Welcome to the weekend. Much of the news has been dominated by the coronavirus as the death toll surged past 1,300 this week.

With so much happening in New Zealand and around the globe you might have missed some of these fantastic stories. So as the weekend rolls around take some time to check out a few of the best pieces of premium content from our international syndicators this week.

'Like Europe in medieval times': Virus slows China's economy

Workers are stuck in their hometowns. Officials want detailed health plans before factories or offices can reopen. Assembly lines that make General Motors cars and Apple iPhones are standing silent.

More than two weeks after China locked down a major city to stop a dangerous viral outbreak, one of the world's largest economies remains largely idle.

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Keith Bradsher of The New York Times looks at how the global economy could suffer the longer China stays in low gear.

With travel restrictions in place, the parking lot at Beijing Capital International Airport is nearly empty. Photo / Giulia Marchi, The New York Times
With travel restrictions in place, the parking lot at Beijing Capital International Airport is nearly empty. Photo / Giulia Marchi, The New York Times

The hidden MVP of the Super Bowl? NZ's Parris Goebel

Parris Goebel is no stranger to being on a global stage. So she dived right in when given the assignment of a lifetime: choreographing for Jennifer Lopez at the Super Bowl halftime show.

Drafting a routine to entertain 102 million viewers, with extreme technical precision? No problem.

Tayla Minsberg of The New York Times caught up with the Kiwi star at New York Fashion Week.

Parris Goebel choreographed Jennifer Lopez's Super Bowl halftime show. Photo / Doug Sherring
Parris Goebel choreographed Jennifer Lopez's Super Bowl halftime show. Photo / Doug Sherring

Stockpickers turn to big data to arrest decline

The beleaguered industry of stockpickers is trying to recapture its edge at a time when many have failed to meet their benchmarks and have lost the faith of investors.

In a bid to restore their prowess, they are turning to some of the data-mining techniques.

Robin Wigglesworth of The Financial Times looks at how many fund managers are embracing machine learning and other technologies to improve their performance.

A large number of traditional hedge funds and mutual fund groups have watched assets flow out either into passive funds or into computer-driven
A large number of traditional hedge funds and mutual fund groups have watched assets flow out either into passive funds or into computer-driven "quantitative" investment strategies. Photo / Getty

How Amazon founder Jeff is living his #BezosLife

In the 12 months since Jeff Bezos posted the news on social media of his split from MacKenzie, his wife of 26 years, his once sedate home life in Seattle was replaced by swinging with the cool cats in Hollywood.

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Harry de Quetteville of The Daily Telegraph looks at Bezos' new life of mega-yachts and Superbowl parties.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, right and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez. Photo / AP
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, right and his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez. Photo / AP

For thousands of years, Egypt controlled the Nile. A new dam threatens that

Without the Nile there is no Egypt. Egyptians have been the masters of the river for thousands of years. But the Nile has never been under such strain. Pollution, climate change and Egypt's soaring population are taking an immense toll.

Now Egypt is sparring with Ethiopia over a giant dam being built 3000km upriver. Time is running out. Can they find a solution to avoid a wider conflict?

Declan Walsh and Somini Sengupta from The New York Times investigate.

Fisherman Abdel Halim Abdel Aziz plies the Nile, in Aswan, Egypt. Photo / Laura Boushnak, The New York Times
Fisherman Abdel Halim Abdel Aziz plies the Nile, in Aswan, Egypt. Photo / Laura Boushnak, The New York Times

Everything you need to know about chocolate

You probably think you already know everything you need to know about chocolate.

For instance: The higher the percentage of cacao, the more bitter the chocolate, right? The term "single origin" on the label indicates that the chocolate expresses a particular terroir.

Wrong.

Melissa Clark of The New York Times provides answers to some basic questions you may not even know you had.

