Social Spending Bill, Belarus, Lunar Eclipse: Your Thursday Evening Briefing


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Good evening. Here’s the latest at the end of Thursday

Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed optimism that the measure would ultimately reach President Biden’s desk and said that the final pieces should fall together to allow for a vote on the legislation known as the Build Back Better Act.

But if the bill clears the House, it faces a difficult road in the Senate, where Republicans will have a clear shot to offer politically difficult amendments, any one of which could unravel the delicate Democratic coalition behind it.

2. Belarus cleared migrant encampments from its border with Poland, removing, for now, a major flash point that had raised tensions across Europe.

Western leaders were skeptical that Belarus’s moves would end the crisis, which they say was engineered by the country’s leader, Aleksandr Lukashenko. Some migrants were giving up and going home, despite spending thousands of dollars on a journey that they had 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.


3. A judge threw out the convictions of two men who had been found guilty of killing Malcolm X.

Muhammad Aziz, one of the two men wrongfully convicted, said the judge’s decision 56 years after the assassination could not eliminate the decades he had lost. The other man, Khalil Islam, died in 2009.

“We can’t restore what was taken from these men and their families, but by correcting the record, perhaps we can begin to restore that faith,” Cyrus Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney, said.

4. The leaders from the U.S., Canada and Mexico met to discuss trade and migration.

The summit at the White House between President Biden, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and President Andrés Manuel López Obrador was the first after a five-year hiatus during the Trump administration.

One of the biggest issues for Canada and Mexico is a tax credit in the expansive social spending bill that would benefit American production of electric vehicles. The leaders of Canada and Mexico will announce a plan to send millions of coronavirus vaccines to much of Latin America and the Caribbean.

As he met with Trudeau, Biden said that the U.S. was considering a diplomatic boycott of the Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest human rights abuses.


5. The first coronavirus patient was a vendor at a Wuhan animal market, according to a new report.

A scientist who has pored over public accounts of early Covid-19 cases in China reported that a W.H.O. inquiry published in March 2021 had most likely gotten wrong the early chronology of the pandemic. The analysis suggests that the first known patient sickened with the coronavirus was a vendor in Wuhan, not an accountant who lived many miles from and had no connections to the market.

In Europe, Germany approved tighter Covid restrictions after an official warned of a “really bad Christmas” amid a record in daily new infections.

In the U.S., officials expect airline travel this Thanksgiving season to approach prepandemic levels, as vaccination rates across the country have risen.


6. The tennis world is outraged over a Chinese star player’s complaint of assault and abrupt disappearance.

Peng Shuai, a Grand Slam doubles champion, has disappeared from public view after she accused a former vice premier of sexual assault. When the Chinese state media published an email, which was purportedly written by Peng, saying the accusations were not true and asking for officials who run women’s tennis to stop meddling, the Women’s Tennis Association suggested that the email was very likely a crude fraud.

“I have a hard time believing that Peng Shuai actually wrote the email we received or believes what is being attributed to her,” the association’s executive director said.

Separately, since the Taliban took over in Afghanistan, the national soccer team is grappling with a question: What, and whom, does it represent?


7. A group of women is bringing sex ed to the Arab world, shattering myths and misinformation.

With formal schooling on sexuality minimal to nonexistent in much of the Middle East, and a patriarchal culture that has left many Arab women ignorant and ashamed of their own bodies, activists are building online platforms to educate women about their bodies.

In Cairo, Nour Emam started a podcast on sexual and reproductive health; the first episode, on orgasms, drew tens of thousands of listeners.


8. Jason Mott won the National Book Award for “Hell of a Book.”

The novel is an account of a Black author’s book tour intertwined with one focused on a Black boy in the rural South and a third character, The Kid, who may be imaginary. Mott said that his agent had picked his work out of the unsolicited “slush” pile 10 years ago.

The nonfiction award went to Tiya Miles for “All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake,” which traces the history of a family through a cotton sack that an enslaved woman gave to her daughter when they were about to be sold apart. The judges called it “a brilliant, original work.”


9. In “King Richard,” Will Smith plays a famous father in an old-fashioned sports drama.

During the ascent of Venus and Serena Williams, their father, Richard, was a well-known figure often described as “controversial,” “outspoken” and “provocative.” The film aims in part to rescue him from the condescension of those adjectives, A.O. Scott writes, with Smith digging into the character’s Louisiana accent and portraying him as “a charmer with a strategy.”

In music, Jon Pareles reviewed Adele’s new album, “30,” and found she combats misery with virtuosity. And tonight is the 22nd annual Latin Grammys. Follow our live updates in English and in Spanish.


10. And finally, just look up.

A partial lunar eclipse, the longest in 580 years, will dazzle sky watchers and night owls early Friday morning (or late Thursday night if you’re on the West Coast). During the event, the moon will crawl into Earth’s shadow for just over six hours, turning the moon rusty reddish hues, and be visible across North America and parts of South America, Asia and Australia.

To see it, no telescopes or binoculars are necessary. Here’s what you need to know about Thursday and Friday’s eclipse, which is also being called a blood moon and a Beaver moon.