Welcome to the weekend.
Settle down with a cuppa and catch up on some of the best content from our premium syndicators this week.
'I do not plan to': Seth Rogen done working with James Franco amid allegations
Seth Rogen’s stoner comedies defined the Noughties — but their jokes about sex and women make for uncomfortable viewing. So what does he think of them now?
Decca Aitkenhead of The Times talks to the star about fame, drugs, movies and his friendship with James Franco.
World's most vaccinated nation is spooked by Covid spike
China expected its Sinopharm vaccines to be the linchpin of the country’s vaccine diplomacy programme — an easily transported dose that would protect not just Chinese citizens but also much of the developing world. In a bid to win goodwill, China has donated 13.3 million Sinopharm doses to other countries.
Instead, the company, which has made two varieties of coronavirus vaccines, is facing mounting questions about the inoculations
The New York Times looks at how the Seychelles has seen a surge in coronavirus cases even though much of its population was inoculated with China’s Sinopharm vaccine.
• Vaccine lottery: Ohio to give five people $1m each to get jab
• Lucha Libre, yoga, dancing: Welcome to Mexico City’s vaccination sites
Israelis, Palestinians and neighbours worry: Is this the big one?
Let’s see, what happens when TikTok meets Palestinian grievances about right-wing Israeli land grabs in Arab neighbourhoods in Jerusalem? And then you add the holiest Muslim night of prayer in Jerusalem into the mix? Then toss in the most emotional Israeli holiday in Jerusalem? And a power play by Hamas to assume leadership of the Palestinian cause? And, finally, a political vacuum in which the Palestinian Authority is incapable of holding new elections and Israel is so divided it can’t stop having elections?
Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times asks, is this the start of the next Palestinian uprising?
• Analysis: Netanyahu’s opponents blame violence on him
• A night of rockets and airstrikes, and a morning of fear
Emotion recognition: Can AI detect human feelings from a face?
Hundreds of firms around the world are working on emotion-decoding technology, in an effort to teach computers how to predict human behaviour.
The technology is a natural evolution of facial recognition systems, which identify individuals but is far more invasive — it claims not just to understand how someone is feeling in the moment, but also to decode their intentions and predict their personality, based on fleeting expressions.
The market for the technology is growing rapidly despite questions from scientists about whether it actually works.
The Financial Times reports.
Those buzzy new collagen products are risky business
Collagen supplements had been dominating social feeds for months, as new formulations from brands like New Zealand company Dose & Co. have grown in popularity. Instead of the sleepy pill format, these companies are selling collagen coffee creamers, drink powders and protein bars that claim to support healthy skin, hair, nails and joints.
Recently however, there’s been a sea of online chatter about negative effects and lack of efficacy.
The New York Times looks at the truth behind the hype.
Big Read: The battle for the future of milk
For the past nine months, scientists at the Lausanne laboratories of the world’s largest food manufacturer have been busy working out how best to milk a pea.
As the technicians developed their solution they were joining an increasingly competitive fight.
The stakes are high: advocates argue the lower greenhouse gas emissions from plant milk production, compared with cattle, point the way to a new high-tech, animal-free approach to food and drink that could help feed humanity and curb global warming.
The Financial Times looks at how start-ups and multinationals are competing in a $17 billion plant-based drinks market that mixes science and shifting consumer tastes.
• Scam or not? Are plant milks good for you?
Paris teenager's new gig: Would-be queen of Italy
Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia, the son of the last king of Italy, gave his granddaughter a big 16th birthday present.
In a formal 2019 decree, the “Duke of Savoy, Prince of Naples and by the grace of God direct heir to Head of the Royal House of Savoy,” amended a medieval law that for centuries had restricted succession in his royal line to male heirs.
He bumped “our beloved granddaughter” Vittoria Cristina Chiara Adelaide Maria up the royal food chain, making her the first woman in 1,000 years to be invested with the authority to eventually lead the family and stake a claim to the defunct monarchy.
However, as The New York Times reports, it’s “totally illegitimate”.
The separate worlds of Bill and Melinda Gates
In a November podcast, Bill Gates spoke about adjusting to life at home during the pandemic after decades on the road. “My life has changed utterly,” he said. “It’s very abnormal.”
Now, life has changed in another way, too after Bill and Melinda Gates announced they would be dissolving their marriage. An announcement which sent shockwaves through the global philanthropy world.
The New York Times looks at how this makes personal a shift confidants say was well underway in their philanthropic roles.
• ‘Spousal support not needed’: How billionaire women are reshaping philanthropy
Cost of Brexit: UK's services sector crunching the numbers
The services sector accounts for around 80 per cent of the British economy, stretching well beyond finance to include fashion, tourism, auditing and architecture. Yet throughout the tortuous process of negotiating Britain’s departure from the EU, the services sector was rarely a priority — with the exception of the City of London.
The Financial Times reports.
The price wildlife pay for your perfect holiday photo
It took nearly three months, but Jody Pinder eventually succeeded. Endangered green sea turtles, usually shy, skittish and satisfied with a diet of sea grass and algae, were accepting handouts of squid that he and other local tour operators were providing at Bottom Harbor in the Bahamas.
The practice is known as provisioning, and it’s an easy meal for the shelled creatures. But conservation biologists have expressed concern in a number of recent published scientific studies about what this food source means for the physical well-being and natural behaviour of not just these turtles, but other marine creatures, from tiny reef fish to giant sharks.
The New York Times looks at how as tourism begins to return, scientists are concerned about unregulated feeding of ocean wildlife by tour operators.
Four years after execution, tests show different man's DNA on murder weapon
For 22 years, Ledell Lee maintained that he had been wrongly convicted of murder.
“My dying words will always be, as it has been, ‘I am an innocent man,'” he told the BBC in an interview published on April 19, 2017 — the day before officials in Arkansas administered the lethal injection.
Four years later, lawyers affiliated with the Innocence Project and the American Civil Liberties Union say DNA testing has revealed that genetic material on the murder weapon — which was never previously tested — in fact belongs to another man.
The New York Times reports.
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