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Coronavirus

Xi's Burden — Why China Is Sticking With Zero COVID

Too much has been put in to the state-sponsored truth that minimal spread of the virus is the at-all-cost objective. But if the Chinese economy continues to suffer, Xi Jinping may have no choice but to second guess himself.

The tragic bus accident in Guiyang last month — in which 27 people being sent to quarantine were killed — was one of the worst examples of collateral damage since the COVID-19 pandemic began in China nearly three years ago. While the crash can ultimately be traced back to bad government policy, the local authorities did not register it as a Zero COVID related casualty. It was, for them, a simple traffic accident.

The officials in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou, of course, had no alternative. Drawing a link between the deadly crash and the strict policy of Zero COVID, touted by President Xi Jinping, would have revealed the absurdity of the government's choices.

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Injecting Feminism Into Science Is A Good Thing — For Science

Feminists have generated a set of tools to make science less biased and more robust. Why don’t more scientists use it?

-Essay-

In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, a mystery played out across news headlines: Men, it seemed, were dying of infection at twice the rate of women. To explain this alarming disparity, researchers looked to innate biological differences between the sexes — for instance, protective levels of sex hormones, or distinct male-female immune responses. Some even went so far as to test the possibility of treating infected men with estrogen injections.

This focus on biological sex differences turned out to be woefully inadequate, as a group of Harvard-affiliated researchers pointed out earlier this year. By analyzing more than a year of sex-disaggregated COVID-19 data, they showed that the gender gap was more fully explained by social factors like mask-wearing and distancing behaviors (less common among men) and testing rates (higher among pregnant women and health workers, who were largely female).

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When Friends "Break Up" — The Psychological Damage After Friendships End

Society sees friendships as far less important than love and life partnerships. But psychologists warn that the end of a close friendship can leave the "grieving" side in need of therapy.

BUENOS AIRES — It was Wednesday and Sofía, a 31-year-old woman living in Buenos Aires, was having a good day. She'd had a productive work meeting in the morning and her usual gym class in the afternoon. But as she walked home listening to music in her earphones, she felt an acute pain, first in her chest, then throat.

It wasn't a heart attack, but she panicked and began to cry. What prompted the reaction, she realized later, was the music she had just heard: a song that brought back teenage memories of a former friend. Sofía told her therapist the next day that the end of the friendship had upset her greatly, and until that moment had suppressed the grief.

The friend hadn't died, there had been no fight or exchange of ugly words, but the two had drifted apart, irreversibly, Sofía felt. None of this, she told the psychologist, made it any less troubling or hurtful.

The song that had triggered her anxiety was 11 y 6 by Argentine Fito Páez. It took Sofía back to her 16th birthday, which she spent with her friend. That girl "was" her teenage years, she explained and without her "a big part of what we lived together now is gone."

The end of a strong friendship causes bona fide grief, even if it is often ignored. More and more specialists believe that it needs to be processed, and perhaps treated, like one would the end of a love affair or partnership.

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The Guiyang Zero-COVID Bus Crash: A Chinese Tragedy In Three Acts

The city in southern China was put under harsh lockdown earlier this month after just a few positive COVID tests. Then a bus carrying quarantined residents crashed, killing 27. The senseless accident left residents more fearful and suspicious of each other than ever.

GUIYANG — Two weeks before the tragic Sep. 18 bus crash in this southern Chinese city, a local resident named Jin was anxiously driving out of her neighborhood. The police officers on duty were blocking the intersection and the area was closed off. Even though her employer had demanded she come to work, the local neighborhood committee had forbidden her from going out. That same evening one of Jin's colleague had been asked twice to get out of a taxi, and had to walk home.

The details of how China's latest lockdown disrupted Guiyang residents sound pointless after Sunday's crash of a bus transporting quarantined residents crashed, killing 27, and sparking a new round of outrage over the country's strict zero-COVID policy. And yet it is worth reviewing what had already happened to life in the city of 4.3 million after just a few cases of the virus were detected.

