Daily Archives: May 15, 2020

From cholera to COVID-19: Haiti’s fraught history of epidemics

Democracy Now!

May 15, 2020

The United States has continued to deport thousands of people during the pandemic, despite the risk of spreading the coronavirus to countries with fragile public health systems. “These deportations are obviously a threat to Haiti and a threat to the entire region,” says Haitian-American writer Edwidge Danticat. “It’s a disgrace. It’s dangerous for the health of the communities that these folks are being returned to.” The spread of COVID-19 in Haiti is the latest outbreak to rock the country, says Danticat, who notes Haiti is still recovering from the cholera epidemic of the last decade after United Nations personnel contaminated the nation’s drinking water in the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake.

Top 10 Climate Studies – Great for Sharing 2019/2020


May 15, 2020

Climate Forcing Movie | https://youtu.be/rEWoPzaDmOA

Bowling Alone: Revised and Updated: The Collapse and Revival of American Community: Robert D. Putnam

Updated to include a new chapter about the influence of social media and the Internet—the 20th anniversary edition of Bowling Alone remains a seminal work of social analysis, and its examination of what happened to our sense of community remains more relevant than ever in today’s fractured America.

Twenty years, ago, Robert D. Putnam made a seemingly simple observation: once we bowled in leagues, usually after work; but no longer. This seemingly small phenomenon symbolized a significant social change that became the basis of the acclaimed bestseller, Bowling Alone, which The Washington Post called “a very important book” and Putnam, “the de Tocqueville of our generation.”

Bowling Alone surveyed in detail Americans’ changing behavior over the decades, showing how we had become increasingly disconnected from family, friends, neighbors, and social structures, whether it’s with the PTA, church, clubs, political parties, or bowling leagues. In the revised edition of his classic work, Putnam shows how our shrinking access to the “social capital” that is the reward of communal activity and community sharing still poses a serious threat to our civic and personal health, and how these consequences have a new resonance for our divided country today. He includes critical new material on the pervasive influence of social media and the internet, which has introduced previously unthinkable opportunities for social connection—as well as unprecedented levels of alienation and isolation.

At the time of its publication, Putnam’s then-groundbreaking work showed how social bonds are the most powerful predictor of life satisfaction, and how the loss of social capital is felt in critical ways, acting as a strong predictor of crime rates and other measures of neighborhood quality of life, and affecting our health in other ways. While the ways in which we connect, or become disconnected, have changed over the decades, his central argument remains as powerful and urgent as ever: mending our frayed social capital is key to preserving the very fabric of our society.

Cuomo is letting billionaires plan New York’s future. It doesn’t have to be this way | Zephyr Teachout and Pat Garofalo | Opinion | The Guardian

‘Lawmakers are notably MIA in the middle of a pandemic – and by all accounts Cuomo likes it that way.’ Photograph: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/REX/Shutterstock

The New York governor is replacing elected representatives with private, unaccountable monopolists, and lawmakers across the US are doing the same thing

Zephyr Teachout and Pat Garofalo   Thu 14 May 2020 09.01 EDT

Last week, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, announced that Bill Gates would be responsible for “reimagining” New York’s education system. Cuomo also asked former Google chief executive Eric Schmidt to lead a panel planning New York’s post-Covid tech infrastructure.

As Naomi Klein writes, the appointments of Schmidt and Gates represent a “Pandemic Shock Doctrine … that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up [and] treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent – and highly profitable – no-touch future”.

As she points out, the two billionaires have disastrous records in the precise areas of public policy they are charged with leading. The Gates Foundation was the driving force behind high-stakes testing regimes and the Common Core fiasco. And Schmidt’s vision of the future is Black Mirror with a bow on it: mass surveillance plus public investment in companies in which he has a stake.

Even if Schmidt and Gates had good policies, Cuomo’s knighting of them is offensive to American self-government. Nobody voted for them and they are accountable to no one. Cuomo, often accused of being too close to big campaign donors, is tripling down: he is simply allowing billionaires to plan our future directly, taking out the middlemen.

…(read more).

