May 13, 2020
“You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from.”
“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.”
“If trouble comes when you least expect it then maybe the thing to do is to always expect it.”
Andressa Anholete via Getty Images
Brazilians Coming Together Through Self Isolation
Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro swept into office in 2018 with 55 percent of the vote. He was seen as the strongman who could control the chaos the country was suffering in the wake of one political convulsion after the other. He patterned himself after President Trump — accosting the press, disparaging institutions, assailing the environment, dismissing health experts. But what the autocratic right-winger has actually accomplished is to lead Latin America’s largest nation straight into its gravest health and economic crises in a generation.
Two powerful, popular ministers in Bolsonaro’s cabinet resigned. The outgoing justice minister accused the president of corruption, and the supreme court authorized an investigation into the allegations.
In March, as Covid-19 spread across the globe and health experts called for social distancing, even lockdowns, Bolsonaro said self-isolation was “mass confinement” and the novel virus was only a “little cold.” He urged Brazilians to return to jobs, public spaces and commerce. Even as thousands began dying, Bolsonaro continued dismissing the disease.
Yet as infections and deaths rise, the economy teeters on collapse, hospitals are overwhelmed, and food is becoming scarce, the political landscape has shifted. A majority of people now want the president gone.
Bolsonaro still retains a base of fervent supporters; some are calling on the former army officer to lead a military takeover of the government. They see Bolsonaro as the only man who can save Brazil — from a corrupt ruling class, from officials imposing restrictions on movement and commerce, from checks and balances that have blocked the mandate he won in 2018. Most Brazilians view the possibility of military intervention as remote. But the threat, however distant, has further unsettled the unpredictable political situation in this nation of 210 million.
- ‘So what?’: Bolsonaro shrugs off Brazil’s rising coronavirus death toll (Guardian)
- As coronavirus crisis saps his popularity, Brazil’s Bolsonaro courts former foes (Reuters)
- Brazil’s Pandemic Is Just Beginning (Atlantic, $)
- On tape, Bolsonaro cites protecting his family in push to swap top Rio cop: source (Reuters)
Image via Getty Images
Not So Great Britain
- One of the UK’s diplomatic strengths has long been its international advocacy for global health. But the government’s poor handling of the coronavirus pandemic may damage its influence. Newspapers worldwide have reported on what they described as confusion and internal divisions that are rapidly creating a crisis as big as Brexit.
- The European press in particular points out that the UK is experiencing the worst death rate in Europe, revealing a National Health Service that is underfunded and underprepared. It’s also being singled out as the country that led on the theory of herd immunity, only to backtrack.
- The German newspaper Die Zeit wrote: “In Great Britain, the infection has spread unchecked longer than it should have. The wave of infections also spread from the hospitals to the old people’s homes, which could also have been avoided. The government is now trying to pretend to the public that it has the situation under control.”
- A former regional director of public health in England agreed. “The government was slow to act, didn’t give coronavirus the priority and attention it deserved and has made some significant mistakes. They’ve handled it very badly.”
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s 60-page document to reopen the country, released Monday, is being criticized by some epidemiologists, who say the plan seems to be based more on economics than public health, and risks a new spike in infections. (Guardian, Time)
- It’s no accident Britain and America are the world’s biggest coronavirus losers(Guardian)
COVID-19 Knows How To Kick Them While They’re Down
- On Tuesday a fire in a St. Petersburg hospital treating Covid-19 victims claimed the lives of five patients and forced the evacuation of 150 people. Initial findings suggest either a short circuit or malfunction in a ventilator as the cause of the fire. It was the second fatal incident in days involving a hospital treating coronavirus patients. A blaze erupted in an intensive-care wing of a Moscow coronavirus hospital last Saturday, killing one person and forcing the evacuation of patients.
- The grim St. Petersburg news was quickly overshadowed by the disclosure that Dmitry Peskov, President Vladimir Putin’s longtime spokesperson, had been hospitalized with coronavirus. Peskov is just one of several senior Russian figures to contract the illness and become sick. Last month, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin was hospitalized after testing positive with the virus. The incidents are raising more concerns over the Russian government’s response to the pandemic.
- Just a day ago Putin announced an end to a nationwide “non-working” regime that has been in place since the start of April. Putin lifted the restriction despite the fact that Russia’s outbreak is the second-fastest growing in the world, with more than 10,000 new cases reported every day for more than a week. (CNN, NBC News)
- Coronavirus: Russia now has second highest virus case total (BBC)
- Putin’s Goal Is to Bring Down American Democracy (Atlantic, $)
- Fauci Warns States Not To ‘Jump Over’ Guidelines To Reopening (NPR)
- We’re in the second inning of coronavirus epidemic and will face a ‘different threat’ in the fall, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says (CNBC)
- Covid-19 isn’t just a respiratory disease. It hits the whole body (CNN)
- Coronavirus: India announces $264bn economic rescue package (BBC)
- China Is Defensive. The U.S. Is Absent. Can the Rest of the World Fill the Void? (NYT, $)
- China’s Coronavirus Back-to-Work Lessons: Masks and Vigilance (NYT)
- When Can We Expect A Coronavirus Vaccine? (NPR)
- Latin America’s outbreaks now rival Europe’s. But its opinions are worse. (NYT, $)
- Brace yourself this is a dark essay: The dark decade ahead (The Week) & How Pandemics End (NYT). Additional songs, the first is is negative one after reading both pieces: Soundgarden – Fell On Black Days and here’s one to lift oneself back up: Sunshower by Chris Cornell
- Coronavirus: ‘We feel so lost’ – Young face job despair (BBC)
- Grand illusion: how the pandemic exposed we’re all just pretending (Guardian). After reading this essay, this is what we feel the writer is trying to convey to us: Good Will Hunting | ‘It’s Not Your Fault’
- Health Officials Say ‘No Thanks’ to Contact-Tracing Tech (Wired, $)
- Surviving Covid-19 May Not Feel Like Recovery for Some (NYT)
From The Makers Of “Space Force” Comes “Warp Speed”
- President Trump doesn’t think a vaccine is necessary to defeat Covid-19. Just last week he said: “This is gonna go away without a vaccine. It’s gonna go away, and we’re not gonna see it again….” Trump’s personal insistence that a vaccine won’t be necessary has prompted US officials to warn that Americans’ access to an eventual vaccine could be slowed, despite the cutting-edge laboratory work happening on American soil. Unlike with HIV and Ebola, the Trump administration has turned its back on the global coalition fighting the disease, favoring instead a go-it-alone approach.
