Society

Climate To Costa Concordia: How Humans Are Wired For Denial

In 2012, the same year the Costa Concordia cruise ship sank off of Giglio Island, David Quammen published his book Spillover, which predicted that somewhere in Asia a virus would be attacking the human respiratory tract on its way to becoming a global pandemic. And so it was. This terrible shipwreck, which the world watched in slow-motion exactly ten years ago on January 13, 2012, now appears to us — just like the COVID-19 pandemic, like the trailer of a horror film we are now all living for real.

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COVID School Chaos, Snapshots From 10 Countries Around The World

Teachers, students, parents and society as a whole have suffered through the various attempts at educating through the pandemic. Here’s how it looks now: from teacher strikes in France to rising drop-out rates in Argentina to Uganda finally ending the world’s longest shutdown.

School, they say, is where the future is built. The next generation’s classroom learning is crucial, but schools also represent an opportunity for children to socialize, get help for special needs … and in some villages and neighborhoods, get their one decent meal a day.

COVID-19 has of course put all of that at risk. At the peak of the pandemic, classrooms were closed for 1.6 billion schoolchildren worldwide, with the crisis forcing many to experiment on the fly for the first time in remote learning, and shutting down learning completely for many millions more — exacerbating worldwide inequality in education.

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Why The Right To Die Is Expanding Around The World

Euthanasia and assisted suicide laws are still the exception, but lawmakers from New Zealand to Peru to Switzerland and beyond are gradually giving more space for people to choose to get help to end their lives — sometimes with new and innovative technological methods.

The announcement last month that a “suicide capsule” device would be commercialized in Switzerland, not surprisingly, caused quite a stir. The machine called Sarcophagus, or “Sarco” for short, consists of a 3D-printed pod mounted on a stand, which releases nitrogen and gradually reduces the oxygen level from 21% to 1%, causing the person inside to lose consciousness without pain or a sense of panic, and then die of hypoxia and hypocapnia (oxygen and carbon dioxide deprivation).

While active euthanasia is illegal in Switzerland, assisted suicide is allowed under certain conditions and under the supervision of a physician, who has first to review the patient’s capacity for discernment — a condition that Sarco aims to eliminate. “We want to remove any kind of psychiatric review from the process and allow the individual to control the method themselves,” Australian doctor Philip Nitschke, the machine’s creator, told news platform SwissInfo. Some argue that this is against the country’s medical ethical rules while others expressed concerns about safety.

But Nitschke says he found the solution: an online AI-based test, which will give a code to the patient to use the device if he passes.

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Can You Be Old And Ageist?

New research, which included 80 in-depth interviews with older people, found that a surprising number look down on their fellow seniors.

“We don’t want to be tripping over Zimmer frames all the time,” said John*, 73. He clearly felt frustrated and had a strong objection to the older, more frail residents in his retirement village. John and his wife, Jean, had moved to the retirement village about a year ago. They were clearly not expecting to encounter really elderly people when they moved in. “It’s depressing,” he continued, “to see these people, who really ought to be in a nursing home, or in care.”

In our research – published in The Gerontologist – we carried out 80 in-depth interviews with older people about their experiences of living in retirement villages across the UK and Australia. We were particularly interested in why people sought out retirement living and how their needs matched or contradicted those of other residents. We did not expect to find such high levels of resentment among residents – but we did.

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Ideas
Jacques Attali

2022: Year Of The Wake-Up Call

The signs for 2022 may appear grim right now, but at least we know what we're facing. Will we make the right decisions?

-Analysis-

PARIS — Since it's customary to do so at this time of year, let's try to make predictions for the next twelve months. On paper, 2022 should be a very difficult year. But by knowing that and anticipating it, we can prevent it from being so.

It is quite easy to forecast a worst-case scenario: a pandemic that evades vaccines, a collapse of financial markets, hotbeds of conflicts on the borders of Europe, large countries like Ethiopia falling apart.

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Geopolitics

​Why The Budding Xi-Putin Alliance Is Bound To Implode

Joined in their respective confrontations with the West, both the Chinese and Russian leaders are boasting about their burgeoning partnership. Yet there are fundamental reasons the love affair is unlikely to last.

- Analysis -

“Building a peaceful and better world, in a spirit of friendship, solidarity, and fair play…”

To that noble end, as stipulated by the Olympic Committee, the 24th Winter Games will be held in Beijing On February 4th.

Of course, these are no ordinary Olympics: as 20,000 Chinese volunteers are making preparations, there is growing momentum for a diplomatic boycott of the Games by Western leaders over China's record on human rights, with the White House having cited “ongoing genocide” as the main reason.

But as the West laments China’s abuses against ethnic minorities, its crackdown on Hong Kong and threats against Taiwan's independence, one political leader is nonetheless determined to attend in a spirit of friendship: Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin’s participation in the opening ceremony was confirmed last week during a one-hour video meeting between the Russian leader the head of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Jinping.

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Society
Brad Aeon

Why Modern Life Feels So Busy Even If We Work Less

It's about multiplying choices, not vanishing time...

MONTREAL — Many of us feel like time management is getting tougher. But why? Is it because we now work more than ever, or maybe because life in general has sped up so much?

It’s unlikely. Overall, people work less today than they did 100 years ago. And there is no clear evidence that the pace of life has accelerated.

So if it’s not more hours or faster pace, what’s changed? The answer is that the institutions that used to regulate our time have all but vanished.

