The NBA strike is a big moment for athlete activism — and the labor movement in America

The sports world erupted in protest last week in response to the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin. On August 26, Milwaukee Bucks players announced just prior to game time that they would not participate in their first-round playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The rest of the NBA playoff teams soon joined in this wildcat strike.

Their actions reverberated. Tennis star Naomi Osaka voluntarily forfeited her semifinal match before the next day’s games in the Western & Southern Open the following day, and officials suspended play as a result. Some MLS, NHL, NFL, MLB, and WNBA …

Disney’s live-action Mulan is streaming on Disney+ after months of pandemic delays

Disney’s live-action Mulan is finally here, and the company is releasing the movie in a wildly different fashion than anyone could have predicted: as a premium offering on its Disney+ streaming service.

Originally slated to come out on March 27, the film’s planned theatrical debut was upended by the Covid-19 pandemic as lockdowns closed movie theaters all over the world. Disney first delayed Mulan’s launch until July 24, then August 21, before taking it off the release calendar entirely.

But then, in early August, Disney executives announced that the movie would begin streaming on Disney+ on Friday, September …

Disney’s new Mulan: Pack up, go home, you’re through

“Let’s get down to business!” orders the commander of the conscripted army in 1998’s Mulan, as he’s trying to whip his ragtag officers into shape. The line kicks off the excellent montage song “I’ll Make a Man Out of You,” a number steeped in irony, because it’s the one thing that the commander can’t do to Mulan — a girl who’s disguised herself as a boy and run away from home to join the imperial forces.

That song, and all of its cheeky irony, doesn’t make it into Disney’s new live-action adaptation of the animated hit Mulan. Though …

Tenet is here. It’s fine.

Let’s start with the good stuff. Tenet — surely the most widely anticipated film of 2020, for several overlapping reasons — is a slick and stylish thriller bearing Christopher Nolan’s unmistakeable thumbprints. John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, and Elizabeth Debicki are very good in it. The movie is often exciting, and it has a couple good fights and car chases of a kind we haven’t quite seen before. It is always surprising, and it’s innovative in a way massive-budget blockbuster films rarely get to be. Tenet looks like it was very hard to make, and thus it is very impressive. …

What Mulan taught me about identity, honor, and drag saving China

One of the greatest Disney movies in history is Mulan (1998), a story about how drag saves China.

Toward the end of the film, Mulan dresses up her friends (one of whom is voiced by Broadway star Harvey Fierstein) as female concubines to infiltrate a palace swarming with Huns. Said Huns underestimate them and are completely surprised by the ambush.

But a young drag king protecting China’s fate from Hun occupation isn’t the only reason the movie is so beloved.

Disney’s Mulan, interpreted from a sixth-century Chinese war ballad, tells the story of a girl who wants …

These 4 Midwestern states are seeing worrying Covid-19 spikes

The coronavirus is always restless, always searching for new people in new places to infect. These days, even as the summer wave fades in the Sun Belt states, several Midwestern states are seeing case numbers rise. They look like the new Covid-19 hot spots.

“The Midwest is taking off,” William Hanage, a Harvard epidemiologist, told me over email. “It’s not going to skyrocket, but there is a clear signal there and it is close to making up for the gains across the Sun Belt.”

Here are the regional trends in chart form, via the Covid Tracking Project:

Covid Tracking

How a basic income experiment helped these Kenyans weather the Covid-19 crisis

Several years ago, researchers in Kenya decided to study the effects of a universal basic income (UBI) trial on people’s wellbeing. Some 6,000 recipients in a 12-year trial beginning around 2017 received 75 cents a day — not much, but enough, their research found, for people to be less food-insecure and more likely to start a business. Others received payments for just two years (that ended in December 2019), and still others received a lump sum payment.

In early 2020, the coronavirus hit. In response, governments like Kenya’s imposed harsh lockdowns that sought to prevent the virus’s spread but that …

China may double its nuclear arsenal in just 10 years. Don’t panic.

A new Pentagon report predicts China will double its number of nuclear warheads over the next 10 years. That certainly sounds scary, but the assessment actually offers a broadly reassuring message: Despite these expected advances, the US will remain the far stronger nuclear force well into the future.

The report released on Tuesday, titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China 2020,” is an annual report to Congress by the Department of Defense. While it doesn’t include any classified information, many China analysts eagerly await its findings to track what changes, if any, China has …

Why the no-tipping movement failed (and why it still has a chance)

One year after we first spoke in July 2019, Andrew Hoffman tells me I need a “disclaimer” for this piece. “This article was started pre-pandemic. Back in the Great Before,” jokes Hoffman, co-owner of Berkeley’s Comal and Comal Next Door, who eliminated tipping at his table-service restaurant around six years ago. I like that, I reply, repeating “the Great Before” with sardonic gusto. Hoffman laughs. “Take that playbook from the Great Before and throw it away,” says Hoffman. “You don’t need it anymore.”

Since COVID-19 spread through the United States, millions of food service workers have been laid off or …

Does convalescent plasma help treat Covid-19? The NIH says we don’t yet know.

The National Institutes of Health on Tuesday put out a blunt statement on the use of convalescent plasma to treat Covid-19, calling the evidence for its effectiveness “insufficient.”

“There are currently no data from well-controlled, adequately powered randomized clinical trials that demonstrate the efficacy and safety of convalescent plasma for the treatment of Covid-19,” according an NIH treatment guidelines panel that reviewed the evidence. “There are insufficient data to recommend either for or against the use of convalescent plasma for the treatment of COVID-19.”

The statement was clearly aimed at the Food and Drug Administration, which granted a controversial …