Love in the Time of Coronavirus
March 9, 2020
“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.”
“Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but … life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.”
― Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Viral Era: Coronavirus and Social Media
Details of the Italian government’s plan to quarantine more than 16 million people in the northern part of the country leaked out, prompting thousands of people to flee south over the weekend. The regions of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and Veneto in the north account for 85 percent of 6,387 current cases overall, and more than 90 percent of deaths, which rose Sunday from 233 to 366.
All of Lombardy, including its financial capital of Milan, and 14 provinces across the worst-affected northern regions are shut down until April 3. Schools and universities were already closed across the country, but the decree added closures for cinemas, museums, theatres, gyms, swimming pools and ski resorts in the new quarantine zones. Weddings and funerals have also been banned in the affected areas. Bars and restaurants can remain open between 6 am and 6 pm, but shopkeepers must guarantee customers stand at least three and a third feet apart.
Police are patrolling Lombardy’s access points, including train stations and highway entrances and exits, as well as border areas of the 14 northern provinces under lockdown. To the south, the president of Puglia — with only 26 reported cases — signed an order requiring that anyone arriving from the north be quarantined.
Italian virologists concluded the country’s epidemic can be traced to an outbreak at a car parts manufacturer in Germany. Their findings contradict assumptions that German authorities had successfully contained the first major cluster in Europe. And Egypt has announced its first death: a 60-year-old German tourist, who died in a Red Sea hospital from the virus.
- Man with coronavirus went to packed rock concert at New Zealand arena (Guardian)
- Coronavirus: Italy death toll soars amid travel ban (BBC)
- Washington nursing home at center of US coronavirus outbreak reports 13 deaths (Guardian)
- New CDC guidance says older adults should ‘stay at home as much as possible’ due to coronavirus (CNN)
- How to Quarantine Yourself (NYT, $)
- We Are All Irrational Panic Shoppers (New Yorker, $)
- EPA releases list of disinfecting chemicals that can be used against coronavirus (CNN)
- ‘Maybe I have a natural ability’: Trump plays medical expert on coronavirus by second-guessing the professionals (WaPo, $)
- Opinion | When Coronavirus Quarantine Is Class Warfare (NYT, $)
- The coronavirus: A warning from Peter Daszak, the scientist who saw it coming. (Slate)
- Squandered time: How the Trump administration lost control of the coronavirus crisis (WaPo, $)
- China May Be Beating the Coronavirus, at a Painful Cost (NYT, $)
- Why the Coronavirus Could Threaten the U.S. Economy Even More Than China’s (NYT, $)
- What It Takes to Run a Great Virtual Meeting (HBR)
- Coronavirus: How does the Covid-19 outbreak end? (Vox)
They’ll Be Screaming, Swaying, Demand Stating, Marching In The Street
- To mark International Women’s Day on Sunday, women around the globe gathered, calling for increased gender and pay equality, and for an end to gender violence and exploitation. Chile had one of the largest demonstrations; crowds flooded the streets of the capital with dancing, music and forceful demands. Tens of thousands also marched in Paris and Madrid and other Spanish cities despite concern over the spread of Covid-19. Pakistani women faced initial opposition, but officials pledged to protect the marchers.
- Elsewhere was a different story, however. Turkish riot police used tear gas to break up a demonstration by thousands of women in Istanbul who had defied a government ban, while security forces in Kyrgyzstan arrested demonstrators attending an “unauthorized rally.” And panic ensued at a ceremony in northwest Cameroon when a number of explosives were detonated. (AP)
Dan Kitwood via Getty Images
Saudi Monarchy: Keep Your Friends Close, and Your Family in Prison
- Speculation is rampant that a new round of royal purges — begun on Friday by Saudi Arabia’s 34-year-old Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman — might actually be cover for an imminent takeover of power from his father, 84-year-old King Salman. Since being made crown prince following a palace coup in 2017, MbS has assiduously eliminated threats to his own power.
- Once he became heir apparent, MbS caused much of the country’s business elite, including senior royals, to be rounded up, locked in the Ritz-Carlton in Riyadh, and forced to sign over their wealth. This time MbS claims to have foiled a coup being plotted by two of the country’s remaining senior royals: Prince Ahmed bin Abdul Aziz, the only full brother of King Salman, and Mohammed bin Nayef, who was heir to the throne before being ousted by MbS.