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Naomi Klein on Twitter: “Just is in case there is any doubt that Eric Schmidt only has the public’s best interest at heart, and definitely not his $5-billion in Google shares, see the pair of golden angel wings to his left.” / Twitter


Surrounded by Others and Yet So Alone: A Lawyer’s Case Stories of Love, Loneliness, and Litigation: J. W. Freiberg

A new collection of case stories from “the Oliver Sacks of law.”In this follow-up to his acclaimed book, Four Seasons of Loneliness (winner of the 2017 Independent Publishers Gold Prize as the best book of the year in Psychology / Mental Health), social psychologist turned lawyer J. W. Freiberg continues to explore chronic loneliness, one of modern society’s most serious public health crises.  In Surrounded by Others and Yet So Alone, he again draws from his thirty-year legal career to present five unique tales.

While Four Seasons of Loneliness studied the devastation caused by social isolation, here Freiberg explores the impact of faulty connections in failing relationships.  But don’t expect to be lectured on the topic; you will find yourself reading a collection of deeply human stories. And that’s a good thing, because Freiberg is a master storyteller.


J. W. Freiberg holds a PhD from UCLA and a JD from Harvard Law School. He is the author of the prize-winning book “Four Seasons of Loneliness: A Lawyer’s Case Stories” and two earlier books, “Critical Sociology: European Perspectives” and “The French Press,” as well as the editor of “Growing Up Lonely: Disconnection and Misconnection in the Lives of our Children.” Freiberg is a member of the Massachusetts state bar and the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, and he serves as a justice of the peace in Massachusetts, where he resides with his wife, near their children.

His book “Four Seasons of Loneliness: A Lawyer’s Case Stories” has received the IPPY (Independent Publishers Book Award) Gold Prize for 2017 for best book of the year in the Psychology / Mental Health. (Sharing the honor with Lee Gutkind’s “Show Me All Your Scars.”)

You can find more at: the lonelinessbook.com or at jwfreiberg.com

A High-Tech Coronavirus Dystopia

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo looks on as Google executive chair Eric Schmidt, left, talks during the Smart Schools Commission report at Mineola Middle School on Oct. 27, 2014 in Mineola, N.Y. Photo: Alejandra Villa-Pool/Getty Images

Under Cover of Mass Death, Andrew Cuomo Calls in the Billionaires to Build a High-Tech Dystopia

Naomi Klein    May 8 2020, 12:50 p.m.

For a few fleeting moments during New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s daily coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, the somber grimace that has filled our screens for weeks was briefly replaced by something resembling a smile.

“We are ready, we’re all-in,” the governor gushed. “We are New Yorkers, so we’re aggressive about it, we’re ambitious about it. … We realize that change is not only imminent, but it can actually be a friend if done the right way.”

The inspiration for these uncharacteristically good vibes was a video visit from former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who joined the governor’s briefing to announce that he will be heading up a blue-ribbon commission to reimagine New York state’s post-Covid reality, with an emphasis on permanently integrating technology into every aspect of civic life.

“The first priorities of what we’re trying to do,” Schmidt said, “are focused on telehealth, remote learning, and broadband. … We need to look for solutions that can be presented now, and accelerated, and use technology to make things better.” Lest there be any doubt that the former Google chair’s goals were purely benevolent, his video background featured a framed pair of golden angel wings.

Just one day earlier, Cuomo had announced a similar partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop “a smarter education system.” Calling Gates a “visionary,” Cuomo said the pandemic has created “a moment in history when we can actually incorporate and advance [Gates’s] ideas … all these buildings, all these physical classrooms — why with all the technology you have?” he asked, apparently rhetorically.

It has taken some time to gel, but something resembling a coherent Pandemic Shock Doctrine is beginning to emerge. Call it the “Screen New Deal.” Far more high-tech than anything we have seen during previous disasters, the future that is being rushed into being as the bodies still pile up treats our past weeks of physical isolation not as a painful necessity to save lives, but as a living laboratory for a permanent — and highly profitable — no-touch future.

…(read more).

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More than 330 Major Businesses Call on U.S. Congress to Build Back a More Resilient, Sustainable Economy from COVID-19 – We Mean Business Coalition


Companies with combined market valuations of $11.5 trillion participate in LEAD on Climate 2020—the largest business-led lawmaker education and advocacy day on climate action

On May 13, CEOs and representatives from more than 330 businesses, including Adobe, Capital One, CommonSpirit Health, DSM North America, Dow, Eileen Fisher, General Mills, Mars, Inc., Microsoft, NIKE, Salesforce and VISA will call on a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers to build back a better economy by infusing resilient, long-term climate solutions into future economic recovery plans. Amid the backdrop of COVID-19 and the full recognition that the safety, health and well-being of all citizens is the most immediate priority, tomorrow’s LEAD on Climate 2020 will be the largest ever call to action from the business community to the U.S. Congress on the ongoing climate crisis.

