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Bethany Wright

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Photo of a Ukrainian woman mourning her son in Irpin Cemetery
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Why It's Now Almost Impossible For Ukraine To Win The War

It’s hard to admit, but every day, the chance of a Ukrainian victory moves further away. Kyiv is running out of troops and equipment. The enemy is better prepared and has significant reinforcements at its disposal. It’s no surprise, then, that the talk among Western diplomats is of a truce.

-Analysis-

At the start of the year, Ukraine seemed optimistic about its prospects in the terrible war of Russian aggression that has been inflicted on the country for almost a year now.

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photo of a mother and son at beijing airport with masks
Coronavirus

Why China's COVID Coverup Raises The Risk That New Variants Will Spread

No one knows the true number of coronavirus infections in China, but it could be up to 4 million a day. Experts fear that new variants could emerge undetected that may prove dangerous for the rest of the world. Time is ticking.

Ravindra Gupta, an internationally recognized coronavirus expert from Cambridge, UK, is worried by what he can't see.

“We are unfortunately blind to what is happening there right now.” The what and the there Gupta is referring to is the rapid spread of COVID-19 in China. In his lab, Gupta researches how viruses develop under certain conditions. In order to better understand how new coronavirus variants evolve, he incorporates new mutations into so-called pseudo-viruses, then analyzes what these changes mean from a medical perspective.

In this way, he was able to predict that the dangerous Delta variant that first appeared in India in 2021 would spread across the world so quickly.

And now? “The Chinese government is not only preventing us from knowing the transmission pattern and death rate of the outbreak there.," Gupta says. "We are also not receiving any representative data about the variants in circulation.”

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photo of pope benedict waving
Ideas

The Protestant Twist To Pope Benedict's Theological Legacy

In his Spiritual Testament, Pope Benedict XVI only cited Protestant theologians – not a single Catholic thinker. Were the Catholics not interesting enough for him? And what do Joseph Ratzinger’s pre-modern understanding of the concept of reason and inaccurate Kant quotes have to do with it?

-Analysis-

MUNICH — Joseph Ratzinger first became known to an educated readership in 1968 when he published Introduction to Christianity. The book was widely read, selling 45,000 copies in its first year of publication.

However, in the small, elite world of German-speaking theology professors, the book came in for heavy criticism. In 1969 Walter Kasper, who was then Professor of Dogmatics at the University of Tübingen, wrote a scathing review in which he accused his colleague of having a false, overly subjective understanding of Christian theology.

Kasper claimed Ratzinger had relied too heavily on the existentialist thought of Danish theologian Søren Kierkegaard and interpretations of Kierkegaard’s work by Rudolf Bultmann, a Lutheran theologian and Professor of the New Testament at the University of Marburg. This meant that, according to Kasper, Ratzinger’s work played fast and loose with “the objective ecclesiastical form of the Church within the Christian faith.” In other words, Ratzinger’s “existentialist interpretation” risked “tipping over into a purely spiritualistic understanding of the Church.”

That was serious criticism. Kasper, who decades later moved to Rome when he was made a Cardinal of the Roman Curia and President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, was accusing Ratzinger of being too heavily influenced by Protestant thought.

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Putin posing in front of Russian soldiers
FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

In 2023, Putin Has These Three Choices In Ukraine

Victory is not on the list....

It has been more than 300 days since Putin invaded Ukraine. He has not achieved his aim of forcing a regime change in Kyiv, and Russia has recently suffered serious setbacks. Putin has many options – some of which could prove dangerous.

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Since Ukrainian troops liberated the area around Kharkiv and retook Kherson, the Russian army has come under such pressure that criticism of the military campaign is beginning to spring up even within Russia, where free speech is tightly controlled. Of course, these voices are calling not for peace, but more war.

Up until now, Putin has considered the demands of pro-war figures including Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and Yevgeny Prigozhin, owner of the Wagner Group mercenary company — but only to a point.

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War In The Age Of Tik Tok, A Parental Guide To Your Child's Mental Health
Society

War In The Age Of Tik Tok, A Parental Guide To Your Child's Mental Health

Many children are struggling with what feels like a constant state of crisis. Parents are right to be concerned, but they should not try to shield kids. Instead, it's all about communication.

