The New York Times (sometimes abbreviated to NYT) is an American daily newspaper, founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. It has won 117 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any other news organization. Its daily circulation is estimated to 1,380,000.
Hannah Steinkopf-Frank

Britney Spears To Princess Latifa: Hashtags And The Patriarchy

The new documentary "Framing Britney Spears' explores how both tabloid and mainstream media outlets first framed the American megastar as a hypersexualized Lolita, then a bad role model and finally an unstable mother. The film, produced by The New York Times, explores how the news coverage may have led to Spears being placed under a legal conservatorship in 2008 — giving her father Jamie Spears control over her fortune.

The filmmakers follow the #FreeBritney movement, an online protest of fans and supporters pushing to give back control to Spears of her approximately $60 million in net worth. Many in the movement have called out supposed encrypted cries for help in posts on the now 39-year-old pop star's Instagram feed, one of her few seemingly uncensored outlets for expression. Since the documentary's release, the movement had a significant victory when a judge allowed the establishment of Bessemer Trust as a co-conservator, taking some power away from her dad.

The Princess has accused her father of holding her hostage — Photo: FreeLatifa Instagram page

As much as this reads like a very American show biz tale, across the world in the United Arab Emirates, a rather more extreme version of the same father-daughter dynamic is also playing out across social media. The BBC has published videos that Princess Latifa, the daughter of Dubai's ruler, secretly recorded from a locked bathroom in which she says she fears for her life.

The Princess, 35, has accused her father, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of holding her hostage in Dubai since she tried to flee the UAE city in 2018. Amidst global outrage (including by the campaign #FreeLatifa), the United Nations said it will question the UAE about her situation.

While Dubai has become a rich, global capital under Sheikh Mohammed's rule, many women still face harsh restrictions on their personal liberties. And the Sheikh himself is said to have "at least" six wives, including one, Princess Haya, who also fled in 2019, going to London after hearing about Latifa's abduction.

A decade ago, social media was hailed as a new tool to lead pro-democracy movements in the Middle East and give voice to those traditionally shut off from the public sphere. But lately Facebook, Twitter and other platforms have been seen more and more as a toxic public square of fake news, violence and a threat to democracy.

The coinciding hashtag campaigns on behalf of #Britney and #Latifa show that the internet still has the power to move events in a positive direction. But the stories of these two very different princesses are also a reminder that the patriarchy is still firmly in control just about everywhere in the real world.

Alessio Perrone

Behind Biden's Message Of Unity, A Shattered America

MILAN — The first day of Joe Biden's presidency bore clear traces of some of the recent wounds inflicted on the United States. After being sworn in, Biden arrived at the White House protected by thousands of troops and barricades just two weeks since deadly violence engulfed the Capitol.

Thousands of flags stood in for the typical inauguration day crowds to prevent gatherings during the pandemic — and also the possibility of more violence. In his inaugural address, Biden appeared to compare the Trump presidency to a calamity, saying his country needs to "start afresh" and get together like it had after the Civil War, the Great Depression, World Wars, 9/11.

Headlines around the world echoed his words with optimism and relief. "Biden can heal what Trump broke," wrote a member of the New York Times"s editorial board. "Comeback for America," said Germany's biggest-selling tabloid Bild. "Democracy has prevailed," titled France's Le Monde.

But a different picture emerged on social media, where the silence of the flags standing in for cheering crowds were mirrored by other American silences. I have many friends in and around Pueblo, Colorado, where I spent much of my high school junior year. It's a part of America built on steel and coal that has struggled to flourish after the industries' decline. I was looking yesterday on my Facebook feed for the voices on this new presidency that might rise like a phoenix out of those ashes in southern Colorado.

I had grown used to checking the wide-ranging posts of a Baptist pastor to try to better understand Republican voters in rural America. But then he disappeared overnight. Furious that Twitter had temporarily suspended Trump's account, the pastor told his Facebook followers he was joining an alternative social media platform, Parler, and encouraged them to do the same. In the last few weeks, thousands of right-wing extremists have seen Parler as an opportunity to continue to organize and spread hate speech under the radar, escaping regulations and social media bans.

