Turning Weakness Into Strength
March 19, 2020
“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.” ― Mahatma Gandhi
“My attitude is that if you push me towards something that you think is a weakness, then I will turn that perceived weakness into a strength.” ― Michael Jordan
Capitalism and Foreign Diplomacy with Chinese Characteristics
Xi Jinping has announced that China will begin ramping up efforts to help countries around the globe combat the coronavirus pandemic. COVID-19 has spread to nearly every country in the world following its initial outbreak in Wuhan, China, and Beijing has pledged to begin sending aid and medical experts abroad to help countries in need. From Japan to Iraq, Spain to Peru, China has provided or pledged humanitarian assistance in the form of donations or medical expertise.
Daily cases of COVID-19 in China have begun dwindling to single digits, which has allowed leader Xi Jinping to mount a diplomatic offensive to send help elsewhere. “This could be the first major global crisis in decades without meaningful U.S. leadership and with significant Chinese leadership,” said Rush Doshi, director of the China Strategy Initiative at the Brookings Institution in Washington. The United States has just begun taking measures toward stopping the spread of the new coronavirus, with certain cities and counties beginning lockdown measures.
The outbreak that started in Wuhan has infected nearly 200,000 people and killed nearly 8,000 worldwide, with more cases reported daily across the globe. On Wednesday, China said it would provide two million surgical masks, 200,000 advanced masks and 50,000 testing kits to Europe, and certain entrepreneurs such as Jack Ma have also announced offers to donate test kits and masks to the United States and other countries. “This is no longer a challenge that a country can solve on its own, but it requires all of us to work together,” Mr. Ma’s foundation said in a statement that listed donations to dozens of countries, including all 54 nations in Africa. (NYT)
- I’ll have what Japan’s having: Japanese flu drug ‘clearly effective’ in treating coronavirus, says China (Guardian) & Travel – Uncovering amazake: Japan’s ancient fermented ‘superdrink’ (BBC)
- Why Covid-19 is worse than the flu, in one chart (Vox)
- Why South Korea has so few coronavirus deaths while Italy has so many (CNN)
- Flattening the Coronavirus Curve Is Not Enough (MIT Press) & Opinion | The Single Most Important Lesson From the 1918 Influenza (NYT)
- We’re not going back to normal (Technology Review)
- What to buy at the grocery store during a pandemic (CNN)
- Triage: COVID-19’s Next Terrible Phase (Atlantic, $)
- From Zoom University to the Zoom Party (NYT)
- Americans Stranded Abroad: ‘I Feel Completely Abandoned’ (NYT)
- A dystopian reading list: books to enjoy while in quarantine (Guardian)
- Meet the Americans still going out and gathering in large groups (Reuters) & The tech execs who don’t agree with ‘soul-stealing’ coronavirus safety measures (Guardian)
- Steven Mnuchin warns coronavirus could bring 20% unemployment | US news (Guardian)
- Congress passes coronavirus bill with paid sick leave, free virus testing (Vox)
- Stimulus Cash For Strapped Workers, With Few Places To Spend It (NPR)
- Welfare recipients on cashless debit card will have $750 stimulus payment quarantined (Guardian)
- Andrew Yang May Be Out, but His Basic Income Idea Is Getting a Second Look (NYT, $)
- Trump calling the Covid-19 coronavirus the “Chinese virus” is dangerous (Vox)
The People Are Always Healthier On The Other Side Of The Closed Border
- India is the second most heavily populated country in the world, with over 1.3 billion residents, yet has remained largely unscathed by the COVID-19 outbreak which has seen an explosion of cases in neighboring countries. Only 125 confirmed cases have been reported, lulling many of the country’s citizens into a sense of security. Despite the government scrambling to lockdown in anticipation of an outbreak, many believe the scare is “overhyped,” packing into bars and living life as normal.
- A few have speculated that there may be a large number of unreported cases, while others believe the small number of cases stems from India’s quick and decisive border closure when fears first spread.
- India was one of the first nations to essentially shut its borders, canceling visas and denying entry to all but a select few foreigners. So far most if not all of India’s coronavirus cases have come from travelers.
- “The challenge of a large country like India with overcrowding is that some people will always slip the net, wherever you put it,’’ said Dipanjan Roy, an Indian epidemiologist who has worked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization. Roy added that India does have a good track record for containing flu epidemics and noted the country is one of the world’s largest producers of generic drugs. (NYT)
Linh Pham via Getty Images
A Vicious Circle Of Life Has To Stop
- Nguyen Xuan Phuc, the Prime Minister of Vietnam, has called for a directive to stop the illegal trading and consumption of wildlife. The directive would clamp down on street-side markets across the country and increase prosecutions of online traders while pressuring thousands of farms known to participate in illegal wildlife trading. This move is similar to one made by China after the new coronavirus pandemic appeared to have emerged from a wet market in Wuhan.
