Welcome to the weekend.

It's easy to forget here in New Zealand how lucky we've been with regards to Covid-19 cases. This week was a stark reminder as numbers around the world surged with the United States and the Australian state of Victoria seeing record numbers of people testing positive.

As a result, this week we bring you a selection of coronavirus related content from around the globe, as well as some other pieces for those looking for a break from pandemic news. So make some time this weekend to catch up on these pieces from our premium international syndicators.

The Amazon, giver of life, unleashes the pandemic

Brazil has been battered by the pandemic, with the second-highest death toll in the world.

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The Amazon has been hit particularly hard. Even in remote towns, people have been as likely to get sick as in New York City.

A New York Times photographer, Tyler Hicks, travelled the river for weeks, documenting how the virus spread.

Apurina families had survived generations of violence and forced labour. The virus tested them anew. Photo / Tyler Hicks, The New York Times
Apurina families had survived generations of violence and forced labour. The virus tested them anew. Photo / Tyler Hicks, The New York Times

From J-Lo to Daniel Craig: Meet the real estate agent to the stars

His clients include Jennifer Lopez and Daniel Craig, and thanks to his star turn on a reality show, he reckons he's a pretty hot property himself.

Now Fredrik Eklund's in the market to find a new home for a young couple called Meghan and Harry.

Ben Hoyle of the Times meets him in Beverly Hills.

Real estate agent to the stars - Fredrik Eklund. Photo / Getty Images
Real estate agent to the stars - Fredrik Eklund. Photo / Getty Images

Party like it's 1990: The return of the rave

One evening in late May, cycling through backstreets in the depths of lockdown, I heard a familiar sound. A thump, thump, thumpy-thump, a bassline overlaid with a low hubbub. I turned a corner and nearly slammed into a bin filled with iced water. A street party was in full flow.

A gathering of about 100 people was an extraordinary sight after eight weeks at home. A party in this pandemic was not only dangerous but illegal.

As I pedalled off, I realised what was so familiar about the way the dancers lined up side by side, like a congregation. This was not just a street party. It looked like a rave.

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Helen Barrett of the Financial Times looks at the eruption of semi-secret mass gatherings during the tensions of a pandemic.

Why after 30 years of authorities' efforts to stamp out illegal raves have they sprung up again? Photo / Getty Images
Why after 30 years of authorities' efforts to stamp out illegal raves have they sprung up again? Photo / Getty Images

Like father, like son: President Trump lets others mourn

The church in Manhattan was packed with developers, politicians and New York celebrities, more than 600 in all, for the funeral of Fred C. Trump.

Three of his four living children offered loving eulogies to their father. Then it was Donald Trump's turn.

He began by talking about himself.

Whether he is dealing with the loss of a family member or the deaths of nearly 150,000 Americans in a surging pandemic, President Trump almost never displays empathy in public.

As the New York Times reports, he learned it from his father.

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Donald Trump with his father, Fred Trump, on the roof of one of their apartment buildings in Brooklyn in 1973. Photo / Barton Silverman, The New York Times
Donald Trump with his father, Fred Trump, on the roof of one of their apartment buildings in Brooklyn in 1973. Photo / Barton Silverman, The New York Times

Kathy Sullivan, astronaut turned deep-sea diver, on how to beat fear

On October 11, 1984, Kathy Sullivan became the second woman to walk in space. Now, not only has she been into orbit a few times but she's also gone the other way.

Not content with her adventures in space, Sullivan explored the extreme depths of the Pacific Ocean.

Bryan Appleyard of The Times meets the pioneering frontierswoman.

Kathy Sullivan, left, and Sally Ride in orbit, 1984. Photo / Getty Images
Kathy Sullivan, left, and Sally Ride in orbit, 1984. Photo / Getty Images

A viral epidemic splintering into deadly pieces

Once again, the coronavirus is ascendant. As infections mount across the United States, it is dawning on Americans that the epidemic is now unstoppable and that no corner of the nation will be left untouched.

There's not just one coronavirus outbreak, now there are many, each requiring its own mix of solutions.

