Surviving Guantanamo 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.

Guantanamo's 'most tortured prisoner' on surviving 14 years of hell

After 9/11 Mohamedou Ould Slahi was imprisoned and tortured by the US.

He spent 14 years and two months as Prisoner 760 in America’s most notorious detention centre — yet he was never charged with a crime. Almost seven years of that was after a court ordered that he should be released. When finally told in October 2016 that he was going home, it was, he says, “as if someone had told me I would be going to Mars or Jupiter”.

With a movie based on his ordeal out soon, he tells Christina Lamb of The Times how he survived.

Watch: Death, through a nurse's eyes

So many Americans have died in hospitals without family by their side, but they were not alone. Nurses brush patients’ teeth, change their catheters and hold their hands in their final moments.

In just a year, half a million Americans have died from Covid-19. Vaccinations may be offering some relief, but inside ICUs, nurses continue to contend with the trauma and grief of America’s carousel of death.

This New York Times short film allows you to experience the brutality of the pandemic from the perspective of nurses inside a Covid-19 intensive care unit.

• This 105-year-old beat Covid. She credits gin-soaked raisins

Kim Kardashian's divorce lawyer on what she's learnt about marriage

In Hollywood’s thriving divorce industry, Laura Wasser is the go-to lawyer. Her bread and considerable butter is dealing with the kind of high-profile, high-emotion celebrity break-up that most of us would run a mile from.

Hollywood’s top divorce attorney speaks to Laura Pullman of The Times.

A ripple effect of loss: US Covid deaths approach 500,000

A nation numbed by misery and loss is confronting a number that still has the power to shock: 500,000.

Roughly one year since the first known death by the coronavirus in the United States, an unfathomable toll is nearing — the loss of a half-million people.

No other country has counted so many deaths in the pandemic. More Americans have perished from Covid-19 than on the battlefields of World War I, World War II and the Vietnam War combined.

The milestone comes at a hopeful moment: New virus cases are down sharply, deaths are slowing, and vaccines are steadily being administered.

But as The New York Times reports, there is concern about emerging variants of the virus, and it may be months before the pandemic is contained.

• The pandemic is receding in the worst hotspots. Will it last?
• US Covid deaths: Honouring one life among 500,000

North Korean defector: 'A very small spark could topple Kim Jong Un'

At 58 Tae Yong-ho has already lived a remarkable life. He progressed from rare foreign language training in North Korea to become a diplomatic envoy for three generations of Kim dynasty rulers. Then, in 2016, while serving as deputy ambassador to the UK in London, he and his immediate family defected, making him one of the most prominent North Koreans to break with the totalitarian regime. He is now an opposition lawmaker in the South Korean parliament and outspoken critic of the 37-year-old dictator, Kim Jong Un.

The former North Korean diplomat talks to the Financial Times about life under the Kims – and how the world should counter the regime.

The inside story of how the Oxford vaccine was made

How an email to a scientist in her pyjamas began an astonishing story — the creation of a groundbreaking vaccine in less than 12 months.

Matthew Campbell of The Times reports.

• As Israel reopens, ‘whoever does not get vaccinated will be left behind’
• Future vaccines depend on test subjects in short supply: Monkeys

The vitamin boom: Do supplements really work?

New Zealanders are increasingly turning to supplements for protection against everything from colds to Covid. But do our laws deny us access to products that may actually help us?

Donna Chisholm of the New Zealand Listener reports.

• Unhealthy foods aren’t just bad for you – they may also be addictive

Sienna Miller: 'I want to be doing this at eighty'

Sienna Miller is back, a decade on from being in the tabloid headlines, with a new film that reminds us how good she really is.

The actress talks to Jonathan Dean from The Times.

• It’s a Sin star Olly Alexander is done with shame
• Why Rosamund Pike to drawn to playing villains

Can America truly dump Trump?

Joe Biden’s victory was not the inevitable end to a national nightmare; it was a contingent event made possible by a once-in-a-century catastrophe.

Trump may be gone, but the real fight to change America has just begun.

Patrick Donovan, a young Kiwi American who worked to help get Joe Biden elected writes about his experience for the New Zealand Listener.

• Supreme Court denies Trump’s final bid to block release of financial records
• Ice skating ends at Central Park after New York City rift with Trump

Travel quarantines: Enduring the mundane, one day at a time

Air travellers around the world are finding themselves in similar situations, enduring mandatory government quarantines in hotels as they travel to countries that are very serious about containing the coronavirus.

Their quarantine is not the cushy experience of shorter-term quarantines or “resort bubbles” found in some destinations such as Kauai and the British Virgin Islands, where you are able to roam relatively freely on a resort’s expansive grounds while waiting for a negative coronavirus test.

This is the more extreme yet typical experience of quarantine life. These mandatory quarantines involve confinement to your room, 24 hours a day, for up to two weeks.

From running a half-marathon in your hotel room to fixating on food, travellers tell the New York Times how they passed the time during their mandatory quarantines.

His lights stayed on during Texas' storm. Now he owes $22,950

As millions of Texans shivered in dark, cold homes while a winter storm devastated the state’s power grid and froze natural gas production, those who could still summon lights with the flick of a switch felt lucky.

Now, many of them are paying a severe price for it.

The New York Times looks at the public outcry from people who have been stuck with skyrocketing electric bills due to fluctuating wholesale prices.

• ‘Like we’re being cursed’: First Covid and now waterlogged homes

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