My old friends' feeds remained silent.

Most of my old friends' feeds remained silent for inauguration day, as they had for weeks. I'd seen years of bitter arguments play out in their comment sections — over Trump, over guns, over police killings of African-Americans. But, now, nothing. No jubilation, no talk of new beginnings, no skepticism or bitterness. Nothing.

This new silence makes for an eerie coda to end an otherwise noisy presidency — after Trump was banned from social media, he promised Wednesday to "be back in some form" as he bid farewell to Washington.

For all the talk of coming together with the dawning of a new democracy, the United States has been wrenched apart. It will take a lot more than the optimistic words of a new president to bring it back together again. I'll keep my eye out for news from my old friends in Colorado.

Carl-Johan Karlsson

COVID: The Second Wave Looks Just (And Nothing) Like The First

From Brazil to Canada, Finland to Israel, and well beyond, the impact of the new uptick in coronavirus is being measured across virtually every aspect of society.

Since the first round of lockdowns ended and people around the world were let back into the open, governments have been forced to constantly assess and reassess choices of how much freedom to grant their respective populations. No doubt, we know more about the virus than during the pandemics deadly peak in April and May, but the most important questions (What containment measures are the most efficient? When will we have a vaccine? Masks!?) are still cloaked in uncertainty. Authorities are still grappling with the same life-and-death policy choices as six months ago, though updated the second time around. Here are five key things governments must weigh as a possible second wave looms:

THE ECONOMY With international organizations and individual countries still assessing the economic impact of the pandemic, most governments have ruled out the possibility of a second round of full lockdowns. But national leaders are still walking the tightrope between economic recovery and limiting loss of life, while also having to manage popular opposition and unrest.

  • In France, where President Emmanuel Macron has said that the French economy could not withstand another strict nationwide quarantine after the March-to-May lockdown, partial restrictions have been rolled out instead. Bars and restaurants were closed in southern cities Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, while in other big cities such as Paris, Lille, Bordeaux and Lyon, a partial closure has been imposed between 10 pm and 6 am. Le Figaro reports that the closures have prompted protests in Marseilles, with 100 workers blocking a tunnel on Monday and other bar and restaurant owners threatening to defy the ban.
  • Israel remains the only country to have reimposed a country-wide lockdown, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing a three-week quarantine in mid-September. The move prompted the resignation of ultra-Orthodox Housing Minister Yaakov Litzman, who said the measures would prevent Jews from attending synagogue over the upcoming Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holiday, The Times of Israel reports.
  • In Manaou, the largest city in Brazil's Amazon region, bars and river beaches have been closed to contain a new virus outbreak. Manaou is one of the cities hardest-hit by the pandemic, with so many residents dying in April and May that hospitals collapsed and cemeteries ran out of grave slots. As nearly half the city's population tested positive in June, many hoped that Manaou would have reached herd immunity. But Mayor Arthur Virgílio Neto recently proposed a new two-week lockdown, as new infections reached 1,627 between September 24 and 28 — a 30% increase compared to the same period in August.

FACE MASKS The first months of the pandemic were a constant alternation between mask on and mask off, partly because of scientific uncertainty and partly because of supply shortages. Today, most governments view strong pro-mask policies as a viable way to limit the spread, but are choosing different approaches.

  • In Finland, where deaths have remained low throughout the pandemic, 800 people have been infected in the last two weeks. As the national health authorities predict a continued spread in the near future, mask-wearing has been made mandatory in most parts of the country.
  • In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has picked the more surgical approach of making masks compulsory in certain locations, including shops, supermarkets, takeaway restaurants, places of worship, cinemas and museums. This week, as cases continued to surge, the government added taxis to the list. "Your harmless cough can be someone else's death knell," Johnson declared on Tuesday.
  • A third approach has been taken in Italy, where Corriere Della Sera reports that masks are now obligatory in certain regions. Last week, the region of Campania was added to the list, which includes Italy's third-largest city, Naples.

