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Economically, covid-19 has hit hard-up urbanites hardest

WINNIE MUHONJA has faced many difficulties in her life. Covid-19 is just the latest. Having grown up in Kibera, a huge slum with 300,000 residents in the middle of Nairobi, she is used to the presence of disease and the absence of money. Ms Muhonja, who is 25, has lived with her sister since she left school eight years ago. She has two jobs but cannot...

Social media are turbocharging the export of America’s political culture

ARTHUR DO VAL just wanted to be somebody. A sitting lawmaker in São Paulo’s regional assembly—with, as he boasts in his Twitter bio, the second-largest number of votes of any candidate—Mr do Val rose to fame by heckling lefties at marches. He learned this tactic, he explains, from the documentaries of Michael Moore, an American political film-maker....

A backlash against gender ideology is starting in universities

HOURS BEFORE Jo Phoenix, a professor of criminology at Britain’s Open University, was due to give a talk at Essex University about placing transgender women in women’s prisons, students threatened to barricade the hall. They complained that Ms Phoenix was a “transphobe” likely to engage in “hate speech”. A flyer with an image of a gun and text reading...

Assessing the theory that covid-19 leaked from a Chinese lab

IT IS POSSIBLE that the chain of infections which spread SARS-CoV-2 around the world began, as most new diseases do, when an animal virus found its way unaided into humans, whether in field or farm, cave or market. It is also possible that the chain began in a Chinese government laboratory. These two possibilities have been recognised by many of those...

Joe Biden orders his spooks to investigate the origins of covid-19

IN MARCH, President Joe Biden asked his spooks how the covid-19 pandemic had started. Contradicting claims made last year by Donald Trump, who said the intelligence services had shown him very strong evidence on the matter, they told him that they did not know. So on May 26th he asked them again, publicly this time, admonishing them to try harder and...

How the pandemic has upended the lives of working parents

“ON SOME DAYS everything gets totally out of hand,” sighs Katharina Boesche, a German self-employed lawyer and mother of three. Fourteen months of closures and semi-closures of her daughters’ schools have taken a toll. She mostly works late at night or between 4am and 8am—when the house is quiet. The girls have coped with online learning, she says,...

France is confronting its history in Algeria

IN MARCH, BENEATH the chandeliers of the Elysée palace, four adult cousins met Emmanuel Macron, France’s president. What really happened, they wanted to know, to their grandfather, Ali Boumendjel, a lawyer and nationalist, who died in colonial Algeria after his arrest by French troops in 1957? Officially he committed suicide. In fact, Mr Macron acknowledged,...

Diplomacy has changed more than most professions during the pandemic

WHILE ASSORTED G20 “Sherpas”, officials who do the donkey work on summits, gathered in Dhahran in Saudi Arabia in March last year, lockdowns were starting and international travel was stopping. A scramble to get home began. But within weeks, after some teething troubles with videoconference technology, the Sherpas were conducting talks over Zoom and...

The West’s armies are getting more serious about climate change

WESTERN DEFENCE ministries are talking up their willingness to take on a new enemy: climate change. In March Lloyd Austin, America’s defence secretary, wrote that “the changing climate is altering the global security and operating environments, impacting our missions, plans and installations.” The Pentagon set up a “Climate Working Group” after an executive...

Covid-19 is fuelling a Zoom-boom in cosmetic surgery

CALL IT “Zoom face-envy”. Because of the rise of video-conferencing during the pandemic, legions now spend hours staring at their own faces and, inevitably, comparing them with those of others. Poor lighting and the skewed angles of laptop cameras are rarely flattering. Nor is “lockdown face”, brought on by stress, or a dearth of sunlight and exercise....

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