Welcome to the weekend.

New Zealand has been reminded this week just how tough Covid-19 is to beat with the re-emergence of community transmission.

To keep you going this weekend as we readjust to life in different alert levels, we've pulled together a range of content from our premium international syndicators to keep you entertained.

Stay safe, be kind and look after one another.

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Will Sweden be proved right on avoiding lockdown?

As the rest of Europe closed down, in Sweden bars remained open, friends socialised, masks were not – and still aren't – obligatory.

Five months on, the country has had five times as many cases as its neighbours, but it's sticking to Plan A.

Tom Whipple of The Times finds out why.

Diners at a cafe in Stockholm in April. Photo / Andres Kudacki, The New York Times
Diners at a cafe in Stockholm in April. Photo / Andres Kudacki, The New York Times

How to close the gender pay gap: Solutions from the women trying to do it

Women around the world will have to wait another two centuries for the global gender gap to fully close.

That's what the World Economic Forum predicted last December, when it stated that at the current rate of change it could take a startling 257 years to close the workplace gap — which measures factors such as wage equality, seniority and labour force participation.

From Billie Jean King to Aditi Rao Hydari, eight global trailblazers share their thoughts on speeding up change in the workplace.

The Financial Times reports.

The World Economic Forum last year predicted it could take 257 years to close the workplace gap. Photo / 123RF
The World Economic Forum last year predicted it could take 257 years to close the workplace gap. Photo / 123RF

Trump v Putin: A vaccine manhood contest

American scientists hope this is one time that President Donald Trump really does believe it is all just a Russian hoax.

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As President Vladimir Putin of Russia triumphantly declared on Tuesday that his country had produced the world's first coronavirus vaccine, public health experts in the United States worried that Trump would feel compelled to compete in a pharmaceutical manhood contest by hastily rolling out his own vaccine even before it is fully tested.

Peter Baker of The New York Times reports.
Also read:
'This is all beyond stupid': Experts worry about Russia's rushed vaccine

"We're doing very well in everything including corona, as you call it," President Trump said in an interview on Tuesday with the radio host Hugh Hewitt. Photo / Doug Mills, The New York Times

At Europe's illegal parties, the virus is the last thing on anyone's mind

Nightclubs around Europe are closed. But that doesn't mean the continent's party people are staying home.

As coronavirus lockdowns are eased, illegal raves are growing in popularity. Outdoor events for hundreds, or in some cases thousands, organised via social media and messaging apps, are in full swing every weekend, causing headaches for police forces and lawmakers, and stirring public debate and news media panic.

New York Times reporters attended three events, in Berlin, in London and near Paris. Here's what they saw.
Also read:
Lifestyles of the rich and reckless: Posh pandemic parties
Why influencers won't stop partying anytime soon

A party in Berlin that was organised via the messaging app Telegram. Photo / Gordon Welters, The New York Times
A party in Berlin that was organised via the messaging app Telegram. Photo / Gordon Welters, The New York Times

Inside Joe Biden's race of a lifetime

The vicissitudes of Biden's 50 years in politics ought to make anyone sceptical of forecasts for this November. In the absence of time machines, we can only go by the numbers. Both the betting markets (about two to one in Biden's favour) and the polls (an average eight-percentage-point lead over Donald Trump) suggest Biden will be America's 46th president.

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Biden has been trying to win the White House for more than 30 years. Can he beat Donald Trump in 2020?

The Financial Times reports.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference. Photo / AP
Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a news conference. Photo / AP

This is inequality at the boiling point

Earth is overheating. Millions are already feeling the pain. For the past 60 years, every decade has been hotter than the last, and 2020 is poised to be among the hottest years ever. The agony of extreme heat, though, is profoundly unequal.

Extreme heat is not a future risk. It's now. It endangers human health, food production and the fate of entire economies. And it's worst for those at the bottom of the economic ladder in their societies.

See what it's like to live with one of the most dangerous and stealthiest hazards of the modern era.

Faith Osi pours water on her head to cool down while working on her family's cassava farm in Obrikom, in the heart of Nigeria's oil-rich delta. Photo / KC Nwakalor, The New York Times
Faith Osi pours water on her head to cool down while working on her family's cassava farm in Obrikom, in the heart of Nigeria's oil-rich delta. Photo / KC Nwakalor, The New York Times

Beirut's youngest cancer patients lose care options after blast

The children being treated at Beirut's St. George Hospital built an extended family with each other, painting and dancing together when they had the energy and rubbing each other's backs when they vomited after chemotherapy sessions.

