News 04.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 04.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 04.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 04.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Toward the end of last year I found myself craving both snow and a slowing down of time.

It had been a feverish few months crammed with work and deadlines and in which hardly a week passed without my boarding a plane, or five. Then on Christmas Eve, my partner Ben and I walked ten blocks from our house in Berkeley to the Amtrak station, headed to visit family up north near Sacramento. The train trundled through marshlands of lithe birds and across the Carquinez Straight via elevated bridge, making us appear airborne. I always enter a state of enchantment on trains—with the world, even with myself. My frenzied brain slows and I’m almost immediately drawn to the page to write.

The week after Christmas was blissfully quiet but the New Year was approaching with its promise of renewed frenzy: more trips, more pages of my calendar filled with work. I had some writing I wanted to do and I thought maybe a long train ride would make me do it. Planes deadened the soul and were killing the planet; I liked that a train was a more analog and environmental method of transportation and that, when on a train, a person moved through a landscape rather than skipping over it altogether. And I like that the train was the slower way to get from one place to another.

Forced slowness is useful to me because my relationship to time is generally an adversarial one: time as something to conquer, some kind of foe to tame and break. I’m a Virgo, for one, and, as an astrologer recently told me, something called a “manifest generator.”

Read the rest of this article at: Literary Hub

News 04.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 04.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Just before midnight on March 22nd, the President of the United States prepared to tweet. Millions of Americans, in the hope of safeguarding their health and fighting the rapidly escalating spread of COVID-19, had already begun to follow the sober recommendation of Anthony S. Fauci, the country’s leading expert on infectious disease. Fauci had warned Americans to “hunker down significantly more than we as a country are doing.” Donald Trump disagreed. “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” he tweeted.

Trump had seen enough of “social distancing.” In an election year, he was watching the stock market collapse, unemployment spike, and the national mood devolve into collective anxiety. “I would love to have the country opened up, and just rarin’ to go by Easter,” he said, on Fox News. “You’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it’ll be a beautiful time.”

Trump’s Easter forecast came more than two months after the first U.S. case of COVID-19 was identified, in Washington State, and more than a hundred days after the novel coronavirus emerged, first from bats and then from a live-animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Every day, more people were falling sick and dying. Despite a catastrophic lack of testing capacity, it was clear that the virus had reached every corner of the nation. With the Easter holiday just a few weeks away, there was not a single public-health official in the United States who appeared to share the President’s rosy surmises.

Anthony Fauci certainly did not. At seventy-nine, Fauci has run the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases for thirty-six years, through six Administrations and a long procession of viral epidemics: H.I.V., SARS, avian influenza, swine flu, Zika, and Ebola among them. As a member of the Administration’s coronavirus task force, Fauci seemed to believe that the government’s actions could be directed, even if the President’s pronouncements could not. At White House briefings, it has regularly fallen to Fauci to gently amend Trump’s absurdities, half-truths, and outright lies. No, there is no evidence that the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine will provide a “miracle” treatment to stave off the infection. No, there won’t be a vaccine for at least a year. When the President insisted for many weeks on denying the government’s inability to deliver test kits for the virus, Fauci, testifying before Congress, put the matter bluntly. “That’s a failing,” he said. “Let’s admit it.”

When Trump was not dismissing the severity of the crisis, he was blaming others for it: the Chinese, the Europeans, and, as always, Barack Obama. He blamed governors who were desperate for federal help and had been reduced to fighting one another for lifesaving ventilators. In one briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo, of New York, said, “It’s like being on eBay with fifty other states, bidding on a ventilator.” Trump even accused hospital workers in New York City of pilfering surgical masks and other vital protective equipment that they needed to stay alive. “Are they going out the back door?” Trump wondered aloud.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

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It was raining in London on the evening of March 5th, and so only a small crowd had gathered outside Mansion House, the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London, to watch the Duke and Duchess of Sussex arrive for an awards ceremony hosted by the Endeavour Fund, a charity that supports wounded ex-servicemen and women. As press photographers waited for the couple to dart from Land Rover to lobby, they had little hope of a great shot: rain complicates flash photography, and the Duke and Duchess might be obscured by an umbrella. Luckily, Samir Hussein, who has frequently photographed the Royal Family, had an inspiration: flashes of cameras in the crowd could create a dramatic backlighting effect, as in a studio shot, and other flashes might illuminate the faces of the Sussexes, Prince Harry and the former Meghan Markle. Hussein snapped a picture the split second that the couple, their arms linked under a single umbrella, turned toward each other and smiled. The image became instantly iconic. The pair gazed into each other’s eyes with the insular complicity of newlyweds, unscathed by the rain falling around them like glittering confetti.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 04.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 04.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Andrà tutto bene, the Italians have taught us to think, but in truth, will everything be better the day after? It may seem premature, in the midst of what Emmanuel Macron has described as “a war against an invisible enemy”, to consider the political and economic consequences of a distant peace. Few attempt a definitive review of a play after the first three scenes.

