Generally
General
660
unread news
unread news
Corona Beer Factories in Mexico Suspend Production as Government Deems Brewery Non-Essential
Grupo Modelo, of brewing group Anheuser-Busch InBev, said in a statement posted to Twitter it will halt beer making from April 5 and is currently in the process of reducing production in its plants.
1m
newsweek.com
A German Exception? Why the Country’s Coronavirus Death Rate Is Low
The pandemic has hit Germany hard, with more than 91,000 people infected. But the percentage of fatal cases has been remarkably low compared to those in many neighboring countries.
1m
nytimes.com
Spain's death toll rise is flattening out
1m
edition.cnn.com
Eye Opener: New York sees highest single-day coronavirus death toll
New York saw its highest ever single-day death toll from the coronavirus pandemic so far on Friday. Also, the stock market closed at another low after a critical jobs report saw over 6 million Americans file for unemployment. All that and all that matters in today’s Eye Opener. Your world in 90 seconds.
1m
cbsnews.com
Day 24 Without Sports
We project what might have happened in the two Final Four games that were supposed to be played Saturday in Atlanta.       
1m
usatoday.com
Go Ahead, Binge TV That Isn’t Escapist
Instead of dwelling on the crisis you’re actually living, watch these crises instead.
1m
politico.com
Does the Trump Administration Have the Talent Make the Stimulus Work?
As the New Deal shows us, it takes expertise, professionalism and skill to execute massive government programs—qualities the White House lacks.
1m
politico.com
NFL draft 2020: After free agency losses, Dallas Cowboys could look to reload at key positions
After free agency losses, the Dallas Cowboys could look to reload at key positions in the NFL draft.       
1m
usatoday.com
U.S. agriculture: Can it handle coronavirus, labor shortages and panic buying?
Despite being ready, both farms and fields will be tested by the pandemic. Here's what coronavirus bodes for the American dinner table.       
1m
usatoday.com
Explainer: Why U.S. hospitals see promise in plasma from new coronavirus patients
U.S. hospitals desperate to help very sick patients with COVID-19, the highly contagious respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus, are trying a treatment first used in the 1890s that relies on blood plasma donated by recovered patients.
1m
reuters.com
'We'll Get Through This': Living In New York City During The Coronavirus Pandemic
Politicians give speeches and scary headlines fill the news, but somehow life pushes on for New Yorkers.
1m
npr.org
Search suspended for two members of Kennedy family
The search for two members of the Kennedy family -- Maeve Kennedy McKean and her son, Gideon -- was suspended 26 hours after they were reported missing in the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, Maryland, the Coast Guard said. CNN affiliate WJZ reports.
1m
edition.cnn.com
Agriculture Secretary Perdue: Despite coronavirus, America’s food supply is safe, secure and abundant
The bare store shelves you see in some cities across our country are a demand issue, not a supply issue. There is enough food in the United States to feed our citizens.
1m
foxnews.com
Washington to Zoom: Welcome to the hot seat
The coronavirus turned the video-conferencing platform into the way that millions of people stay connected. But now it's lobbying up amid a host of security and privacy questions.
1m
politico.com
Jared Kushner's Role In Coronavirus Response Draws Scrutiny, Criticism
The president's son-in-law and senior adviser has emerged as a key figure in the Trump administration's response to the outbreak.
1m
npr.org
It's the coronavirus, stupid
From the presidential contest to local issue campaigns, political ads are shifting to speak to the new issue that matters above all others: the coronavirus pandemic.
1m
politico.com
U.S. May Get More Ventilators But Run Out Of Medicine For COVID-19 Patients
There have been dramatic spikes in demand for sedatives, pain medications, paralytics, and other drugs that are crucial for patients who are on ventilators.
1m
npr.org
COMIC: Grocery Workers Are Essential, And Feeling The Strain
"I feel happy to have a job that is important," says a clerk in Portland, Ore. "But safe? No way!" A graphic artist relays the worries, pleas and pride from key workers on the pandemic's front line.
