The Week’s Links, May 30-June 5, 2020

Sophie Strasberg on the perils of a germaphobic society; Geoff Mannon on Thomas Piketty’s new book; MK Bhadrakumar on Trumps’s bumbling on China; Julian Borger on mayhem in America; and much more—including a major research paper on the role of environmental pollution in C19 and other viral epidemics. Tumultuous times disrupt and confound. Journalists, academics and opinion-makers try to distil clarity from the confusion, while testing the direction of startling events.

COVID-19: an opportunity to re-evaluate the correlation between long-term effects of anthropogenic pollutants on viral epidemic/pandemic events and prevalence
An exploration of the role of environmental pollution in Covid 19; quite technical, but the Abstract, Introduction and Summary parts are pretty easy to get through for a layperson.
by Aristidis Tsatsakisab et alia, Food and Chemical Toxicology, Volume 141, July 2020. 111418 : Read here.

In online Covid-19 videos, a mix of science and conjecture
by Michael Schulman, Undark, May 28, 2020.
Read here.

Society is becoming germaphobic. Let’s not stay that way.
A more sterile world is not necessarily a safer one and superbugs are only one reason why.
by Sophie Strasberg, Undark, May 28, 2020
Read here.

The inequality engine
Review and discussion of: Capital And Ideology, by Thomas Piketty, translated by Arthur Goldhammer, Harvard, 1150 pages.
“It is no exaggeration​ to say that, for Piketty, taxation is the key both to understanding the history of modern civilisations and to shaping their futures. Capital and Ideology comes close to proposing what amounts to a tax theory of history…”.
by Geoff Mann, London Review of Books, June 4,  2020
Read here.

How ‘Jakarta’ became the codeword for US-backed mass killing 
Adapted from the author’s book, The Jakarta Method: Washington’s Anticommunist Crusade and the Mass Murder Program That Shaped Our World, published this week by Public Affairs.
by Vincent Bevins, The New York Review of Books, May 18, 2020
Read here.

Trump’s China policy at a cul-de-sac
The US president is becoming increasingly isolated on the international stage.
by MK Bhadrakumar, Asia Times, June 2
Read here.

With scenes of police brutality America’s beacon to the world winks out
U.S. soft power was already dwindling under Trump. But the new wave of police violence and racial injustice may be drying up the reserves.
by Colum Lynch, Foreign Policy, June 1, 2020
Read here.

My nightmare: Covid-19 meets racism meets the killing of a black person by police
by Lauren Powell,  STAT,  June 2, 2020
Read here.

How did we get here? Trump has normalised mayhem and the US is paying the price
More than 100,000 have died in a pandemic and troops are on the streets. The rate of fresh affronts has outpaced the ability to digest them.
by Julian Borger, The Guardian, June 2, 2020
Read here.

Why America’s revolution won’t be televised
The so-far purely emotional insurrection lacks political structure and a credible leader to articulate grievances.
by Pepe Escobar, Asia Times, June 3, 2020
Read here.

American autocracy and the end of meaning
Masha Gessen on Trump, Putin, and the corruption of language: an excerpt from her new book, Surviving Autocracy (Riverhead, 2020).
By Masha Gessen, Literary Hub, June 2, 2020
Read here.

Extinction Event
Given what is to come, universities of every kind are now at risk: “The tsunami wave of the pandemic—genuine threats to the life of staff and students, skittish financial markets, massive revenue shortfall—is bearing down on a rickety edifice”.
by Simon Torracinta, Online Only | n+1, May 28, 2020
Read here

Integrating human rights into Canada’s international response to COVID-19
Ongoing arrests of and attacks against human rights defenders underscore the urgent need for Canada to continue to provide support for activities of local human rights organizations in the Philippines—and elsewhere around the world.
by Kirsten Van Houten & Em Mijares, McLeod Group Blog, June 1, 2020
Read here.

Ex-ministers, ambassadors call on Trudeau to push back against Israeli annexation plan
Diplomats warn that ‘territorial conquest’ in the Middle East is a program for disaster.
by Evan Dyer, CBC News, June 2, 2020
Read here.

James Mattis denounces President Trump, describes him as a threat to the constitution
In an extraordinary condemnation, the former defense secretary backs protesters and says the president is trying to turn Americans against one another.
by Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, June 3, 2020
Read here.

Trump was wrong to deploy troops. Will the military push back?
An apolitical army is central to American democracy. But the president is using the armed forces to subvert it.
by Jonathan Stevenson, The New York Times, June 3, 2020
Read here.

Trump and the military: a mutual embrace might dissolve on America’s streets
“There is a thin line between the military’s tolerance for questionable partisan moves over the past three years and the point where these become intolerable,” a retired general said.
by David E. Sanger, New York Times, June 4, 2020
Read here.

Message to the Army Force regarding its continued support to civil authorities
By U.S. Army Public Affairs, June 3, 2020
Read here.

And, to finish on a bracing note, but also one to guide us:

Democracy’s Red Line
Review and disussion of Surviving Autocracy by Masha Gessen, Riverhead, 270 pages
“The title of Masha Gessen’s polemic about the Trump presidency is “Surviving Autocracy”. What was a metaphor when she wrote it—at least for those not directly targeted by Republican policies—has now become literal”.
by Hari Kunzru, The New York Review of Books, June 4 (print version appears in NYR issue dated July 2, 2020 Read here

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