‘The president’s decline is alarming’: Biden trapped in coronavirus malaise

Politico reports: In a focus group last week, Pennsylvania Democrats one after another articulated the issue vexing top White House aides, party operatives in Virginia and voters in Georgia: Why isn’t President Joe Biden’s diminished job rating rebounding? All nine participants from Tuesday’s session gave Biden C- grades or lower. And their answers circled back… Read More »

Washington is getting China wrong

Michael Schuman writes: Evergrande Group, one of China’s largest property developers, is tottering on the brink of bankruptcy. Its founder, Hui Ka Yan, is scrounging to find the cash to meet payments on the $300 billion his company owes. Beijing has warned local officials to prepare for possible fallout if the gargantuan firm collapses. Around… Read More »

Can the world’s most polluting heavy industries decarbonize?

Fred Pearce writes: We know how to decarbonize energy production with renewable fuels and land transportation with electric vehicles. Blueprints for greening shipping and aircraft are being drawn up. But what about the big industrial processes? They look set to become decarbonization holdouts — the last and hardest CO2 emissions that we must eliminate if… Read More »

Simple mathematical law predicts movement in cities around the world

Scientific American reports: The people who happen to be in a city center at any given moment may seem like a random collection of individuals. But new research featuring a simple mathematical law shows that urban travel patterns worldwide are, in fact, remarkably predictable regardless of location—an insight that could enhance models of disease spread… Read More »

Mass protests in Poland amid EU exit fears

BBC News reports: Poles backing EU membership have taken part in protests across the country, amid fears it could leave the bloc. The rallies on Sunday were held in response to a top court ruling that said key EU laws were “incompatible” with the Polish constitution. Protests were held in about 100 towns and cities,… Read More »

Being Persian before nationalism

Mana Kia writes: At the end of the 19th century, under the looming shadow of European colonial encroachment, political and intellectual elites in Iran began to draw on nationalist forms of belonging as a way to unify the various ethnic and religious groups that lived within its territory. The nation was gaining ground at this… Read More »

Flatworms can reproduce ripping themselves in half

Ed Yong writes: When planarian flatworms want to reproduce, some have sex. Others, more straightforwardly, tear themselves in two. The latter option is fast and violent. The planarian begins as a small, flattened, sluglike creature with a spade-shaped head and two googly eyes. After a few minutes of stretching and ripping, it separates into two… Read More »

Why the Nobel Peace Prize award is a huge blow to Facebook

Nina Jankowicz writes: The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is a big victory for free expression. In an era when attacks on the press have been increasing, Ressa and Muratov are a reminder of the critical role the Fourth Estate plays in upholding democracy. But Ressa’s win… Read More »

Fix the Senate, save America

Norm Ornstein writes: In the face of obduracy, the only way Democrats can get democracy reform, universal background checks on guns, climate change laws, minimum wage increases and immigration reform will be to overcome the impossible 60-vote hurdle. To do so will require all 50 Democrats to agree, and several, led by Manchin and Sinema,… Read More »

Concrete needs to lose its colossal carbon footprint

An editorial in Nature says: Wet concrete has been poured into buildings, roads, bridges and more for centuries. Structures using concrete have survived wars and natural disasters, outlasting many of the civilizations that built them. Alongside its strength and resilience, concrete is also a staple of building because it is relatively cheap and simple to… Read More »

What if emotions aren’t universal but specific to each culture?

Elitsa Dermendzhiyska writes: The first time I saw Pixar’s movie Inside Out (2015), I was too entranced by its craftsmanship to realise that there was something odd, almost eerie, about its human characters. I was charmed by little Riley, the protagonist, with the chattering critters prancing around in her head. There’s Joy, a feisty version… Read More »