1m
npr.org
5 books not to miss: Grady Hendrix vampire novel, Veronica Roth's 'The Chosen Ones,'
Veronica Roth is back with new adult novel "Chosen Ones," and Grady Hendrix thrills with "The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires."        
1m
usatoday.com
The new coronavirus might spread when people talk, but scientists say masks can help
It's possible that the new coronavirus can spread from person to person simply by talking, or even breathing, according to preliminary studies.
1m
latimes.com
Even Now, Criminal Defendants Have Rights
In California, home to one in eight U.S. residents, emergency measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic have scaled back the rights of criminal defendants, raising thorny questions about what process is due while public-health authorities insist on strict social distancing. Everyone understands that the state is in a temporary emergency and that some changes to the criminal-justice system are defensible, or perhaps even imperative. At the same time, many bygone emergencies have triggered some excessive impingements on rights and liberties.[Barbara Bradley Hagerty: Innocent prisoners are going to die of the coronavirus]And the stakes will likely extend beyond the Golden State.“Throughout the coronavirus crisis, California has been at the leading edge of adopting new measures,” Noah Feldman observes at Bloomberg Opinion. “San Francisco and other Bay Area counties were the first to adopt formal shelter-in-place orders; and California was the first state to adopt a statewide movement-restricting order. Both of these became influential models. What California does today in criminal justice may soon be followed by other states.”Statewide changes began when Tani Cantil-Sakauye, California’s chief justice, suspended jury trials for 60 days—a nod to the impossibility of assembling juries and convening attorneys, witnesses, court reporters, bailiffs, and others without spreading the coronavirus. The order allowed exceptions if there were a “good cause shown” for an earlier trial. Governor Gavin Newsom set the stage for more changes last Friday in an executive order that gave the Judicial Council of California, the rule-making body for the state’s courts, sweeping emergency powers “to make any modifications to legal practice and procedure it deems necessary.”The council quickly acted to modify core legal protections for defendants. “Certain inmates normally have the right to be released if a hearing isn’t held within 10 days. That will be extended to 30 days,” the Los Angeles Times explained. “Defendants charged with a felony normally must be taken before a judge in 48 hours. The new deadline is seven court days.” Consider a poor person arrested on suspicion of drunk driving. Normally he would be arraigned and receive a public defender within 48 hours of arrest. Now he could sit in jail for a week without an attorney before getting the opportunity to tell his side of things to a judge.[Conor Friedersdorf: Can’t we at least give prisoners soap?]Lawyers and civil-liberties advocates are scrambling to understand the new rules, their implications, and how to respond. Advocates for defendants fear that today’s compromises are too one-sided. “If we’re going to go down this road of denying people their speedy trial rights, then we should talk about releasing them on no-cash bail or some other form of release, such as electronic monitoring,” Alameda County Public Defender Brendon Woods declared in a public statement. “The right to a speedy and public trial is the bedrock of the U.S. Constitution and is one of the founding principles of this country. Losing that … should alarm every single person in California.”The delay of jury trials appears far more warranted than the new timelines for pretrial defendants. With trials suspended and arrests down most everywhere as the state is on lockdown, presumably more judges can dedicate themselves to conducting speedy arraignments and preliminary hearings––and they should, given that thinning out jails and avoiding needless detentions are urgent public-health priorities expected to save some lives. People arrested for reasons that aren’t legally valid or without sufficient evidence to back up a charge may now languish far longer than before, during a particularly dangerous time to be in jail.“The way we currently cage people is such that they cannot comply with what everyone agrees are critical public-health guidelines,” Kathleen Guneratne of the American Civil Liberties Union told me. “In our view, the judicial council should have sped up the process and made sure that more people got to court sooner, not later, because right now, this is literally life or death for people in jails. If the building is on fire, you don’t narrow the funnel so that fewer people can get out alive. You open more doors.” Indeed, there are already news reports of COVID-19 among prisoners in some facilities.Of course, all states must ultimately conform with the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, which states, in part, “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial.” The U.S. Supreme Court may ultimately decide what that means during this pandemic. Throughout, officials at every level of government should always bear in mind that until being convicted by a jury of their peers, Americans are owed a presumption of innocence.
