opinion

  • The story told by “The Whale,” Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, bears little resemblance to the lived experiences of fat people, Roxane Gay writes.

  • Amanda Foreman recounts the surprising love story of two people — one born royal, the other a commoner — who together chose to step out of the limelight.

  • Twitter can’t — and shouldn’t — be the world’s “town square,” Ezra Klein writes.

A Morning Read

Credit…The New York Times

Rihanna, Emma Corrin, Héctor Bellerín: Read our list of the 93 most stylish people of 2022, chosen from an initial pool of some 200 entries by a group of editors and reporters in meetings and video calls that were not without passionate debate.

(To those who did not make the cut, 2023 is just a few weeks away — and we’ll be watching.)


How Argentina-Netherlands descended into taunts, tears and chaos: Seventeen yellow cards, a sending off, a fracas and post-match arguments. Despite it all, Lionel Messi and Argentina booked a semifinal date with Croatia.

Croatia’s peculiar brilliance: How does a team reach such lofty heights without finding a way to score goals? Croatia has forged a path.

Cristiano Ronaldo, yesterday’s man: Ronaldo’s World Cup dream is over. It ended with the superstar exiting the stage in tears after an utterly ineffective cameo.

From The Times: Taken by surprise by Qatar’s decision to ban beer at stadiums, Budweiser remade its marketing strategy in real time.


Credit…Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Celebrating the octagonal house

In the mid-19th century, a quirky architectural fad swept the U.S.: the octagonal house.

With windows on all sides, octagonal homes had more light and better airflow, so they were healthier to live in, claimed Orson S. Fowler, a key proponent, and they made better use of space. A unified floor plan, he argued, would also make housework easier, because there would be a shorter distance to traverse from the kitchen to the laundry.

Most of those claims have been dismissed, but not until some 1,500 were built in North America. More than 300 of those houses are still standing. They still have devoted fans, who celebrate the prodigious light and good ventilation, which makes the buildings easier to cool.

Joseph Pell Lombardi, an architect who owns and restored the magnificent Armour-Stiner House, in Irvington, N.Y., is skeptical about the claim that eight-sided houses make better use of space — in part because the triangular rooms are something of a design problem.

“When you look at it from the door, it looks like a big room,” he said. “But when you walk into it, you immediately fill it up. So they’re just curious kinds of rooms.”


What to Cook

Credit…Yossy Arefi for The New York Times

This overnight potato and leek focaccia is an easy weekday baking project.

What to Watch

“Empire of Light,” starring Olivia Colman and Micheal Ward, is set in a British seaside town in the early 1980s.

News Quiz

How well did you keep up with the week’s headlines?

Now Time to Play

Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Mentally sound (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. Karoun Demirjian is joining The Times from The Washington Post as a congressional correspondent.

Start your week with this narrated long read about Ukraine’s rail system. And here’s Friday’s edition of “The Daily,” on gerrymandering in the U.S.

Send feedback, comments and anything else to Natasha and the team at [email protected].

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