When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.


This Happened

This Happened — September 29: COVID-19 Death Toll Hits 1 Million

On this day in 2020, the worldwide death toll from the COVID-19 pandemic reached one million.

Get This Happened straight to your inbox ✉️ each day! Sign up here.

Watch Video Show less
Tapati Guha Thakurta

Time To "Move On" From COVID? That's Not An Option For Me

Anger depletes and debilitates; grief, on the other hand, creates a new strength and resolve. What is centrally at stake for me, three years after I lost my husband, is a stubborn refusal to forget the disease that took him away.


NEW DELHI — Three years ago, it was during the last days in April that the season’s first Kalbaishakhi – gusts of thunder, storm and rain – broke into the sultry summer evening in Kolkata, just as it did this year. I remember the rains came late on that Sunday evening at the end of April 2020, stopping what had become our routine walk during that hour.

Watch Video Show less
Simonetta Sciandivasci

Location Sharing, The Latest Neurosis Of The Gen-Z Dating World

At first, Find My iPhone was a nifty feature that would help keep your cellphone safe. Now, with new location sharing technology, the app has become a new panopticon of control for Gen-Z couples, with their every move recorded by watchful eyes, nestled away in back pockets.

TURIN — The hypersensitivity to control, a neurosis that COVID-19 initially relaxed and then intensified, is an intolerance full of inconsistencies. It's a yes disguised as a no, a somewhat psychotic hypocrisy, almost a Stendhal syndrome.

We can try to detox from the internet, smartphones, social networks, dating apps, and chats — and we already do this, to some extent, as the means become obsolete (even what doesn't die, ages: Facebook is a geriatric ward; TikTok increasingly resembles an 80's video game).

But in the midst of this intermittent fasting, we become dependent on the apps that tell us where we are and, above all, where others are, with frightening, millimetric precision. "Find My iPhone," the function introduced into our smartphones to make them traceable in case of loss, two years ago became "Find My Friend," to facilitate a new methodology of affection exchange which is becoming more and more popular, especially among adolescents: geolocation.

Watch Video Show less
Michael Fabricius, Andreas Macho, Cornelius Welp

How Germany's Office Building Market Went From Bubble To Bust

Higher, faster, more expensive – in German cities, renting out office space was a booming business. Then came remote working and higher interest rates.

FRANKFURT — The four towers still look like huge stone skeletons. But in some places, there are already windows appearing in the façade. The “Four” building project in Frankfurt is due to be completed in two years’ time. It will have more than 200,000 square meters of floor space, housed in tower blocks that soar to heights of 233 meters. Plenty of space for apartments, shops and, above all, offices.

A few hundred meters away, José Martínez sits at his desk in a much less spectacular building. On the wall behind him hang sketches of other planned tower blocks. Martínez is CEO of Groß & Partner, which has overseen the construction of the towering “Four” over the past 10 years.

He has no doubt that the effort has been worth it. “A mixed-use building in a prime location is an easy sell,” he says, adding that more than 80% of the office space has already been reserved.

Watch Video Show less
Gwendolyn Ledger

Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels that allows interactive home shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

SANTIAGOTikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short viral videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher conversion rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

Watch Video Show less
Migrant Lives

Lampedusa, The Far Right's Favorite European Island

The European migrant crisis is once again making headlines, this time from the small island of Lampedusa, Italy. It exposes not only the far right's eagerness to exploit the issue of immigration, but also the delicate balance of power in electoral terms.


PARIS — Europe is facing a new test of its unity and strength. In recent years, it had to tackle challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. This time, the test comes from the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa.

This 20 square-kilometer island saw more migrants arrive last week than it has inhabitants, some 8500 people, largely from Tunisia, arriving on 200 boats. While this is a large number for the island to handle, it's s important to have perspective before using terms such as "invasion." We are far from the numbers seen in 2015 when one million migrants arrived, particularly from Syria.