1m
theatlantic.com
Netflix’s Demented Cannibal-Prison Movie Is Actually Timely
Netflix’s viral new thriller is set in what sounds like a stodgy WeWork facility: the “Vertical Self-Management Center.” But the people trapped inside refer to it by a more evocative title—“The Hole”—because the building is, in fact, a skyscraperlike prison with a giant void in the middle. This hole is central to The Platform’s disturbing premise: An inmate named Goreng wakes up and learns that he is in a concrete reformatory composed of hundreds of levels. Each day, an elaborate feast is laid out on the titular platform, which drops from floor to floor. Each level can only eat the leftovers of those above. There’s supposedly enough food for everyone—if the prisoners only eat what they need.The Spanish director Galder Gaztelu-Urrutia’s film (originally titled El hoyo) isn’t a delicate satire. The people on the top levels always gorge themselves so that by the time the table reaches the lower floors, there’s nothing left. But the current resonance of The Platform’s brutalist portrait of real-life inequality is not hard to understand right now, during an unprecedented global pandemic.The movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September but has rocketed up Netflix’s most-popular list in recent weeks as existing disparities widen around the world and in the U.S. The movie’s portrayal of avarice and desperation in response to scarcity cuts close to the bone in a moment when states are competing for respirators, panic shopping has left grocery shelves bare, price gouging is rampant, scammers are offering fake tests and vaccines, and the most vulnerable Americans have become only more endangered. In The Platform, the decisions of a select few in the highest echelons determine the survival of those below them. The film is as heavy-handed as it sounds, but these aren’t subtle times.Gaztelu-Urrutia’s movie toggles between lengthy philosophical conversations and scenes of extreme violence. It follows Goreng (played by Ivan Massagué), a man who chose to enter the facility for six months in exchange for an accredited diploma, as he tries to survive in The Hole without losing his sense of decency. The film will delight genre lovers with its gory depiction of the lower levels’ inevitable desperation. Blood and feces streak the walls of the Center and the faces of its occupants. Cannibalism is—it’s not a spoiler to say—a frequent occurrence. Gaztelu-Urrutia’s lens is unflinching: Against backdrops of gray and muted browns, the characters’ injuries and anguished faces command attention. The film’s sound design stretches out every slash, scream, and fall.These are fantastical representations of the human toll within a system that promotes competition and self-interest. The Platform never lets you forget that its characters’ decisions, no matter how small, could result in others’ deprivation. Though the film was made long before the pandemic struck, it’s hard to watch prisoners stuff their faces, knowing that others won’t see a crumb, and not think of the people who hoarded masks and hand sanitizer around the U.S. in the disaster’s earliest days.[Read: An ethicist on how to make impossible decisions]But The Platform also reminds viewers over and over that none of this depravity is necessary. The film indicts individuals for their participation in a violent system; it’s not content to saddle abstract concepts with all the guilt. Because the prisoners are randomly shuffled to new levels once a month (you can be moved from Level 6 to Level 201 and vice versa), everyone operates from a position of scarcity. In this, The Hole deviates from more entrenched real-life economic dynamics, but the film emphasizes a message that nonetheless applies: Even amid impossible conditions, human beings have a responsibility to one another—regardless of whether they will tangibly benefit from their own actions.In The Platform, the decisions of a select few in the highest echelons of a bleak environment determine the survival of those below them. (Netflix)Beginning with Goreng’s early claim that “it’s fairer to ration the food,” The Platform teases some kind of revolt. “Eventually, something has to happen in the VSC,” one of Goreng’s cellmates tells him. “Something that fosters a spontaneous sense of solidarity.” Without revealing too much, Goreng and another detainee do attempt to bring about that revolutionary upheaval—but the film’s ending offers no easy answers or simple moral takeaways. While it’s unclear what the real-life counterpart of that effort would look like during the COVID-19 crisis, The Platform hints at a reworking of the system that recalls the ending of Snowpiercer, Bong Joon Ho’s 2013 science-fiction film.In Snowpiercer, all of Earth’s remaining inhabitants circumnavigate the globe in a luxury train broken up into strata: The poorest residents live in the back, and the wealthiest are up front, closest to the engine. Both films leave audiences on a curious, uncertain note. The future of their unequal systems appears forever changed, if only because of who is tasked with carrying their populations forward. That The Platform’s final scenes find even a shred of optimism within its twisted world is strangely comforting, an unexpected balm in a film—and a world—that seems to relish in inflicting wounds.
