Syria, #MeToo, Vikings: Your Monday Briefing


The results alarmed Western governments that had watched as Mr. Orban, above, transformed the European Union country into a semi-autocracy rife with crony capitalism and far-right rhetoric.

His campaign cast him as a nationalist shield against migrants and Brussels, and his win is likely to embolden other European far-right leaders. Mr. Orban’s victory also poses a major test for the E.U., which provides Hungary with billions of dollars in funding but has been unable to thwart its retreat from the bloc’s liberal values.



David Hecker/EPA, via Shutterstock

• Germany is on heightened alert after the authorities detained six men suspected of plotting a possible attack on the Berlin half-marathon, a day after a truck attack in the western city of Münster killed two people and injured 20. Above, a vigil for the victims in Münster.

The authorities said the truck driver, who killed himself after plowing into crowded sidewalk tables, was a mentally ill German citizen with no apparent links to Islamic terrorism. Still the crash raised fears of further violence in a country that has endured a series of extremist attacks.

The police would not comment on reports that the men of plotting an attack on the Berlin race were linked to Anis Amri, the Tunisian man who drove a truck into a Berlin Christmas market in 2016, or whether the group had planned to use knives.



Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

• London is confronting a wave of murders and knife attacks, including five stabbings in 90 minutes on Thursday, that have prompted alarm and political recriminations. The surge in violent crime has largely targeted teenagers and minorities.

The city’s police force has deployed 300 additional officers to tackle the problem, which has been blamed on drug gangs, budget cuts and disputes fueled by social media. But politicians debate whether an increased police presence is enough to lower what some fear will be the highest rate of violence in more than a decade.

Above, the police investigating the scene of a murder in London last week.



Anders Wiklund/EPA, via Shutterstock

• The #MeToo movement hit the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, after three members quit and a fourth threatened to leave in the wake of abuse accusations against a cultural figure with close ties to the institution.

The crisis stemmed from sexual assault and harassment accusations by 18 women against Jean-Claude Arnault, who owns an influential private club funded by the academy.

The departures have raised questions about the inner workings of the group, whose members are elected for life, and garnered criticism for enabling abuse by powerful allies.

Above, Peter Englund, one of the academy members who quit, in Stockholm in 2014.



Ralph Orlowski/Reuters

Deutsche Bank replaced its chief executive after years of losses and scandals. Christian Sewing, above right, a longtime insider, is the fourth person in four years to lead the troubled bank, but will face the same problems that bedeviled his predecessors.

Among the headlines to watch for this week: Facebook’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, will face two days of U.S. congressional hearings over user data that had been improperly harvested by the political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica, which was connected to the Trump and Brexit campaigns.

A new E.U. data protection law goes into effect next month, strengthening people’s control over their personal information and placing greater requirements on how companies like Facebook and Google handle users’ data. Here’s what it means.

Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

In the News


Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Vatican arrested a monsignor on suspicion of possessing child pornography in the United States and Canada, the latest blow to the Roman Catholic Church as it struggles to overcome repeated cases of sexual abuse among its clergy. [The New York Times]

Prince Charles, while on a weeklong tour in Australia, was reunited with a woman who made headlines 40 years ago, when she was 14, for kissing him at Cairns Airport in Queensland. [BBC]

Texas became the first state to deploy U.S. National Guard troops to the Mexican border after President Trump announced he would order the military there. [The New York Times]

Paul Le Roux, one of the world’s least known but most prodigious criminals, confessed to an astonishing array of crimes, including shipping guns from Indonesia, trafficking methamphetamines out of North Korea and taking part in at least five murders. [The New York Times]

In the Czech Republic, long-lost film and audio recordings of a notorious anti-Semitic show trial ordered by Stalin have been discovered. [The Guardian]

Smarter Living

Tips, both new and old, for a more fulfilling life.


Jeff Brass/Getty Images

Which is better during exercise: bananas or sports drinks? (It may not be what you think.)

How to start working out.

Recipe of the day: Ease into weeknight cooking with oven-baked miso tofu over rice.



Brian Rea

Modern Love: A divorced woman seeking no-strings-attached liaisons learned a sobering lesson about matrimony — by sleeping with married men.

Norse sagas refer to “sunstones,” and scientists think they now know what those are: translucent crystals called calcite that the Vikings may have used to guide ships as far as Greenland when weather was poor.

And Japan’s new gleam of prosperity has rekindled an interest in the 1980s, the economic boom years that were “a time of Champagne, garish colors and bubbly disco dance-floor anthems.”

Back Story


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Before March fades too far from our memories, we wanted to follow up on a back story that appeared recently in the versions of our Morning Briefing in Asia and Europe.

In it, we explained to our international audience the history of the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament, which acquired the nickname “March Madness” in the 1980s.

As it relates to basketball, March Madness can be traced to 1939, when it was used by the Illinois High School Association to describe a statewide high-school basketball tournament: “A little March madness may complement and contribute to sanity and help keep society on an even keel.”

One of our erudite readers, however, pointed out that the link between March and madness is much older than the 20th century: The old English phrase “mad as a March hare” stretches back to the 1500s.

The idiom, used to describe someone who is crazy or irrational, derives its meaning from the behavior of hares at the beginning of breeding season.

In Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,” from 1865, the March Hare famously attends the Mad Hatter’s tea party, before which Alice thinks: “the March Hare will be much the most interesting, and perhaps as this is May, it won’t be raving mad — at least not so mad as it was in March.”

Claire Moses contributed reporting.


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