Not long after Kenya announced its first Covid-19 case on March 13, President Uhuru Kenyatta invoked the Public Order Act to activate a series of measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, such as requiring face masks to be worn at all times, vehicles to run at half capacity, and the closure of religious centers, schools, and “non-essential” businesses. But it was the dusk till dawn curfew that became notorious.
The Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA), a civilian organization created to monitor police misconduct, says that it has received more than ninety-five complaints of police misconduct and has confirmed thirty deaths, many of which occurred while enforcing this curfew.… Seguir leyendo »
On July 1, after “recovering,” by decree, from the coronavirus pandemic, Russia held a vote on a package of constitutional amendments. Introduced by Vladimir Putin back in January and expanded by the State Duma over the following months, the 206 changes are touted as protecting Russia’s sovereignty, defending Russian history, and boosting Russians’ economic well-being. The amendments also nullify the previous presidential terms of Vladimir Putin, allowing him to run again for the presidency when his current, fourth term expires—in effect, extending his twenty-year grip on power indefinitely. “Russia’s strength,” explained the chairman of the Duma when talking about amendments, “is not oil and gas, but Vladimir Putin.”… Seguir leyendo »
“There are plenty of things people will say we got wrong,” Britain’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, said of the nation’s coronavirus response in a recent speech. In one of the world’s worst affected countries, much of the focus has been on government mismanagement. Johnson’s inexperienced cabinet, selected for fealty to Brexit over anything else, has proved inept and out of its depth. With the Downing Street inner circle dominated by hardliners of the Leave.EU campaign, the response to the crisis was botched and negligently slow—the Brexit preoccupation diverting resources from pandemic planning. Before even any official inquiry is under way, many regard Johnson himself as ultimately responsible: quoted in a damning investigation by the UK’s Sunday Times newspaper in April, a senior adviser to the government condemned the prime minister’s fecklessness: “He didn’t do urgent crisis planning.… Seguir leyendo »
From July 1, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has the power to bring to the Knesset a vote on whether to extend his country’s sovereignty over portions of the West Bank, in accordance with the Trump administration’s so-called peace plan, a 181-page document that, in essence, gives a US seal of approval to Israel’s expansionist agenda. Extending sovereignty, otherwise known as annexation, entails the further application of Israeli jurisdiction to territory that Palestinians had envisioned would make up part of their future state.
The Trump plan has given a green light to the integration into Israel of up to 30 percent of the West Bank, including more than two hundred Israeli settlements and settler outposts and the larger part of the Jordan Valley, removing the illusion that the occupation is temporary.… Seguir leyendo »
On June 26, the United Nations celebrates its seventy-fifth birthday. The initiative that led to that moment in 1945 began nearly four years earlier, at an August 1941 meeting between President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, on a boat moored off the coast of Newfoundland, a British colony. For FDR, winning the war would necessarily mean a new, post-imperial world order. “I can’t believe that we can fight a war against fascist slavery, and at the same time not work to free people all over the world from a backward colonial policy,” he told Churchill. The British leader, an unrepentant imperialist for whom Canada, just across the water, was a recently lost British dominion, was apoplectic—but he desperately needed the United States first to get into the war (Pearl Harbor was still months away), and the two leaders signed their “Atlantic Charter.”… Seguir leyendo »
“So what? I’m sorry. What do you want me to do?”
So said Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, on April 28 when a reporter pointed out that the country’s toll from Covid-19 had just surpassed China’s—reaching the grim milestone of 5,000 deaths. By the end of May, Brazil had surpassed the half-million mark for coronavirus cases, becoming the world’s No. 2 hotspot for the disease, behind only the United States; it has now topped 38,000 deaths. On Saturday, Bolsonaro’s government stopped publishing official statistics about the country’s outbreak.
“So what?” might sum up why Brazil’s response to the pandemic has been so catastrophic: I’m talking not only about the scorn with which Bolsonaro greeted the news of thousands of deaths, but also about the fact that he appears to think there should be no response at all.… Seguir leyendo »
A remarkable thing happened in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, on April 21, as the assembly was marking the country’s Holocaust Memorial Day. Mansour Abbas, a Knesset member of the Joint List, the bloc of Arab-Israeli parties, took the podium and delivered a speech commemorating the Holocaust’s Jewish victims. “As a religious Palestinian and a Muslim Arab,” he said, “I have empathy for the pain and suffering over the years of Holocaust survivors and the families of the murdered. I stand here to show solidarity with the Jewish people, now, and forever.”