One afternoon in the Swabian Alps in Germany, Anna Jüttler is driving along with her sons Maris, 10, and Silvan, 8, in the back. They are chatting about school and what they’d like to eat tonight when the news comes on the car radio: Russian attacks continue on Ukraine. The German army is ill-equipped for battle.

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One week later, Jüttler thinks back to that car journey. She looked in the rear-view mirror and saw in her sons’ eyes that “nothing is the same”. Her younger son bombarded her with questions about why the German army didn’t have any “good rockets and planes”. His older brother joined in.

His friend had said there was going to be a Third World War. Was that true? Would there be a nuclear attack?

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Why Long COVID Is Still Such A Mystery To Researchers
Coronavirus

Why Long COVID Is Still Such A Mystery To Researchers

Both long and post-COVID are still misunderstood by the general public and the scientific community. This can cause even more suffering for those affected, who already fear their symptoms being dismissed as psychosomatic.

Christoph Kleinschnitz chooses his words very carefully. He knows that he can’t afford to put a foot wrong, otherwise he’s going to cause all sorts of trouble. So his first sentence is unequivocal: “Long COVID and post-COVID both exist. There is no doubt about that.”

Kleinschnitz has good reason to be cautious. The director of neurology at Essen University Hospital recently appeared as an expert in a controversial documentary by doctor and TV presenter Eckart von Hirschhausen, where he pointed out that for some patients who are apparently suffering from long COVID, their symptoms may be intensified – or even fully explained – by psychological causes. Since that appearance, sufferers have branded him a long COVID and post-COVID denier.

Nothing could be further from the truth, says Kleinschnitz. The only thing he questions is the apparent frequency of long COVID and post-COVID cases – and a colleague’s claim to have cured herself with a highly controversial treatment: flushing antibodies, which she believed were causing her symptoms, out of her blood. Depending on the number of treatments required, this can cost up to €10,000.

Kleinschnitz’s appearance in Hirschhausen’s film only lasted two minutes. But it was enough to spark attacks against not only him but also his family.

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Why Olaf Scholz Is Still Not Convincing On Ukraine
Geopolitics

Why Olaf Scholz Is Still Not Convincing On Ukraine

Praising the courage of the Ukrainian people, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz assured Kyiv of Germany's support for “as long as it is needed.” Not nearly enough, according to the country's opposition.

-Analysis-

According to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz Russian President Vladimir Putin has not achieved any of his goals in Ukraine. “Not a single one of Putin’s plans has worked,” Scholz said in a speech to the German Parliament earlier this month.

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He said Putin had “fundamentally miscalculated” in believing that Russian troops would overrun Ukraine within a few days.

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man boarding a plane
Geopolitics

Olaf Scholz: Trying To Crack The Code Of Germany's Enigmatic Chancellor

Olaf Scholz took over for Angela Merkel a year ago, but for many he remains a mysterious figure through a series of tumultuous events, including his wavering on the war in Ukraine.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — When I told my wife that I was planning to write an article about “a year of Scholz,” she said, “Who’s that?” To be fair, she misheard me, and over the last 12 months the German Chancellor has mainly been referred to by his first name, Olaf.

Still, it’s a reasonable question. Who is Olaf Scholz, really? Or perhaps we should ask: how many versions of Olaf Scholz are there? A year after taking over from Angela Merkel, we still don’t know.

Chancellors from Germany’s Social Democrat Party (SPD) have always been easy to characterize. First there was Willy Brandt – he suffered from depression and had an intriguing private life. His affected public speaking style is still the gold standard for anyone who wants to get ahead in the center-left party. Then came Helmut Schmidt. He lived off his reputation for handling any crisis, smoked like a chimney and eventually won over the public.

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Now They're Diagnosing Burnout's Never-Quit Cousin: Burn-On
Society

Now They're Diagnosing Burnout's Never-Quit Cousin: Burn-On

Feeling overworked but not yet burned out? Often the problem is “burn-on,” an under-researched phenomenon whose sufferers desperately struggle to keep up and meet their own expectations — with dangerous consequences for their health.

