Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon speaks at U.N. headquarters in New York, Jan. 27, 2020 (AP photo by Seth Wenig).

Editor’s Note: You can find all of our coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here. If you would like to help support our work, please consider taking advantage of our subscription offer here. Six months in, it is tempting to think the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is past. Hard-hit cities are breathing easier and many countries are already in the advanced stages of reopening their societies and economies. But even as a second wave looms, COVID-19’s first wave isn’t done. Globally, the contagion is accelerating as the pandemic’s epicenter shifts. The increase from 8 million to 9 million cases took […]

A youth waits to enter the San Nicolas Tolentino cemetery in Iztapalapa, Mexico City, April 30, 2020 (AP photo by Marco Ugarte).

While the health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic have been primarily endured by elderly populations, there is increasing recognition that young people will disproportionately absorb the economic and social impacts. One study, conducted in April and released last month by the International Labor Organization, found that the pandemic had caused one in six young people to lose their jobs, as well as a 23 percent average reduction in working hours for those still employed. Within this “lockdown generation,” as the ILO calls them, the situation is especially dire for women, ethnic minorities and migrant workers. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general […]

Prisoners stand outside the federal correctional institution in Englewood, Colorado, Feb. 18, 2020 (AP photo by David Zalubowski).

Democratic backsliding and encroachments on the rule of law by autocratic governments have justifiably received significant attention in recent years. Yet troubling and dangerous as these trends are, there is another, often-overlooked threat encroaching on the rule of law in countries around the world: mass incarceration. In many nations, imprisonment has become the default criminal punishment. Pretrial arrest and detention are also commonplace, with millions of people in jail awaiting trial around the world, sometimes for years. A recent report, Global Prison Trends 2020, published by the criminal justice advocacy group Penal Reform International and the Thailand Institute of Justice, […]

A man wears a face mask as he walks on Pier 45 in New York, April 30, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Lennihan).

With the coronavirus pandemic showing no sign of relenting, experts are warning that the prolonged isolation and psychological trauma associated with the virus could cause a spike in mental health problems. For this week’s interview on the Trend Lines podcast, WPR’s Elliot Waldman talked about the mental health impacts of COVID-19 with Susan Borja, chief of the dimensional traumatic stress research program at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. Listen to the full conversation here: And if you like what you hear, subscribe to Trend Lines: Apple Podcasts | RSS | Spotify The following interview transcript has […]

A medical officer makes her rounds treating psychiatric patients in a public housing complex in Brooklyn, New York, May 6, 2020 (AP photo by John Minchillo).

As the staggering death toll from the coronavirus pandemic continues to mount, less obvious but nonetheless dangerous threats are starting to rear their ugly heads. Depression, despair, extreme stress and trauma are just a few of the secondary maladies that can flare up during a multi-dimensional crisis like this one. For today’s interview on Trend Lines, WPR’s Elliot Waldman is joined by Susan Borja, chief of the dimensional traumatic stress research program at the National Institute of Mental Health in Maryland, for a conversation about the potential mental health impacts of COVID-19. Click here to read the full transcript of […]

Security officers keep guard during lockdown in Jammu, India, March 27, 2020 (AP photo by Channi Anand).

The coronavirus pandemic is disrupting global politics at a time when democracy was already “under assault” around the world, according to the watchdog organization Freedom House. From the United States to Hungary to the Philippines, governments have used the pandemic to consolidate power, curb individual liberties and restrict the space for civil society organizations and freedom of expression. Democratic and authoritarian societies alike are ramping up surveillance of their citizens as part of their attempts to stop the spread of the virus. The state of human rights and freedom in the world’s largest democracy has worsened as well. As the […]

Tires burn during a demonstration to commemorate the first anniversary of a deadly crackdown carried out by security forces on protesters, in Khartoum, Sudan, June 3, 2020 (AP photo by Marwan Ali).

More than a year after the fall of dictator Omar al-Bashir’s regime, the coronavirus pandemic is hitting Sudan’s still-fragile democratic transition. Differences between the civilian and military leaders in the transitional, power-sharing government are growing, as the military consolidates its authority due to restrictive security measures that went into effect in April, including a ban on public gatherings and protests around the country, with particularly harsh restrictions in effect in the capital, Khartoum. COVID-19 has also brought chaos to Sudan’s troubled economy, damaging the transitional government’s credibility and popularity. The road had not been smooth since last August, when Sudan’s […]

Malian soldiers, working with French forces, battle jihadist insurgents in Gao, Mali, Feb. 21, 2013 (AP photo).

France announced earlier this month that its armed forces had killed Abdelmalek Droukdel, the emir of al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, or AQIM, during a June 3 military operation in northern Mali. The operation, carried out by French troops with the help of intelligence and surveillance aircraft provided by the United States, represents a rare, quantifiable victory for France and its counterterrorism partners in the region as they struggle to contain a bloody insurgency by jihadist groups. A veteran of Algeria’s brutal civil war in the 1990s, Droukdel’s rise and fall in many ways mirrors the fortunes of the organization […]

A man wearing a face mask leaves one of the markets in the old Habous district of Casablanca, Morocco, May 23, 2020 (AP photo by Abdeljalil Bounhar).

