The rise and fall of the Delta variant
Scientists are struggling to understand why the Delta outbreaks in Britain and India have dissipated, even temporarily, and what that may mean for similar outbreaks around the world.
In the United States, the pace of the variant has slowed. The number of infections in the past week is 14% higher than two weeks ago, but new cases are down in some states, like Missouri, which Delta has hit hard. Some forecasters predict that cases will increase overall in September.
The Delta variant is considered to be more contagious than the other variants because it is carried in greater quantities through a person’s airways, making it adept at exploiting the opportunities for transmission. But even modest restrictions, like masking and distancing, can bring the numbers down.
End delta: New Zealand, which is currently battling an epidemic of more than 700 people, is trying what no other country has done so far: wiping out the variant altogether.
A close race to replace Angela Merkel
Germany will go to the polls on September 26 for its most important election in a generation, to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel after 16 years. No party votes more than 25%, and the more liberal Social Democrats have overtaken the conservative Christian Democrats for the first time in years.
While the election itself can be exciting, the top two candidates are anything but. Armin Laschet, the Christian Democrats’ candidate, and Olaf Scholz, a Social Democrat currently finance minister and vice-chancellor, are both career politicians in costume over 60, neither of whom is known for his charisma.
But a bold vision for change is usually not a vote winner in Germany. Konrad Adenauer, the post-war first chancellor, won an absolute majority for the Christian Democrats by promising “No experience”. Helmut Schmidt, a Social Democrat, once said: “If you have visions you should go to the doctor.
Analysis: “There are few countries where such a premium is given to being boring,” said Timothy Garton Ash, professor of European history at the University of Oxford. Germany has a distinctive political tradition of change by consensus, most recently embodied by Merkel herself.
Can the US military work with the Taliban?
The two main Pentagon leaders have expressed suspicion of continuing to cooperate with the Taliban leadership who has helped ensure safe passage for more than 124,000 evacuees from the country. See scenes from Afghanistan, two days after leaving the United States.
When asked if the US military would cooperate with the Taliban in the fight against the Islamic State group which claimed responsibility for the attack outside Kabul airport last week that killed 13 soldiers Americans and more than 170 Afghans, Mark Miller, a senior Pentagon official, said, “It is possible.” He added, “In war you do what you must.”
The Taliban are preparing to set up their new Islamic government imminently, appointing Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzada, the highest religious leader, as the country’s supreme authority.
Refugees: Few options remain for Afghans wishing to flee the Taliban. EU ministers pledged to increase humanitarian aid to Afghanistan and its neighbors, but did not agree on amounts or a common approach for the resettlement of Afghan refugees.
As the producer of the new television series “Impeachment”, Monica Lewinsky hopes to reframe her story and elevate her career in Hollywood. But that doesn’t mean the experience was easy.
“When you’ve made a colossal mistake like I did so early in your life and lost so much because of it, the thought of making a mistake is catastrophic,” she said. “And yet to move forward, I have to take risks. “
The Many Lives of False Art
What happens to works of art that turn out to be false? In many cases, they re-enter the market: An art dealer has been offered the same fake Egon Schiele painting 10 times by 10 different collectors.
Since what determines a fake is often nothing more than expert advice, homeowners who have paid a high price for a job are not always ready to believe that they have been duped. Many works are recycled for unsuspecting buyers, as Milton Esterow reports in The Times. Some universities also have fakes in their collections which they use as study tools.
“We have around 1,000 items that have been donated as fake by dealers, collectors and auction houses,” said Margaret Ellis, a professor at New York University, adding: “These help students know what they are looking at and can be extremely educational when you put them side by side with the real job.
Perhaps the most interesting fate for a fake art is to become a decorator in an FBI sting. The agency keeps thousands of counterfeits in stock – and has already used six in a case involving five undercover agents in bikinis, a yacht off the coast of Florida and two very real French gangsters.