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Society
N.C. Asthana

Witness From The Inside: Finding The Source Of India's Police Violence

The Indian police force is built on a macho culture that promotes those who commit violence. Only the victims know the truth, and no one ever dares challenge the system.

Most Indians are familiar with heavy-handed police behavior in the form of the cops slapping people or, if they are pretending to manage law and order, beating them mercilessly with their sticks (lathis). However, the real face of police brutality often remains hidden, their notions about police torture derived largely from what they have seen in films. Only the victims know the truth.

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Society
Alidad Vassigh

Mexican Foreign Minister: U.S. Gun Makers "Financing Violent Video Games"

Mexico has filed a lawsuit against several U.S. video game firms. The legal action is an escalation of cross-border tension between the countries, as Mexico blames U.S. gun laws for fueling crime in the country.

MEXICO CITY — Mexico's Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard Casaubon has accused U.S. arms manufacturers of backing violent video games, which he said encourage crime and violence in the United States and Mexico.
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Ideas
Susanne Gaschke

For A Holiday Moratorium On Debating COVID

The topic of COVID is dividing siblings, old friends and parents at daycare centers. So maybe we need an experiment and stop sharing opinions, from the dinner table to your local news outlet.

-Essay-

BERLIN — In his first government declaration, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said something about COVID that will be remembered for its understated accuracy: "Nobody is doing so well in these times..." That is a description that also captures the mood of a divided nation that Scholz began leading this month.

Anyone who still claims that there is no polarization over the pandemic either refuses to see it — or has no friends or family members with whom to quarrel.

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THE WIRE
Kavitha Muralidharan

Copy RM- Draft Test

From helping the homeless to investing in schools, the Anjali Thagana Medai dedicates its profits to ways to help the living of the whole community

MADURAI — Forty-seven-year-old Madhan Karuppaiah’s day typically starts at nine in the morning when he leaves his apartment at Andalpuram in Madurai to visit two temples and a railway junction. Strangely, the purpose is neither pray nor travel. Outside the temples and the junction, Madhan and a volunteer working with him distribute food pockets to 100-odd women and men.

“Today, the menu is sambhar rice, pickle and an appalam, we try to maintain some kind of variety,” says Madhan. He has been doing this since the lockdown was imposed during the first wave of COVID-19. “Few days into the lockdown, it struck some of us that there were people who had absolutely no one to turn to. So, we decided to give food to those living on the streets.”

His next stop is oddly an electric crematorium.

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Society
Kavitha Muralidharan

"Fed By The Dead" - India Crematorium Pours Profits Back Into Cycle Of Life

From helping the homeless to investing in schools, the Anjali Thagana Medai dedicates its profits to ways to help the living of the whole community

MADURAI — Forty-seven-year-old Madhan Karuppaiah’s day typically starts at nine in the morning when he leaves his apartment at Andalpuram in Madurai to visit two temples and a railway junction. Strangely, the purpose is neither pray nor travel. Outside the temples and the junction, Madhan and a volunteer working with him distribute food pockets to 100-odd women and men.

“Today, the menu is sambhar rice, pickle and an appalam, we try to maintain some kind of variety,” says Madhan. He has been doing this since the lockdown was imposed during the first wave of COVID-19. “Few days into the lockdown, it struck some of us that there were people who had absolutely no one to turn to. So, we decided to give food to those living on the streets.”

His next stop is oddly an electric crematorium.

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Green
Gaspard Koenig

Grinch Or Green? It’s Time To Stop Buying Christmas Trees!

Each year, millions of trees are sacrificed for the sake of Christmas — an ecological disaster and a denial of what trees represent for humanity. There are, however, some green alternatives to buying (and killing) your own private tree each year.

-OpEd-

PARIS — In the street, on the sidewalks, the corpses pile up in the cold, stacked one above the other — victims of mutilation. Passers-by glance at them carelessly, sometimes fiddling with their broken limbs. The executioners stand guard around their victims, kicking them back into a pile.

The execution is recent: the bodies still wear their natural colors. But soon the last drops of life will recede. They will start to turn pale and decompose, leaving scorched flakes around them. A foul odor will take hold of the city.

This vision of horror is the Christmas spectacle, with its six million trees in France alone that are cut, sold, decorated for a few days and then discarded. In order to grasp the full extent of this massacre, we must first admit that trees are not simple pieces of wood, but individuals in their own right, who are leading unique lives.

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Economy
Jane Herbelin

The "Potato Crisis" At The Heart Of Algeria's Imploding Economy

Prices have tripled on the staple product, as farmers and the government blame each other while ordinary Algerians struggle to put food on the table. It's yet another crisis between economics and politics in the troubled North African nation.

Algeria is facing a multifaceted crisis, one of the most serious since the North African country gained independence in 1962. Boiling social and economic unrest has combined with continuing political demands that began with the Hirak uprising of 2019 that called for the end to the decades-long rule of Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

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Society
Gamuchirai Masiyiwa

A Paternity Reality Show Is All The Rage In Zimbabwe

A new program that settles paternity disputes has become the most popular television show in Zimbabwe. Not everyone is happy.

HARARE, ZIMBABWE — After Yvonne Damster gave birth to her baby boy last year, she was distraught when the father refused to acknowledge the child as his own. Damster says members of her community used her trade — sex work — to convince the man to deny responsibility.

“I was pained that he took me for a fool when I told him that the child was his,” Damster says.

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