- Last week the administration chose not to send representation to a virtual global summit that raised $8 billion for the coronavirus vaccine. Attendees of this virtual summit included Britain, China, Canada, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Japan, numerous African countries, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Gates Foundation, and the European commission.
- Instead, in a semi-about-face, Trump — who for years has spread dangerous lies about vaccination — has tapped his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and others to lead what looks like a unilateral push to come up with a vaccine. The administration calls it “Operation Warp Speed.” No details about Operation Warp Speed have been announced, but the White House set a target of having 100 million vaccine doses by autumn. One Republican senator called the goal “amazingly ambitious;” scientists declined comment. (Guardian, Reuters, Bloomberg)
- White House’s pandemic relief effort Project Airbridge is swathed in secrecy and exaggerations (WaPo, $)
- Whistle-Blower Exposes Infighting and Animus in Trump’s Coronavirus Response (NYT)
- How Trump and the CDC Failed the COVID-19 Test (Rolling Stone)
- Why No One Is Calling on Trump to Resign (Atlantic, $)
- Opinion | Republicans have already decided Trump is going to lose (WaPo, $)
- McConnell tells Obama to ‘keep his mouth shut’ after Trump criticism (Guardian)
- Howard Stern to Trump supporters: He hates you and so do I: “The people who are voting for Trump for the most part… he wouldn’t even let them in a f—ing hotel. He’d be disgusted by them. Go to Mar-a-Lago, see if there’s any people who look like you. I’m talking to you in the audience.” (NY Daily News)
- Supreme court grills Trump lawyers over president’s unreleased tax returns (Guardian)
How Biden is Biding His Time
- Biden Campaign Is Secretly Building a Republican Group (The Daily Beast)
- Biden Is Planning an FDR-Size Presidency (NY Mag)
- Joe Biden’s Time in Sarah Palin’s Shadow (NYT, $)
- Opinion | Joe Biden: How the White House coronavirus response presents us with a false choice (WaPo, $)
- Opinion | How to Beat Trump Online in the 2020 Election (NYT, $)
- Exclusive: Biden to hammer Trump’s ‘tough talk, weak action’ on China, top adviser says (Reuters)
- Additional song: And by the time / You bide your time / A year goes by / And you don’t act any older. The Awful Truth of Loving by Rainer Maria
Work-Home Balance: Punching In, Destressing Out
- Struggling with working from home? Experts have identified a variety of personality traits, from extroversion levels to conscientiousness, which play into how well people perform in a remote working environment.
- One trait that can affect how we work from home is how we respond to different environments and social expectations. For example, we are expected to act and dress a certain way in the workplace, and are held responsible by peers and supervisors in the office. At home, with less social cues and pressure, people are more likely to procrastinate on tasks they find frustrating which they would have kept working on in an environment with more social pressure.
- To combat this, experts say we have to be aware of our habits and consciously counteract them. One way to work around a procrastination habit is to take five deep breaths when faced with a challenging task instead of giving up and leaving your desk, and then breaking down the task into smaller, easier to manage, bits. This prevents distractions and makes seemingly impossible more appealing to take on.
- Another challenge people face while working from home is a lack of boundaries. Working out of the same place we live and relax can prevent people from switching into work mode, making them less productive. One way to be more productive while working from the dining room table is to set small boundaries and stick to them. For example, try telling yourself, “After this cup of coffee, I’ll get back to grinding out emails” something similar. Again, this is a skill and takes practice and dedication, but sticking to boundaries will reduce stress in the long run.
- Yet another factor that plays into productivity from home is extroversion: people who gain energy from interacting with others struggle more without easy access to water cooler talk to recharge. Introverts can still struggle with working from home, however, as video presentations and group messages can also be sources of stress.
- The most important part of working from home is realizing that working remotely is a skill, and that nobody is working at 100% at this time. Conscientiousness and creating boundaries are both skills which take practice, and will improve over time. (BBC)
- Twitter announces employees will be allowed to work from home ‘forever’ (Guardian)
- How to work from home – comfortably (BBC)
- White-Collar Companies Race to Be Last to Return to the Office (NYT, $)
- Loud sex, thunderous dancing: how coronavirus strains neighborly ties (Guardian)
- Why you might be drinking too much during lockdown (BBC)
- Too Much Alone Time? Tips To Connect And Find Joy While Social Distancing (NPR)
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