1m
theatlantic.com
The Cuomo Brothers put on quite a show. Should the journalism-ethics police shut it down?
The on-air coronavirus banter of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and CNN’s Chris Cuomo is weird but compelling viewing — and it just might serve a public benefit.
1m
washingtonpost.com
What’s ‘essential,’ anyway? Roses, guns, manicures, your job — it all depends on who’s deciding.
During the coronavirus pandemic, a lot of people disagree on what businesses and jobs are absolutely necessary.
1m
washingtonpost.com
The pandemic threatens imprisoned dissidents and journalists everywhere. They must be freed.
All prisoners must be protected.
1m
washingtonpost.com
Keir Starmer elected UK opposition leader
The former lawyer is expected to pull the party back toward the center ground.
1m
politico.com
How to make disinfectant spray and wipes at home
Here’s how to make your own disinfectant wipes or spray at home. In this step-by-step tutorial, you will need Clorox bleach, a roll of paper towels, latex or rubber gloves, a garbage bag to protect the work surface, a mixing cup, a stirring tool, a cutting board and a knife. The most important ingredient, however,...
1m
nypost.com
Barr orders increase in home confinement as virus surges
Attorney General William Barr has ordered the Bureau of Prisons to increase the use of home confinement
1m
abcnews.go.com
Lessons learned from Asia: Should we all be wearing masks?
As governments in the West wrestle with guidance on face masks, many living in Asia have been diligently wearing them for months since the start of the crisis. And there is evidence that widespread use has led to greater success in infection control. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports.
1m
edition.cnn.com
Sports franchises like to talk about family. Here’s an example of acting like one.
They're part-time employees at Capitals and Wizards games. They got taken care of anyway.
5 m
washingtonpost.com
Cuomo denies he’ll ‘seize’ ventilators from upstate for NYC, says order promotes ‘sharing’
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo bristled Friday at a reporter’s suggestion that his executive order to deploy the National Guard to round up unused ventilators and other medical gear to fight coronavirus amounted to a bid to “seize” the items.
5 m
foxnews.com
Britain's Labour Party names Keir Starmer as new leader
Britain's main opposition Labour Party named Keir Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions who opposed the country's exit from the European Union, as its leader on Saturday.
5 m
reuters.com
I have a silk mask to match my wedding dress
Rome has given me so much. I came here for a two-year stay from Montclair, New Jersey, for a master's degree. That was nearly seven years ago. I was bewitched by the Eternal City, and most of all by the man who is now my fiancé, Fabio.
edition.cnn.com
Coronavirus live updates: Cloth masks in public recommended; US retailers limit store access; FEMA sends medical supplies
As the nation continues to grapple with the crisis, retailers are limiting how many shoppers can enter stores to encourage social distancing.       
usatoday.com
No COVID-19 tests available for prisoners at center of NY outbreak, court docs show
"Please help me before I die," one inmate said via his attorney.
abcnews.go.com
Letters to the Editor: Time for Obama and other ex-presidents to come to our rescue
Trump's leadership is inadequate in one of the worst crises ever. Perhaps typically quiet ex-presidents can put forth a plan for a national lockdown.
latimes.com
Letters to the Editor: Going to church doesn't make you a good believer, especially during a pandemic
If spirituality is about the individual, then a few weeks for legally mandated isolation might actually be good for the soul.
latimes.com
Column: Social distancing holdouts put us all at risk. What part of 'deadly pandemic' don't they get?
