'What the summer might hold for us'


IN THE PAPERS – 24.07.2020: We take a look how the Turkish press is covering the upcoming Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia. We also find out how much it would cost to prevent a future pandemic. And we look to what the future might hold for us, be it in sports or up in the stars.


In anticipation of the first Friday prayers at Hagia Sophia in 86 years, the Turkish press is covering what they're calling the big reveal… or how exactly President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has gone about hiding iconography in the cathedral/museum/mosque. The Turkish paper Hurriyet says that a curtain and rug system has finally been chosen, this after a proposal to use laser lights caused an uproar out of fear they would damage the centuries-old space. It was first built in 537.

Polls show that some 70 percent of Turks are in favour of this conversion, but it has created much concern outside Turkey and among secularists there. The Wall Street Journal argues that today's prayers mark the end of Turkey's experiment with secular modernity... that Atatürk’s dream of a creating a West-facing identity for Turkey, alongside its traditional Muslim roots, is over. But the editorialist ends on a philosophical note, saying "for a structure like the Hagia Sophia, no change lasts forever".

We turn now to the sports world, where the US baseball season has kicked off… and the Japan Olympics have not. Yesterday was the first day of the Major League season and it was announced that Donald Trump would finally partake in the presidential tradition of throwing the first baseball. It will be to an empty Yankee stadium, which Deadspin says is a good thing because he'd otherwise be boo'ed. And the site says it is a season that can only get worse, for there are fears the players will catch the coronavirus.

To stop contagion, as we know, the Japan Olympics were postponed by a year. Last night was supposed to be the opening ceremony. Swiss paper Le Temps covers what is an increasing degree of doubt within the Olympic Committee as to whether the Games will actually be able to go ahead next year as hoped.

Now to some science news, in regard to the coronavirus. Scientists say that pandemics like this one will become more common due to factors like globalisation and climate change. Well a question I've been asking myself is how do we lower that risk, and how much would it cost? 

Well the Guardian and the journal Science have provided an estimate and it's tiny. If just 2 percent of what the world has lost economically because of the pandemic was spent on things like preventing deforestation in key areas, regulating the wildlife trade and better surveillance of diseases, we could substantially reduce the risk of another pandemic. Now, keep in mind, that 2 percent is still a lot of change – some €220 billion, but it would be a first step and worth it, because it's nothing compared to the nearly €10 trillion this crisis has cost so far.

Finally, for a bit of fun, we look at an article about what the summer might hold for us and what is a guilty pleasure for some, and pseudoscience nonsense for others. Slate tells us that this is the time of year, along with Christmas, when people read their horoscopes. But how are they written? Well, some astrologers say they actually rely on very scientific data from NASA. But the art of being a good horoscope writer, they say, is the ability to write in an open but precise way and to have a keen understanding of human psychology.

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