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 […]

Closed lanes at the Peace Arch border crossing between the U.S. and Canada,  in Blaine, Wash., May 7, 2020 (AP photo by Elaine Thompson).

Editor’s Note: Guest columnist Edward Alden is filling in for Kimberly Ann Elliott. Along North America’s 49th parallel, where it meets the Pacific Ocean, a huge white stone arch stands on the border between the United States and Canada. Called the Peace Arch, it was built in 1921 to commemorate the resolution of boundary disputes that dated back to the War of 1812. Inside the arch, there is an iron gate attached to both walls, and an inscription that reads, “May these gates never be closed.” Since March 21, in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus, the […]

President Alberto Fernandez and Vice President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner after taking the oath of office in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dec. 10, 2019 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

In December 2019, a new Argentine president was sworn in amid considerable upheaval, promising to wrest the country from its endless cycles of boom and bust. His predecessor’s efforts to reform the economy and finally unleash the country’s great potential had to come to naught. On almost every economic indicator, Argentina was actually worse off than when he had taken office four years before and, once again, the country faced the dreaded specter of foreign debt default. Though that brief summary refers to the presidential transition from Mauricio Macri to Alberto Fernandez, change the names and dates and this could […]

French President Emmanuel Macron speaks with G-7 leaders during a videoconference on the coronavirus pandemic, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, April 16, 2020 (pool photo by Gonzalo Fuentes via AP Images).

When does a global catastrophe stimulate a revival of international cooperation, rather than accelerate fragmentation and disorder? When does a crisis become a turning point in international relations, rather than just augur more of the same? These questions loom large in the COVID-19 pandemic, the biggest shock to world politics and the global economy since 1945. While history provides no definitive answers, it hints at three preconditions for resurrecting international cooperation from the ashes: new thinking, enlightened leadership and a favorable distribution of power. It was in reaction to World War II, and the economic chaos that preceded it, that […]

A young boy walks past a mural depicting the U.S. peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, left, and Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the leader of the Taliban delegation, in Kabul, Afghanistan, May 5, 2020 (AP Photo by Rahmat Gul).

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ appeal in March for a global cease-fire amid the coronavirus pandemic made no impression on the Taliban. Through April, the militant group’s commanders seemed generally dismissive of the risks posed by COVID-19 as they ramped up their annual spring offensive. The disease had yet to make much inroads into Afghanistan and Pakistan at the time. Many Taliban members happily promoted the idea that true believers had nothing to fear, and that the pandemic was only a problem for the decadent West. Accordingly, Taliban officials continued meeting each other normally and, during Ramadan in May, many […]

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 […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting via video conference at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, June 25, 2020 (pool photo by Mikhail Klimentyev via AP Images).

If all goes as planned next week, Vladimir Putin will be on a glide path to serve as Russia’s perpetual president. On July 1, Russia will hold a national referendum on a proposed package of changes to its constitution that many predict will essentially pave the way for Putin to run for office again after his current six-year presidential term expires in 2024. In theory, the proposed changes—which will, among other things, “reset the clock” on the current constitutional limit of two consecutive presidential terms—mean Putin could win two more elections and remain in power until 2036. If he does, […]

A woman casts her vote in Blantyre, Malawi, June 23, 2020 (AP photo by Thoko Chikondi).

Editor’s Note: Every Friday, Andrew Green curates the top news and analysis from and about the African continent. Malawi’s opposition alliance is claiming victory for its candidate, Lazarus Chakwera, in the country’s unprecedented rerun of last year’s presidential election. The electoral commission has released only a partial selection of official results, but state television reported Thursday that Chakwera is leading incumbent President Peter Mutharika nationwide with nearly 60 percent of the vote. If Chakwera’s win is confirmed, it would be historic, marking the first time in sub-Saharan Africa that an opposition party has democratically taken power after an election was […]

Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers his speech during the Victory Day military parade marking the 75th anniversary of the Nazi defeat, in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2020 (pool photo by Sergey Pyatakov via AP).

In this week’s editors’ discussion on Trend Lines, WPR’s Judah Grunstein, Elliot Waldman and Prachi Vidwans talk about the Russian constitutional referendum that could clear the way for President Vladimir Putin to hold on to power until 2036. They also discuss the nature of Putin’s rule as well as the relative strengths and weakness of both the regime he has consolidated and Russia’s political opposition. Listen: Download: MP3Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | RSS | Spotify Relevant Articles on WPR:Why Putin’s Bid to Become President for Life Is No Sure ThingRussia Is Weathering COVID-19, No Thanks to Putin Can the Young Activists […]

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley listens, at the White House, Washington, April 1, 2020 (AP photo by Alex Brandon).

In the most heated moment so far of the anti-racism protests unfolding in the United States, something remarkable happened. After President Donald Trump made some of the most incendiary and alarming statements of a presidency filled with them, military figures that had kept quiet started speaking out. But it resulted in the type of political reassurance that is normally only needed in countries whose commitment to democracy is questionable. Many observers who worry about the state of American democracy under Trump felt relief when top military leaders, one after the other, started rebuking the president’s assaults on basic democratic norms. […]

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 woman walks past army vehicles as soldiers stand guard in La Paz, Bolivia, May 11, 2020 (AP photo by Juan Karita).

When preliminary results in Bolivia’s election last October showed that longtime President Evo Morales had narrowly won a controversial fourth term in office, it provoked a national outcry. The tabulation of the vote count, which initially showed a dead heat, had been halted on Election Day, only to resume a day later with Morales having jumped into the lead. The Organization of American States quickly issued a statement denouncing the “inexplicable change” in results that “drastically modifies the fate of the election and generates a loss of confidence in the electoral process.” Violent mass protests then erupted, fueled in part […]

A sign for Zoom in New York, April 18, 2019 (AP photo by Mark Lennihan).

Editor’s Note: Every Wednesday, WPR Newsletter and Engagement Editor Benjamin Wilhelm curates the week’s top news and expert analysis on China. American video-conferencing company Zoom recently admitted that it crossed a line by temporarily closing the account of a group of U.S.-based Chinese activists last month after they held a virtual event to commemorate the June 4 anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. Zoom insisted that it did so in order to “comply with local law,” but without stating which law it had violated. Zoom has since pledged that censorship requests from the Chinese government will no longer affect users […]

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 […]

Protesters call for the removal of a statue of Cecil Rhodes, a Victorian imperialist, in Oxford, England, June 9, 2020 (AP photo by Matt Dunham).

In the comfort zones of a bygone world, from prosperous and stable societies in Western Europe to Japan and Australia, the three-plus years of Donald Trump’s presidency have led to a prolonged season of worry. Friends and allies there have watched and wondered anxiously about whether the values they admire most about the United States, even with its many deep flaws, will endure. Washington under Trump has appeared to be heading off solo in uncharted directions, abandoning one by one the bedrock ideas long associated with America, like defending democracy, promoting alliances and building international institutions, as well as more […]

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 […]

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