- Both illegal and “legal” wildlife trading flourishes in Vietnam, where the trade has grown into a billion-dollar industry, with thousands of markets strewn across the country. There is also a thriving online trade in animals, with many sellers advertising on various social media sites such as Facebook, and online marketplaces.
- Currently, Vietnamese law prohibits the trafficking of protected wildlife products, but many claim that there is not enough enforcement, leading to a still-flourishing illegal trade system. The directive will come into effect in April, when all regulations and enforcement policies will be officially announced. (Guardian)
- Why new diseases keep appearing in China (Vox video, we think this is one of the best videos on COVID-19’s origin)
Life Finds A Way Until We Can’t Find Amber
- Paleontologists have long used fossil-rich amber for researching the prehistoric world. But concerns about its sourcing are growing, particularly among Western scientists. Much of the substance is mined in Myanmar and thought to be a source of profit for the country’s military, which is widely known to have committed genocidal acts against its Rohingya Muslim minority. Amber is also smuggled into China where it commands high prices, potentially fueling conflict there.
- These concerns are leading more scientists to shun the use of amber in paleontological research. “This is a really tricky situation that paleontologists aren’t used to facing,” said Steve Brusatte, a vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Edinburgh. “It concerns me greatly that the sale of these fossils may be funding war and violence in Myanmar, and for that reason I’ve recently decided to decline opportunities to study Burmese amber or review papers on the subject.”
- But the counter argument is that fossilized organisms preserved in amber are extremely rare, and declining opportunities to study them means paleontologists could be missing out on discoveries that could reshape how researchers understand evolutionary history. (NYT, $)
Abandoning Arkham Asylum: I Know Why The Caged Bird Social Distances
- Coronavirus has led to multiple lockdown measures across the country, including “social distancing” and having restaurants either closing down or offering only take-out orders. Another major impact is the release of hundreds of low-level prisoners across the country, as the illness is easily transmitted in tightly packed, dense areas.
- High-level inmates have also begun pleading for freedom, or home detention measures, including President Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, and Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff.
- America has nearly 7,000 jails, prisons, and correction facilities spread across the country which are considered ideal breeding grounds for the virus. This is leading to many pre-emptive measures being taken, such as the release of prisoners. Temporary halts to visitations as well as stricter sanitation and cleaning policies have also been placed into effect in many states.
- In addition to efforts made by jails, law enforcement bodies have also begun taking action. Police departments are incarcerating fewer people, prosecutors are letting non-violent offenders out early, and judges are postponing or finding alternatives to jail sentences. (Guardian)
Additional USA News
- ‘Deaths Of Despair’ Examines The Steady Erosion Of U.S. Working-Class Life (NPR) (we think the erosion of the US middle class was one of the primary reasons Donald Trump was elected in 2016 as mainstream Americans are increasingly disillusioned with Washington elites)
- Salt Lake City, Utah, earthquake: 5.7 magnitude temblor knocks out power for thousands (CNN)
- Bernie Sanders To ‘Assess’ Campaign After More Primary Losses (NPR)
- Bernie Sanders Has No Realistic Chance to Win. Some Democrats Say, ‘It’s Over.’ (NYT, $)
- Why Elizabeth Warren Lost (Atlantic, $)
- The Accusations Were Lies. But Could We Prove It? (NYT, $)
Music Takes Productivity From Flat To Sharp
- With the rise of the ever present in-ear AirPod you have to wonder: does listening to music while you work actually help you work harder?
- One example of a way that music can help increase our work performance is called the “Mozart effect.” It is the general belief that listening to the work of a genius can increase your brain power. This idea has risen to popularity in modern culture and has led to the popular practice of pregnant mothers playing Mozart for their unborn children.
- Another example is called “activation theory” which is the idea that adding music to an otherwise dull job will spice up the routine and increase productivity. On the topic of activation theory, Karen Landay, a former professional violinist and graduate student at the University of Alabama said, “Depending on the individual, this can improve performance because it will increase attention…However, if the level of activation becomes too high, performance could go down – imagine an overstimulated toddler.” (BBC)
- A jewel of a song we’ve recently discovered: The Joy Formidable – All This Promise
- How to avoid touching your face so much (BBC)
- Publisher Macmillan Backs Off Policy Restricting E-Book Sales To Libraries (NPR)
- Viral vigilantes are turning YouTube and TikTok into a weapon (The Verge)
- Talent, you’re born with. Creativity, you can grow yourself (Aeon)
- Remember, the line is buy low and sell high not sell low and buy high: Dow loses almost all that it gained during Trump’s presidency (Reuters) & Do Recessions Always Follow Major Stock Market Downturns? Usually (NYT, $)
- You can’t eat bitcoin for breakfast, Cash is king as emergency stimulus fails to stop market panic (Reuters)
- It’s times like these when we reexamine: How do you work out what something is worth? (BBC)
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