The newsletter to fuel — and thrill — your mind. Read for deep dives into the unmissable ideas and topics shaping our world.
Dec 27, 2021
COVID-19 year two. Who would have thought that 20 months into the global pandemic we’d still be struggling with testing, variants and social distancing measures? And yet, there was a lot more to 2021 than the rise of the variants. From the fall of Kabul, to the end of the reign of Europe’s most important politician of the past 20 years, 2021’s global news events did not go by quietly. Read on for our coverage of the biggest and most-surprising global issues to have shaped our world over the past 12 months.
The Dark Stories
1 - Afghanistan Calamity
We all saw this coming, and when it happened it was breathtaking. Watching footage of heavily armed Taliban fighters walking through Afghanistan’s presidential palace in August, calmly removing and folding away the country’s national flag, was shocking — and entirely expected.
Despite protestations of U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the similarities between the capture of Kabul by Taliban extremists and the 1975 fall of Saigon to communist North Vietnamese forces are too great to ignore. Does this mark the end of America’s disastrous Afghan adventure? Or will the U.S. get sucked in again? What now for a country riven by decades of war? What does the future hold for Afghanistan’s women? Read this Daily Dose special dispatch, where we give you the inside track on one of the most momentous international events in years.
For a particular generation, 9/11 was a Sputnik moment. Just as the launch of the world’s first satellite in October 1957 focused the West’s attention on the emerging threat posed by the Soviet Union, the attacks on that sunny September morning jarred the world off its axis. Nothing would be the same again.
To mark the 20th anniversary of those horrific attacks, we highlighted some of the pivotal moments — many of them largely forgotten — and shifts that came to define the war on terror, and what could come next.
When news broke in May that the remains of at least 215 children had been found at what was once Canada’s largest residential school, in the country’s westernmost province, many began wondering whether the discovery was just the tip of the iceberg. South of the Canadian border, hundreds and perhaps thousands of children are believed to have died in church- and government-run residential schools in the 19th and 20th centuries. But the forced “re-education” of Indigenous communities is by no means solely a North American experience: Almost everywhere colonialists have set foot, efforts to indoctrinate local populations to the European way of living — and thinking — have been front and center.
A quantum chemist whose father was a Lutheran pastor in the communist East, Merkel led Germany, Europe and — many would argue — the world through rare tumult since she became her country’s first female chancellor in 2005. Now, as she has stepped away from politics, we track her legacy and introduce you to leaders vying to gain Merkel-level clout. Recall what world leaders have said about her and let one of modern history’s most straight-faced politicians leave you with a laugh-out-loud moment.
From the she shed to the lawn chair, the yoga ball to the beach towel, where we park our bums has occupied our minds more than anything outside the virus itself this pandemic year. But will the lessons learned stick, and how are real estate tycoons and property gurus alike responding to these tectonic shifts? Join us as we explore whether the office is ding-dong dead, a nursing home boom is inevitable or whether Zillow is about to take over the world. Real estate is being reshaped — so buckle up, and enjoy the ride.
Quite apart from hosting the Olympic Games last summer, a growing number of Japanese athletes are becoming household names. Naomi Osaka was the highest-paid female athlete in the world in 2020 and has been making headlines for promoting mental health. Japanese baseball player Shohei Ohtani is accomplishing feats Major League Baseball hasn’t seen since a young Babe Ruth, excelling as a starting pitcher and leading the league in home runs. Osaka and Ohtani, however, are just the beginning. Japan today stands on the cusp of being a global sporting superpower.
Street protests are a part of Latin America’s DNA, whether it’s over corruption, authoritarianism or basic human rights being trampled by the region’s elite. But something smells different this time. Independent sparks in different nations are coalescing to form a raging fire of change that’s spreading across one of the world’s most unequal regions. From a young trans woman demanding social justice in Chile and Indigenous communities winning a criminal lawsuit in Ecuador to a friend of the pope who’s seeking radical land reform in Argentina, a new tide of peoples’ movements is surging across Latin America.
This year saw yet another round of violence waged upon the residents of Gaza. Take a trip to a nation that could be a model for post-COVID normalcy but is often criticized globally for how it treats its minorities. Meet the leaders lining up to shape Israel’s future, take a gander at the innovations that make the country the world’s envy, soak in its unique culture and learn about the festering wounds that taint its journey forward.
From unicorns aiming for world domination to small township startups looking to make a difference in women’s lives, Africa is replete with innovators. It has the youngest population of any continent in the world, with about 60% of Africans under the age of 25. Add to that the fact that smartphone penetration is rising as countries become increasingly connected, and you have a surefire recipe for creativity. Now, the big guns are moving in. Jack Dorsey, whose former company, Twitter, is setting up shop in Ghana, believes “Africa will define the future.” Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma estimates that African entrepreneurs will drive the next digital revolution.
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