Read: A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich — Imagine you’re a precocious 12-year-old who asks your very wise and learned grandfather to tell you the entire history of the world. If the old man has done his research and knows just how to explain complex ideas to you with great simplicity, you’ll have something like Gombrich’s “A Little History of the World.” And you might enjoy it again in an entirely new way when you’re a few decades older. – Willis

Listen: Maná — They're old, they're shaggy, and they’re awesome AF. I love love love this Mexican pop-rock band because their tunes make me wanna cry (El muelle de San Blas), play air guitar and lose my voice (Clavado en un bar), or hog the karaoke mic (Corazón espinado). Check out their greatest hits here. — Carlos

Watch: The Thin Blue Line – Errol Morris has made many great documentaries, but perhaps his greatest one is the 1988 classic The Thin Blue Line, which looks at the case of Randall Adams, convicted and sentenced to death for killing a cop in Dallas, Texas. Morris became obsessed with the case – and Adams' innocence – when he learned more about “Dr Death,” a key witness for the prosecution. – Gabrielle


It’s been hard to keep track of the latest developments surrounding the turbulent Iran nuclear talks in recent months.

Mostly, the talks – which resumed in April 2021 – have appeared to be on the verge of collapse, though there have been recent indications of a breakthrough. This week, Iran’s nuclear negotiator said that a deal with the Europeans and Americans is “closer” than ever, but we’ve watched this movie before. Is it different this time?

What’s the Iran nuclear deal again? Brokered by the Obama administration in 2015, the deal aims to give Iran some economic sanction relief – freeing up billions of dollars in oil and gas revenue – in exchange for Tehran agreeing to place temporary curbs on its nuclear enrichment program, which Washington says is being developed for nefarious reasons.

The agreement remained intact until 2018 when former President Trump ditched the deal that he called “laughable.” Iran said that it was doing its part to honor the deal’s terms, but Israeli spies revealed additional uranium enrichment at several undeclared sites in Iran, giving rise to a still ongoing probe by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

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Jess Frampton

1: Scotland this week passed the Period Products Act, becoming the first government in the world to legally protect access to sanitary pads and tampons, which will now be made available for free in public places. This is great news for the global struggle to address period poverty — lack of means to afford basic feminine hygiene products.

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Ari Winkleman

The Taliban (officially) banned opium cultivation last April, as they did before 9/11 and the subsequent US invasion that ousted them from power in Afghanistan. But in the 20 years that followed the group became the Pablo Escobars of the global poppy trade by taxing opium farmers. Now the Taliban say growing poppies is again verboten, but this year's harvest is mostly in the bag, and enforcing the ban won't be easy. We look at opium cultivation in Afghanistan since 1996, when the Taliban first ruled the country.

US Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) during a Jan. 6 committee hearing.

USA TODAY NETWORK via Reuters Connect

Liz Cheney’s next move

Liz Cheney, a three-term Republican US congresswoman from Wyoming, suffered a stinging defeat Tuesday night at the hands of well-funded primary opponent Harriet Hageman, enthusiastically backed by former president Donald Trump. Sarah Palin — the former vice presidential candidate and governor, also supported by Trump — won the Alaska primary to run for Congress. Cheney’s defeat marks a remarkable political fall for a nationally known conservative politician who is the daughter of former VP Dick Cheney, the previous generation of Republicans’ best-known Washington powerbroker. Her political future and her potential impact on American politics will be defined by her central role on the congressional committee investigating the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and Trump’s role in it. Trump, according to Cheney, is “guilty of the most serious dereliction of duty of any president in our nation’s history.” Cheney raised some $13 million for her now-failed House campaign. She can still spend that money on a future race. Next up: speculation that Cheney will run for president in 2024 in a campaign defined by opposition to Trump, who is still the Republican presidential frontrunner.

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For years, Afghanistan has ranked as one of the world’s worst places to be a woman. But over the past two decades — with the Taliban out of power and a US-backed government calling the shots — things had started to improve. Literacy rates for girls went up, and women were allowed to pursue higher education and more career opportunities — including serving in parliament. In many parts of the country, they also had greater autonomy to travel independently. But that’s all changed since the Taliban returned to power one year ago amid the US’ chaotic withdrawal. Afghan women and girls, many of whom weren’t alive when the Taliban last ruled, are now watching their hard-fought freedoms disappear.

Families torn apart by Partition.

Murtaza Ali/DPA via Reuters

Seventy-five years ago this week, two of the most powerful countries in Asia were born in a bloodbath. At the stroke of midnight that separated Aug. 14 from Aug. 15, 1947, British India was divided — along an inexpertly drawn line — into a sprawling, Hindu-majority India, and a smaller, Muslim-majority Pakistan.

The event, known as “Partition,” tore apart families, villages, and whole regions, sparking violence that left millions dead and displaced. It also laid the groundwork for sectarian conflicts and enmity between India and Pakistan that have lasted to this day.

To learn more about why Partition happened, and how it continues to shape the troubled relationship between these two countries, we sat down with Akhil Bery, a former analyst at Eurasia Group who is now Director of South Asia Initiatives at the Asia Society Policy Institute.

Our conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

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