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Prison island: Australia’s Covid fortress has become a jail

Australians have a reputation for rugged individualism, grit and competence. But when it comes to the pandemic, we have seen another side to my country: insecure, anxious and frozen by the fear of death from Covid. A recent global poll found that Australians more worried about the virus than any other western country. They have

I’m a stranded Aussie – get me back in there!

In early March last year, I was self-isolating in my flat in London. Even though there were only a few hundred confirmed cases of Covid a day, I had met someone the week before who had tested positive. This was before anyone knew much about the virus, but people were worried by the news coming

Meeting Ahmad Massoud, the Sandhurst graduate taking on the Taliban

The Taliban do not yet control all of Afghanistan. As most of the country fell to the Islamic militant group with terrifying speed, Panjshir valley, about 100 miles north of Kabul, leading deep into the Hindu Kush mountains, remained unconquered. It is now the last province beyond the Taliban’s control. While many Afghan politicians have

Dismantling the environmental theory for Covid’s origins

With a laboratory leak in Wuhan looking more and more likely as the source of the pandemic, the Chinese authorities are not the only ones dismayed. Western environmentalists had been hoping to turn the pandemic into a fable about humankind’s brutal rape of Gaia. Even if ‘wet’ wildlife markets and smuggled pangolins were exonerated in

Can a third dose of vaccine stave off Israel’s fourth wave?

Jerusalem I thought I’d found the most efficient small clinic in Jerusalem, a quarter of an hour’s drive from my home. For months, I’ve been going there for testing, with no fuss or waiting time. At the end of last week, the government authorised the third ‘booster’ dose of Covid vaccine for over-forties. I made

Why men share trivia

It was halfway through lunch that something reminded my friend Marcus about Ray Charles and his plane. ‘Did you know he used to fly it himself?’ he asked the rest of us. ‘When it reached cruising altitude he’d insist on taking the controls. Obviously his passengers were terrified. They thought a blind man playing chess

China’s #MeToo moment

The employee alleged that she was forced to drink heavily at a banquet during a business trip and was then sexually assaulted by her boss. She informed her managers, but they failed to act and told her to keep quiet. So she staged a protest in the company canteen and shared details of her ordeal

Notes on...

Save our eels

The migration of European eels is one of the miracles of nature. They start life in the great deeps of the Sargasso sea in the north-west of the Atlantic ocean as tiny, flat creatures, like almost transparent willow leaves, which drift 3,700 miles on the Gulf Stream to Britain and mainland Europe. The journey can