MADRID—In late March, about 100 Moroccan migrants living in Spain paid smugglers 5,400 euros each—roughly $6,100—to make the treacherous journey home in inflatable rafts. In a curious case of reverse migration, they desperately fled a wealthy country that had been crippled by the coronavirus and could not offer them work for the foreseeable future. Yet when they finally reached the beaches of Larache, on Morocco’s western coast, they were hunted by the Moroccan authorities, who were concerned that the migrants would spread the coronavirus. Police conducted a door-to-door search, and at least one migrant was found hiding in a clay […]

A man rests in the shade against a wall covered with a mural of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, in Havana, Cuba, June 8, 2020 (AP photo by Ramon Espinosa).

A recent history of natural disasters and its longstanding dependence on tourism have left the Caribbean extremely ill-prepared to address the economic effects of COVID-19. Caribbean economies were already highly indebted after calamities ranging from hurricanes to earthquakes to the destructive effects of higher sea levels stemming from climate change in the past few years. Those natural disasters have left most of the region’s economies with poor and declining credit ratings, limiting their borrowing capacity and their ability to mobilize resources against the pandemic. And if it hasn’t already, the sharp drop in tourism stemming from the pandemic will undoubtedly […]

Members of the National Guard and state police stand guard at Las Americas General Hospital in Ecatepec, a suburb of Mexico City, May 20, 2020 (AP photo by Rebecca Blackwell).

Some of Latin America’s most serious challenges—violent crime, drug trafficking, economic inequality and public corruption—all have one thing in common: money laundering. In Mexico alone, the government’s Financial Intelligence Unit reported that drug cartels and other illicit actors laundered an estimated $50 billion in 2019— crucial revenue for cartels that has also contributed to Mexico’s record-high homicide rate in recent years. Money laundering has helped Brazilian gangs like the Primeiro Comando da Capital, or First Capital Command, expand their criminal networks into neighboring Paraguay and Bolivia. In Venezuela, it has enabled a dramatic theft of public resources by officials tied […]

A woman walks near Red Square with St. Basil’s Cathedral in the background, in Moscow, Russia, May 12, 2020 (AP photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko).

Russia’s COVID-19 story is one of paradoxes. Despite an underfunded public health system, new cases have plateaued since mid-May, and the country has not seen the explosion in deaths from the coronavirus that some experts predicted. Yet President Vladimir Putin’s approval ratings have been sinking. Why? Russians seem to realize that they have so far avoided the worst in spite of Putin’s government, not because of it. As of June 8, the official total of infections was just over 450,000—the third-highest count in the world after the United States and Brazil—but Russian officials say that is because of their high […]

Indonesian President Joko Widodo wearing a face mask at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta, Indonesia, April 30, 2020 (pool photo by Sigid Kurniawan via AP Images).

After nearly two months of a belatedly imposed and patchwork lockdown to contain the coronavirus, some regions of Indonesia are slowly reopening. Throughout June, authorities will gradually loosen restrictions on establishments like restaurants and shopping areas in parts of Indonesia where the reproduction rate of COVID-19—known as R0 or “R-naught,” the average number of new infections stemming from a single case—is judged to be less than one. But Indonesia is opening up without a clear handle on the scope of its COVID-19 crisis, which is the worst in Southeast Asia, with 32,000 confirmed cases and nearly 1,900 deaths as of […]

New Zealand’s prime minister, Jacinda Ardern, at a press conference in Wellington, New Zealand, May 14, 2020 (pool photo by Hagen Hopkins via AP Images).

In late January, President Donald Trump announced the formation of a Coronavirus Task Force, made up of 12 senior officials who would be responsible for leading the U.S. response to COVID-19. All were men. On Feb. 29, Vice President Mike Pence, the head of the task force, posted a now infamous photo to his Twitter account of a “very productive meeting,” with more than a dozen men and no women sitting around a table in the White House’s Situation Room. By early March, two women had been appointed to the team: Deborah Birx, who took the high-profile role of response […]

Police form a line in Lafayette Park, in front of the White House, as demonstrators gather to protest the death of George Floyd, Washington, June 2, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

It is hard to pinpoint the exact moment when this feeling of suffocation began. For so many born and raised here in Washington, D.C., it probably began early in life when their parents sat them down for “the talk,” about how to comport themselves safely during encounters with the police. But for me, the air in Washington became almost unbreathable on Monday when I saw Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, striding along Lafayette Square in his battle fatigues as helicopters in the sky above my neighborhood roared westward across Capitol Hill to the […]

Chinese paramilitary police stand guard near Tiananmen Square and the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, May 20, 2020 (AP photo by Mark Schiefelbein).

One sweltering night some years ago, well after I had finished eating dinner, I received an urgent knock on my front door. I was spending a summer in Hanoi, and had just moved into an apartment in a quiet, residential area. My late-night visitor turned out to be a young Vietnamese police officer in uniform. As I often did in such encounters, I tried to keep the interaction as brief as possible by acting confused and answering his questions in English. But then, a middle-aged woman, whom I recognized from the neighborhood, emerged from the shadows and said, “He speaks […]

People wearing masks ride a mini truck in Prayagraj, India, May 23, 2020 (AP photo by Rajesh Kumar Singh).

The coronavirus pandemic, at least in its first wave, is not expected to peak in South Asia until July. But countries in the region, which have yet to witness a significant outbreak along the lines of China, the United States or the hardest-hit parts of Europe, are already loosening their lockdowns. The pandemic is spreading unevenly across the world for reasons that are not always entirely clear, so it is difficult to predict the public health impact of easing lockdowns. But what is clear is that the pandemic will leave South Asia poorer, less democratic and more illiberal. And China […]