In the UK, masks compulsory in certain locations — Photo: Alex Lentati/London News Pictures/ZUMA

NURSING HOMES Nowhere is infection control more of a life-or-death matter than in elderly care centers. In Sweden, nearly half of COVID-19 deaths have occurred in nursing homes; while in the U.S., The New York Times reported in June that nearly 40% of total deaths were linked to nursing homes. But with no end to the pandemic in sight, governments and local authorities are forced to balance the risk of letting people visit elderly family and loved ones in the face of the prospect of isolating them again.

  • In Sweden, where nursing homes have been opened to visitors October 1, no major breakouts have occurred. State epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has assessed the risk of spread as very low, granted that sanitary guidelines are followed — adding that infections have shifted to occur mostly among young people, reports Dagens Nyheter.
  • In Italy, authorities have chosen to open common areas to visitors while still holding that the best way to protect the elderly is for visitors to not enter. Yet, opening the doors was deemed a necessity, partly because residents won't be able to enjoy the gardens and outdoor spaces when winter arrives, Il Post reports. The visits still have to be organized beforehand, and extra precautions like frequent testing and rigorous safety protocols are kept in place.

SCHOOLS Denmark was the first country in Europe to reopen its primary schools in mid-April after containing the virus, with only 650 deaths to date. The Nordic country's successful strategy of split classes, outdoor lessons, and strict rules for hand-washing and distancing has become a global model. But there is no accepted model right now as the threat of a second wave coincides with the back-to-school season and the virus increasingly spreading disproportionately among younger people.

  • In the South Korean capital Seoul and nearby areas, schools resumed in-person classes on September 21 following a month-long closure. While daily COVID-19 cases have dropped to the lowest levels since mid-August, students are still under a hybrid regimen of in-person and online classes, with in-person classes limited to once or twice a week, Channel News Asia reports.
  • France has stuck with a nationwide everyone-back-to-class policy even as cases have shot above 10,000 per day. Indeed, the highest proportion of so-called "clusters' of COVID concentrations, approximately one-third, are in schools and universities, reports Le Monde.
  • In South Africa — the country with most deaths on the continent — schools were reopened Aug. 1 following delays as teachers' unions claimed schools lacked sufficient health and hygiene measures to keep educators and pupils safe. While students have now returned to the classroom, many public schools are in poor shape and analysts say that a quarter of them have no running water, making adequate hand-washing impossible, according to Africa News.

France has stuck with a nationwide everyone-back-to-class policy — Photo: Aurelien Morissard/Xinhua/ZUMA

BORDERS Beyond the choices about what to do nationally is another key question: opening up international borders. dilemma as other countries pondering the reopening of their borders.

  • Morocco implemented one of the world's strictest border lockdowns, but the country's economy has been dealt a serious blow, especially its tourism industry, which accounts for 7% of its GDP. Tourism professionals have been urging the government to allow travelers back into the country, as the industry experienced enormous losses during the lockdown, with a drop of $1.2 billion in revenue in the first half of 2020. The city of Marrakech, empty of tourists, looks like a "ghost town," Le Monde reports.
  • On Sept.19, Finland finally eased the tightest travel restrictions in Europe and now allows low-risk countries as well as important trade partners to enter the country, Finish site Yle reports. The loosened restrictions now allow travelers arriving from Norway, Sweden, Iceland, Poland, Germany and Cyprus, as well as residents of Australia, Canada and Japan traveling from their home country to Finland.
  • Despite economic pressure, others are not so keen to reopen their borders. This is the case for Canada, as its neighbor, the U.S. is registering the highest number of cases in the world with over 7.4 million infections and highest number of deaths with over 210,000 fatalities. In mid-September the six-months-long closure of the world's longest land border, between the two countries, to "discretionary" travel was extended to at least until Oct. 21.

The Latest: China-Taliban Meeting, Alaska Tsunami Alert, Earth Overshoot Day

Welcome to Thursday, where a Chinese official meets with Taliban leaders, an earthquake triggers a tsunami alert in Alaska, and rock fans mourn the death of a bearded icon. With the Tokyo Olympics finally underway, Hong Kong-based digital media The Initium also asks a tough question: Do we even still need this sporting event?

