Sophie McBain picks up politics, business and international development stories from around the globe

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India’s Supreme Court recognises a third gender
By Sophie McBain - 16 April 11:37

The Supreme Court in India has issued a new law allowing transgender people to change their gender on official documents to reflect their gender identity – why are so many European countries still several steps behind?

Would shorter working hours boost productivity? Photo: Getty.
Why we should all be working less
By Sophie McBain - 10 April 13:18

France has introduced a new law to prevent employees being asked to read work emails outside office hours. Would it help solve the UK's productivity problem if we followed suit?

Why international rankings of countries are completely pointless
By Sophie McBain - 03 April 14:37

The UK is ranked 13 out of 132 countries in the new Social Progress Index, thanks to its excellent universities but comparatively high rates of obesity. But when will we realise that these lists are really meaningless?

Why is Egypt sentencing hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death?
By Sophie McBain - 25 March 11:18

Several Egyptian TV channels yesterday welcomed the sentencing to death of 529 Muslim Brotherhood supporters in a flawed two-day trial. Are Egyptians sleepwalking into one of the darkest chapters in their recent political history?

Plot for Peace: the French businessman who helped end apartheid
By Sophie McBain - 25 March 9:46

A new documentary sheds light on the role played by Jean-Yves Ollivier, a secretive French businessman, in bringing peace to South Africa. But what does it tell us about the mechanics of conflict resolution?

Why aren’t EU states delivering on their humanitarian aid pledges?
By Sophie McBain - 19 March 12:44

The EU is the world’s largest humanitarian donor, and it is facing a funding gap of almost half a billion euros.

China’s billionaire politicians quadruple their wealth
By Sophie McBain - 06 March 12:16

Despite their low official government salaries, at this week’s National People’s Congress annual meeting, there will be 86 renminbi billionaires and China’s richest politicians have quadrupled their wealth in the past eight years. But is there a right level to set politicians’ pay?

A third of women in the EU have faced sexual or physical violence
By Sophie McBain - 05 March 15:10

Denmark, Sweden and Finland had the highest rates of violence against women, despite the countries' reputation for promoting gender equality. Why?

Why are one million babies a year dying in their first day of life?
By Sophie McBain - 25 February 16:37

The first 24 hours in a baby's life are the most dangerous, but newborn deaths have been under-researched and neonatal care is under-funded.

Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni signs anti-gay bill
By Sophie McBain - 24 February 12:42

The new law will make it virtually impossible to be openly gay in Uganda, and follows the stricter anti-gay laws passed in Nigeria last month. So what is driving this increased homophobia and anti-gay legislation?

The President of Kazakhstan suggests his country should be renamed
By Sophie McBain - 21 February 12:06

President Nazerbayev doesn't want to rule a "stan" any more. So he's suggesting it become Kazakh Yeli or Kazakhiya.

"I know we all look the same," said Kendall.
Watch: Philip Hammond confuses Liz Kendall with Rachel Reeves on Question Time
By George Eaton - 21 February 10:45

"I know we all look the same," said Kendall after being repeatedly mistaken for her shadow cabinet colleague.

Migrant workers at Qatar's world cup stadium. Photo: Getty.
400 Nepalese construction workers have died since Qatar won the World Cup bid
By Sophie McBain - 17 February 12:37

Why are international sporting events so dangerous for construction workers?

Belgium extends its euthanasia laws to children
By Sophie McBain - 14 February 11:55

Belgium has lifted all age restrictions on euthanasia, despite concerns that the legislation has been rushed through.

Gender inequality is costing the global economy trillions of dollars a year
By Sophie McBain - 12 February 15:00

A UN report released today has found that progress made towards reducing poverty is at risk of being reversed because of widening inequality and a failure to strengthen women's rights.

Why is the Canadian rock band Skinny Puppy invoicing the Pentagon for $666,000?
By Sophie McBain - 06 February 12:04

How would you react if you discovered your music was being used to aid interrogations?

A new law in Afghanistan means men can attack their wives and daughters with impunity
By Sophie McBain - 05 February 11:55

The problem isn't just in Afghanistan. 30 per cent of woman suffer violence from an intimate partner, but globally laws do little to protect women at home.

A third of school children aren't even learning the basics
By Sophie McBain - 29 January 14:40

250 million school-age children worldwide can't read, write or do a basic maths sum. 130 million of these children are enrolled in school. So what's going wrong?

New Statesman
The parrot who registered as a local candidate in Belarus, and other political animals
By Sophie McBain - 22 January 12:26

Yasha the parrot joins an elite menagerie of animals that have entered politics.

New Statesman
Syria: evidence of "systematic killing" of 11,000 detainees
By Sophie McBain - 21 January 14:03

Top lawyers say they have evidence that the Syrian government is responsible for crimes against humanity, but will these latest findings influence tomorrow's peace talks?

New Statesman
President Hollande's approval rating among women is boosted by reports he's having an affair
By Sophie McBain - 16 January 12:24

A poll reveals that Francois Hollande's popularity among French women has increased following news of his alleged affair with an actress.

Three reasons Egyptians should vote “no” in today's referendum
By Sophie McBain - 15 January 11:59

Egyptians are expected to vote “yes” in a referendum on their new constitution. This will prove a big mistake.

Why obesity is no longer a rich world problem
By Sophie McBain - 03 January 11:52

Obesity rates triple in developing countries. A report by the Overseas Development Institute has found that one in three adults globally is obese.

New Statesman
Did the World Health Organisation contribute to Syria's polio outbreak?
By Sophie McBain - 02 January 13:10

WHO's response to Syria's polio outbreak, and its close relationship with the Syrian government, have been called into question.

New Statesman
2013 is the second worst year for jailed journalists
By Sophie McBain - 18 December 10:48

There are currently 211 journalists in prison worldwide, and over 50 have been killed doing their job.

New Statesman
Which countries are the most generous at Christmas?
By Sophie McBain - 16 December 12:00

Ireland tops the list, and the Dutch are the stingiest.

New Statesman
Britain should “hang its head in shame” over Syrian refugee crisis
By Sophie McBain - 13 December 12:31

Amnesty International condemns Europe's failure to resettle Syrian refugees.

A woman, suffering from Alzheimer's desease, holds the hand of a relative
Who will care for Alzheimer's sufferers in low income countries?
By Sophie McBain - 12 December 11:55

In 2050, 71 per cent of Alzheimer's patients will be in low to middle income countries. Will they be able to access medical care?

New Statesman
How Lufsig the cuddly wolf became a Hong Kong protest symbol
By Sophie McBain - 10 December 15:34

A short lesson in the art of mistranslating names into Chinese.

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