Why does social distancing in the coronavirus pandemic still meet resistance when we know it can flatten the curve, reduce deaths and save our lives and the lives of others?
latimes.com
Opinion: We're talking a lot about seniors and coronavirus. Here, they talk for themselves
Not surprisingly, our older letter writers have opinions when politicians suggest they should sacrifice their health for the economy.
latimes.com
Rep. Chip Roy: Coronavirus shutdowns and rising unemployment causing economic pain that must be considered
While government leaders have shut down much of our economy in response to the coronavirus, we should recognize that those efforts could cost lives in other ways.
foxnews.com
Op-Ed: How Republicans are using the pandemic to suppress the vote
In November, Republican lawmakers could close polling places in Democratic areas and even prevent people from voting directly for the president.
latimes.com
Coronavirus pandemic generates new fraud strains: COVID-19 scams on computers, smartphones
Scammers arise during disasters and crises and it's no different during the ongoing pandemic. Be wary of COVID-19 scams on computers and smartphones.       
usatoday.com
Letters to the Editor: Pot vaping was ruining lungs before COVID-19, and now cannabis is 'essential'?
An ER doctor criticizes Gov. Newsom for deeming the marijuana business essential amid a pandemic that causes deadly pneumonia.
latimes.com
Too Much Oil, Not Enough Toilet Paper
Slate Money talks about small business loans, the toilet paper shortage, and Trump’s market-moving oil tweet.
slate.com
Stars from Chrissy Teigen to Chance the Rapper Are Betting On Quibi to Change How You Watch Everything
Hollywood has tried and failed before to get in on the market for short-form digital entertainment. Quibi is the most ambitious attempt yet.
newsweek.com
A funeral is thought to have sparked a covid-19 outbreak — and led to many more funerals
A southern Georgia county now has more coronavirus-related deaths than the Atlanta metro region of Fulton County.
washingtonpost.com
Stretching the International Order to Its Breaking Point
At this stage in the COVID-19 pandemic, uncertainty prevails. The greatest error that geopolitical analysts can make may be believing that the crisis will be over in three to four months, as the world’s leaders have been implying. As documented in The Atlantic and elsewhere, public-health experts make a compelling case that COVID-19 could be with us in one way or another until a vaccine comes on the market or herd immunity is achieved—either of which could take 12 to 18 months, unless we get lucky with a cure or an effective treatment before then. A long crisis, which is more likely than not, could stretch the international order to its breaking point. Even after a vaccine is available, life will not go back to normal. COVID-19 was not a black swan and will not be the last pandemic. A nervous world will be permanently changed.COVID-19 is the fourth major geopolitical shock in as many decades. In each of the previous three, analysts and leaders grossly underestimated the long-term impact on their society and on world politics.The end of the Cold War was a momentous event, but few saw the era of American hegemony and prosperity that would follow (the late Charles Krauthammer was a notable exception). In the 1992 presidential primary, one of the leading Democratic candidates, Paul Tsongas, had as his campaign slogan “The Cold War is over and Japan won.” That year, the U.S., suffering through a recession, saw Ross Perot make the strongest third-party bid of modern times on a platform of pessimism about the country’s trajectory.The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were widely seen as the effective end to the 20th century, but at the time many analysts argued that the long-term geopolitical impact would be limited. For instance, Michael Howard, the distinguished war historian at the University of Oxford, said that while the terrorist threat “will never entirely go away, I suspect that once we have hunted down the present lot of conspirators the world will return to business as usual.” Many others did forecast dramatic changes, of course, but few believed that the United States would be still fighting in the Middle East almost two decades later and that drones would revolutionize warfare.[Read: How the Pandemic Will End]American policy makers also underestimated the financial crisis of 2007–09, when they opted to let Lehman Brothers fail in September 2008 on the mistaken assumption that the decision would not trigger the collapse of other companies. European officials thought that the crisis had been made in the United States and would not affect global financial markets, and dismissed any concern that the euro zone may have its own vulnerabilities. The cooperation among G20 states, especially the United States and China, in responding to the crisis blinded many to the era of great-power competition that was about to unfold, as well as the nationalistic tendencies that would take hold in many governments. As the historian Adam Tooze has argued, in 2012, the populist wave had ebbed, but the biggest shocks—Brexit