Gates’ divorce and other premium stories you may have missed this week

Welcome to the weekend.

Settle down with a cuppa and catch up on some of the best content from our premium syndicators this week.

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Gates' divorce: The fate of their fortune

Bill and Melinda Gates, two of the richest people in the world, who reshaped philanthropy and public health with the fortune Bill Gates made as a co-founder of Microsoft, said this week that they were divorcing.

For decades, the couple have been powerful forces on the world stage, their vast charitable contributions affording them access to the highest levels of government, business and the nonprofit sector. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, with an endowment of some $69.5 billion, has had immense influence in fields like global health and early-childhood education, and has made great strides in reducing deaths caused by malaria and other infectious diseases.

The New York Times looks at how the divorce will create new questions about the fate of their fortune.

• Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation faces future after split

This new Covid vaccine could bring hope to the unvaccinated world

In early 2020, dozens of scientific teams scrambled to make a vaccine for Covid-19. Some chose tried-and-true techniques, such as making vaccines from killed viruses. But a handful of companies bet on a riskier method, one that had never produced a licensed vaccine: deploying a genetic molecule called RNA.

The bet paid off. The first two vaccines to emerge successfully out of clinical trials, made by Pfizer-BioNTech and by Moderna, were both made of RNA.

In the months that followed, those two RNA vaccines have provided protection to tens of millions of people in some 90 countries. But many parts of the world, including those with climbing death tolls, have had little access to them.

Now a third RNA vaccine may help meet that global need.

The New York Times looks at how the German company CureVac hopes its vaccine will rival those made by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

• As the virus ravages poorer countries, rich nations are spring back to life
• What would it take to vaccinate the whole world? Let’s take a look
• Pfizer reaps hundreds of millions in profits from Covid vaccine

Facebook ban hits Trump where it hurts: Messaging and money

Facebook’s decision this week to keep former President Donald Trump off its platform could have significant consequences for his political operation as he tries to remain the leader of the Republican Party, thwarting his ability to amplify his message to tens of millions of followers and hampering his fundraising ability.

The social media platform has increasingly become one of the most vital weapons in a political campaign’s arsenal.

The New York Times looks at how few had tapped into its potential for advertising and fund-raising as aggressively as Trump’s.

• The limits of Facebook’s ‘Supreme Court’

MacKenzie Scott gave away billions. The scam artists followed

Over the course of 2020, MacKenzie Scott announced gifts totalling nearly $8.3 billion. Her unconventional model of giving was widely praised for its speed and directness. But some of the seeming advantages — no large, established foundation, headquarters, public website or indeed any way to reach her or her representatives — are exactly what made her ripe for impersonation by scammers.

The New York Times reports.

• A decade ago he went to prison for bullying customers. Is he back at it?

Byron Bay upended by Netflix's plans for new reality show

The tensions between leveraging and protecting Byron Bay’s reputation, always simmering in this age of entrepreneurial social media, exploded last month when Netflix announced plans for a reality show, Byron Baes, that will follow “hot Instagrammers living their best lives.”

The New York Times looks at how local residents said the show would be a tawdry misrepresentation of the town and demanded that Netflix cancel the project.

'Every time I'm calling, someone has died': The anguish of India's diaspora

Cases of the coronavirus have exploded in India in recent weeks, up to nearly 400,000 a day, surpassing all records and still rising. As they have, so, too, has the collective grief and anxiety among the huge Indian diaspora, over loved ones lost or fighting for their lives amid a health care system pushed past the brink.

The New York Times looks at how in WhatsApp chats, video calls, Facebook groups and forums, a global community has worried, mourned and organised.

• Australia tells its citizens in India: Don’t come home

Reaching 'herd immunity' unlikely in the US, experts now believe

Early in the pandemic, when vaccines for the coronavirus were still just a glimmer on the horizon, the term “herd immunity” came to signify the endgame: the point when enough Americans would be protected from the virus so we could be rid of the pathogen and reclaim our lives.

Now, according to The New York Times, it looks like widely circulating coronavirus variants and persistent hesitancy about vaccines will keep the goal out of reach.

• Beer? Money? US offers incentives to get vaccinated
• Did 4 per cent of Americans really drink bleach last year?
• Celebrities are endorsing Covid vaccines. Does it help?

Curtains and courtiers: The troubles facing Boris Johnson

It is not the first time Boris Johnson has been accused of lying. Britain’s prime minister was once sacked as a Times journalist for making up a quote and dismissed as a Conservative opposition spokesman for failing to tell the truth to his party leader about an extramarital affair. Now, installed in Number 10 Downing Street, Johnson’s familiarity with the truth has taken on far greater significance.

The Financial Times looks at how a feud with a former aide raises questions about the UK prime minister’s character.

The island is idyllic. As a workplace, it's toxic

The Willows Inn has become a global destination, fully booked nearly every night of its annual season, from April to December. Culinary pilgrims come for multi course dinners of foraged dandelions, custards infused with roasted birch bark and salmon pulled from Pacific waters they can see from the dining room. After dinner, they float up to one of the luxe-rustic bedrooms, and wake up to wild blackberries and long-fermented sourdough.

But while people flock to the Willows Inn’s serene setting former employees say faked ingredients, sexual harassment and an abusive kitchen are the real story.

The New York Times reports.

Cities appoint 'heat officers' in response to warming threat

Last year tied with 2016 as the warmest year on record, with temperatures inside the Arctic Circle rising to a record 38C. Cities including Sydney, Australia, and Los Angeles on the US west coast were ravaged by scorching temperatures in 2020, which fuelled wildfires in the surrounding areas.

Cities can become particularly hot because of the density of people and buildings, the aggregation of materials that retain heat such as concrete, air-conditioning units that pump out warm air, and a relative lack of green spaces.

The Financial Times looks at how dedicated executives are being hired to address temperature rises driven by climate change.

To solve three cold cases, this small county got a DNA crash course

In October 2016, the remains of three murder victims, dead for three decades, were laid to rest in Newton County, a rural corner of Indiana.

Two were young men, likely teenagers, the victims of a serial killer in 1983. The third was a woman found dead in 1988 on the bank of a creek.

Their bones, stored in tattered cardboard boxes and black trash bags, had been passed down for years from one county coroner to the next.

Nothing had panned out until coroners Heidi Cobleigh and Scott McCord turned to forensic genealogy.

The technology helped nab the Golden State Killer in 2018 and now as The New York Times reports investigators across the US are using it to revisit hundreds of unsolved crimes.

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