- It was thought Prince Ahmed’s status as a brother of the king, and bin Nayef’s former role as heir was enough to afford them protection; however, they’ve been arrested and charged with treason. A former aide to a Saudi minister did note that because the king is so cloistered, it’s hard to know what’s really going on. (Guardian)
- Oil Prices, Stocks Plunge After Saudi Arabia Stuns World With Massive Discounts (NPR)
- MBS review: why Trump and the west took a pass on the Khashoggi killing (Guardian)
Additional World News
- Delhi Riots Aftermath: ‘How Do You Explain Such Violence?’ (NPR)
- Absent students, murdered teachers: Gang violence permeates Honduras’ schools (NBC)
- ‘My search for the boy in a child abuse video’ (BBC)
- A Quebec Ban on Religious Symbols Upends Lives and Careers (NYT, $)
- Boris Johnson Launches War on U.K.’s Own ‘Deep State’ (NYT, $)
Someone Puts Windex On The Glass Ceiling
- Last Thursday the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) released its Gender Social Norms Index (GSNI), which measures how global social beliefs affect gender equality. The index was based on data from 75 countries that comprise 80 percent of the world’s population; for anyone who supports gender equality, the results are not good.
- Despite progress that has occurred in closing the equality gap, the GSNI reveals that almost 90 percent of men — and women — hold some form of bias against women.
- Nearly half the world’s population believes that men make better political leaders, and more than 40 percent believe men make better business executives. It also found that 28 percent of men and women believe that men are justified in beating their wives.
- The head of UNDP’s Human Development Report Office notes: “Today, the fight about gender equality is a story of bias and prejudices.” Those biases and prejudices aren’t just about lower pay or less jobs.
- An earlier study found that in lower and middle income countries, gender inequality is linked to more deaths than expected among girls under the age of 5, compared with boys of the same age. The World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report suggests that worldwide gender equality is still almost 100 years away. (CNN)
- The bias against female presidential candidates is real (Vox)
The Spy Who Trolled Me
- Erik Prince is the former head of Blackwater Worldwide, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and an informal adviser to Trump administration officials. In recent years Prince has been recruiting former American and British spies to work for Project Veritas, a conservative group known for conducting secretive intelligence-gathering operations that included infiltrating Democratic congressional campaigns, labor organizations and other groups considered hostile to the Trump agenda.
- One of the former spies, an ex-MI6 officer named Richard Seddon, helped run a 2017 operation to copy files and record conversations in a Michigan office of the American Federation of Teachers. Seddon directed an undercover operative to secretively tape the union’s local leaders and try to gather information that could be made public to damage the organization.
- Seddon’s role in the teachers’ union operation, and Prince’s role in recruiting him, emerged from the discovery process during litigation between Project Veritas and the union. Whether any Trump administration officials or advisers to the president were involved in the operations is as yet unclear. (NYT)
Additional USA News
- Like Father, like rat: Beer and bagels please: New York rats evolve to mirror human habits (Guardian)
- Alabama bill may lift yoga ban in public schools but prohibit ‘namaste’ greeting (Guardian)
- Opinion | How Working-Class Life Is Killing Americans, in Charts (NYT, $)
- No Cell Signal, No Wi-Fi, No Problem. Growing Up Inside America’s ‘Quiet Zone’ (NYT, $)
- Veterans Are Working, but Not in Jobs That Match Their Advanced Training (NYT, $)
- She wanted drug rehab. She ended up in the Florida shuffle. (Vox)
Looks Like This Crime Got Kicked Into…12th Gear
- A 30-year-old restaurant employee in Gainesville Florida who rides his bike to work could easily have been falsely arrested thanks to a Google “geofence warrant,” a police surveillance tool that casts a virtual dragnet over crime scenes, sweeping up Google location data — drawn from users’ GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and cellular connections — from everyone nearby.
- Last January Zachary McCoy received an email from Google’s legal investigations support team telling him that local police were demanding information related to his Google account.
- The company said it would release the data unless McCoy went to court in the next seven days and tried to block it. An avid bike rider, McCoy was using an exercise-tracking app to record his rides; the app relied on his phone location services, which fed his movements to Google.
- McCoy subsequently learned that on a particular day months earlier he had innocently ridden past a crime scene three times in one hour, part of frequent loops he takes through his neighborhood. That made him a suspect.
- Google geofence warrants are used around the country by police agencies, including the FBI. There are very few court challenges, mainly because the warrants are done in secret and defense lawyers may not realize the tool was used to identify their clients. But it’s a “nightmare scenario” as McCoy points out, because an innocent person’s GPS can get him in a heap of trouble, just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. (NBCNews)
- Google keeps a frightening amount of data on you. Here’s how to find and delete it (CNET)
- Scientists Can Predict Your Job By Your Social-Media Personality – Facts So Romantic (Nautilus)
- The Prodigal Techbro (Conservationalist)
- To stay younger for longer, make this change to your diet (Haaretz)
- Low-carb diet may reverse age-related brain deterioration, study finds (Guardian)
- Why what we look like matters more than ever (CNN)
- Burning calories: pig starts farm fire by excreting pedometer (Guardian)
- Your Fancy Honey Might Not Actually Be Honey (Vice)
- Opinion | Our ‘Pursuit of Happiness’ Is Killing the Planet (NYT, $)
- Addiction to Technology Is Killing Capitalism (The Atlantic)
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