and Donald Trump’s election—lay in the future.Now the COVID-19 pandemic has severe public-health, economic, and geopolitical ramifications, and many of those outcomes depend on how long the world will be in this suspended state. If the crisis lasts for a few months, the economy might well bounce back quickly, as aggregate demand returns.However, in a long crisis, countries will emerge profoundly changed. No one knows how exactly, but educated guesses are possible. A collection of massive domestic crises will collide, as health systems collapse or come close to it and governments struggle with double-digit unemployment, a severe recession or depression, plummeting revenue, increased expenditure, and mounting debt. Intermittent shutdowns, returns to work followed by retreats, and the continued suppression of demand are likely. The recession will look more like an L or W shape than a V. Companies and governments will run out of cash. They may default on debts, which will have ripple effects for other companies and could destabilize financial institutions. Those countries that can afford to will be forced to turn to a stimulus package multiple times. Voters appear to be understanding of their leaders now, but the mood in six months or a year will be very different. As Warren Buffett once remarked of the markets, you see who is swimming naked when the tide goes out. A long crisis exposes which countries are truly competent. Which states can undertake the extensive, massive testing needed to have broad public-health surveillance and tailored isolation? Which will allow for the least restrictive economic measures? And which states can scale up industrial production to maintain resilient health-care systems and personnel all at the same time?[Anne Appelbaum: Creeping Authoritarianism Has Finally Prevailed]As a number of astute observers have noted, COVID-19 could end globalization as we know it, particularly if the pandemic is prolonged. Gérard Araud, formerly France’s ambassador to the United States, told me that when a crisis occurs, one should ask whether it breaks a trend or confirms it. “There is,” he said, “an assault on globalization” from multiple sources—the financial crisis, U.S.-China competition, climate-change activists pushing for people to buy local. COVID-19 piles on the pressure. Countries will be wary of outsourcing crucial medical supplies and pharmaceuticals to other countries. Supply chains more generally will be disrupted and will be hard to repair. Governments will play a much larger role in the economy and will use that role to rebuild a national economy instead of a global one—their priority will be domestic industry.Some of these steps to restrict globalization are not only likely; they are necessary. Democratic governments cannot and should not tolerate a situation in which they lack the capacity to produce face masks, respiratory machines, and vital medications. The public will demand, and is entitled to, levels of redundancy in our manufacturing system. The challenge after this crisis ends is not to resist calls for reducing globalization, and the associated vulnerability, but to understand how best to reshape that process.Meanwhile, those actors that have surveillance technologies may enforce quarantines on people who test positive for COVID-19 or other potential viruses as they emerge. For instance, leaders in Israel have empowered Shin Bet, the country’s internal security service, to use cellphone location data to track Israeli citizens during the outbreak. Others will surely follow, putting a new twist on vital questions about privacy, accountability, and safety.A long crisis will not discriminate and will damage all of the world’s power and regions, although some countries will suffer more than others.Much has been made of the opportunity that China has to supplant the United States as the leader of the international response to the pandemic, but COVID-19 is likely to be a strategic setback for China, particularly in its efforts to make inroads into Europe and other democracies. The Chinese Communist Party suppressed early warnings about the virus and an official at the Hubei Provincial Health Commission reportedly ordered a genomics company studying it to destroy “all existing samples,” causing public-health officials to lose invaluable time that could have been used to contain COVID-19. There is widespread concern that Chinese pressure has compromised the World Health Organization’s response to COVID-19 at at a time when multilateral cooperation was desperately needed. China subsequently allowed diplomats to falsely claim that the U.S. Army developed COVID-19 as a bioweapon and used it against China. The CCP is now trying to limit the damage of its errors by providing assistance to other countries in the form of face masks, respirators, and other supplies. Many see this aid as an act of confidence, but it might be evidence that the regime feels vulnerable and fragile.Governments have welcomed China’s help, but they are under no illusion about the CCP’s responsibility. Ordinary people around the world, particularly in Europe, have suffered greatly from COVID-19—losing