Why the mainstream news, and not social media or Donald Trump, is the greatest threat to American democracy today.

An explosion caused by a police munition is seen while a crowd of Trump supporters gathers in front of the Capitol building in Washington DC, 6th January 2020. Leah Millis / Reuters

“Ever his whispering was in your ears, poisoning your thought, chilling your heart, weakening your limbs, while others watched and could do nothing, for your will was in his keeping.”

Well that escalated steadily for four years. The fallout from the #MAGA riot is pretty much the only story on the internet right now and with reports of further insurrection looming ahead of a presidential inauguration, the National Guard being deployed in force and a second impeachment on the table, it’s hard to really think about anything else. Amidst all the finger pointing, one of the biggest missing pieces seems…

Even during the darkest of times, there’s been hope.

Maria Sole, age 4, dressed in a nurse’s outfit, holds up a rainbow drawing with the words “Thank You” on it as NHS staff and members of the public took part in the weekly “Clap for Our Carers” event at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital on May 28, 2020, in London. Dan Kitwood/Getty

If we want more people to devote their energy to making progress against large global problems, we should make sure that more people know that it is possible to make progress against such problems.


There’s been so much loss, grief and heartbreak in 2020 that it feels almost wrong to be compiling our traditional annual list of good news. Things can and do fall apart, and this year it felt like they really did. Amazing as it may seem however, there were also big wins for conservation, living standards, peace, safety and human rights, clean energy, and yes, even…

How Donald Trump pioneered the never-ending fireside rant, and made sure none of us could ever look away.

In Internet slang, a troll is a person who intentionally upsets people by posting inflammatory and digressive, extraneous, or off-topic messages with the intent of provoking readers into displaying emotional responses and normalizing unrelated discussions, either for the troll’s amusement or a specific gain.

Urban Dictionary (2020)

On the 8th November 2016 I was in a professional training session when the news starting coming in. It was about 11:00 in the morning here in Australia when they called Florida, provoking some anxiety, followed by panic as North Carolina went down and finally sheer disbelief as the Blue Wall collapsed and…

The coronavirus pandemic has set off the most devastating downturn in the industry’s 150-year history, one from which, ultimately, it may never recover.

Photo by US Navy Photo/Alamy Stock Photo

Why the coronavirus pandemic offers us an escape from a much bigger mess.

Image credit: Daniel White

“It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hatred, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”

Arundhati Roy — The Pandemic is a Portal

“When this is all over.”

Five simple words, a mantra for troubled times, comforting us with the idea that it’s all temporary. When this is all over, we’ll take longer walks, watch our parents…

How the pandemic exposes the limits of our economic and political imaginations.

“Nobody saw it coming.

While that statement is technically true (most experts thought it would be a flu virus, not a coronavirus), you can’t say we weren’t warned. Back in 2007 for example, the US Department of Health and Services conducted an audit of the federal government’s strategic stockpile, and found only 12,000 ventilators. Aware that this wasn’t enough for even a mid-sized pandemic, and with the memories of SARS and bird flu still fresh in their minds, they put out a tender for 40,000 new devices. …

Losing the plot, and charting a new course in the time of coronavirus

Volunteers thank members of a medical assistance team at a ceremony marking their departure after helping with the coronavirus recovery effort, in Wuhan, China, on March 19, 2020. Stringer/AFP via Getty Images

Last week, a large consignment of crates arrived in Italy, addressed to the country’s Civil Protection Department, from the consumer electronics giant, Xiaomi. Inside were tens of thousands of FFP3 face masks for Italy’s healthcare workers, a “token of gratitude to the Italian people” from the Chinese company for making their workers feel so welcome when they opened their first European offices in 2018. Stapled to the side of each of the crates was a quote, in both Italian and English, attributed to the Roman philosopher, Seneca.

“We are waves of the same sea, leaves of the same tree, flowers…

The debate over Automageddon is a distraction from the main event

Image credit: Kevin Hong for Quanta Magazine

This story was first published in Issue 4 of Maximus Magazine (November 2019)

The reports arrive thick and fast these days. From the big end of town, glossy 100-page monsters with stylish graphics and ‘seven key takeaways for the future of work,’ that land in your inbox with an almost physical thud. In their wake, a blizzard of tweets, LinkedIn updates and content from the long tail of freelancers and consultants, each trying to carve out space as thought leaders in the scramble for influence. …

The untold story of one of the most successful global health interventions of all time.

An activist health worker administers a polio vaccination to a child in Aleppo in 2014. Image credit: Hosam Katan/Reuters

Infectious disease is a war on many fronts. Sanitation removes germs from the environment, antibiotics fight active infections and vaccines provide immunity. Right now, the battle that’s dominating headlines is the coronavirus outbreak. While public health officials around the world scramble to prevent an epidemic (or worse, cover it up), scientists are racing to develop a vaccine. During the SARS outbreak in 2003, it took them 20 months to go from genetic sequence to clinical availability. This time around, they’re trying to do it in three. That sounds difficult, but achievable — after all, the science has come a long…

Image credit: Reuters

At the start of every disaster movie, there’s a scientist being ignored.

This time around though, there are no actors. This isn’t a Hollywood set. The photo above is from the 4th January 2020, of a serviceman from the Australian Defence Force searching the ground from an army helicopter en route to the small country town of Omeo to evacuate local civilian residents during Operation Bushfire Assist. It’s the biggest military operation in Australia since World War Two and there’s still no end in sight. …

Angus Hervey

From Melbourne and Cape Town, with love. Political economist and journalist, and co-founder of futurecrun.ch

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