The participating businesses include more than a dozen Fortune 500 firms as well as trade associations, medium and small businesses from all 50 states, collectively representing combined annual revenues of more than $1 trillion in revenue, a combined market valuation of nearly $11.5 trillion, and more than 3 million U.S. employees. The companies and investors calling for climate action as part of economic recovery efforts span across the American economy, including retailers, manufacturers, healthcare services, food and beverage companies, outdoors industries, technology companies and energy providers. The high level of participation is notable given the disruption most of the companies and investors are experiencing due to the economic collapse, as well as the current social distancing constraints on in-person advocacy.

Click here for a full list of participating businesses.

“The coronavirus pandemic has devastated communities and economies around the world. We all must do our part to solve the immediate threat posed by COVID-19, while also looking ahead to build a resilient, clean economy that is better able to withstand future shocks like the impending climate crisis,” said Hugh Welsh, President of DSM North America. “In recent months, DSM has stepped up our efforts to keep food on store shelves and medical equipment in hospitals. At the same time, we continue to work toward our goal to run on 100% renewable energy—and now we are calling on Congress to do the same and ensure climate action is part of the COVID-19 recovery.”

“Today we have a health crisis, an economic crisis and a climate crisis all happening at once. The best solutions will tackle all three together. We have a distinct opportunity at this unique moment in history to define what we want our future to look like,” said Patrick Flynn, Vice President, Sustainability, Salesforce. “It will take bold action and so we need the business voice to be unified and clear. We at Salesforce are inspired to see so many companies calling for plans that build back better, focused on equitable, resilient solutions that put the U.S. on a 1.5 degree pathway.”

“As the U.S. embarks on the path to recovery from the coronavirus pandemic, responding to immediate health and economic needs of the country is critical. At the same time, we must keep up the momentum on our progress to tackle the long-term global risks posed by climate change,” said Cynthia Curtis, senior vice president of sustainability at JLL. “JLL is committed to doing our part by working toward our ambitious climate goals. We will not waiver from our commitment to shaping the future of real estate for a better world. However, we also need smart policies from Congress that pair economic recovery with meaningful climate solutions.”

“At Nestlé, our ambition to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 is at the heart of our strategy to build a resilient business,” said Meg Villarreal, Government Affairs Manager at Nestlé. “We are proud to stand with industry partners today to call for a climate-smart recovery plan to build back a more resilient economy.”

“Climate-positive technologies are uniquely positioned to help in the economic recovery as America looks to build back better with sustainable and resilient infrastructure,” said Hannon Armstrong Chairman & CEO Jeffrey Eckel. “We urge Congress to enact policies that leverage private sector investment and innovation, such as a carbon dividend. This is how we turn the tide on the climate crisis and propel our country toward a thriving economy that is good for people and the planet.”

Building off last year’s LEAD on Carbon Pricing in-person event, where Ceres and its partners brought together 75 companies, this year’s virtual advocacy day features four times as many companies and investors and has greatly strengthened the call for strong and urgent climate action from Congress, beyond the call for a national price on carbon. Participating companies and investors will urge the U.S. House and Senate lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to support a climate-smart economic recovery from COVID-19 as they consider how future rounds of stimulus spending should be allocated. Collectively, they will demonstrate the continued importance of investment in resilient infrastructure and the need to put Americans back to work with durable, clean energy jobs. They will also urge Congress to consider longer-term sustainable solutions to strengthen the economy, such as a goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, as well as other market-wide mechanisms, like a carbon price.

…(read more).

Shorter supply chains needed to end hunger after pandemic: UN envoy

Published on 15/05/2020, 10:33am

The coronavirus crisis has heightened inequities of food availability and nutrition. A 2021 Food System Summit aims to boost resilience and sustainability

A market vendor sells produce at Victoria Market in Port Victoria, Seychelles (Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown/Flickr)

By Chloé Farand

The coronavirus crisis is deepening inequalities in accessing healthy food, the UN special envoy for food systems has warned.

