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What we learned from tracking every COVID policy in the world

In March 2020, as COVID-19 swept around the globe, my colleagues and I began debating the bewildering new measures popping up around the world with our master’s students in a politics of policymaking class at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University. We had a lot of questions. Why were governments doing different things? Which policies would work? We didn’t know. And to answer those questions, we needed comparable information on these new policies, including school closings, stay at home orders, contact tracing and more. A few weeks later, we launched the Oxford COVID-19 Government Response Tracker to help…

COVID a year on: inequalities and anxieties about returning to workplaces are becoming clearer

Young people say they are concerned about their careers, with fewer opportunities for skills development and less established networks. charmedlightph/Shutterstock A year on from when many governments began directing people to work at home wherever possible because of the pandemic, few anticipated that it would become so normalised, or that the shift to productivity would be so rapid and successful. The year that followed has been one of steep and innovative learning around communication technologies, online learning, workload management, and work organisation. Organisations have seen unanticipated productivity gains, and many have publicly declared their intention to make working from home…

Psychedelic drugs: how the brains of informed users are different

Bruce Rolff/Shutterstock There is a new generation of drug users out there who possess highly detailed pharmacological and technical knowledge about the drugs they take. “Psychonauts” (meaning “navigator of the soul”) are enthusiastic and deliberate experimenters of hallucinogens, including psychedelic drugs, both synthetic and natural, for self-exploration, spiritual attainment or inducing an altered state of consciousness. Also called “cyber-psychonauts” or “e-psychonauts,” many refer to themselves as followers of shamanism. They take an almost scientific approach to documenting their experiences and sharing them online. Their motivations therefore differ from those of people who take drugs to socially connect with others at…

Coronavirus live news: India detects new variant; Germany scraps strict Easter shutdown

Indian health ministry reports ‘new double mutant variant’; Angela Merkel retracts restrictions, saying she made a ‘mistake’ Hong Kong and Macau suspend Covid Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine How Taiwan triumphed over Covid as UK faltered Brazil fury after Bolsonaro says people will soon lead ‘normal lives’ Australia’s Covid vaccine rollout hit by ‘significant’ teething errors UK coronavirus updates – live 11.23am GMT Hungary will begin vaccinating employees working for some key companies such as the Budapest Transport Company amid rising Covid-19 infection levels as the country battles its third wave, Reuters reports. Surgeon General Cecilia Muller told a briefing that the country’s…

Trump is building a social media platform – but keeping it online will be a challenge

Alexandros Michailidis/Shutterstock Having spent the early months of 2021 exiled from social media, Donald Trump may be set to make a return, circumventing his Twitter ban by creating a social media platform of his own. Jason Miller, the Trump aide who announced the news, has said the platform could be ready in “two or three months”. While the announcement might seem ambitious, building a social media platform is actually relatively easy. In 2004, a rudimentary form of Facebook was developed in just two weeks. Since then, advances in software development and cloud computing have made it far easier to create…

UK Covid live: Patel defends PM after he claims capitalist 'greed' vital to success of vaccine rollout

Latest updates: Boris Johnson made comments in Zoom call with Tory MPs that successful vaccine programme was thanks to ‘greed’ and ‘capitalism’ ‘Greed’ and ‘capitalism’ behind vaccine success, Johnson tells MPs ‘Vaccine hesitancy’ in England and Wales is being overcome, study finds NHS hit by Covid disruption as cancer referrals plunge Action needed to tackle post-Covid ‘loneliness emergency’, MPs say Global coronavirus updates – live 11.21am GMT Jane Halton, co-chair of the Covax initiative, which is working to provide vaccines for low and middle-income countries, has said that altruism is playing a big part in ensuring that vaccines are provided…

Satellites map record floods in Australia

Image: Stretches of land across New South Wales, Australia, have been hit with torrential rain leading to record-breaking floods. Data from the Copernicus Sentinel-1 mission are being used to map flooded areas to help relief efforts. Read Full article: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2021/03/Satellites_map_record_floods_in_Australia

COVID-19 cut pollution in 2020, warming the atmosphere

Since COVID-19 burst on the scene last year, the virus that causes it has killed more than 2.7 million people worldwide. It has sickened at least 122 million more. And, weird but true, the economic lockdowns triggered by the pandemic warmed parts of the planet for a few months. That’s the finding of a new study. That warming was small and came from brief but sizable regional drops in pollution. When the pandemic really took hold early last year, some countries imposed so-called lockdowns. Workers and school children stayed home for weeks to months. Traffic on highways dropped sharply. Many…

Rising risk of wildfires across UK from climate crisis, scientists warn

Once-in-a-century weather extremes could become commonplace by 2080 unless carbon emissions are curbedOnce-in-a-century weather extremes that pose the highest danger of wildfires could occur every year in parts of the UK as the climate changes, scientists warn.A study led by the University of Reading aimed to predict how the danger of blazes taking hold would increase as a result of rising temperatures and less summer rainfall in the UK in the coming decades. Continue reading… Source – Full Article https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/mar/24/rising-risk-of-wildfires-across-uk-from-climate-crisis-scientists-warn

Scientists need to face both facts and feelings when dealing with the climate crisis | Kimberly Nicholas

I was taught to use my head, not my heart. But acknowledging sadness at what is lost can help us safeguard the futureOver the course of my career, the climate crisis has changed from something only experts could see – reading clues trapped in frozen air bubbles or statistical patterns in long-term data sets – to something that everyone on Earth is living through. For me, it has gone from being something I study to a way that I see the world and experience my life. It’s one thing to publish a study on the hypothetical impact of increasing temperature……

Belarus: Government’s threats and history of crackdown on protesters require urgent international response

Statements made by the Belarusian authorities ahead of demonstrations planned for 25 March (Freedom Day) raise serious concerns that the police response will yet again be marked by severe violence, Amnesty International said today, as it called for international action to protect the rights of peaceful protesters. As many journalists who document police crackdowns in Belarus have been imprisoned, Amnesty International is calling on diplomatic representatives in the country to monitor the protests and live-stream events, using their diplomatic immunity to expose expected police violence. The organization also calls on all businesses operating in Belarus to conduct urgent human rights…

The Brexit vaccine war is a failure of empathy

The UK-EU vaccine war is a failure of empathy, writes Tony Hockley (LSE). He argues that the current blame game is a manifestation of deep-rooted political challenges originating from Brexit. The UK and EU are still tightly bound by the complexities of vaccine supply chains. They are, however, divided by emotions. To many Britons, the EU looks to be driven crazy by envy at a vaccination programme in which it acted on the maxim to “take back control”, and that this craziness had led EU politicians to commit the self-harm of destroying confidence in the “British vaccine”. To many Europeans,…

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