Survival Of The Fastest And Greediest
May 18, 2020
“To effectively contain a civilization’s development and disarm it across such a long span of time, there is only one way: kill its science.”
“Mere existence is already the result of incredible luck. Such was the case on Earth in the past, and such has always been the case in this cruel universe. But at some point, humanity began to develop the illusion that they’re entitled to life, that life can be taken for granted.”
Ethan Miller via Getty Images
Let He Who Is Without Guilt, Sell The First Stone: The Military Industrial Complex in 2020
Once in office, the administration set about rewriting the rules for arms exports to speed weapon sales to foreign militaries. The State Department, responsible for licensing arms deals, was charged with aggressively promoting them. A long-time arms manufacturing analyst noted: “This White House has been more open to defense executives than any other in living memory.”
Trump’s aggressive arms sale policies began to alarm because of the apparent lack of concern with human rights issues. One Trump favorite arms manufacturer, Raytheon, is a major supplier of weapons to the Saudis. Its weapons have helped prolong a war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people in Yemen, the Arab world’s poorest nation, and the world’s worst humanitarian disaster.
In June 2017, one Republican senator tried cutting off weapons sales to the Kingdom by withholding approval for new sales. Navarro wrote to top White House officials, calling for an intervention. Within weeks Saudis were again buying US made weapons. The previously unreported intervention marked a fundamental change in American foreign policy under Trump, one that simply focused on economic considerations.
Even after Saudis brutally murdered dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018, the administration said continuing arms sales to the Arab nation was vital to the American economy and job growth.
The Trump administration hasn’t sought to balance the economic benefits of arms sales with realities on the ground. One House member noted the president “seems to see foreign policy in the way he viewed the real estate business — every country is like a company and our job is to make money.”
Survival Of The Fastest And The Greediest
- Officials from every nation are meeting via video link on Monday for the annual world health assembly. This year the sole resolution before the assembly is an EU proposal for a voluntary patent pool on Covid-19 drugs and vaccines. Patents give drug and vaccine companies a monopoly on their inventions, allowing them to charge high prices. The resolution would pressure companies to forego patents so that all countries can make or buy affordable versions.
- Some countries have bought up drugs thought to be useful against the coronavirus, causing global shortages. And the Trump administration is dealing with vaccine companies to supply America first. Public health experts and campaigners believe it is vital to pull together to end the pandemic.
- The EU — including leaders of Italy, France, Germany and Norway, together with the European commission and council — has taken the lead in calling for any innovative tools, therapeutics or vaccines to be shared equally and fairly. “If we can develop a vaccine that is produced by the world, for the whole world, this will be a unique global public good of the 21st century,” they said in a statement.
- But countries with major pharmaceutical companies — including the US, the UK and Switzerland — are pushing back, arguing they need patents to guarantee sufficiently high prices to recoup their research and development costs. (Guardian)
- Coronavirus Vaccine Front-Runners Emerge, Rollouts Weighed: Drugmakers build capacity to make hundreds of millions of doses, while authorities discuss: Who will get it first? (WSJ, $)
- ‘Pharma Bro’ Martin Shkreli Denied Release From Prison To Research Coronavirus Cure (NPR)
Eye For An Eye Makes Whoever We Can Get Our Hands On Blind
- Exiled dissidents may feel safe enough to criticize their Egyptian government, but they do so at their relatives’ risk. Abdullah el-Sherif was outside of the country last March when he posted a gruesome video on YouTube of an Egyptian military officer severing the finger of an unidentified corpse before setting the body on fire. It was shocking footage from Sinai, where Egypt’s military has been battling Islamist militants in a hidden war.
- Days later security forces burst into the homes of his relatives and arrested his two brothers on terrorism charges. El-Sherif is safe in Qatar, but his brothers are behind bars at a maximum security prison outside Cairo.