loved ones and their livelihood. They are unlikely to forgive or forget those who made mistakes that worsened their predicament, whether they are domestic or foreign. These matters will likely be litigated for years, with every action gone over with a fine-tooth comb. The damage to China’s international reputation may be the least of the CCP’s worries; the government’s legitimacy lies in its perceived effectiveness. China will also struggle to recover its high levels of economic growth while the world is in a deep recession. The country is reliant on global demand, and a protracted recession will demonstrate its interdependence with the rest of the world. If the crisis continues for 12 to 18 months, the virus will likely return to China, with all of the risks that poses for the regime.However, China may also take advantage of a long crisis, particularly in hard-hit countries in Africa, Latin America, Central Asia, and parts of Southeast Asia where China’s footholds through the Belt and Road Initiative and its digital infrastructure will give it a head start when the time comes to rebuild after the crisis. Meanwhile, America’s industrial deficiencies and its failure to come up with a real alternative to BRI will handicap its capacity to help even if there were a wiser and more strategically minded president in the Oval Office.[Derek Thompson: The Economy Is Ruined. It Didn’t Have to Be This Way.]The Middle East will likely pay a high price. The virus has decimated parts of the Iranian elite and spread from there to ravage much of the region. The Iranian regime appears incredibly fragile, but if the government falls, no one knows what comes next, given the lack of any organized opposition within the country. My Brookings colleague Tamara CofmanWittes told me that Egypt, Iraq, and Lebanon are also particularly poorly equipped to deal with what lies ahead. Two Egyptian generals died from COVID-19 almost two weeks ago, which suggests that the problem is much bigger than the government admits and has gotten into the army, one of the few institutions in Egypt that is capable of delivering services in a crisis. Revolution is unlikely—people will be sick, unable to organize, and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has already systematically destroyed the opposition. Basic governing effectiveness in the whole region has been degraded over many years because of corruption and unresponsive dictators. After a long crisis, much of the Middle East will consist of zombie governments that are widely perceived as ineffective.The European Union is a potential loser, although not inevitably so. One European official, who spoke with me under the condition of anonymity in order to talk frankly, said the crisis will be “transformative.” “Both the society and the international system we live in will be determined by how we act throughout the crisis,” the official said. The pandemic will “bring out the best and worst in us—maybe both simultaneously.” Health care is not a core competency of the EU, so all of the responses have been at the national level and will likely continue that way. As a result, borders have been closed and EU foreign ministries are negotiating with one another over the rights of transit for EU citizens to travel home through other member states. Another official told me that no leaders, except for President Emmanuel Macron, have shown interest in a cooperative response, at least in the first couple of weeks. They don’t oppose cooperation on principle; they are just so preoccupied with their own domestic crisis that no bandwidth is left for anything else. But recent days have brought signs of greater coordination and cooperation among EU member states.The crunch for the EU will come on economics, which unlike health care is very much its business. The economic crisis of COVID-19 will be much worse than the euro crisis and will affect everyone—north and south, east and west. No European country can cope on its own, with the exception of Germany, which runs a surplus. The big question is whether Germany will agree to far-reaching reforms, such as common debt instruments (known as euro bonds) that the country has previously resisted. Italy, Spain, and other countries that suffered mightily in this pandemic and performed heroically will not respond well if the EU fails to move beyond the old orthodoxies of the euro crisis and doesn’t demonstrate the solidarity it prides itself on.That brings us to the United States. COVID-19 is a disaster for Americans. The United States now has more cases than any other country. President Trump is singularly ill-equipped to handle the pandemic. For weeks, he parroted Chinese talking points that the virus was under control, and he predicted a good ending for the United States. He did not use the time he had to increase crucial medical supplies or prepare for a surge in medical personnel. In a long crisis, many people will die needlessly and the financial cost will be in the many trillions of dollars. The world has lost whatever confidence remained in the ability of Trump’s America to take charge. Leaders have watched in horror as the administration focused the bulk