Coronavirus

New Zealand's COVID Exceptionalism Risks Unraveling

As New Zealand grapples to bring a Delta outbreak under control and to accelerate the vaccination rollout, social cohesion is vital for a successful elimination strategy.

Political consensus on elimination has endured so far. Unlike the anti-mask and anti-vaccination movements elsewhere, most New Zealanders continue to back the prime minister's decision to place the country under the strictest lockdown.

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What COVID-19 Means For Worldwide Push To Legalize Marijuana

New Zealand's referendum last month to legalize recreational marijuana use was the first time a country put the controversial topic to a popular vote. Initial results point to a narrow defeat of the measure, which would still leave Uruguay and Canada as the only countries to fully legalize cannabis at a national level.

Still, in normal times, such a vote would have made worldwide headlines. But with COVID-19 dominating the news, it's mostly wafted under the radar.

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New Zealand To Niger: 8 *Other World Elections That Matter

*Other than Donald Trump's jaw-dropping push for a second term, we will also see Maduro's Venezuela and Myanmar (also) testing the limits of democracy in the coming weeks.

This year's U.S. presidential election is sucking up even more global attention than previous runs for the White House. America's global influence is undeniable, as is the current president's knack for making noise. There is no doubt Worldcrunch and other international media will continue to follow the U.S. campaign until Nov. 3 — but from New Zealand to Ivory Coast to Venezuela, the stakes are equally high at ballot boxes around the world in the coming weeks and months. Here's a rapid-fire glance at eight key global elections that shouldn't be ignored:

NEW ZEALAND

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New Zealand And Seven Other Nations Beating COVID-19 Odds

It was the kind of definitive piece of information that has been rare since the COVID-19 pandemic began: On Monday, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced that coronavirus transmission has been officially eliminated in the country, since its appearance there in late February. According to the Director-General of Health, it has been at least 17 days since the last new case of the country was reported and the last person being treated for the disease has recovered.


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THE GLOBAL TIMES

Eyebrows, Nods And Elbow Bumps: Handshake Alternatives Around The World

Humans have been greeting each others with handshakes for thousands of years. Are we witnessing the end to pressing the flesh, and giving some skin? "I don't think we should shake hands ever again," declared Dr Anthony Fauci, one of the key members of the US coronavirus task force, in a Wall Street Journal podcast.

So is we must shelve the shake, what should we do when we greet a friend, a colleague or family member? From reviving old traditions to inventing new ways of greetings, alternatives to handshakes are showing up around the world:

  • In New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has encouraged citizens not to use handshakes, hugs or hongi (a traditional noses-pressed Maori greeting) but to perform instead the "east coast wave", even demonstrating it during a press conference, reports The New Zealand Herald. Also known as the "Kahungunu wave" as it is common in Ngāti Kahungunu Maori iwi (tribe), it consists of raising the eyebrows while looking at someone in the eyes, with a subtle upward movement of the head.

  • In China, a traditional gesture called "zuoyi", bowing with hands folded in front, has made a public comeback in the eastern city of Quzhou. Officials were asked to use this gesture during local plenary sessions, as well as students in 117 schools, The Global Times reports. This formal custom dates back from China's imperial era thousands of years ago. The country also popularized the "Wuhan shake," or how to say hello with your feet, after an online video went viral.

  • In many countries, a handshake is also a means to seal a business deal. That is how traders traditionally operate in Garissa County, Kenya, when they sell animals in livestock markets. But Kenyan health officials are now giving them a safer option that doesn't require physical contact: a "stick-shake". The Ministry of Health has published a picture of a health worker demonstrating how to use sticks as a substitute for the traditional handshake at a goat market.

No handshake, use shaka instead — Photo: Brian Schatz

  • The elbow bump has been widely used across the world and seems to be favored especially by politicians (who are famous hand shakers...or "flesh pressers' as we say in English) , from state officials in Indonesia to European health ministers. Former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton even dubbed it the "corona shake".
  • Hawaiians are used to hugs, kisses or "honi", with foreheads touching. But officials like Hawaii US Senator Brian Schatz have been urging citizens to use the "shaka" to help prevent the virus from spreading, reports local news channel KITV. The gesture, which consists in curling the three middle fingers and extending the thumb and pinky finger, is a symbol of friendship and compassion in the Hawaiian culture and was widely popularized by surfers.
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Geopolitics

Worldcrunch Today, Dec. 16: NZ Child Abuse, Hungarian Adoption Ban, Cigar Box Mystery

Welcome to Wednesday, where the pandemic has spiked again in Germany and South Korea, New Zealand reports decades of child abuse and a cigar box contains an ancient Egyptian mystery. Le Monde, meanwhile, reports on France's Chechen community reeling since a radicalized 18-year-old beheaded a French teacher in October.

