The strange GameStop saga and other premium stories you may have missed this week

Welcome to the weekend.

Settle down with a cuppa and catch up on some of the best content from our premium syndicators this week.

Happy reading.

'Dumb money' is on GameStop, and it's beating Wall Street at its own game

A real estate salesman in Valparaiso, Indiana. A former line cook from the Bronx. An evangelical pastor and his wife in Huntington Beach, California. A high school student in the Milwaukee suburbs.

They are among the millions of amateur traders who collectively took on some of Wall Street’s most sophisticated investors this week.

Propelled by a mix of greed and boredom, gleefully determined to teach Wall Street a lesson, and turbocharged by an endless flow of get-rich-quick hype and ideas delivered via social media, these investors piled into trades around several companies, pushing their stock prices to stratospheric levels.

The New York Times looks at how these small investors employed a classic Wall Street tactic to put the squeeze — on Wall Street.

• The GameStop reckoning was a long time coming

Two gay dads on the reality of starting a family through surrogacy

What’s it really like to ask a woman to carry your child?

From conception to birth, Paul Morgan-Bentley of The Times reveals how he and his husband, Robin, welcomed Solly into their lives.

This is Wuhan now: A year later, the first post-pandemic city

The long months of harsh lockdown have faded from view in Wuhan, the first city in the world devastated by the new coronavirus. As residents look to move on, they cite a Chinese saying that warns against “forgetting the pain after a scar heals.”

To many in this central Chinese city, the saying sums up a temptation to let go of the bad memories while revelling in the recovery. To families grieving in the shadows, it means the danger of hastily forgetting without a public reckoning for the lives needlessly lost.

While Wuhan residents savour ordinary pleasures that were a year ago forbidden hazards, The New York Times looks at how the scars still remain.

• How Beijing turned China’s Covid-19 tragedy to its advantage
• ‘Coffin homes’ and ‘cages’: Hong Kong’s lockdown exposes inequality

Amanda Knox: 'People forget I am a human being'

Acquitted of killing Meredith Kercher, Amanda Knox is now presenting a true crime podcast and campaigning against wrongful convictions.

She speaks to Rosie Kinchen of The Times.

What Jeffrey Epstein did to earn $218 million from Leon Black

He styled himself as a math whiz and “financial doctor” to the rich — even though he was a college dropout who had only a brief tenure at a traditional Wall Street firm. It was said his services were available only to billionaires, whose affairs he handled mostly from a tropical island hideaway.

So what did Jeffrey Epstein do to earn hundreds of millions of dollars from a handful of wealthy clients like private equity billionaire Leon Black?

The New York Times reports.

• Apollo CEO to step down after firm finds more payments to Epstein

Will Brexit mark the end of the City of London?

Can the City of London survive the economic shock of leaving the European Union?

Former banker Oliver Kamm recalls for The Times the hedonism and allure of the Square Mile, and asks what next for the suits – and their six-figure bonuses.

Fauci on what working for Trump was really like

For almost 40 years, Dr. Anthony Fauci has held two jobs. As director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, he has run one of the United States’ premier research institutions. But he has also been an adviser to seven presidents, from Ronald Reagan to, now, Joe Biden, called upon whenever a health crisis looms to brief the administration, address the World Health Organisation, testify before Congress or meet with the news media.

For Fauci, 80, the past year has stood out like no other. As the coronavirus ravaged the country, Fauci’s calm counsel and commitment to hard facts endeared him to millions of Americans. But he also became a villain to millions of others.

From denialism to death threats, Fauci describes a fraught year as an adviser to President Trump on the Covid-19 pandemic.

• A dying teacher, worrying over students to his last breaths
• Why vaccines alone will not end the pandemic

The Chase star The Vixen: It's wild how popular it is in NZ

It’s now just over five years since Jenny Ryan joined the hit show The Chase, but she’s still a little blown away by the fact that millions of Kiwis watch the programme and know who she is.

“We just feel like it is a parochial little British show, so it is absolutely wild to hear how popular it is in New Zealand. It’s really interesting to see how it resonates with people around the world.”

It was a long road to becoming the fifth Chaser, but The Vixen tells Donna Fleming of the NZ Listener that the job is just perfect for her.

Why 'follow your passion' is terrible career advice

Work is under scrutiny. The economic fallout of the pandemic has made a great many people desperate for paid work, disillusioned with their jobs or burnt out — and sometimes all three. It has illuminated the stark differences between those who can work from the safety of their homes and those who cannot, including shop workers, carers and medical professionals, who have to put themselves in potentially hazardous situations, often for meagre pay.

The Financial Times looks at the myth that we should all love our work.

• Negotiating your next job: Why it’s not all about money

Capitol riot puts spotlight on 'apocalyptically minded' global far-right

When insurrectionists stormed the US Capitol in Washington this month, far-right extremists across the Atlantic cheered.

Adherents of racist far-right movements around the world share more than a common cause. German extremists have travelled to the United States for sniper competitions. American neo-Nazis have visited counterparts in Europe. Militants from different countries bond in training camps from Russia and Ukraine to South Africa.

For years far-right extremists traded ideology and inspiration on societies’ fringes and in the deepest realms of the internet. Now the events of January 6 at the US Capitol have laid bare their violent potential.

The New York Times looks at how extremists have built a web of real and online connections that worry officials.

• Lone wolves connected online: A history of modern white supremacy
• Son told FBI about dad’s role in riot. His family found out when he was on CNN

Kiwis' social media app takes off during pandemic

Early last decade, Matthew Buchanan and Karl von Randow, web designers based in Auckland, were seeking a passion project. Their business, a boutique web design studio called Cactuslab, developed apps and websites for various clients, but they wanted a project of their own that their team could plug away at when there wasn’t much else to do.

Buchanan had an idea for a social media site about movies. The result was an app and social media network called Letterboxd, which its website describes, aptly, as “Goodreads for film.”

The New York Times looks at how Letterboxd has seen its user base nearly double since the beginning of the pandemic.

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