The issue is humanitarian, but also, ultimately, political. It challenges the hard line on immigration of Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, and her coalition that spans from center-right to far-right allies. The arrival of migrants en masse serves as an ideal opportunity for political exploitation as the campaign for the European elections begins. It also disrupts the shaky migration policy of the European Union and the agreement narrowly reached in June.

Watch Video Show less
Marcelo Cantelmi

Why China's Faltering Economy Is Such Bad News For The Global South

China's economy is struggling, partly driven by a deepening economic rift with the U.S. That does not bode well for the rest of the world, particularly countries in the Global South, writes Argentine daily Clarín.


BUENOS AIRES — Mired in a persistent crisis of growth, the world may be moving toward two unnerving scenarios. One is that the West, and especially the United States, may have resigned itself to China absorbing Russia into its orbit on the back of the Ukraine war. A less dramatic version would be the consolidation of an Eastern front, characterized nonetheless by a strategic divide between those two powers.

The other, more disturbing possibility is of two fronts already decided on the need to eliminate, rather than interact with, the competition.

This could explain the United States' constant ratcheting up of protectionist measures against China, no matter what these measures are called by the White House. The Biden administration recently moved to curb Chinese access to sophisticated chips (with an order restricting U.S. investments in China in that sector), even as banking institutions like Goldman Sachs are advising businesses to disinvest in China — and fast. The pretext given for such moves is national security, as Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen observed on a recent visit to Beijing.

Yellen insists the United States is not trying to obstruct China's commercial development, but block those developments that could harm U.S. national security. Whatever the labels, the United States does want to dampen communist China's technological development, seeing as its ambition is nothing less than global primacy by the middle of the century or before.

The U.S. is presently targeting all high-tech products and components that may have military applications or give China a cutting edge, and pressuring allies in Europe and Asia to adopt a similar approach, even if the EU is reluctant to follow suit.

Watch Video Show less
Work In Progress
Kasia Bielecka

Psychwashing: When Employers Use "Well-Being" To Hide Workplace Business As Usual

Corporations are racing to adopt the language of the mental health movement. But is this anything more than a veil to cover up the deeper problems within the modern workplace?

WARSAW — Raises? Shorter working hours? Jobs that carry real meaning? Does anyone really need these things anymore? Nope, if you ask corporations, they would rather have their employees learn deep breathing or sign up for courses on how to effectively manage stress. Therapy and wellness culture has entered companies, but in a caricatured form.

Not so long ago, topics such as productivity and efficiency were all the rage in workplaces. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, and it forced a reorganization of corporate priorities. All of a sudden, companies began to claim that they care about the mental health, well-being, and stress levels of their employees. But considering that what businesses still treasure most is their own bottom line, has this shift in language really changed anything?

“Mental health is now a corporate topic”, said professor Tomasz Ochinowski, a psychologist and organizational historian from the Department of Social Management at the University of Warsaw. “The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have definitely played a major role here”, he added, “but in a lot of ways, this is also a generational change”.

Watch Video Show less
Alessandro Calvi

Tourist Trap: How Big Investors Are Changing The Tuscan Valley Forever

Along with mass tourism, large investors have arrived in the Tuscan Valley — investors with no ties to the traditions and agriculture of the place. If the residents leave, the landscape of this countryside will disappear forever.

PIENZA — The farmyards in Val d'Orcia are closing, the new owners locking themselves away in farmhouses transformed into villas . A world that has always been open disappears, without fanfare — almost without a voice at all.

“The farmyards were intended for the use of the farm, but they were also a free plot: people with animals in tow could stop and find hospitality,” says Marco Capitoni, a farmer and winemaker. “Now, they have become green fields, irrigated, lit up day and night, monitored by video cameras, and surrounded by fake stone walls or railings.”