• Chinese official publicly meets with Taliban: China's foreign minister, Wang Yi, began two days of talks with Taliban leaders on Wednesday in the Chinese city of Tianjin. After the withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops, Afghanistan has seen significant fighting between the Afghan security forces and the Taliban. China hopes to use the meetings to assist in this peace process, as well as to warm ties with the Islamist group.

• Earthquake in Alaska triggers tsunami alert: After an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck the Alaskan peninsula on Wednesday, U.S. officials have released tsunami warnings for the surrounding area and encouraged increased monitoring across the Pacific. So far there have not been any reports of loss of life or serious property damage.

• Vocal Chinese billionaire sentenced to 18 years in prison: Sun Dawu, a billionaire pig farmer and outspoken critic of the Chinese government, has been sentenced to 18 years in prison on charges that include "picking quarrels and provoking troubles." He has also been fined 3.11 million yuan ($480,000).

• COVID update: Australia's largest city, Sydney, has seen a record daily rise in cases, leading the government to seek military assistance in enforcing the ongoing lockdown. In contrast, the United Kingdom announced that fully vaccinated travelers coming from the EU or the U.S. no longer need to quarantine when entering England, Scotland and Wales. Meanwhile, Google has mandated that employees be vaccinated to return to in-person work in October.

• Macron sues billboard owner for depicting him as Hitler: French President Emmanuel Macron is suing a billboard owner for depicting him on a sign as Adolf Hitler. The poster shows Macron in Nazi garb with a Hitler-esque mustache and the phrase "Obey, get vaccinated." This comes after several protesters who see France's new health-pass system as government overreach invoked the yellow star that Nazi Germany forced Jewish people to wear during WWII.

• ZZ Top bassist dead at 72: Dusty Hill, the bassist for the Texas blues-rock trio ZZ Top, died in his sleep on Tuesday at the age of 72. Hill, known for his trademark long beard, played with the band for over 50 years.

• Earth Overshoot Day: Today marks the day that humanity has exceeded its yearly allotment of the planet's biological resources. Last year, Overshoot Day fell on August 22, after carbon emissions dropped during COVID-related lockdowns. But this year carbon emissions and consumption rose again, and Overshoot Day moved forward by almost one month.

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The Latest: German ‘Todesflut’ Toll, COVID In Africa, Teen In Space

Welcome to Friday, where the European flood death toll tops 100, Lebanon's prime minister steps down and a teenager gets a seat on Jeff Bezos' trip to space. We also get a look from Kommersant on the rising hopes of the reformist revolution in the post-Soviet state of Moldova.

• Germany death toll rises to at least 103, hundreds missing: "Once-in-a-century" flooding in Western Europe has left at least 103 people dead in Germany, and at least nine dead in neighboring Belgium. Hundreds remain missing as search teams continue to look for survivors. The scale of destruction has surprised even climate change experts.

• Merkel's White House farewell: In an otherwise warm final visit to the White House as Chancellor, Angela Merkel and U.S. President Joe Biden disagreed on the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline that the United States fears will increase European reliance on Russian gas. Biden was the fourth occupant of the White House since Merkel took office in 2005.

• COVID spreading in Asia and Africa: As Indonesia becomes Asia's new COVID epicenter, nearby countries are planning new restrictions with Singapore"s announcement it will limit social gatherings, a move that South Korea is also considering. Across Africa, cases have "surged by 43 percent in the space of a week." There is concern that the Delta variant could mutate into more dangerous variants as it sweeps through largely unvaccinated regions.

• Lebanese prime minister steps down: Prime Minister Saad Hariri of Lebanon has decided to step down after nine months of attempting in vain to form a functioning coalition of cabinet members. Hariri was designated prime minister in the wake of the Beirut port explosion and the ongoing economic crisis, and his exit will likely delay any international aid packages.

• Dutch crime reporter dies: Peter R. de Vries, the acclaimed Dutch crime reporter known for his investigations into mobsters and drug lords, died Thursday from injuries sustained when shot at close range in central Amsterdam last week.