As governments imposed trade and travel restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19, global supply chains have been disrupted, hindering the distribution of food from farms to consumers largely concentrated in urban areas.

Meanwhile the economic slowdown has triggered a fall in demand, leaving unsellable fruits and vegetables rotting in fields and orchards and farmers without an income.

“My biggest concern is that there are a whole load of people out there that had the ability to feed themselves and now can’t,” Agnes Kalibata, of Rwanda, said. It puts the UN sustainable development goal to eradicate hunger by 2030 further out of reach.

Developing shorter supply chains where possible to get food to those who need it and reduce the sector’s environmental impact will be important, Kalibata said.

In December last year, Kalibata was appointed by UN Secretary General António Guterres to lead a Food Systems Summit in the second half of 2021.

The event, due to be attended by governments, businesses and experts, is designed to create momentum around transforming the global food system to meet the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and ensure people have access to healthy diets while protecting the planet.

The coronavirus outbreak has brought the summit’s objectives into sharp focus, exposing the weaknesses of food production, processing and distribution as millions are now faced with starvation.

…read more

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Naomi Klein: ‘We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism’ | Books | The Guardian

Naomi Klein: ‘We are going to have to contract on the endless, disposable consumption.’ Photograph: Adrienne Grunwald/The Guardian

Sat 14 Sep 2019 03.01 EDT Last modified on Thu 26 Sep 2019 12.40 EDT

The No Logo author talks about solutions to the climate crisis, Greta Thunberg, birth strikes and how she finds hope

• Read an extract from her new book, On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal hereNaomi Klein: ‘We are going to have to contract on the endless, disposable consumption.’ Photograph: Adrienne Grunwald/The Guardian

Why are you publishing this book now?
I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

The book collects essays from the last decade, have you changed your mind about anything?
When I look back, I don’t think I placed enough emphasis on the challenge climate change poses to the left. It’s more obvious the way the climate crisis challenges a rightwing dominant worldview, and the cult of serious centrism that never wants to do anything big, that’s always looking to split the difference. But this is also a challenge to a left worldview that is essentially only interested in redistributing the spoils of extractivism [the process of
extracting natural resources from the earth] and not reckoning with the limits of endless consumption.

What’s stopping the left doing this?
In a North American context, it’s the greatest taboo of all to actually admit that there are going to be limits. You see that in the way Fox News has gone after the Green New Deal – they are coming after your hamburgers! It cuts to the heart of the American dream – every generation gets more than the last, there is always a new frontier to expand to, the whole idea of settler colonial nations like ours. When somebody comes along and says, actually, there are limits, we’ve got some tough decisions, we need to figure out how to manage what’s left, we’ve got to share equitably – it is a psychic attack. And so the response [on the left] has been to avoid, and say no, no, we’re not coming to take away your stuff, there are going to be all kinds of benefits. And there are going to be benefits: we’ll have more livable cities, we’ll have less polluted air, we’ll spend less time stuck in traffic, we can design happier, richer lives in so many ways. But we are going to have to contract on the endless, disposable consumption side.

Do you feel encouraged by talk of the Green New Deal?
I feel a tremendous excitement and a sense of relief, that we are finally talking about solutions on the scale of the crisis we face. That we’re not talking about a little carbon tax or a cap and trade scheme as a silver bullet. We’re talking about transforming our economy. This system is failing the majority of people anyway, which is why we’re in this period of such profound political destabilisation – that is giving us the Trumps and the Brexits, and all of these strongman leaders – so why don’t we figure out how to change everything from bottom to top, and do it in a way that addresses all of these other crises at the same time? There is every chance we will miss the mark, but every fraction of a degree warming that we are able to hold off is a victory and every policy that we are able to win that makes our societies more humane, the more we will weather the inevitable shocks and storms to come without slipping into barbarism. Because what really terrifies me is what we are seeing at our borders in Europe and North America and Australia – I don’t think it’s coincidental that the settler colonial states and the countries that are the engines of that colonialism are at the forefront of this. We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism. We saw it in Christchurch, we saw it in El Paso, where you have this marrying of white supremacist violence with vicious anti-immigrant racism.

…(read more).

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