- The government has stifled almost all domestic criticism, and is now trying to silence critics abroad by jailing their family members. Since last year it has arrested the relatives of at least 15 dissidents in exile. Such tactics have long been used against the families of suspected drug traffickers and jihadists, but now President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has broadened his focus to target the families of dissidents, journalists and cultural figures. (NYT)
Additional World News
- Iran Supreme Leader says Americans will be expelled from Iraq and Syria (Reuters)
- Afghan power deal hands top military post to man accused of torturing rival (Guardian)
- U.S. Urges Afghanistan to Stay the Course With Peace Deal as Violence Resurges (NYT, $)
- Pakistan: teenage girls shot dead by relatives over online footage (Guardian)
- A Mogul’s Wife Vanishes. Now Norway Has a National Obsession. (NYT, $)
- Donald Trump and Xi Jinping: are China and US on collision course in a new cold war? (Guardian)
- ‘Superpower marathon’: U.S. may lead China in tech right now — but Beijing has the strength to catch up (CNBC)
- From ‘Respect’ to ‘Sick and Twisted’: How Coronavirus Hit U.S.-China Ties (NYT)
- US targets Huawei with tighter chip export rules (BBC)
- Is the Virus China’s Sputnik? (Foreign Affairs)
- Opinion | Think we have military primacy over China? Think again. (WaPo, $)
- A Chinese rocket weighing 18 tons falls to Earth as space junk crisis hits a tipping point (CNBC)
- Coronavirus: Hospitals in Brazil’s São Paulo ‘near collapse’ (BBC)
- Putin, Johnson, Bolsonaro and Trump: men too macho for masks (Guardian)
- Stuck at Home, Men in Japan Learn to Help. Will It Last? (NYT)
- It looks like both the future and the present are female: Why Are Women-Led Nations Doing Better With Covid-19? (NYT,)
- As West Cautiously Reopens, New Coronavirus Infection Clusters Emerge in Asia (WSJ, $)
- The Sickness in Our Food Supply | by Michael Pollan (NY Books)
- What African Nations Are Teaching the West About Fighting the Coronavirus (New Yorker)
COVID-19 & Money
- Powell says GDP could shrink more than 30%, but he doesn’t see another Depression (CNBC)
- ‘A Lot To Be Hopeful For’: Crisis Seen As Historic, Not Another Great Depression (NPR)
- What did eight weeks and $3 trillion buy the U.S. in the fight against coronavirus? (Reuters)
- Japan’s economy falls into recession as virus takes its toll (BBC)
- Coronavirus pushes German economy into recession (BBC)
- Powell says a full economic recovery may not happen without a vaccine (CNBC)
- The Pandemic Has Ended the Myth of Central Bank Independence (Foreign Policy)
- Have the Record Number of Investors in the Stock Market Lost Their Minds? (New Yorker)
- The new astrology (Aeon)
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You Can’t Teach An Old TV Host New Management Tricks
- President Trump is continuing his removal of independent government watchdogs with the firing Friday night of State Department Inspector General Steve Linick. The inspector’s ouster alarmed government ethics experts and top Democrats. “The President’s late-night, weekend firing of [Linick] has accelerated his dangerous pattern of retaliation against the patriotic public servants charged with conducting oversight on behalf of the American people,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after receiving a letter from Trump advising her of his intentions.
- Representative Eliot Engel (D-NY), chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, criticized the president in unusually harsh terms: “This firing is the outrageous act of a President trying to protect one of his most loyal supporters, the Secretary of State, from accountability. I have learned that the Office of the Inspector General had opened an investigation into Secretary Pompeo. Mr. Linick’s firing amid such a probe strongly suggests that this is an unlawful act of retaliation.” Linick also played a small role in Trump’s impeachment hearings, handing over documents to Congress that had been given to the State Department by the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.