• Pacific Rim leaders discuss post-pandemic economic recovery: New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will chair a virtual meeting for members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum to discuss post-COVID economic recovery plans. Presidents Joe Biden, Xi Jinping, and Vladimir Putin, as well as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga are among the other leaders to be included in today's special meeting.

• Teen to fly to space with Bezos: Oliver Daemen will become the youngest person to enter space after the anonymous public auction winner who was slated to go stepped down due to scheduling conflicts. Bezos' "Blue Origin" flight will also include Wally Funk, 82, who is set to be the oldest person to enter space.

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The Latest: Cuba Arrests, South African Troops Deployed, Olympian Gaffe

Welcome to Tuesday, where dozens are arrested following anti-government protests in Cuba, troops are called in to quell South African unrest and the Olympic chief makes an embarrassing slip to his Japanese hosts. Le Monde also looks at lessons that coronavirus-stricken Brazil can draw from its 1904 "Vaccine Revolt."

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The Latest: Haiti President Assassinated, Iran’s Uranium Plans, Fish On Meth

Welcome to Wednesday, where we're following the breaking news of the assassination of Haiti's president. Also Iran acknowledges it is enriching uranium and the ship that blocked the Suez canal is finally free to sail away. In other news, we look at the rock'n'roll statue controversy that pits Paris greens vs. Harley-Davidson.

• Haitian President assassinated: Haitian President Jovonel Moïse, 53, was killed in his private residence at 1 a.m. local time by armed assailants, amid political instability in the impoverished Caribbean nation. First Lady Martine Moïse was injured in the gunfire. Moïse had been ruling by decree for more than two years after the country failed to hold elections and parliament was dissolved.

• Iran begins enriched uranium production: Iran says it plans on starting the process of enriching uranium metal, a move that could help the country create a nuclear weapon, reports International Atomic Energy Agency, a U.N. atomic watchdog. The United States and European powers warned that these steps could muddle attempts to restore the 2015 nuclear deal.

• Taliban enter key western Afghan city: As American troops and NATO allies withdraw from Afghanistan, the Taliban has rapidly advanced through the country, seizing dozens of government controlled districts. Most recently, the group has entered the city of Qala-e-Naw, the capital of Afghanistan's Badghis province, liberating a local prison and continuing to battle government troops as they advance on the center of the city.

• Eric Adams wins NYC Mayoral Primary: Eric Adams, a former police captain, has been declared the winner of the New York City Democratic Primary, beating opponent Kathryn Garcia by a single percentage point. As Adams did not originally receive over 50% of the vote in the city's new ranked-choice voting system, results took longer than usual to count. If elected, Adams will be the city's second Black mayor.

• First indigenous woman appointed Canadian governor-general: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed Mary Simon to be the country's first indigenous governor-general. The move comes amid a national reckoning over the discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves of indigenous children and the intergenerational harm caused to indigenous communities through the residential school system.

• Ever Given ship finally leaves Suez Canal: After blocking the Suez Canal for six days and severely disrupting international trade routes in March, the Ever Given ship has been released from the waterway. The ship had been held at Great Bitter Lake while the Suez Canal Authority sought compensation for salvaging efforts and losses incurred.

• Meth in water may turn fish into addicts: A new study has shown that Brown trout can become addicted to methamphetamine when it accumulates in freshwater rivers. The research demonstrates that when trout are placed in waters containing trace levels of methamphetamine, the fish develop withdrawal when moved to a clean tank.

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The Latest: China’s Missile Silos, India’s Grim COVID Milestone, Young Chess Champ

Welcome to Friday, where new proof is revealed of China's long-range missile silos, India surpasses 400,000 COVID deaths, and we meet the youngest chess grandmaster ever. El Espectador also looks at how the popular Hass avocado is threatening Colombia's ecosystems and causing water shortages in areas once dominated by coffee bean cultivation.

• China is building a sprawling network of missile silos: According to satellite imagery, China appears to be building a network of what appear to be intercontinental ballistic missile silos in its western desert. The field comprises 120 silos that could potentially house weapons capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, a finding that analysts argue could change the equation for U.S. military planners in Asia.

