World’s most controversial fruit depends on giant bats for pollination

Durian. Depending on whom you talk to it’s either the most beloved or the most despised fruit on the planet. It suffers no moderation, no wishy-washiness. It is the king of fruits or the worst thing you’ve ever tasted. Due to its potent odour – delicate and sweet to its advocates and sewage-like to its detractors – durian has been banned from airplanes, subways, and hotels (though punishments appear light if non-existent). But a recent study in Ecology and Evolution finds there may be no durians at all without bats: big, threatened bats. The…

America’s dark underbelly: I watched the rise of white nationalism

It was almost 3am, and Matthew Heimbach and I were sitting in an International House of Pancakes restaurant somewhere between Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and Paoli, Indiana, when Matthew asked me why I never asked him about the Holocaust. The question caught me by surprise, not because I was unaccustomed to Matthew talking about Jews – only a few hours earlier he had ranted about how Jews were behind tens of millions of aborted white babies – but because I didn’t know the answer to the question. It was on the evening…

Is boasting good or bad for business?

Image copyrightMADDY SAVAGEImage captionAre, with a population of just 5,000, has become a Swedish start-up hub Sweden is one of the most innovative countries in the world, yet has a business culture that discourages bragging about its success. So is this humility a help or a hindrance when it comes to start-ups? From household names such as Spotify and Skype, to gaming leaders King and Mojang and cashless payment companies iZettle and Klarna, Sweden is a hotspot for industry-changing new technologies. Despite just 10 million inhabitants occupying a land mass…

Stars of ‘El Boom’ celebrated in Madrid show for forgotten photographer

From Gabriel García Márquez to Jorge Luis Borges, Baldomero Pestana photographed famous literary figures but remains little known outside Peru  ‘They show his interest in depicting poverty’: Lima, 1957-1966. Photograph: Baldomero Pestana/Instituto Cervantes Fifty years ago, a Colombian novelist picked up an unusually lugubrious portrait of himself and scribbled a dedication to its photographer. “For Baldo, from the least photogenic of his victims,” he wrote in thick, black ink. “A hug, Gabriel.” Gabriel was Gabriel García Márquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude, published the previous year, had detonated one of…

Why do women talk so much? You asked Google – here’s the answer

Awoman’s tongue wags like a lamb’s tail”, so an old English saying goes, and if you deign to type “why do women …” into Google’s search bar, the search engine will finish your sentence accordingly with “talk so much”. We’ve been brought up to believe that women are the talkative ones, the ones whose words, both soothing and scolding, are the social glue of small communities and families alike. We assume women talk more than men. But there’s also the more sinister notion that women must be silenced for risk…

‘Family knows best if child is depressed’

PETALING JAYA: While measures are in place to help children weighed down by depression or abuse, experts say family members can better determine if the young ones need help. Unfortunately, many children do not get the help they need due to the fear of stigma, said experts, adding that most abuse cases went unreported. “Public hospitals have a child protection unit that intervenes to protect the child if there is suspicion that the child is vulnerable to manipulation or abuse,” said Malaysian Mental Health Associa­tion deputy president Assoc Prof Datuk…

How do you build a healthy city? Copenhagen reveals its secrets

Maybe it’s the Viking heritage. There is an icy open-air pool in the waters of Copenhagen’s harbour, and although it is mid-winter Danes still jump in every day. On the front cover of the city’s health plan, a lean older man is pictured climbing out, dripping, his mouth open in a shout that could be horror or pleasure. “Enjoy life, Copenhageners,” urges the caption. It’s not every Copenhagener who wants to take strenuous exercise in cold water either for fun or to get fit. But the packed bike lanes of…

‘The training stays with you’: the elite Mexican soldiers recruited by cartels

Last year, Mexico’s murder rate reached the highest level on record – and years of military defections are fueling the violence  Delfino specialized as a sniper in the Mexican army and is now a member of the Knights Templar cartel. Photograph: Falko Ernst Delfino was handpicked twice. At 18, he was chosen by the Mexican army to join its elite unit, the airborne special forces group known by its Spanish acronym, Gafe, where he specialized as a sniper. Ten years later, he was recruited again – this time by the…

The new space race: how billionaires launched the next era of exploration

The launch of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket into deep space has fired dreams of a new era of 21st-century discovery  A cherry red Tesla Roadster automobile floats through space after it was carried there by SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. Photograph: Handout/Reuters Scientists and aerospace veterans, many of them still in awe at the cascade of smoke and fire, the roar of a 20-story machine hurtling into the sky, and the sight of a billionaire’s electric car floating past Earth, welcomed Elon Musk to the podium in Cape Canaveral this week. “We want a…

The long read The fight for the right to be a Muslim in America

Forty years ago, Mohammad Ali Chaudry, a Pakistani-born economist, made his home outside New York City. He came for an executive job at the telecoms company AT&T, and ended up working there for decades. Like many immigrants to the US, Chaudry came to wholeheartedly believe – perhaps more fervently than his native-born neighbours – in the triumphal story that Americans tell about their nation: how it was always growing stronger through change, melding the many into one through the process of assimilation. Chaudry was a devout Muslim. But to him,…