- Earlier Trump removed other officials who participated in the hearings, including Michael Atkinson, former inspector general of the intelligence community, Gordon Sondland, former US ambassador to the EU, and Ukraine expert Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman. The president gave no reason for his latest purge. (Vox)
- Ousted State Department inspector general was investigating if Pompeo made staffer walk his dog and run other personal errands (CNN)
- Pompeo urged Trump to fire State Department inspector general (CNBC)
- ‘William Barr is not done’: experts raise concerns about attorney general’s legal reach (Guardian)
Additional USA News
- 60 days in, Trump still doesn’t have a coronavirus plan (Vox)
- Barack Obama attacks Trump administration’s response to coronavirus pandemic (Guardian)
- ‘It eats him alive inside’: Trump’s latest attack shows endless obsession with Obama (Guardian)
- White House ramps up campaign to improve Trump’s image (CNN)
- Inside Trump’s coronavirus meltdown (Financial Times)
- Two Coasts. One Virus. How New York Suffered Nearly 10 Times the Number of Deaths as California. (ProPublica)
- Opinion | San Francisco Beat the Virus. But It’s Still Breaking My Heart (NYT)
- California locked down early and took the coronavirus seriously. Why are its cases still rising? (Vox)
- In the Shadows of America’s Smokestacks, Virus Is One More Deadly Risk (NYT)
- Seeking: Big Democratic Ideas That Make Everything Better (NYT, $)
- Donald Trump Jr. Smears Biden With Baseless Instagram Post (NYT, $)
- Donald Trump, Jr.’s latest Joe Biden “joke” reflects a proven strategy for mainstreaming extreme ideas (Vox)
- Opinion | What Liberals Don’t Get About Trump Supporters and Pop Culture (Politico)
- State polls suggest Biden has a clear national lead (CNN)
- ‘Credible Threats’ to Kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Lead to Charges, Police Say (NYT, $)
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream At Each Other For Ice Cream
- Covid-19 has led to a new kind of bad behavior, as exhibited by pandemic jerks. Cape Cod’s Mark Lawrence learned that when he reopened his Polar Cave Ice Cream Parlor on May 8. Customers frustrated with wait times and social distancing requirements harassed employees. A 17-year-old worker quit, and the next day Lawrence decided to shutter his shop.
- “People have forgotten how to treat other human beings in the six or seven weeks that they’ve been confined to their homes,” he told a reporter. “They have no clue how to respect other human beings.” It’s just the latest incident in a rash of bad behavior by pandemic jerks.
- In March, a violent fight broke out in a San Francisco grocery store as shoppers scrambled to stock up on essentials. On April 30, a man shoved an Austin, Texas, park ranger into a lake after the ranger politely asked a crowd to disperse.
- Psychologist Vaile Wright, while not condoning bad behavior, said it’s understandable that some people struggle to contain their tempers. It’s a difficult time. “Stress can lead somebody to be irritable, so can anxiety. You’re just on this short fuse.” Coping with lost wages, uncertainty, grief and other challenges of the pandemic means keeping feelings in check can be hard.
- Wright offers suggestions for dealing with the stress. “We need to be eating healthy, getting some activity, getting sleep and staying connected to others. We really have to maintain that foundation.” And if you find yourself starting to boil over? Try using some classic temper-control strategies — like counting to 10, taking deep breaths, visualizing a relaxing experience, and finding a calming word or phrase to repeat. (CNN)
- Coronavirus Lockdowns: Businesses Turn to Armed Defiance (NYT)
- ‘This feels great’: A preview from Georgia about how America might reemerge from the coronavirus: Eating, drinking, touching and throwing caution to the wind (WaPo, $)
- Texas Café Owner Markets Corona Killa, Corona-ritas To Survive Shutdown (NPR)
- After the coronavirus pandemic, group fitness will never be the same (Vox)
- Go Outside, Experts Say. But Keep Your Distance and Have a Mask Handy. (NYT)
- Quarantine Fatigue Is Real. Shaming People Won’t Help. (Atlantic)
- Social media affects people’s choices in a pandemic. (CNN)
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