Europe Edition: Aleppo, China, Zsa Zsa Gabor: Your Monday Briefing

Good morning.

Here’s what you need to know:

• Up to one million people are trapped in the Iraqi city of Mosul, running low on food and drinking water and facing the worsening cruelty of Islamic State fighters.

In Syria, the removal of residents in Aleppo and nearby villages proceeded tenuously after rebels set fire to several buses. Videos on social media show the harrowing journey of more than 8,000 people evacuated in the past few days.

The United Nations Security Council will vote today on sending monitors to observe the evacuation. “This would give us collectively the tools to avoid another Srebrenica,” the French ambassador said, referring to a massacre of civilians in Bosnia in 1995.


• The American outcry over Russian intervention in the presidential election is growing, even as Donald J. Trump continues his march into office.

The next step toward his inauguration is today’s vote by the Electoral College, a body created early in the country’s history as a compromise between those who wanted Congress to choose the president and those who favored a popular vote. It may not be the usual rubber stamp: At least one elector has said he will buck his party and not vote for Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump trails in the popular vote by more than 2.5 million, the third-worst margin among winning candidates since 1824.


• Patriot News is among a constellation of European websites that pumped out anti-Hillary Clinton misinformation and propaganda before the U.S. election.

Unlike the Macedonian teenagers running fake news factories solely for profit, this site’s founder, above, is ideologically motivated: He is a British far-right political activist who is a fan of Russia.


• Across Europe, sentiment is shifting against the E.U. We spoke to some Slovaks, who now see Brussels as “incomprehensible, from a different era.”

The E.U. faces a series of critical tests in 2017, but none is more important than the French presidential election, with Marine Le Pen, above, a fierce opponent of the bloc, a leading contender.


• Protests continued in Poland as its conservative government and pro-E.U. opposition tussled over new media restrictions and other changes, which critics said curbed freedoms.

Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, warned that undermining the “European model of democracy” in Poland was “exposing us all to strategic risks.”

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• Early next year, Finland will begin handing out cash to 2,000 jobless people, free of bureaucracy or limits on side earnings, to see if they will pursue jobs, start businesses or just squander the money.

• Zalando, Europe’s largest online fashion retailer, is using a made-in-China approach to take on Amazon.

• Ukraine nationalized PrivatBank, the country’s largest lender.

• Ireland said it would appeal the E.U.’s landmark order to collect a record 13 billion euros in taxes from Apple, arguing the bloc had overstepped its authority.

• Here’s a snapshot of global markets.

Graphic | Market Snapshot

In the News

• In Jordan’s south, seven security personnel, two Jordanian civilians and a Canadian tourist were killed by gunmen in a series of attacks, including at an ancient crusader castle. [The New York Times]

• The muted U.S. response to China’s capture of an American underwater drone has Washington’s regional allies worried about further exposure to an increasingly assertive Beijing. [The New York Times]

• Forty-two migrants were hospitalized in Croatia after the police found a van crammed with 67 people, including children, traveling through the country. [The Associated Press]

The police in Berlin arrested a man suspected of kicking a woman down a flight of stairs at a subway station. Video footage of the act had gone viral. [Deutsche Welle]

• A verdict in the trial of Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, is expected this afternoon in Paris. [Le Figaro]

• An Arctic village is swarming with polar bears because the sea ice they rely on for hunting seals is retreating so fast. [The New York Times]

• A Beethoven score went unsold at Sotheby’s after a scholar called it a fake, raising questions about transparency in auctions. [The New York Times]

• Was Anne Frank’s family betrayed? Historians have a new theory. [The Washington Post]


• Canada has welcomed Syrian refugees like no other country. But 10-year-old Bayan Mohammad’s parents worry that she is leaving too much behind.

• Francesco Totti spent his entire soccer career of 23 years with A.S. Roma and says he hopes to end his playing days wearing its jersey. Juventus beat Roma on Sunday 1-0.

Japan is producing award-winning whiskeys that connoisseurs covet. A Times reporter toured the distilleries.

• In memoriam: Zsa Zsa Gabor, the Hungarian actress, died at 99.

• We invite readers to contribute a photograph and a story of someone close to them who died this year. A number of submissions will be chosen for publication.

Back Story

Let’s begin the week talking about holiday spirits.

Dried hibiscus flowers steeped with ginger mean it’s Christmastime in Jamaica. Mulled wine with port and brandy makes for a fine glögg in Scandinavia.

Christmas by the beach comes via coquitos, a Puerto Rican rum-based cocktail. Recipes are like heirlooms for many families there and flavors include chocolate and banana.

Flour derived from orchid bulbs binds sahlab, a creamy Middle Eastern beverage. In Lithuania, poppy milk, made from poppy seeds steeped in water and honey, is served on Christmas Eve as part of the Twelve Dishes feast.

The British tradition of wassailing in exchange for a bowl of hot mulled cider dates back centuries, as does eggnog.

Most historians agree that eggnog, the egg, milk and bourbon concoction, originated in medieval Britain and eventually made its way to North America in the 1700s. A recipe from 1958 ran in The Times as the beverage made a comeback.

Its popularity had dimmed near the end of the previous century.

Americans appeared unwilling “to sacrifice future well-being for the sake of a momentary gratification,” a writer lamented, “even though sanctioned by the precept and example of our ancestors.”

Whatever your drink of choice is, sharing is the key ingredient. Happy holidays.

Remy Tumin contributed reporting.


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