Dandelion is known for single origin, bean-to-bar chocolates, all made at its factory in San Francisco. Before being wrapped, each bar is inspected by hand. Photo / Erin Lubin, The New York Times
Dandelion is known for single origin, bean-to-bar chocolates, all made at its factory in San Francisco. Before being wrapped, each bar is inspected by hand. Photo / Erin Lubin, The New York Times

Alexa Chung: 'It's not natural to be famous'

She is the model turned chat show host who has her own ready-to-wear label. Now Alexa Chung also presents a hit TV series.

So how do you survive 20 years in the fickle fashion world?

Andrew Billen of The Times finds out.

Alexa Chung opens up about how life in the fashion world. Photo / Getty Images
Alexa Chung opens up about how life in the fashion world. Photo / Getty Images

Her grandmother got coronavirus. Then so did the whole family

Bella Zhang hung an intravenous drip on a spindly tree branch and slumped down on a large stone planter outside the crowded hospital. Her mother and brother sat wearily beside her, their shoulders sagging, both also hooked up to their own drips.

In recent days, Zhang, 25, had watched helplessly as one by one, her relatives were sickened by the coronavirus that was tearing through her hometown, Wuhan. First, her grandmother got it, then it spread to her grandfather and mother. She and her younger brother were next.

"What kind of government is this?" she asks. "They don't even care about the ordinary people."

Amy Qin of The New York Times reports.

Patients infected with the coronavirus arrived at a temporary hospital in Wuhan, China. Photo / AP
Patients infected with the coronavirus arrived at a temporary hospital in Wuhan, China. Photo / AP

The best and worst moments of the 2020 Oscars

Going into the 92nd Academy Awards, the headlines were about what we wouldn't see: no J. Lo, no female filmmakers of top films, almost no people of colour in the acting categories. And yet women directors won; so did African American directors. And the night ended with a history-making victory for Parasite, the first South Korean film to win best picture.

Here are the highs and lows from The New York Times.

The cast and crew of Parasite after winning best picture during the 92nd annual Academy Awards. Photo / Noel West, The New York Times
The cast and crew of Parasite after winning best picture during the 92nd annual Academy Awards. Photo / Noel West, The New York Times

Banksy is a control freak. But he can't control his legacy

Fifteen years ago Banksy, a young upstart street artist from Bristol, England, was smuggling his works into museums as pranks. Now, they can be the official stars of the show, accompanied by guided tours and lectures.

How has Banksy, the archetypical artist-provocateur, gotten here? None of it has happened by accident. Banksy's rise and rise is the result of years of meticulous control of his message, his market and, most importantly, his mystique.

He's a master of manipulating the news media and the art market. But will he be remembered as a significant artist

Scott Reyburn of The New York Times reports.

Banksy, left, and an unidentified assistant making a stencil on Rivington Street in East London in an undated photograph from the early 2000s. Photo / Steve Lazarides, The New York Times
Banksy, left, and an unidentified assistant making a stencil on Rivington Street in East London in an undated photograph from the early 2000s. Photo / Steve Lazarides, The New York Times

The scenic isle where the world's chaos comes home to roost

About 6,800 asylum-seekers are jammed into a camp on the Greek island of Samos. They're fighting the elements in the olive groves and pine woods of the hill. Below is a quaint port town that is home to about 6,200 locals.

Together, the locals and asylum-seekers bear the shared brunt of forces beyond their control — Greek government dysfunction, the cold shoulder of the European Union, the chaos in the Middle East and the geopolitical calculations of Turkey.

Many here fear that this verdant tourist destination — famous as the birthplace of goddess Hera and philosopher Epicurus — is a preview of the future if the continent doesn't get its act together.

Jason Horowitz of The New York Times reports.

Masooma Hassani, 7, from Afghanistan, dragged a scooter up and down the rocky hill along with her friends. Photo / Laura Boushnak, The New York Times
Masooma Hassani, 7, from Afghanistan, dragged a scooter up and down the rocky hill along with her friends. Photo / Laura Boushnak, The New York Times