The challenges of reducing America’s jail population

It might have been the most polite bank robbery in New York’s history. At half past five in the afternoon on January 10th a man in a Chicago Bulls baseball cap walked into a Chase Bank branch in Brooklyn and handed a note to the teller. “This is a robbery,” the message said, in handwritten red ink. “Big bills only.” He walked out with $1,000. The man accused of the heist is Gerod Woodberry. Less than four hours before the Brooklyn incident, Mr Woodberry had been released from police custody after being

Why Taiwan is not recognised on the international stage

THERE IS an island 180km off the coast of China. Its democratically elected leaders say they run a country called the Republic of China. To the Communist government in Beijing the island is “Taiwan, China” or “Taiwan Province, China”. International organisations, desperate not to offend either side, struggle to name it at all—many opt for the deliberately ambiguous “Chinese Taipei”, after its capital city. To most it is just “Taiwan”,

Why Britain’s public conveniences are anything but

Antoinette, a rough sleeper in the Finsbury Park area of north London, doesn’t feel safe going to the toilet. The one public toilet nearby is often dirty, she says, and people take drugs in there. A pub near the underground station allows non-customers in, but men use it for another kind of relief. She prefers a branch of Costa, a coffee chain, but the door requires a passcode that is handed out only to customers. So she relies on friendly baristas slipping her the code.

Despite a tragedy, children continue to compete in Thai boxing bouts

The death of Anucha Thasako was supposed to change everything. After several sharp blows to the head during a Thai boxing bout in 2018, the scrawny 13-year-old fell to the floor, unconscious. The referee rushed to his side, to no avail. There was no doctor in attendance. Anucha died soon afterwards from a brain haemorrhage. He had been boxing since the age of eight, and had taken part in around 170 fights.

China’s government finds surprising support for same-sex marriage

A romance and two years of dating, Emma and her girlfriend, Han, have tied the knot (see picture). They invited about 100 people to their wedding on January 18th in the south-western city of Kunming. It involved a ceremony, with the two women in matching white wedding dresses, followed by a banquet and an after-party. Emma says she was both excited and nervous. The wedding meant “commitment and responsibility” and “the courage to spend the rest of my life with the one”. She is looking forward to

What is at stake in the Taiwan election?

TAIWAN’S VOTERS go to the polls on January 11th to elect their president and parliament (called the Legislative Yuan). If opinion surveys are any guide, the current president, Tsai Ing-wen of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which supports eventual independence, will beat Han Kuo-yu of the Kuomintang (KMT), which advocates closer ties with China. That would rule out any near-term prospect of a thaw in relations across the Taiwan Strait.

China, checked

There is a long history of foreigners writing about China. The best of these books centre on the human experience of the people they are talking about – such as Evan Osnos’s Age of Ambition (2014). Or they provide illuminating new research on a misunderstood part of Chinese history. And we are lucky to live at a time when more people of Chinese heritage, particularly women, are able to write Chinese stories for a Western audience themselves. Jung Chang paved the way with Wild Swans (1991), but there is now a plethora of books that tell Chinese stories in new and interesting ways.

(Don’t) fight the power

‘Just like a jigsaw puzzle, trying to find my place to be,’ belts out Xue Feng, lead singer of Beijing scream-punk band The Peppercorns. In a scruffy bar, tucked away in one of the city’s ancient alleyways, Xue and his ensemble – which includes a theremin, a Russian-invented electronic instrument dating from the early 20th century – pose the dilemma to a crowd of loyal, moody punk rockers. The band has an angsty energy; the crowd is muted and focused – perhaps they too are pondering the point t

Beijing's independent fashion designers are making a bold statement

For instance, hanfu, the traditional clothing style of the Han Chinese, is also enjoying a resurgence in fashion circles. In fact, Beijing Fashion Week opened with haute couture hanfu dresses from Chinese brand Xiannixiaozhu. Huang Chunyan, the brand’s spokesperson, told The Global Times that the hanfu display was about China’s “cultural confidence”, adding that “these glorious dresses will allow more Chinese to learn about our own style”. Small boutiques around the city, particularly in the ne
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