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Biden promised a harder line on Saudi Arabia. Why can’t he deliver?

A portrait of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the capital Riyadh one day ahead of the the Future Investment Initiative, October 22, 2018. | Fayez Nureldine/AFP via Getty Images Biden hasn’t met with MBS directly, but he’s done little else to stop the crown prince’s human rights abuses. On the campaign trail, Joe Biden vowed that...

The best $65 I ever spent: A BDSM whip

Dana Rodriguez for Vox Staying married was my own form of masochism — just without the kinky accoutrements. In the 15-minute break in a lecture on dominance and submission, during which our porn-star professor had complained of the heat in the room and then nonchalantly shucked herself out of her tights, I sat in a folding chair, unable...

US policy is fueling Afghanistan’s humanitarian crisis

Afghans line up as the UN World Food Program distributes a critical monthly food ration to 400 families south of Kabul in Pul-e-Alam, Afghanistan, on January 17. | Scott Peterson/Getty Images Isolating the Taliban is pushing millions of Afghans into poverty and starvation. More than five months after the fall of Kabul, the Afghan economy...

What Congress’s new election reform idea leaves out

Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), and Joe Manchin, (D-WV), talk with reporters about voting rights in the US Capitol on Thursday, January 20, 2022. | Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc/Getty Images Improving the Electoral Count Act isn’t enough to protect voting rights and stop election subversion. While voting rights legislation is pretty much doomed...

Cheer shows how fame changes everything

Cheer season two on Netflix. | Courtesy of Kyle Alexander/Netflix Cheer’s second season is a good story about cheerleading and a better story about the price of fame. At first blush, I didn’t really have any interest in watching the second season of Cheer, Netflix’s hit docuseries about competitive junior college cheerleading. It’s not because...

Can Russia back down in Ukraine?

A convoy of Russian armored vehicles moves along a highway in Crimea on January 18. Russia has concentrated an estimated 100,000 troops with tanks and other heavy weapons near Ukraine. | AP Russia’s invasion threat looms, and there have been no diplomatic breakthroughs yet. “My guess is he will move in. He has to do something,” President...

The hidden lesson in the new free Covid-19 tests

A woman receives a package with a rapid Covid-19 test in Gentbrugge, Belgium. In the US, free tests by mail are starting to roll out. | Philippe Francois/Belga Mag/AFP via Getty Images It is possible to create programs that don’t burden the people who need them most. This is an excerpt from the newsletter for The Weeds. To sign up for a weekly...

Thich Nhat Hanh’s final mindfulness lesson: How to die peacefully

Thich Nhat Hanh, 92, reads a book in January 2019 at the Tu Hieu temple. “For him to return to Vietnam is to point out that we are a stream,” says his senior disciple Brother Phap Dung. | PVCEB “Letting go is also the practice of letting in, letting your teacher be alive in you,” says a senior disciple of the celebrity Buddhist monk and author....

Stop canceling normal people who go viral

Getty Images/iStockphoto It’s making the world a shittier place. West Elm Caleb is only the most recent example. What’s worse, ghosting someone you met on a dating app or calling up that guy’s workplace and demanding he be fired for ghosting someone on a dating app? This is a question that nobody in the world should ever have to think about,...

What the Doomsday Clock is really counting down to

The Doomsday Clock shows 100 seconds to midnight on January 20, 2022. | Courtesy of Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists The number of human-made existential risks has ballooned, but the most pressing one is the original: nuclear war. One hundred seconds to midnight. That’s the latest setting of the Doomsday Clock, unveiled yesterday morning...

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