Many experts fear the virus could kill 200,000 or even 300,000 within the US by year's end.

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To assess where the country is heading, The New York Times interviewed 20 public health experts.

Coronavirus testing at a site in Los Angeles last week. The pathogen has infected at least 4.3 million Americans, killing almost 150,000. Photo / Jenna Schoenefeld, The New York Times
Coronavirus testing at a site in Los Angeles last week. The pathogen has infected at least 4.3 million Americans, killing almost 150,000. Photo / Jenna Schoenefeld, The New York Times

These monkeys were once revered. Now they are taking over

Lopburi, Thailand, a onetime capital of a Siamese kingdom and a repository of ancient architecture, is a city under siege. Crab-eating macaques, a Southeast Asian species with piercing eyes and curious natures, have spilled out of the temples where they were once revered and taken over the heart of the old town.

The monkeys were once a draw for tourists and pilgrims who would feed them. But with few recent visitors, the monkeys are getting hungry — and aggressive.

Hannah Beech of The New York Times looks at how the coronavirus pandemic has added to the chaos.

Enjoying a snack found in the back of a pickup truck. Photo / Adam Dean, The New York Times
Enjoying a snack found in the back of a pickup truck. Photo / Adam Dean, The New York Times

How Nasa found the ideal hole on Mars to land in

Jezero crater, the destination of the Perseverance rover, is a promising place to look for evidence of extinct Martian life.

Mars today is cold and dry, but it was not always that way. Here was one of the places with clear signs that liquid water flowed when the planet was warmer and wetter.

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This one-time lake named Jezero, a crater close to 48km wide, is the next stop on Nasa's search for possibilities of life elsewhere in the solar system.

The New York Times reports.

An image obtained by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2015 of the Jezero Crater. Photo / Nasa/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona via The New York Times
An image obtained by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2015 of the Jezero Crater. Photo / Nasa/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona via The New York Times

A clue to Van Gogh's final days is found in his last painting

One hundred and thirty years ago, Vincent van Gogh awoke in his room at an inn in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, and went out, as he usually did, with a canvas to paint. That night, he returned to the inn with a fatal gunshot wound. He died two days later, on July 29, 1890.

A researcher says he has uncovered the precise location where the artist painted Tree Roots, thought to be the last piece he worked on the day he suffered that fatal gunshot wound.

Nina Siegal of The New York Times reports.

Van Gogh spent his final day working on the painting Tree Roots, according to researchers. Photo / Van Gogh Museum via The New York Times
Van Gogh spent his final day working on the painting Tree Roots, according to researchers. Photo / Van Gogh Museum via The New York Times

Climate change: Asset managers join forces with the eco-warriors

Critics had long argued that the fund industry's nascent love affair with environmental, social and governance investing was in reality a marketing ploy that would be dumped at the first sign of trouble.

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Instead, in spite of the pandemic, 2020 has proved to be a landmark year for investor action on climate change, with significant resolutions being passed and investment pouring into sustainable funds.

The Financial Times looks at how the pandemic has persuaded some investors of the potential financial damage from global warming.

Some European oil companies such as BP and Shell have outlined so-called net zero ambitions in response to investor pressure. Photo / 123RF
Some European oil companies such as BP and Shell have outlined so-called net zero ambitions in response to investor pressure. Photo / 123RF

Of wine, hand gel and heartbreak

The tanker-truck pulled up, and it was time to let it go. The decision to send the wine to the distillery had been made weeks ago. It still hurt.

"OK, I am not even going to think about it anymore," said Jérôme Mader, a 38-year-old winemaker. "It's over."

Between the coronavirus and the Trump tariffs, the French wine market has collapsed. So winemakers are - sadly - sending their excess product off to another life as hand sanitiser.

The New York Times reports.

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A tanker-truck arriving to pick up Jérôme Mader's wine to bring it over to a distillery where it will be transformed into hand gel. Photo / Dmitry Kostyukov, The New York Times
A tanker-truck arriving to pick up Jérôme Mader's wine to bring it over to a distillery where it will be transformed into hand gel. Photo / Dmitry Kostyukov, The New York Times