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The Gates Foundation’s approach has both advantages and limits

THE JANICKI OMNI PROCESSOR, a $2m machine paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, turns human waste into water and electricity. In poor cities such as Dakar in Senegal, where it has been piloted, the hope is that people will send sewage to sanitation plants to be processed, rather than chucking it into the streets. The Omni Processor...

Societies that treat women badly are poorer and less stable

“A WOMAN WHO drives a car will be killed,” says Sheikh Hazim Muhammad al-Manshad. He says it matter-of-factly, without raising his voice. The unwritten rules of his tribe, the al-Ghazi of southern Iraq, are clear. A woman who drives a car might meet a man. The very possibility is “a violation of her honour”. So her male relatives will kill her, with...

From Congo to the Capitol, conspiracy theories are surging

IN LATE JULY, less than a week after the British government lifted most of its remaining covid-19 restrictions, several thousand people nonetheless gathered in London’s Trafalgar Square to protest against “lockdowns”. Among the speakers were Piers Corbyn (brother of a former Labour Party leader), a climate-change denier who thinks that covid-19 is a...

Climate change will alter where many crops are grown

TOM EISENHAUER remembers driving through Manitoba, a province in central Canada, more than a decade ago. Surrounding his car were fields of cold-weather crops, such as wheat, peas and canola (rape). Dense staples such as maize (corn) and soya, which are more profitable, were few and far between. The view is very different now. More than 5,300 square...

The world needs a proper investigation into how covid-19 started

“THE VIRUS MYSTERY”, broadcast on August 12th, drew uncommonly wide attention for a Danish television documentary. That was because it featured Peter Ben Embarek, an expert on food security and zoonotic diseases, casting doubt on the conclusions of a “joint study” on the origins of the covid-19 pandemic carried out earlier this year under the auspices...

Travel chaos will last well beyond summer

TOM MAPLES spent five days and almost $7,000 getting home to London from Tanzania in May. Many African countries are on the English “red list”, meaning anyone who has visited one in the previous ten days must quarantine in an expensive airport hotel before entering England. Eager to avoid that bill, Mr Maples bought a ticket via New York, where he could...

At 70, the global convention on refugees is needed more than ever

WHEN THE Turkish coastguard found them in the Aegean in the dead of night, they had been adrift for three hours. The air was hissing out of their rubber dinghy. The motor would not start. Anas and the eight other Somali men shielded their eyes from the glare of the searchlights. His wife, Faduma, the only woman, panted from stress and exhaustion. They...

The pandemic has exacerbated existing political discontent

A PILE OF fake corpses littered the heart of Bangkok. The bodies—white sacks stuffed with hay and spattered with red paint—symbolised Thai victims of covid-19. “They’re dead because of the failure of this government,” a protester bellowed into a megaphone. To underscore the point, protesters had laid the “corpses” across a giant portrait of the prime...

Attitudes towards experimenting on monkeys are diverging

IN 2014 A GERMAN animal-rights group called SOKO Tierschutz planted a caretaker in the laboratory of Nikos Logothetis, a neuroscientist working at the Max Planck Institute in Tübingen. The infiltrator secretly filmed around 100 hours of lab work over six months, some of which was later broadcast on German television. The footage showed monkeys with...

America, China and the race to the Moon

ON JULY 11th, climbing through the darkling sky like a bolt of lightning in reverse, Richard Branson stole a whisper of Jeff Bezos’s thunder. In early June Mr Bezos had garnered headlines and pageviews by announcing that when his rocket company, Blue Origin, launched a space capsule with humans on board for the first time on July 20th he would be...

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