At first glance, Mr L seems to be a successful man with a well-rounded life: middle management, happily married, father of two. If you ask him how he is, he responds with a smile and a “Fine thanks”. But everything is not fine. When he was admitted to the psychosomatic clinic Kloster Diessen, Mr L described his emotional life as hollow and empty.

Although outwardly he is still putting on a good face, he has been privately struggling for some time. Everything that used to bring him joy and fun has become simply another chore. He can hardly remember what it feels like to enjoy his life.

For psychotherapist Professor Bert te Wildt, who heads the psychosomatic clinic in Ammersee in Bavaria, Germany, the symptoms of Patient L. make him a prime example of a new and so far under-researched syndrome, that he calls “burn-on”. Working with psychologist Timo Schiele, he has published his findings about the phenomenon in a book, Burn-On.

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photo of someone at a Mac computer screen
Economy

Germany's 25-Hour Work Week Proposal Is An Insult To Work

Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party recently called for the introduction of a 25-hour work week, arguing that it's the only way to end "self-exploitation." What a strange understanding of work, argues one German expert in labor law.

-OpEd-

BERLIN — “In order to create a working environment that gives employees a good quality of life and self-determination, we are calling for a working week of 25 hours in the medium term," is the new stance on labor taken by Germany's ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD).

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Photo of Elon Musk looking down at screens featuring Twitter's blue bird logo
Future

Some Historical Context On The Current Silicon Valley Implosion

Tech billionaires such as Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have lost far more money this year than ever before. Eccentric behavior and questionable decisions have both played a role. But there are examples in U.S. business history that have other clues.

-Analysis-

BERLIN — Life isn’t always fair, especially when it comes to business. Although he had already registered dozens of patents, during the global economic crisis of the 1930s, tireless inventor Nikola Tesla found himself struggling to put food on the table. Sure, investors today associate his name with runaway wealth and business achievements rather than poverty and failure: Tesla, the company that was named after him, has made Elon Musk the richest man in the world.

Bloomberg estimates the 51-year-old’s current fortune to be $185 billion. While Musk is not a brilliant inventor like Nikola Tesla, many see him as the most successful businessperson of our century.

And yet, over the past month, many are beginning to wonder if Musk is in trouble, if he has spread himself too thin. Most obvious is his messy and expensive takeover of Twitter, which includes polarizing antics and a clear lack of a strategy.

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photo of two people at a memorial in Kherson with Ukraine flag draped over them
Ideas

Why Ukraine-Russia Peace Talks Are Now More Impossible Than Ever

The reconquest of Kherson seemed like a turning point in the Ukraine war. But while Kyiv and the West can see it as an encouraging sign for the long-term fate of the war, it makes negotiations a veritable non-starter now. A cold, hard analysis from French geopolitical expert Dominique Moïsi.

-Analysis-

The liberation of Kherson two weeks ago brought Ukrainian forces closer to Crimea and pushed the Russian army further from Odessa. It was a strategic and symbolic turning point. The images that emerged evoke the liberation of Paris in August 1944. Although it is a show of strength from Ukraine and a sign of Russian weakness, it does not mean that the time has come for negotiations to begin.

Far from it, in fact.

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Up until the Ukrainian army retook Kherson, it was still possible to imagine that Russia and Ukraine might reach a compromise on territory, redrawing the borders as they were on Feb. 23, 2022. That is no longer the case today. For Kyiv, there is no longer any question of going back to February 2022, but rather to January 2014: before Moscow seized Crimea by force.

In nine months of war — with nearly 100,000 victims on both sides — millions of Ukrainians have been displaced, towns and cities have been systematically targeted and infrastructure has been destroyed.

Russia has committed multiple war crimes, perhaps even crimes against humanity. Unable to compete on the ground with the Ukrainian forces — who outnumber the Russians, are better equipped (thanks to Western aid) and above all are more motivated — Moscow has had no other choice than to try and bring the Ukrainian people to their knees through hunger and cold, while hoping to sow division among Kyiv’s allies.

So far, this strategy has had the opposite of the desired effect. Now that Ukraine has retaken Kherson, and after the G20 summit in Bali, Russia is more isolated than ever on the global stage.

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