Leadership is Destiny
February 27, 2020
“Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.”
― Peter Drucker
“The first key to leadership is self-control.”
― Jack Weatherford
I Got A Fever, And The Only Prescription Is Better Leadership
Even as the CDC warned Americans to brace for a coronavirus outbreak, President Trump was tweeting on Tuesday that the situation was “very well under control in our country.” In fact, the opposite is true: Trump has put America directly in the crosshairs of a global pandemic.
After 2014’s Ebola outbreak in West Africa spread, President Obama named a single individual, Ron Klain, to serve as “Ebola czar” inside the White House. Klain was tasked with deriving a coordinated response from all the public health departments and agencies across the government, none of which were talking to each other.
Building on lessons learned, Obama created in 2015 a permanent “Pandemic Preparedness and Response Directorate” inside the National Security Council. It was led by a Deputy National Security Adviser-level appointee — with direct access to the President — whose job was to oversee ongoing work in preparation for future infectious disease threats, and to coordinate a response when such threats arrive.
Once Trump took office in 2017 he set about dismantling Obama’s accomplishments. Initially the president’s budgets sought to cut hundreds of millions of dollars from critical global and domestic health programs, including the CDC. Then in 2018, Trump disbanded the National Security Council’s permanent unit, whose job was to coordinate a government-wide response to pandemics, and gutted the Homeland Security Advisor position that manages complex transnational threats — like coronavirus. A program initiated in 2005 by the Bush administration — to identify and research infectious diseases in animal populations in the developing world — might have helped with the current epidemic, had Trump not shut it down last year.
- Coronavirus: How to travel in Italy and elsewhere during the international outbreak (Vox)
- First person in U.S. tests positive for coronavirus with no known link to foreign travel (WaPo, $)
- Coronavirus in California and US: Who’s responsible for protecting you? (Vox)
- US Health Workers Question Safety Measures as Coronavirus Looms : Shots – Health News (NPR)
- Covid-19 Will Mark the End of Affluence Politics (Wired, $)
Pour One Out In The Nile
- Hosni Mubarak, who died Tuesday at age 91, had been a military hero in Egypt when he became then-president Anwar Sadat’s vice president in 1975. After Sadat was killed in 1981, Mubarak became president.
- Throughout his nearly three decades in power, Mubarak upheld the peace pact Sadat had made with Israel and was one of the leading US allies in the Middle East, receiving tens of billions of dollars in American military aid.
- But he also ruled his people with an increasingly iron grip, often being accused of grave human rights violations by international monitors. Mubarak escaped multiple assassination attempts, but in early 2011 the ‘modern day pharaoh’ was forced out of office by the Arab Spring protestations against the poverty, corruption and repressive police tactics that had come to define his term in office.
- The public demanded Mubarak and his family be investigated for corruption and that he be prosecuted for the deaths of more than 800 protesters. Mubarak underwent criminal trials, was in and out of prison and hospitals, and survived some serious health issues.
- In 2017 Egypt’s top court exonerated him, and he was released from a military hospital to live his last days in relative peace and prosperity. Mubarak’s military funeral was held Wednesday in Cairo, with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi briefly leading the funeral procession. (CNN, NYT)
Drew Angerer via Getty Images
Hear No Evil, See No Evil, There Is No Evil
- During his brief visit to India this week, President Trump praised fellow nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the leader of a nation that “proudly embraces freedom, liberty, individual rights, the rule of law and the dignity of every human being.”
- Trump extolled India as being “admired around the Earth as the place where millions upon millions of Hindus and Muslims and Sikhs and Jains, Buddhists, Christians and Jews worship side by side in harmony….”
- In keeping with his pattern of rarely addressing human rights while abroad, Trump didn’t mention Modi’s controversial citizenship law that passed in December, or the state of emergency that Modi’s Hindu nationalist government imposed on Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state.
- Meanwhile, a stunning outbreak of communal violence — some of the worst clashes to hit Delhi in decades — would leave 27 people dead. In the northeast part of the capital, mobs of Hindus and Muslims clashed on roads and alleyways, throwing stones and crude gasoline bombs. At least three mosques were torched, along with dozens of homes and businesses. Instead of stopping the violence, witnesses said police joined crowds shouting Hindu nationalist slogans, and fired indiscriminately.