SPOTLIGHT: THE NEXT PANDEMIC MAY BE CLOSER THAN YOU THINK

After COVID-19, similar contagious health (and other) crises could arise sooner rather than later. What, asks Jörg Phil Friedrich, writing in Berlin-based Die Welt, should we do to think ahead?

By now we've got the good news from the pharmaceutical industry: It has developed coronavirus vaccines heading into mass-production. This heralds the start of what may prove to be the greatest immunization effort in world history. Across the globe, millions of people will be vaccinated against coronavirus every day, and then, in summer 2021, or autumn at the latest, the pandemic will be over.

Or so we think. Politicians, cinema and theater owners, businesspeople, artists and restaurant owners are all pinning their hopes on the vaccine. But it may be false hope, and not because the vaccines will be ineffective.

The problem, rather, is that the current pandemic may well be the first in a long line of pandemics and other natural disasters. And for that reason, it is high time that we ask ourselves how we want to live in this new world, rather than locking down and waiting patiently for science to restore our former normality.

In 2014, no one knew the name of the virus that would spark a global crisis, but we knew there would be one. In December of that year, the then-U.S. President Barack Obama gave a speech in which he warned that, along with climate change, the steady rise in personal travel and the transport of goods would lead to pandemics that were more dangerous than Ebola or swine flu. The current pandemic proves him right.

And of course, there's no reason to assume that eliminating this pandemic will also eliminate the causes of further pandemics. The decrease in business travel may be long-term, now that we've seen it's possible to hold negotiations, presentations and conferences over video calls. But tourism will return to pre-COVID-19 levels, and people will go back to their workplaces — meaning the brakes will only have been applied temporarily.

Even without a new pandemic, we already have our seasonal flu viruses, which can be serious indeed. We should thus ask, in light of our response to the COVID-19 crisis, how our society will react the next time we face a flu-like that of the winter of 2017/2018, which claimed around 25,000 lives in Germany.

And what if pandemics like the current one become as common as flu? We'll need to ask ourselves whether we want to shut down the economy, people's social lives, and the cultural and sporting sectors, as we have done this year? What would become of our society? Read the full article, translated from German at Worldcrunch.

— Jörg Phil Friedrich / Die Welt

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THE WASHINGTON POST
Anne Applebaum

New Zealand Terror: The Shared Power Of Online Hate

How messages of hate and violence drive both radical Islamists and white supremacists.

-Analysis-

It begins with humor. The alt-right's jokes, a teenage friend assures me, are genuinely funny: They ridicule the pomposities of "mainstream" culture, laugh at political correctness and create ridiculous memes mocking everything, including themselves. And once you've laughed at the jokes, there is a whole amusing, darkly ironic, alternative world out there, only a couple of clicks away.

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food / travel
Nadine Lischick

Touring New Zealand's Volcanic White Island

WHAKATANE — “Here, hang this around your neck, we’re nearly there,” says Keris Adams, handing out yellow gas masks to some 50 ship passengers. I’m starting to feel uneasy. It’s only a few kilometers to White Island, the only New Zealand isle with an active volcano.

Even from a distance the island has something mystical about it, with its thick clouds of smoke rising slowly into the blue sky. James Cook must have seen something similar when he saw the island — the first European to have done so — in 1769. He wrote in his log book that they named it White Island because from a distance it looked white. Cook didn’t realize it was a volcano.

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Sources

By The Numbers: Dylan's lyrics, N.Z. cheese, Cardinal's abode

The world in numbers travels far and wide, and still counting...

Future

Going Green: 10 Carbon-Neutral Projects Around The World

“It’s not easy being green.” — Kermit expand=1] the Frog

PARIS - For some of us, being green is a hard-to-quantify choice of using a reusable bag at the grocery storetaking or taking public transport. But for others, environmental friendliness is a hard calculation to reach carbon-neutral status. That means removing as much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as you put in.

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Geopolitics
Worldcrunch

Iraq Crisis Deepens, Hillary Chides Obama, Fifty Shades Of Frozen

Monday, August 11, 2014

IRAQ SINKS DEEPER INTO CRISIS
The United States is providing weapons to Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraq as they battle Islamic State (IS) terrorists who are slaughtering civilian minorities, the AP reports. The Obama administration had previously said it would only sell arms to the Iraqi government, but that policy has changed.

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Sources

New Zealand First Asia-Pacific Country To Legalize Gay Marriage

TVNZ, NZ HERALD, FAIRFAX NZ NEWS, 3 NEWS (New Zealand)

Worldcrunch

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Sources

New Zealand May Become First Country To OK Sale Of Psychoactive "Party Pills"

AAP (Australia); NZ HERALD, RADIO NEW ZEALAND, SCOOP (New Zealand)

Worldcrunch

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Future

Penguins Bask In Global Warming

TVNZ (New Zealand); SCIENCE WORLD REPORT; PLOS ONE JOURNAL

Worldcrunch

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