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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