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Now these cancer-stricken children are struggling to keep up with their treatment and preserve the bonds they developed with each other over sometimes years of treatment, after a powerful blast ripped through Beirut last week and took their hospital — their home away from home — with it.

The New York Times looks at the children who now have nowhere to turn.

Also read:
US contractor knew of explosive material in Beirut since at least 2016
Beirut blast hit three disparate neighbourhoods. Now they're united in rage

Amanda Tawk was diagnosed with cancer in December. Photo / Diego Ibarra Sanchez, The New York Times
Amanda Tawk was diagnosed with cancer in December. Photo / Diego Ibarra Sanchez, The New York Times

We'll be wearing masks for a while. Why not make then nice?

Rieko Kawanishi is the first to admit that the pearl-laden mask she designed is not the most effective defence against the coronavirus. "It's full of holes," she said with a laugh.

But her handmade face covering, which she recommends wearing over a regular mask, reflects a sudden burst of creative attention in the worlds of fashion and technology to a humble product that had been largely unchanged for decades.

Motorised air purifiers and heated sanitisers. Breathable fabrics and chic prints. The New York Times looks at how with face coverings here to stay, consumers are starting to demand more than cheap throwaways.
Also read:
11 supposedly fun things we'll never do the same way again

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A mask by Donut Robotics that serves as a combination walkie-talkie, personal secretary and translator. Photo / Noriko Hayashi, The New York Times
A mask by Donut Robotics that serves as a combination walkie-talkie, personal secretary and translator. Photo / Noriko Hayashi, The New York Times

The US wanted to eat out again. Everyone has paid the price

Across the United States this summer, restaurants and bars, reeling from mandatory lockdowns and steep financial declines, opened their doors to customers, thousands of whom had been craving deep bowls of farro, frothy margaritas and juicy burgers smothered in glistening onions.

But the short-term gains have led to broader losses. Data from states and cities show that many community outbreaks of the coronavirus this summer have centered on restaurants and bars, often the largest settings to infect Americans.

The New York Times looks at how bars and restaurants have become a focal point for clusters of Covid infections.
Also read:
She was pregnant with twins during Covid. Why did only one survive?

A recent evening on Broadway in downtown Nashville, where masks are required by law and signs encourage social distancing. Photo / William DeShazer, The New York Times
A recent evening on Broadway in downtown Nashville, where masks are required by law and signs encourage social distancing. Photo / William DeShazer, The New York Times

'Christianity will have power': The pledge that bonded Trump to evangelicals

In January 2016 Donald J. Trump gave a campaign speech at a small Christian college in Sioux Center, Iowa. Standing in front of a three-storey pipe organ, he said, "I have the most loyal people."

"I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?"

But he said something else that day. And his intended audience heard him.

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President Trump's re-election may rest on a group whose support, to the outside observer, can seem mystifying: white evangelicals.

The New York Times reports.

Wayside Chapel sits outside of Sioux Center, one of the nation's most conservative Christian communities. Photo / Jenn Ackerman, The New York Times
Wayside Chapel sits outside of Sioux Center, one of the nation's most conservative Christian communities. Photo / Jenn Ackerman, The New York Times

QAnon followers are hijacking the #SaveTheChildren movement

QAnon first surfaced in 2017 with a series of anonymous posts on the internet forum 4chan claiming to reveal high-level government intelligence about crimes by top Democrats. It has since spawned one of the most disturbing and consequential conspiracy theory communities in modern history. Its followers have committed serious crimes, and its online vigilantes have made a sport of harassing and doxxing their perceived enemies.

The FBI has cited QAnon as a potential domestic terror threat, and social networks have begun trying to pull QAnon groups off their platforms.

Now, fans of the pro-Trump conspiracy theory are clogging anti-trafficking hotlines, infiltrating Facebook groups and raising false fears about child exploitation.

The New York Times looks at the most recent QAnon conspiracy doing the rounds.

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A woman holding up a hat with a Q on it, denoting QAnon, at a 2018 rally for President Trump. Photo / Al Drago, The New York Times
A woman holding up a hat with a Q on it, denoting QAnon, at a 2018 rally for President Trump. Photo / Al Drago, The New York Times