The Largest Religion In the World (Money)
March 25, 2020
“Don’t think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.” ― Voltaire
“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” ― Epictetus
The Largest Religion & Fiction In the World (Mammon/Money) Vs. Global Health
When the economy was zipping along last year, international investment in emerging markets was up. Two dozen such markets, including China, India, South Africa and Brazil, saw net inflows of $79 billion in investment dollars. But as Covid-19 has spread over the last two months, they’ve seen a net $70 billion in international investment disappear.
Global fortunes are being profoundly impacted; emerging markets account for 60 percent of the world economy on the basis of purchasing power. A slowdown in developing countries is a slowdown for the planet. “This will be bad, or potentially even worse, than the global financial crisis for emerging markets,” said one strategist. “It is grim.”
And the harm suffered by the world’s most vulnerable countries is intensifying. A public health emergency combined with an economic crisis means businesses lay off workers, which devastates household budgets, while the diminishing value of currencies forces people to pay more for imported goods like food and fuel.
The same forces are playing out in wealthy nations, but they are able to mandate quarantines, and also unleash trillions of dollars in spending and credit to limit the economic damage. But in countries like India and Brazil, millions of families cram into teeming slums and quarantining is virtually impossible; and Argentina and Turkey already have crushing debt and runaway inflation.
For the billions of people worldwide who live on the edge even in the best of times, the health and economic dangers are amplified. As one expert put it: “In a Soweto township, how do you self-isolate? The social consequences of death among the weak and the elderly are going to be just monstrous.”
There Must Be Blood and Oil
- In recent years the world’s largest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia, had attempted to manage the global oil markets by altering production levels, while garnering the difficult cooperation of Russia. But Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent decision — to break his strategic oil partnership with Russia and adopt a new policy to maximize production levels — plummeted oil prices to their lowest since the 1991 Gulf War.
- The decision is very unpopular with most oil exporting countries, international energy companies and American shale producers, because collapsing prices will drastically decrease their revenues and, in some cases, force them into bankruptcy.
- Additionally, while the Kingdom’s market share might be preserved and ultimately increased, the decision could also signal the end of OPEC as a united functioning organization. (CNN)
- Dead, detained or disappeared: A who’s who of Mohammed bin Salman’s victims (Middle East Eye)
- How Saudi Arabia Infiltrated Twitter (BuzzFeed News)
- MBS review: why Trump and the west took a pass on the Khashoggi killing (Guardian)
- The Rise and Fall of M.B.S.’s Digital Henchman (NYT, $)
- Trump’s embrace of Mohammed bin Salman is now costing him dearly (WaPo, $)
- We are big fans of Key & Peele, and here’s a funny skit they made about oil rich countries and the USA: Foreign Intervention.
- Additional trailer: There Will Be Blood, where there is oil there always seems to be blood. I remember as a young lieutenant someone telling me cynically that the United States was in Iraq because of oil. I laughed it off then and thought the remark was just pure trolling and an incorrect assessment from someone uneducated. The more time passes, and I think about the Iraq Wars and how the world works, the more I think the person could be right. One doesn’t need education to see how the world works.
An Ugly New World: Trust Me, I Know What’s Best For Me… I Mean You
- 107 isolated indigenous groups are present in Brazil. 16 of them live in the same vast, remote reserve in the Javari Valley. All of these people are highly vulnerable to common diseases such as measles and flu. Covid-19 could wipe out any of them.
- Evangelical Christians, meanwhile, have extended their influence in Brazil under the country’s far-right president, Jair Bolsonaro, who increasingly relies on their support. Bolsonaro has a history of racist remarks about indigenous people, calling those living on protected reserves “prehistoric.”
- Last month Bolsonaro appointed Ricardo Lopes Dias to head Brazil’s department for isolated and recently contacted tribes at the indigenous agency, Funai. Dias is an anthropologist and evangelical minister who for years worked as a missionary for the former New Tribes, a radical group that aims to convert every last indigenous tribe on Earth.
- An indigenous leader from the Javari Valley reserve said evangelical missionaries destroy the “cosmological and ethical” belief systems of indigenous people. “The behaviour of missionaries in indigenous communities is as malign as a disease,” he said.