- On Wednesday afternoon Modi finally issued an appeal for calm, urging people in Delhi to “maintain peace and brotherhood at all times” and restore normalcy. (WaPo, NYT)
Additional World News
- Outrage as Jair Bolsonaro appears to endorse Brazil anti-democracy protests (Guardian)
- Costa Rican indigenous land activist killed by armed mob (Guardian)
- Uganda’s ‘locust commander’ leads the battle against a new enemy (Guardian)
- U.S. Forces Return to Saudi Arabia to Deter Attacks by Iran (WSJ, $)
Arresting White Supremacy
- On Wednesday morning in Houston Texas, FBI agents arrested a man accused of being the ex-leader of the Texas chapter of the violent neo-Nazi group Atomwaffen Division. He is accused of bombarding college, church and government leaders, journalists and others with hoax calls to local law enforcement in order to summon a police response — a practice known as swatting.
- Former Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was among those targeted, as was the New York City office of ProPublica, a non-profit news organization.
- The swatting conspiracy investigation began in January 2019 after a caller claimed to have committed a heinous crime, and gave police Nielsen’s address. The Secret Service immediately realized the call was a hoax.
- Another four Atomwaffen members were also arrested Wednesday in Seattle, and accused of sending threatening posters to journalists, staff members of the Anti-Defamation League, and others in Washington state, Florida, and Arizona. The arrests are part of a larger federal crackdown on white supremacist organizations. (NBCNews, WaPo)
From Online Shopping To Online Snooping
- A 38-year-old former manager at Amazon filed suit in California Monday against the giant online retailer claiming wrongful termination, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination and violation of the state’s Equal Pay Act. Lisa McCarrick alleges she was hired by Amazon as a loss prevention manager in July 2018, and promoted to a regional manager five months later. After her promotion, McCarrick’s supervisor instructed her to go through the social media profiles of job candidates “for the purpose of ascertaining race/ethnicity and gender.”
- According to the lawsuit, McCarrick knew that Amazon had been criticized in the past for a lack of diversity in the workplace and thought what she was being asked to do was unlawful. The loss prevention director also allegedly told McCarrick that her male colleagues made more money than she did but “that happens all the time at Amazon.”
- In September McCarrick submitted a written complaint raising her concerns about being told to scour applicants’ social media accounts, and also the pay disparity between herself and her male coworkers. Two months later she was fired. McCarrick maintains that during her employment with Amazon she always received positive performance evaluations, but the reason she was given for her termination was due to “not meeting expectations.” (NBCNews)
Additional USA News
- If Democrats Aren’t Terrified, They’re Not Paying Attention (NY Mag)
- First Woman Set to Pass Special Forces Training and Join Green Berets (NYT, $)
- With An Election On The Horizon, Older Adults Get Help Spotting Fake News (NPR)
- ‘It was everywhere’: how lead is poisoning America’s poorest children (Guardian)
- One of the more morbid news pieces we’ve read of late: Woman accused of leaving boyfriend locked in suitcase until he died (Guardian)
- Decriminalization of polygamy in Utah clears key hurdle in state legislature (Reuters)
You’ve Got Some Strings To Hold You Down
- Disney owns Hotstar, India’s largest on-demand video streaming service with more than 300 million users. On the latest episode of “Last Week Tonight,” which aired hours before President Trump arrived for his visit with PM Narendra Modi, John Oliver talked about some of the questionable policies enforced by Modi’s ruling government, and recent protests against “controversial figure” Modi’s citizenship measures.
- The 19-minute news recap and commentary sourced its information from credible news outlets. However Hotstar customers didn’t get to see the show because Disney blocked it. The platform, which Disney obtained as part of its acquisition of Fox, makes a habit of censoring numerous sensitive subjects, including sketches that make fun of its sponsors. Hotstar wasn’t about to anger India’s ruling party, rendering it in sync with some of its competitors.
- Last year Amazon removed from its streaming service in India an episode of the CBS show “Madam Secretary,” in which references to Hindu nationalism and extremists were made. Netflix also pulled an episode in Saudi Arabia of Hasan Minhaj’s “Patriot Act” that was critical of the kingdom’s crown prince. (TechCrunch)
- Big Tech Is Testing You (New Yorker, $)
- Turn your old phone into a home security camera for free (CNET)
- Finite and Infinite Games: Two Ways to Play the Game of Life (FS Blog)
- Take Notes That Can Be Understood Two Weeks From Now (Lifehacker)
- Give Compassionate Feedback While Still Being Constructive (NYT, $)
- Suckers List: How Allstate’s Secret Auto Insurance Algorithm Squeezes Big Spenders (The Markup)
- Reddit CEO: TikTok is ‘fundamentally parasitic’ (Techcrunch)
- Cloning humans is technically possible. It’s curious no one has tried (Stat News)
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