Yet world leaders, diplomats and geopolitical analysts know they are living through epoch-making times and have one eye on the daily combat, the other on what this crisis will bequeath the world. Competing ideologies, power blocs, leaders and systems of social cohesion are being stress-tested in the court of world opinion.

Already everyone in the global village is starting to draw lessons. In France, Macron has predicted “this period will have taught us a lot. Many certainties and convictions will be swept away. Many things that we thought were impossible are happening. The day after when we have won, it will not be a return to the day before, we will be stronger morally. We will draw the consequences, all the consequences.” He has promised to start with major health investment. A Macronist group of MPs has already started a Jour d’Après website.

In Germany, the former Social Democratic party foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel has lamented that “we talked the state down for 30 years”, and predicts the next generation will be less naive about globalisation. In Italy, the former prime minister Matteo Renzi has called for a commission into the future. In Hong Kong, graffiti reads: “There can be no return to normal because normal was the problem in the first place.” Henry Kissinger, the US secretary of state under Richard Nixon, says rulers must prepare now to transition to a post-coronavirus world order.

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, has said: “The relationship between the biggest powers has never been as dysfunctional. Covid-19 is showing dramatically, either we join [together] … or we can be defeated.”

The discussion in global thinktanks rages, not about cooperation, but whether the Chinese or the US will emerge as leaders of the post-coronavirus world.

In the UK, the debate has been relatively insular. The outgoing Labour leadership briefly searched for vindication in the evident rehabilitation of the state and its workforce. The definition of public service has been extended to include the delivery driver and the humble corner shop owner. Indeed, to be “a nation of shopkeepers”, the great Napoleonic insult, no longer looks so bad.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 04.13.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The call came late at night: “Get to the airport and a small plane will take you and your photographer to Somalia.” It was 1992, and I was a foreign correspondent for The New York Times in Kenya, anxious that I would be the first Western reporter to confirm rumors of Africa’s hidden tragedy: a hellish famine caused by a civil war that had swept the country after the collapse of the regime of Mohammed Siad Barre in 1991. We saw skeletal bodies littered across the desert, parents weeping for their perished children, overworked gravediggers. Our words and images, prominent in The Times that July, caught the eye of then President George H.W. Bush, who a month later ordered American military forces to deliver aid to the region.

Ever since The Times of London dispatched the Irish reporter William Howard Russell to the Crimean War in 1854, foreign correspondents have traveled to hard places to send eyewitness reports back home. Russell, who shocked the British public with his exposés of incompetent British commanders, called himself the “miserable parent of a luckless tribe.” By that he meant that foreign correspondents — no matter what nationality or how stiff the competition for a story — work as a clan, united in their mission to describe what is happening on the ground, often in harsh conditions.

Washington in the era of Donald Trump is not quite a war zone. But there is a zealous fight over information, over what’s true and what’s not. Social media confirms prejudices, distorts the lens. In this age of disinformation, governments, militaries — and yes, the White House — try to muzzle the truth. In that tussle, foreign correspondents fight back by accumulating sources, assessing what they say and making sense of the chaos of decisions. They give as full a picture as possible of complicated events. They aspire to make a difference. If they are lucky — as I was in writing about Somalia — they can do so.

The presence in Washington of correspondents from independent media outlets around the globe shows how Russell’s ideal from more than a century ago has matured into an established fixture of global journalism. As the presidential primary season intensifies, these reporters typically travel to key states, sending stories from diners, fairgrounds and town-hall meetings. They explain to their readers and viewers at home how the tumult in Washington around impeachment, immigration and democratic politics can have precipitous consequences in their own countries.

President Trump has roiled America’s longstanding alliances: Correspondents from Western Europe and Asia must interpret what his antagonistic rhetoric really portends. Is he seriously considering pulling American troops from South Korea? Does he intend to undo NATO? Thoughtful analysis from Washington outclasses tropes on social media. And though President Trump likes to call the mainstream media “fake news,” he covets close-in and frequent coverage, inviting correspondents to his pugnacious, freewheeling news conferences in the Oval Office.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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