While governments around the world race to develop a coronavirus vaccine, intelligence services and criminal organizations see an opportunity: to steal vaccine research, keep tabs on the competition, or hold critical information for ransom. The vaccine manufacturing process involves a wide group of public and private organizations that have access to sensitive vaccine and manufacturing details as well as the personal information of trial participants. In addition to the risks of stolen intellectual property or personal information, hacks could also delay or derail elements of the quest for a viable vaccine. Here's a look at what hackers are after at each stage of the vaccine development process.
When US Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016 — 269 days before the US election — Senate Republicans blocked then-President Obama from filling the vacancy, arguing that — ostensibly to respect the wishes of the voting public — the Supreme Court seat should be filled only after the the next US president was elected some nine months later. That precedent is now at the heart of the debate over whether the seat of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday just 46 days before Americans head to the polls, should be filled immediately — or whether the process should be put on hold until the dust settles from the upcoming presidential election on November 3. President Trump has already pledged to nominate her replacement, and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell (who stalled the process in 2016) says he will put the nomination to a vote. It's an argument of power vs precedent. But what has happened in the past when Supreme Court seats have opened up in election years? We take a look at the ten vacancies that occurred closest to the vote in past years.
August 18th was the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment to the US Constitution, through which American women won the right to vote in federal and state elections. After New Zealand pioneered universal suffrage in 1893, almost all other countries followed suit — although in many cases, the right to vote was not extended to all women in society until many years later. Here's a historical look at women's voting rights over the last century.
The complex US electoral college system can be hard to wrap one's head around (including for Americans). But there are some predictable elements within the electoral college process that have emerged over the past few decades. For example, voters in New York will likely back the Democratic nominee for president, while people in Oklahoma have almost always thrown their weight behind the Republican running for the highest office in the land. As a result, in recent years, successive US presidential elections have been decided by a handful of "swing states," also known as battleground states, where Democrats and Republicans enjoy similar levels of support among voters, and the outcome is often a toss-up. We take a look at how some battleground states have flipped in recent presidential elections and ponder what this might tell us about what's to come in November.
Even before last week's explosion — which killed over 200 people, turned downtown Beirut into rubble, and forced the government to resign — Lebanon was already in economic dire straits. The value of the local currency has plunged following decades of corruption, mismanagement and political chaos, dragging about half of the population into poverty. Since the beginning of 2020, the depreciation of the Lebanese lira (on the black market, while the official rate remains somewhat pegged to the US dollar) and soaring inflation have increased the price of basic goods beyond what most citizens can afford, and wiped out pensions and salaries. If the situation does not improve soon, Lebanon could see unprecedented levels of hunger — and international assistance may not be enough to feed everyone. We compare how the Lebanese lira has traded with the US dollar amid rapidly rising inflation over the first half of the year.
Global approval for US leadership has dropped since Donald Trump was elected president in 2016 — but not equally across regions, according to an annual Gallup survey. The decline has been steeper in the Americas, Asia and Europe than in Africa, where approval for US leadership has dipped slightly under Trump but not as much as over the last seven years of the Obama administration. One reason that could explain the diversion is that Africa is rarely on Trump's radar, giving the US president less opportunity to make deeply polarizing statements about countries there, compared to other regions where he regularly antagonizes individual countries and their leaders. We compare the average US global leadership approval rates across world regions for the last ten years.
For decades, China has claimed exclusive sovereignty over the South China Sea, citing a 1947 map. But five other countries — Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam — also lay claim to parts of it, and in 2016 an international court struck down Beijing's arguments. Now, for the first time, the United States too has officially supported that ruling. Here's a look at who claims what in one of the world's busiest waterways.
While many countries across Europe, Asia and South America have reopened their borders to foreign nationals in recent weeks, the message to Americans has been clear: you're not welcome here. While an American passport was once seen as a golden ticket to visa-free travel around the world, the country's persistently high COVID-19 caseload and death toll have prompted hundreds of countries to bar Americans from entry. Still, some nations that rely heavily on tourism are willing to take the risk of welcoming US travelers. So who's letting Americans in? We take a look here.