Premium summer big reads: Life on the front line of the war against chemical weapons

The New Zealand Herald is bringing back some of the best stories of 2020 from our premium syndicators, including The New York Times, Financial Times and The Times of London.

Today we look at the Iraq war veteran helping fight the war against chemical weapons, the mysterious death of Hollywood actress Natalie Wood, the fight against the gender pay gap, working at home attire and the Central Park confrontation that went global.

The Iraq veteran on the front line

Hamish De Bretton-Gordon’s work inside Syria has not only earned widespread admiration but saved many lives too, by directly obstructing the ability of the Syrian regime to gas its subjects with the ease it would choose.

He has trained doctors and medics inside Syria to identify and treat chemical casualties and advised the UK government at the highest level on chemical and biological weapon use, including over the novichok poisonings in Salisbury.

Anthony Loyd of The Times talks with the Iraq veteran.

• Suicide bomber. Resistance fighter. Child grave robber. Four decades of war in Afghanistan
• Photos from America’s longest war
• These Syrian women rarely left the house. Then the men disappeared
• ‘We were bulletproof’: As child soldiers grow up, legacy of war lingers

My mother, Natalie Wood, Robert Wagner and the mystery of the night she died

Natasha Gregson Wagner was 11 when her mother, the legendary Hollywood actress Natalie Wood, drowned. For 39 years, rumours have surrounded what happened.

Now she’s made a documentary in which – for the first time – her 90-year-old stepfather, Robert Wagner, recalls that fateful night.

Gregson Wagner talks to Ben Hoyle of the Times about why she decided to delve into the events that surrounded her mother’s death all these years later.

How to close the gender pay gap: Solutions from the women trying to do it

Women around the world will have to wait another two centuries for the global gender gap to fully close.

That’s what the World Economic Forum predicted last December, when it stated that at the current rate of change it could take a startling 257 years to close the workplace gap — which measures factors such as wage equality, seniority and labour force participation.

From Billie Jean King to Aditi Rao Hydari, eight global trailblazers share their thoughts on speeding up change in the workplace.

The Financial Times reports.

• Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg on powerful women and coming under fire

Goodbye, blazers; hello, 'coatigans.' Women adjust attire to work at home

In the Before Times, Rebecca Rittenberg, who works for Google in New York, said one of her favourite parts about going to the office was “showing up in a funky, cool professional outfit.”

Now, after eight months of working from home, and with Google saying that workers won’t have to return in person until next summer at the earliest, a big swath of that apparel has been donated and replaced. Rittenberg’s new definition of “work clothes” includes cashmere cardigans and joggers, headbands, and other cosy garments that fall somewhere in the “healthy in-between” of pajamas and blazers.

The New York Times looks at how with many professional women working remotely this year, their notions of work wear have transformed.

• The video call is starting. Time to put on your Zoom Shirt
• Business casual? It’s robes and slippers all day now

How two lives collided in Central Park, rattling the US

Christian Cooper began his Memorial Day like most of his May mornings, searching for Blackburnian warblers, scarlet tanagers and other songbirds that wing their way into Central Park.

Around the same time, Amy Cooper left her apartment on the Upper West Side at the edge of the Hudson River with her dog, Henry.

It was in the Ramble that the two Coopers’ lives collided, an encounter that was brief but would reverberate in New York City and beyond.

Sarah Maslin Nir of The New York Times shares the inside story of the black birder and the white woman who called the police on him.

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