• U.S. forces leave main Bagram base in Afghanistan: After nearly 20 years, American troops have pulled out of their main military base in Afghanistan, under an agreement with the Taliban. Friday's withdrawal is the clearest indication that the last of the 2,500+ U.S. troops have left or are nearing departure, months ahead of President Biden's promise that they would be gone by September 11.

• No impeachment for Bolsonaro: The Brazilian lower house will not take up the corruption claims raised by a senate probe into the handling of vaccine procurement, which had renewed calls for impeachment of President Jair Bolsonaro.

• COVID update: India has surpassed 400,000 deaths, while the country tries to speed up its vaccination drive. Experts say the real number of fatalities could be much higher. The Johnson & Johnson single shot vaccine shows a strong response against the Delta variant as well as other emerging strains. The Delta variant, responsible for most coronavirus infections in the UK, appears to not be driving a surge in the rate of hospital admissions. This data suggests that countries with high vaccination rates are unlikely to see major surges in hospitalizations from the fast-spreading variant.

• Boy Scouts of America to pay $850 million sex abuse settlement: In what is slated to be the largest sexual abuse settlement in U.S. history, the Boy Scouts of America will pay out an $850 million settlement to victims of sexual abuse while taking part in their organization. More than 60,000 people have come forward with claims, many of which were never reported to law enforcement.

• New evacuations ordered amid wildfire and heatwave in Canada: Lytton, the Western Canadian town that this week recorded the country's highest ever temperature of 49.6C (121.3F), evacuated more than 1,000 people before a fast-moving wildfire "engulfed the town within minutes." The parliamentary representative for Lytton's district wrote that 90% of the town is burned. The heat wave continues to wreak havoc throughout Canada's west coast.

• Bezos gives 82-year-old woman second chance to go to space: Wally Funk, an 82-year-old aerospace engineer who trained to go to space in 1961, but was denied due to her gender, will be Jeff Bezos' "honored guest" in his upcoming space flight. Funk was part of the Mercury 13 program which sought to train female astronauts, but was later cancelled, as only male military test pilots were permitted to become astronauts at the time.

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The Latest: Bill Cosby Freed, China’s CCP Turns 100, Saudi Speed

Welcome to Thursday, where Bill Cosby is freed, a new study finds that COVID-19 is common in pets and China's Communist Party celebrates its 100th anniversary. Le Monde also takes us in the kitchens where African-American soul food has become a thing in the capital of haute cuisine.

• The Chinese Communist Party celebrates its 100th anniversary: Speeches and celebrations with military jet fly-pasts and patriotic songs continue through the day as China marks the official July 1, 1921 establishment of the CCP. The Communist Party, which first came to power in 1949 under the rule of Mao Zedong after a long civil war, today wields virtually absolute rule over China, which now counts 1.4 billion people and international superpower status, in both economic and military terms.

• Another 182 unmarked graves found at a Canadian school: The latest First Nation discovery found human remains at a former residential school in British Columbia, a third such finding in recent weeks. Ground penetrating radar technology had revealed the graves and discovered that some of the remains were buried in shallow graves of only three and four feet deep.

• Bill Cosby released from prison after verdict overturned: Legendary U.S. comedian Bill Cosby has been released from prison after the highest court of Pennsylvania overturned his sexual assault conviction, ruling that Cosby's due process rights were violated. Cosby was sentenced in 2018 to three to 10 years in a state prison for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004, after dozens of women had come forward with similar accusations.

• Donald Rumsfeld dies: Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who served four presidents and led the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, died yesterday at the age of 88. He was the youngest, at 43, (under President Gerald Ford) and the oldest, at 74 (under President George W. Bush) to run the Pentagon.

• Serbian ex-spy chiefs jailed for Balkans war crimes: Jovica Stanišić, a former chief of Serbia's state security service, and Franko Simatovic, Stanišić"s deputy, have each been given 12 years for training the Serbian forces that carried out murder and ethnic cleansing in the 1990s Balkan War. The court ruled that they aided and abetted crimes against humanity.