His is not the lament of someone who looks to the past regretfully. In fact, it is quite the opposite. Capitoni's company stands on the side of a hill by the town of Pienza, surrounded by splendid, almost empty countryside , windblown and silent on a peaceful Siena afternoon. From his farmyard di lui, he looks at the hills and recounts his bewilderment at a sudden, almost violent change, that is affecting Val d'Orcia — even the very landscape, which is what transformed the fortune of this otherwise poor valley not long ago .

Watch Video Show less
eyes on the U.S.

America's Obsession With UFOs Is Just Out Of This World

The U.S. Congress recently held a public hearing about "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena" (previously known as UFOs), partly because of intense public interest on the matter. But what is it that makes Americans so prone to believe in aliens and conspiracy theories?

One of the main reasons the U.S. Congress has become increasingly interested in Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) is because they are a highly popular topic.

The interest spiked again in recent days as the U.S. Congress held a public hearing about allegations that the government was withholding evidence about aliens. Given the data on how many people believe in aliens, the hearing's success was hardly surprising.

Let's make one thing clear: the phenomena known as UAPs are what common parlance calls Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). In 2021, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) began substituting the latter term to engage with the subject seriously and distance itself from conspiracy theories.

But the fact is that the debate on ufology, UFOs, and now UAPs, has always been linked to conspiracy theories, which has been detrimental to the progression of research on the topic. Why do Americans believe in conspiracy theories and aliens? The two questions can go hand in hand.

Watch Video Show less
Andreas Macho

Inside ​The Last Penicillin Factory In The West​

There are currently supply bottlenecks for around 500 medicines, including the antibiotic penicillin. Every second box of the active ingredient in Europe comes directly or indirectly from one place: a factory in the Tyrolean town of Kundl, Austria. Die Welt takes a look at the factory and what's causing the supply problems.

KUNDL — Stephanie Jedner is in a white protective suit, surveying production facilities the size of trucks. She walks past one of the giant tanks at the penicillin plant in the Austrian village of Kundl in Tyrol. "This fermentor has a capacity of 200,000 liters," says Jedner, who heads the plant's active ingredient production.

Everything at the Austrian production site of the Swiss pharmaceutical company Sandoz seems to be XXL-sized. In the plants around Jedner, a bacterial culture is grown using sugar, water and various nutrient solutions, from which the antibiotic penicillin is ultimately extracted. Up to 200,000 metric tons of this fermented slurry are produced at the plant each year. This is equivalent to 20 times the weight of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

But Jedner's problems are also XXL in scale. The costs of cooking this huge soup have increased. Massively, in fact. The price of sugar has risen sharply since the outbreak of the Ukraine war, and the increase in energy prices is even more serious.

For the plant, which consumes as much energy as the city of Innsbruck, Austria, this is becoming a geographic disadvantage, with consequences for Europe as a whole: the Kundl plant is the last full-scale penicillin factory in the Western world.

Watch Video Show less
food / travel
Marine Béguin

How 7 Vacation Destinations Are Pushing Back Against Over-Tourism

From setting new rules, imposing tolls and fines, local officials in some of the world’s most desirable tourist spots are trying to figure out the right balance to keep visitors coming without ruining the environment, or the experience.

From the canals of Venice to the beaches of Maya Bay, the world’s vacation paradise destinations are under assault. The second full summer since the COVID-19 pandemic abated has seen a massive rebound in tourism, which has made ever more clear that the effects of mass tourism (or over-tourism) are a real threat to the places and the people who live there. Environmental damage, deteriorating cities, overcrowding, rising prices and an impediment to local people's way of life are all consequences of international mass tourism.

In response, many touristic localities are taking this issue head-on by implementing innovative strategies to combat the negative effects of excessive tourism. These initiatives aim to protect the environment, preserve local culture, and ensure the long-term sustainability of these cherished locations. From Bali to Amsterdam and Machu Picchu, here's an international look of vacation destinations that are trying to find the right balance between welcoming visitors and being overrun by them.

Watch Video Show less