- A UN expert on the rights of indigenous people said: “[Dias’ appointment] is a dangerous decision that may have the potential to cause genocide among isolated indigenous people.” (Guardian)
- Additional quotes: “If one’s different, one’s bound to be lonely.” & “A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.” ― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
Additional World News
- Pablo Escobar’s ‘cocaine hippos’ show how invasive species can restore a lost world (Guardian)
- The ‘Niqab Squad’ Wants Women to Be Seen Differently (NYT, $)
- US trade deal ‘could flood Britain with toxic cosmetics’ (Guardian)
- India coronavirus: Modi orders complete lockdown for 1.3 billion people (CNN)
- Coronavirus: Wuhan to ease lockdown as world battles pandemic (BBC)
- Spanish Military Finds Dead Bodies And Seniors ‘Completely Abandoned’ In Care Homes (NPR)
- Welcome to the Virosphere (NYT)
- Coronavirus: Trump hopes US will shake off pandemic by Easter: US President Donald Trump has said he hopes the US will shake off coronavirus by Easter, even as New York’s governor sounded the alarm that the illness is spreading faster than “a bullet train”. (BBC)
- Bill Gates says we can’t restart the economy soon and simply “ignore that pile of bodies over in the corner”: Gates rebuked the proposal of leaders like Donald Trump. (Vox)
- Governors and mayors in growing uproar over Trump’s lagging coronavirus response (WaPo, $)
- When Disease Comes, Rulers Grab More Power (Atlantic, $)
- Coronavirus outbreak may be over sooner than you think (LA Times)
- How the Virus Got Out (NYT)
- Deniers and Disbelievers: ‘If I Get Corona, I Get Corona.’ (NYT)
- Las Vegas’ neon lights go dark as coronavirus outbreak leaves thousands unemployed (NBC)
- Experts’ tips on surviving – even enjoying – life under lockdown (Guardian)
- They had no choice but to: Tokyo 2020: Olympic and Paralympic Games postponed because of coronavirus: The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games have been postponed until next year because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. (BBC)
- The Deadline for Getting Your Real ID Has Been Postponed (Lifehacker)
- “I’ll do what I want”: Why the people ignoring social distancing orders just won’t listen: As a few cling to old mottos of patriotism and perseverance in the face of the coronavirus crisis, one expert warns it could be a “formula for disaster.” (Vox)
- ‘All Of This Panic Could Have Been Prevented’: Author Max Brooks On COVID-19 (NPR)
- How To Avert Economic Catastrophe: Ideas From 5 Top Economists (NPR)
Joe Raedle via Getty Images
The Cure: When Doctors & Medications Are Worse Than The Solution
- According to pharmacy boards in states across the country, some doctors are hoarding medications touted as possible coronavirus treatments by writing prescriptions for themselves and family members. The stockpiling is becoming so egregious in Idaho, Kentucky, Ohio, Nevada, Oklahoma, North Carolina and Texas that boards in those states have issued emergency restrictions or guidelines on how the drugs can be dispensed at pharmacies.
- Jay Campbell, executive director of the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy said: “This is a real issue and it is not some product of a few bad apples.” The medications being prescribed include those such as chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which have been praised by President Trump as potential breakthrough treatments for the virus.
- Those drugs are commonly prescribed to treat malaria, lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. None of the drugs have been found to be effective in treating coronavirus, nor have they been approved by the FDA for such uses. (NYT)
- Man Fatally Poisons Himself While Self-Medicating for Coronavirus, Doctor Says (NYT)
- Additional song: a very underrated Cure song and one of our favorites: In Between Days
We Ration Care Because We Care
- People with disabilities say that policies by states and hospitals designed to ration care will deny them treatment for the coronavirus, and that violates their civil rights. Several disability groups filed suit in federal court Monday against the State of Washington, one of the states hardest hit by the pandemic.
- The complaint alleges that the Washington State Department of Health issued guidelines to help doctors and hospitals decide who will get scarce, life-saving care. One example points to more people needing ventilators than there are ventilators available.
- According to the complaint, the guidelines say doctors should give those ventilators — and other care — to younger and healthier people. One of the complainants said: “There’s been a long history of people with intellectual, developmental mental disabilities having our medical care denied. Because we’re not seen as valuable. We’re not seen as productive or needed.” An expert on disability policy said several states have set policies for crisis care that ration care at the expense of people with disabilities.
- In addition to Washington State, similar standards were found in New York, Alabama, Tennessee, Utah, Minnesota, Colorado and Oregon. (NPR)
Silicon Valley’s Search For The Fountain of Youth
- In a report published Tuesday in Nature Communications, a team of researchers at Stanford University say they have been able to reprogram aging human cells back to a youthful state.
- A major cause of aging is thought to be errors that accumulate in the epigenome, the system of proteins that packages the DNA and controls access to its genes. The Stanford team said their method, designed to reverse these errors and return the cells to their youthful state, does indeed restore the cells’ vigor and eliminates signs of aging.
- The researchers hope their technique will help in the treatment of diseases such as osteoarthritis and muscle wasting, which are caused by the aging of tissue cells. An expert of aging at MIT said the method was “one of the most promising areas of aging research” but that it would take a long time to develop drugs based on RNA, the required chemical. (NYT)
- Higher step counts could lower risk of early death, study finds (Guardian)
- Ten Museums You Can Virtually Visit (Smithsonian Magazine) We love museums and enjoy visiting them. Museums are fascinating for what they reveal about what we value (reading the names on donor walls) and they are interesting places to observe people. They are also great places to hit one’s step count.
- The Post-Pandemic Future Hollywood Doesn’t Want to Imagine (Atlantic, $)
- Audible (owned by Amazon) is making kids stories accessible-free: Audible Stories
- ‘The US of Amazon’: how the coronavirus has created a governance vacuum the tech giant is quickly filling: If we let Amazon’s strength dominate our entire economy, we may just find out how weak we are (Guardian)
- As a company that does/sees online advertising, we can confirm that this is indeed the case: The pandemic is driving media consumption way up. But ad sales are falling apart.: Twitter and the New York Times are crucial, but advertisers are pulling away. Expect to see that across media. (Vox)
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