• COVID update: After a final trial, the German COVID-19 vaccine CureVac proved to be 48% effective. The German biotech firm said that efficacy was slightly better (53%) when excluding trial patients older than 60 from the trial. A top African Union special envoy has criticized Europe for failing to deliver on crucial vaccine doses that were promised. Meanwhile, a study has shown that COVID is common in pet dogs and cats whose owners have the disease. According to the researcher, the concern is not the animals' health but the potential risk that they could act as a virus reservoir.

• Britney Spears' bid for freedom denied: A judge has denied the American singer's request to remove her father, James Spears, from his role overseeing her conservatorship. The decision comes a week after Spears delivered a dramatic testimony calling the conservatorship, which she was put under in 2008, "abusive."

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The Latest: Delta Variant Hits Russia, Tigray Ceasefire, Facebook’s Trillion

Welcome to Tuesday, where Russia sees record deaths from the Delta variant, former South African President Jacob Zuma gets 15 months and Facebook becomes a $1 trillion company. Meanwhile, ahead of the Chinese Communist Party's 100th anniversary, The Initium takes us to the "red village" where it all began.

• Ethiopia declares unilateral Tigray ceasefire: After eight months of war between the government army and rebels in Ethiopia, a unilateral cease-fire was declared on Monday night after Mekelle the capital of the northern Tigray region was retaken by rebels. While celebrations in the streets of the capital have been reported, Tigrayan rebels have vowed to continue fighting in spite of the ceasefire.

• COVID update - spike in Russia, more vaccine good news: Moscow and Saint Petersburg have reported record numbers of COVID-related deaths, as Russia faces a third wave of coronavirus by the Delta variant. Meanwhile, a Nature study suggests that Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines could provide COVID protection for years. In Brazil, a scandal is breaking out over the irregular purchase by the state of overpriced vaccines.

• South Africa's top court sentences ex-President Jacob Zuma: The former South African president has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for contempt of court, related to corruption allegations. Zuma was charged with corruption and his presidential career ended in 2018, but he refused to show up in court for inquiries after an initial appearance.

• Italy region bans farm work during hot hours after death of migrant worker: The southern Italy region of Puglia has banned farm labor during the hottest hours of the day, from 12.30 to 4 pm, after the death of a migrant worker last Thursday. The deceased 27-year-old, a native of Mali, was picking tomatoes under the heat that reached 40 C and collapsed on his way home.

• Mexico decriminalizes cannabis: Mexico's Supreme Court has decriminalized the private recreational use of cannabis by adults, announcing the current prohibition unconstitutional. The bill does not mention the commercialisation of cannabis, while smoking in public and in front of children is still banned.

• UK Secret defense documents found at bus stop: An almost 50-page classified "secret defense" document containing details about a British warship and Russia's possible reaction towards its passage in the Black Sea has been found in Kent, in a "soggy heap behind a bus stop" by an anonymous citizen.

• Is there life on Venus? Nope: A UK study finds that the amount of water contained in the atmosphere of Venus is too low for the planet to sustain life. Jupiter, on the other hand ...

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The Latest: Mogul’s Prison Suicide, Indigenous Graves, Britney’s Back

Welcome to Thursday, where software mogul John McAfee is found dead in his Spanish prison cell from apparent suicide, hundreds of indigenous graves are discovered in Canada and French soccer fans get very lost. Meanwhile, the Worldcrunch Express stops at iconic train stations around the world that are being kept alive in unusual ways.

• Merkel and Macron's olive branch to Putin: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have suggested inviting Russian President Vladimir Putin to a summit with the EU, as part of a broader reset of the bloc's relations with Russia, which has been excluded from summits since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

• Anti-virus creator John McAfee found dead in Spanish prison: John McAfee, the anti-virus software entrepreneur, was found dead in his prison cell in Barcelona hours after a Spanish court agreed to extradite him to the U.S. to face tax evasion charges. According to the Catalan justice department, "everything indicates' that McAfee took his own life.

