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Worldcrunch Staff's 21 Favorite Stories From 2021

Photo of a person walking by a placard displaying a smartphone that shows a 2021 calendar

Looking back on a year or international-minded journalism


We asked the team at Worldcrunch to share the articles that stood at this past year, from articles we've translated from the best international sources to pieces we've written ourselves.

Dozens (and dozens) were sent in, and we've narrowed it down to 21:

​When Will COVID End? The Question That Won't Go Away


Vaccination was supposed to free us from the pandemic's frightening grip. Things would go back to normal, with parties and hugs and everything else. But now with the Delta variant, and the vaccines less than full-proof, COVID is again dominating our collective psyche.

​"We Can't Rule Alone" - New Taliban Leaders Speak


Reporter Daniel-Dylan Böhmer of Die Welt gained exclusive access to key Taliban officials in Kabul, and visited the heavily armed security forces at the airport, to get a sense of what Afghanistan's future may hold.

Bad Actors, Same Script: Israeli-Palestinian Tragedy Plays On


The current spiral in the Middle East is a stinging reminder for the world, and particularly the United States under Joe Biden, that the violence will always return.

His Pill? We're Long Overdue For Male Contraceptive Alternatives


Male contraception, both pharmaceuticals and procedures, is gaining increasing interest. Yet to date, there is no male contraceptive drug authorized on the market.

​Hong Kong's International Food Scene Gets Political


In its diaspora around Asia and the rest of the world, Hong Kong's identity is closely tied to its food and tea. Now with the pressures from the mainland, the stakes are suddenly multiplied.

​Nothing Is More Latin American Than Not Wanting To Be One


Argentine President Fernández's suggestion that Argentines were more European than others from the region was a sorry bid to ingratiate himself with Europe — and so typically Latin American.

Coming Back Around, One Year Later: What COVID Took Away


Soon after the end of Italy's first lockdown, Mattia Feltri went to one of Rome's historic cafes next to one of the city's best-known theaters. At the end of their short conversation, the aging barman bid the author farewell with a shout of: "Long live freedom." Almost exactly a year later, Feltri returned to the bar. The weather was hot again, but something had changed ...

​Plan B? Why Iran Thinks It Has The West Cornered On Nuclear Deal


The U.S. is calling for "imminent" return to talks. But Tehran has made advances on its nuclear program that could force the West to accept, in a new pact, its bomb-making capacity, which Iran will "freeze" if Western powers lift sanctions.

​Microplastics In Lake Baikal, World’s Largest Freshwater Lake At Risk


Fishing nets, industry and other human-caused dumping are poisoning Russia's Lake Baikal, the world's largest, deepest (and oldest) lake. Bigger than all the North American Great Lakes combined, it's at risk after 25 million years of life.

What Is Freedom? Surviving The Facebook Outage In Bulgaria


As people were getting back online after a six-hour outage of Facebook-linked apps, from his shared office in Sofia, Bulgaria, Worldcrunch's roving reporter Carl Karlsson mused on the meaning of freedom in a world of notifications and likes.

​Grieving For Papá, Grieving With Others: My Día De Muertos Diary


When the author's father died suddenly two years ago in Colombia, the Catholic Church mourning rituals offered little comfort. Two weeks ago, by chance in Mexico City for the annual Día De Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations, she discovered how these ancient rituals for the departed could finally help her face the pain, and find true peace.

​What Ireland Can Teach Poland About Abortion Rights


The 2012 death of Savita Halappanavar, who was unable to get an abortion in Ireland, set off nationwide opposition to a ban on the procedure. What happens when a similar case arises in Poland?

​A Wall At The Poland-Belarus Border? Europe Must Make Hard Choices


Hundreds of migrants arrive in Germany every day from Poland, which makes the Belarus border a national issue for Germany. It's long past time that Europe acknowledge that tough measures are needed — maybe even walls...

​Why The World’s Military Leaders Are Drafting Science Fiction Writers


Space exploration, extraterrestrial life, time travel ... All common science fiction tropes that are as fascinating and they are mindboggingly fun — but not exactly useful in the real world, right? The military may beg to differ ...

​Really? The Feminist Case Against Prostitution


Some feminists celebrate women who sell sex, claiming they are the pinnacle of self-determined empowerment. If that were true, millions of men would be queueing up to go in the game. Those who defend sex work are missing the point.

Polish Hideout? Zambian Shave? Translating The "Meta" Meanings Of Facebook’s New Name


The embattled U.S. tech giant has unveiled a new name for its holding company: Meta. It will do little to soften the rising criticism of Facebook's practices. Indeed, across the world's many languages, we find the new name translates into all kinds of good content.

How COVID Sparked A Search For Roots In The French Countryside


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many chose to reassess their life priorities, jobs, and sometimes very urban ways of life. Spotlight on some of France's so-called "neo-farmers" who decided to go back to the countryside.

​Deadish: What General Anesthesia Taught Me About Death


Anesthesia, or a temporary state of "nothingness," may be our closest experience of death without dying, and a reminder of the fragility of our lives.

Prolonging Lives v. Wasted Futures? The "Covidism" Dilemma


Are the lives of the youth impacted by coronavirus restrictions worth less than the extended lives of the elderly? This is the debate we must have when faced with the prospect of another lockdown.

What Måneskin's Runaway Success Says About Retrograde Politics In Italy


Since winning this year's Eurovision contest, Italy's rock band Måneskin has been taking its message of breaking down stereotypes around the world, while its native country's politicians are stuck in last century's prejudices.

Autopsy Of The Muslim Brotherhood's Failed Political Project


A decade after the Arab Spring, the Islamist political movement driven by the Muslim Brotherhood, from Egypt to Morocco and beyond, continues to flirt with more extreme Salafist elements to build popular support — and continues to show its utter incapacity to properly run a national government.

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Amid Regulatory Gaps, Telehealth Prescribers Flourish

It’s easier than ever to get prescription drugs online. Should regulators be paying more attention?

A zoom meeting between a medical provider with a mask and a patient takes place on a zoom meeting

Dr. Lisa Ravindra conducts a remote monitoring telehealth visit with patient Jenny Thomas in Chicago IL on October 5, 2020

Teresa Carr

It started with a Google search for prescription medications I might get online.

Almost immediately, ads from telehealth companies began chasing me around the internet, promising access to drugs to make me prettier, skinnier, happier, and hornier. Several of these companies sell anti-aging creams. While decidedly pro-aging, I don’t love the visible effects of my sun-soaked youth. “Sure,” I thought. “Why not?”

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