of its diplomatic efforts on renaming the virus. If Trump is reelected—and his polling numbers suggest he has benefited politically from the pandemic so far—substantial international cooperation is unlikely after the crisis ends and the recovery begins. Each country will go its own way.The United States’ inaction has allowed the virus to spread inside its borders, and it has actively increased the risk to other countries. Sins of omission, however, are not generally as egregious as sins of commission, at least according to the rest of the world. Based on my conversations with officials from European and Asian allies, the United States has not figured much in other countries’ calculations. Europeans were vexed by Trump’s criticism of the EU, but didn’t care much about the travel ban. People had stopped traveling anyway, and European nations would soon close their own borders. Reports that Trump sought to purchase a German firm to monopolize a vaccine for the United States were more damaging, but the plan was thwarted by the German government. New reports, denied by the Trump administration and the company involved, that the United States is intercepting shipments of masks destined for Europe will raise similar fears. Generally, however, the United States is seen as a warning—an example, along with Brazil, of how a populist government is incapable of handling this crisis.However, if Americans hit the reset button in the November election, a Biden administration will have the opportunity to turn the page and help lead an international recovery effort. This reset is not an option in CCP-ruled China.As Evan Medeiros of Georgetown University recently pointed out, the only countries who have emerged from this crisis with their credibility intact so far are Asian democracies like South Korea and Taiwan. Germany is showing similar signs of competency, particularly in testing. They have offered a model for others to follow.The real risk is that a long crisis will eviscerate international cooperation—among Western allies and between America and China—and leave a more anarchic world in which all are against all. As Gérard Araud pointed out to me, in 2019 the WHO published a plan to respond to a pandemic. Not a single major country followed the guidance. All did what they thought was necessary to protect their interests. Major powers will likely have less capacity—in terms of both materials and time—to cooperate on the geopolitical shocks that will surely occur during this crisis. They are completely preoccupied with their domestic problems and will be hard-pressed to invest time in a problem where their national interests are not directly threatened. And then there is the personal element. One official reflected to me that leaders are frequently moved to action only when they meet one another in person. Phone calls are simply not the same. It’s too easy to hang up, prevaricate, and turn back to the domestic problems.The crisis no doubt reinforces power politics, particularly between the United States and China. But the pandemic also underscores the importance of cooperation with rivals on shared interests even as they compete ferociously in other spheres. During the Cold War, for instance, the United States and the Soviet Union worked together on the nonproliferation treaty and on arms control. Cooperation between rivals is not a simple matter and requires new strategies to create the conditions for a partnership to happen. Arms control was possible in the Cold War only because strategists understood the importance of second-strike survivability—the counterintuitive notion that your country was vulnerable to a first-strike nuclear attack if you could destroy all of your enemy’s weapons in one go (because it would give your enemy an incentive to strike first rather than to wait and retaliate after an attack). We have yet to invent similar concepts to advance cooperation on transnational issues, such as pandemics, with an authoritarian Chinese regime that has a system and worldview at odds with our own. For instance, is it better to allow such cooperation to be linked to other issues or ringfence it from everything else? How can you ensure sufficient levels of transparency, particularly when sensitive scientific matters are involved? That is a key task for the foreign-policy community.No historical lessons will guide the world this time. The last global pandemic—the Spanish influenza of 1918–19—is not generally regarded as a driver of domestic and international politics over the 1920s and ’30s, likely because the world was already broken by World War I and less integrated than it is now. Never before has a single event upended everyone’s lives simultaneously and so suddenly. The longer the pandemic goes on, the more the world will change.
theatlantic.com
Has Covid-19 been in humans for years?
Leading scientists tell CNN that it's possible the virus didn't just come from bats in the past months, but that it could made the leap to humans many months, perhaps even years ago before it then transferred among people to become as lethal as it has. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports.
edition.cnn.com