• Hundreds more unmarked graves found at former indigenous school in Canada: The Cowessess First Nation made the discovery at the site of the former Marieval Indian Residential School in the province of Saskatchewan. This is the second discovery in less than a month and statements suggest that the number of graves surpass last month's finding of unmarked graves of 215 Indigenous children in British Columbia.

• Long COVID and new rare vaccine side effect: According to new research in the UK, more than 2 million adults in England have had "long COVID" and have thus experienced coronavirus symptoms lasting over 12 weeks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be adding a warning about a rare heart inflammation in adolescents and young adults to fact sheets for the Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna Covid-19 vaccines. Meanwhile, Brazil registers a new daily record of 115,228 confirmed cases.

• Former President of Philippines Benigno Aquino dies: The only son of the Philippines' two democracy icons died in a Manila hospital on Thursday, aged 61. During his six-year term starting in 2010, the country's long history of junk-debt status ended and average economic growth was at its highest since the 1970s.

• Sesame Street introduces two gay fathers in its show for the first time: On Thursday, the series aired an episode called "Family Day" that introduced Frank, his husband Dave and their daughter Mia as the family attend a surprise party for Big Bird. It is the first time in the show's 51-year history that a same-sex couple has been featured.

• Britney Spears speaks out against "abusive" conservatorship in court: The American pop star Britney Spears said she was traumatized by the conservatorship that has controlled her life for 13 years. The 39-year-old also said she had been denied the right to have more children and was put on a psychiatric drug against her wishes.

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The Latest: Apple Daily Shuts Down, Taliban Gains, Millions Of New Millionaires

Welcome to Wednesday, where Hong Kong's pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily officially announces its closure, new clashes have broken out in Ethiopia's Tigray region and the number of millionaires continues to increase despite the pandemic. Latin American business magazine America Economia also reports on how business schools around the world are now adding the environment to their curricula.

• Apple Daily forced to close amid Hong Kong crackdown: Hong Kong's biggest pro-democracy paper, whose headquarters were raided last Thursday, has announced its closure and will print its final edition Thursday. The board was forced to end all Hong Kong operations due to government pressure, and its lead writer was arrested earlier today. Hong Kong's first National Security trial also began today, with the 24-year-old activist pleading not guilty.

• Taliban gains in Afghanistan: According to the UN's envoy to Afghanistan, Deborah Lyon, Taliban insurgents have seized more than 50 districts of 370 in the country since May. Lyon warned the increasing conflicts in the region also means increasing insecurity for other countries. The uncertainty comes as the U.S and NATO are still aiming for a complete pullout of troops by September 11.

• Crisis in Ethiopia's Tigray: Heavy conflict broke out between the rebel Tigray Defence Force (TDF) and the federal Ethiopian army in the northern region of Tigray, with reports of dozens of civilian casualties after an airstrike hit a busy village market. It is the most serious crisis since the government claimed victory in the conflict last November.

• NYC mayoral vote: New Yorkers cast their ballots yesterday in city primaries, with the Democratic nominee likely to win the mayor's race in November. Of the top four Democratic candidates, former police captain Eric Adams is in the lead, while former presidential candidate Andrew Yang has conceded. Due to ranked-choice voting, the results may take until mid July to be finalized.

• Saudis who killed journalist received military training in U.S.: According to the New York Times, four Saudis who participated in the 2018 killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi received paramilitary training in the U.S. last year, with the approval from the State Department.

• New COVID-19 variant troubling India: Delta Plus, which is believed to be deadlier and more transmissible by scientists, has been labelled a "variant of concern" by the Indian government. There have been at least 22 cases related to Delta Plus in India. The variant has been found in the UK, the U.S., Canada, Japan, Russia, Portugal, Switzerland and Turkey.

• Britney Spears to finally speak out: #FreeBritney fans are eager to hear what pop icon, Britney Spears, will say when she publicly addresses her conservatorship today. The controversial legal arrangement, which many fans argue was unfounded and has stripped the star of her independence, allows Spears' father "control over her estate, career and other aspects of her personal life."

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