‘Rampant Covid in countries such as India and Brazil will shape the evolution of the virus’

Your digest of analysis and commentary from the British and international press

India Covid
Family members comfort each other amid burning pyres of Covid victims in New Delhi
(Image credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

1. Rich countries close their eyes to the global Covid surge at their own peril

Laura Spinney in The Guardian

on a vulnerable world

Last week there were more than 5.8 million new cases of Covid across the world, the highest number yet, says Laura Spinney in The Guardian. The “sharpest upticks” have been seen in south-east Asia, the eastern Mediterranean and western Pacific regions, while the “situation is also very bad in Latin America”. We can be confident that poorer countries will contribute most of this year’s Covid deaths and “we should remember that rich countries are not immune from what happens beyond their shores”, says Spinney. “Rampant Covid in countries such as India and Brazil will shape the evolution of the virus and could cause new, even more dangerous variants to emerge, which neither our borders nor our vaccines are guaranteed to keep out.”

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2. It’s grotesque that global power plays have cost Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe her freedom

Matthew d’Ancona in the Evening Standard

on an innocent hostage

“Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is not, and has never been, a prisoner. She is a hostage,” writes Matthew d’Ancona in the Evening Standard. Her sentencing in Iran yesterday to a further year in jail was “ostensibly legal in character”, but it was really “no more than another morally outrageous tactic by Tehran to exploit her predicament for geopolitical ends”. D’Ancona says it is “grotesque beyond measure that the freedom of an innocent woman should be dependent upon such power play and global games of chess with which she has no connection”. And he concludes that “no stone should be left unturned to expedite her release and long-overdue reunion with her family”.

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3. Voting is a basic democratic right – one denied all too often to people with learning disabilities

Dr Mark Brookes in the Independent

on accessibility

“As someone with a learning disability, I haven’t always been aware of my right to vote, and it was only 10 to 15 years ago that I voted for the first time,” says Dr Mark Brookes in the Independent. “I’m not alone. I know many others with a learning disability share similar stories.” Brookes points to research that found that 82% of people think the government doesn’t listen to people with learning disabilities as much as those without. By making the ballot box more accessible to all, “we can make an invaluable statement – that voting is open to everyone and that support is available to ensure it is an empowering experience”.

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4. There are no good choices in hunt for terrorists

Max Hastings in The Times

on an intractable problem

One of the “most powerful movies of the year so far” is The Mauritanian, says Max Hastings in The Times. The film portrays the real-life persecution of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, who was detained at Guantanamo Bay without charge from 2002 to 2016. “I have no personal insight into his guilt or innocence,” Hastings writes. “But it seems important to recognise the dilemma faced by our societies in dealing with non-state enemies who pose a mortal threat, yet against whom there is no chance of securing a court conviction in any jurisdiction.” The “grim irony” is that “western security forces today find that the least bothersome way of neutralising terrorists in faraway places is to kill them”. Hastings concludes: “The message, I fear, is that there are no good answers to this intractable problem – only least bad ones.”

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5. Why The New York Times is retiring the term ‘Op-Ed’

Kathleen Kingsbury in The New York Times

The first Op-Ed page in The New York Times, on 21 September 1970, was so named because it appeared opposite the editorial page, explains the newspaper’s opinion editor Kathleen Kingsbury. The original mission to “put out a welcome mat” for diverse ideas and arguments remains the same, “but it’s time to change the name”, she says. “The reason is simple: In the digital world, in which millions of Times readers absorb the paper’s journalism online, there is no geographical ‘Op-Ed,’ just as there is no geographical ‘Ed’ for Op-Ed to be opposite to.” Editorials will still be called editorials, while articles written by outside writers will be known as guest essays. “Terms like ‘Op-Ed’ are, by their nature, clubby newspaper jargon,” says Kingsbury. “We don’t like jargon in our articles; we don’t want it above them, either.”

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