The Week Unwrapped: Germany’s left turn, glass shortages and a gaming ban

Are German voters turning away from Angela Merkel and the centre-right? What’s really causing an NHS test tube shortage? And why is China banning games on school nights?

Test tubes in a lab
(Image credit: SpaceX)

Olly Mann and The Week delve behind the headlines and debate what really matters from the past seven days.

In this week’s episode, we discuss:

Germany turns left

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Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union has dominated German politics for more than 15 years. But as the longstanding chancellor stands down ahead of this month’s federal election, the country’s Social Democrats have surged in the polls and could be on the verge of pulling off a surprise victory. Led by Olaf Scholz, the party’s vote has collapsed during Merkel’s dominance of German politics, becoming an “also ran” despite its venerable political history. But is it now on the verge of victory? And what does the election mean for social democratic parties across Europe?

Testing times

The NHS has imposed severe restrictions on who can get a blood test because of a shortage of glass test tubes caused by increased demand due to covid and a surge in procedures that were put off earlier in the pandemic, which is coinciding with supply chain problems caused by Covid and a Brexit-related shortage of lorry drivers. All of this sheds light on the NHS’s reliance on a small number of suppliers and a “just-in-time” supply chain model, which means that any disruption can have big knock-on effects for people in need of medical care.

Gaming ban

China has introduced a weekday ban on online gaming for under-18s as part of a broader push to reduce obesity and encourage a more active lifestyle. Children will also be limited to three hours playing game at the weekend - and will have to submit to facial recognition technology and identity verification in order to comply with the new regulations.

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