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In The News
Chloé Touchard, Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Anne-Sophie Goninet

World Comes To New York, Myanmar School Attack, Vegan Bite

👋 Goedendag!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where world leaders start gathering in New York for the first in-person UN General Assembly since the pandemic, Iran faces growing protests after a young woman died following her arrest by the “morality police” for violating the hijab law and a group of scientists manage to estimate the total number of ants on Earth. Meanwhile, Jan Grossarth for German daily Die Welt unpacks the potential of “hempcrete,” i.e. bricks of hemp used as building material.

[*Dutch]

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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Laure Gautherin, Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

Putin’s New Doctrine, BoJo Bids Farewell, First COVID Inhaler

👋 Ko na mauri!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where Vladimir Putin unveils a new “Russian World” foreign policy doctrine, Liz Truss officially takes over from Boris Johnson as UK Prime Minister, and Instagram gets slapped with a hefty fine. Meanwhile, Spain’s Agencia SINC looks at how the distorted and often negative portrayal of women in medicine is being challenged by the research community.

[*Gilbertese, Kiribati]

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

Gorbachev Dies, Taiwan Tensions, Queen Stays In Scotland

👋 Hej!*

Welcome to Wednesday, where the world pays tribute to former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev who died at 91, the Taiwan Strait sees renewed tension and the Queen breaks with tradition. Meanwhile, Cynthia Martens unpacks the unraveling of Moscow's intellectual property standards in the wake of international companies leaving Russia.

[*Danish]

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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Chloé Touchard, Lila Paulou and Bertrand Hauger

All Eyes On Southern Ukraine, Baghdad Clashes, Pumpkin Ride

👋 Da'anzho!*


Welcome to Tuesday, where Ukraine launches a counteroffensive to retake Kherson in the south of the country, deadly clashes rock Iraq after cleric al-Sadr resigns, and the world record for pumpkin paddling (you read that right) gets broken. We also turn to Ukraine’s news platform Livy Bereg to see how Russian propaganda plays out across European countries.



[*Eastern Apache]

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Society
Prudence Phiri

Zambia, Trapped In A Generational Cycle Of Poverty

The pandemic has scuttled Zambia’s efforts to combat child labor and keep kids in school. The result is a generational cycle of poverty.

LUSAKA, ZAMBIA — A gray haze hovers above the garbage dump, a stain on an otherwise blue sky. Known as Marabo, the site unfurls across almost an acre of dirt, with mounds of plastic bags and cracked bottles baking under the midmorning sun. On the north end, dark green-and-black mud cakes the rubbish, emitting a sewer-like stench. The smell clings to the body long after one leaves.

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Coronavirus
Emma Frans

So, Did Sweden's No-Lockdown COVID Strategy Pay Off?

During the pandemic, the world watched as Sweden carried out a unique approach to combat the COVID-19 virus, relying on social distancing instead of lockdowns. Although labeled a "disaster" at the time, the strategy worked well for all — except one key group.

As much of the world shut down early in the COVID pandemic, Sweden remained open. The country’s approach was controversial, with some calling it “the Swedish experiment”.

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Green Or Gone
Aline Suárez del Real, Adriana Alcázar González*

Mexican Youth Turn To Urban Agriculture To Connect With Their Roots

When the pandemic disrupted livelihoods and supply chains, young urban Mexicans decided to learn to grow food themselves.

CUAUTITLÁN IZCALLI — Growing up in a concrete city of more than 5 million people, María de Lourdes Félix never thought she would harvest corn and worry about worms.

But during the pandemic lockdown in March 2020, the 32-year-old enrolled in an online three-month economics course offered by Instituto Mexiquense de la Juventud, a Mexican government agency. Inspired, 10 classmates started a project to plant and harvest corn, calling themselves Maizkali. They borrowed a piece of farmland that had been in one of their families for generations.

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Society
Apophia Agiresaasi*

Beyond COVID: Why Ugandan Kids Can’t Go Back To School

Severe weather and a lack of upkeep during pandemic shutdowns wreaked havoc on school facilities. Officials and parents are scrambling to rebuild.

SHEEMA, UGANDA — After nearly two years of repeated shutdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, Benon Atwijuka was excited to return to his job as headmaster of Kyeihara Integrated Primary School in southwestern Uganda. But when he arrived, he realized that he had to do more than help his students catch up on the learning they had lost.

“During the long absence, animals roamed and grazed in the school compound and damaged buildings,” he says.

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