For an outsider, this gesture might perhaps seem a mere formality.… Seguir leyendo »
In September 1963, in Llansteffan, Wales, a stained-glass artist named John Petts was listening to the radio when he heard the news that four black girls had been murdered in a bombing while at Sunday school at the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama.
The news moved Petts, who was white and British, deeply. “Naturally, as a father, I was horrified by the death of the children,” said Petts, in a recording archived by London’s Imperial War Museum. “As a craftsman in a meticulous craft, I was horrified by the smashing of all those [stained-glass] windows. And I thought to myself, my word, what can we do about this?”… Seguir leyendo »
Hong Kong has long been haunted by the thought of its future. Many of its citizens worry that it will become just another mainland Chinese city. This fear is often voiced as though to ward it off. But it is also spoken of as if it is already a reality.
That future, for many, was brought closer on Thursday May 21. The sky was clear, VPNs were jammed. China’s political elite entered the Great Hall of the People for the Two Sessions, the country’s most important annual political event. The fifth item on the agenda was a document, known in China as a “decision,” that stated the official intent to draw up a National Security Law for Hong Kong.… Seguir leyendo »
At 4:30 PM local time on Thursday June 4, the church bells will toll in Budapest. Citizens are asked to stop work, stand, and bow their heads for a minute’s silence. Opposition politicians will quietly walk together, at an appropriate social distance, to a site of national memorial, while the domineering Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán, and the country’s largely-ceremonial president, János Áder, will give nationally televised addresses.
None of this has anything to do with the coronavirus. At time of writing, 532 people are reported to have died of the disease in Hungary, but there will be other moments to mourn them.… Seguir leyendo »
I first drifted into the Father Brown and Miss Fisher television series in 2018, while under the effects of pain medication and postsurgical malaise. Even though my family and I are safely housed, and my own case of Covid-19 has been relatively mild, I see the shadow of prolonged illness all around us, and I’ve instinctively returned to my cozy mysteries.
The traditional cozy is a soft-boiled whodunit featuring an amateur sleuth operating within an intimate community, mostly outside the traditional police force. The sleuth has a contact on the force; their relationship is familiar but often testy. Each episode features one-off characters, affected by a murder, around whom buzz the core characters, who solve the murder.… Seguir leyendo »
Police on the roof of a building, firing rubber bullets at the crowd below. Angry protesters in helmets and padded lifejackets. Intersections littered with teargas canisters. Middle-aged women pulling off their protective Covid-19 face masks to douse their stinging eyes with milk. Storefronts smashed; acres of downtown real estate in flames. More teargas. More anger. An emotional mayor asking for the prosecution of a member of his own police department, then calling in reinforcement riot squads. Pepper spray and stun grenades. Hundreds of National Guard troops arriving in convoys to restore order to the streets.
In the three days since the horrific death in police custody of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in broad daylight, Minneapolis has been transformed almost beyond recognition.… Seguir leyendo »
My dad is very sick with a cancer that is spreading and spreading and because he asked, because he never asks, I drove 500 miles away from Manhattan, across the northern border, to help care for him (after, of course, my Canadian government-surveilled quarantine). “Don’t judge me, take care of me,” sings FKA twigs on a two-minute interlude I must have listened to on repeat for an hour straight. The song is off of London drill artist Headie One’s 2020 mixtape with producer Fred again.., GANG, which really got me: confessional, silky, short. On a 2019 song called “Nearly Died,” he raps, “I don’t glamorize jail, them lonely nights, they were shit.”… Seguir leyendo »
In the midst of a pandemic that has crippled health care systems in the developed world, Cuba has projected an image of international solidarity by dispatching its medical missions to countries that have been hit hard by the coronavirus. While these medical services are welcome, they also serve a symbolic purpose by tacitly endorsing socialized medicine. The positive press reports about the medical missions deflect attention from the less savory measures that Cuba has adopted to control the crisis at home. For Cuban authorities, any struggle against an outside force—be it an insurgency, capitalist cultural influence, or an infectious disease—inevitably becomes a symbolic battle against internal enemies.… Seguir leyendo »
Lockdown possibility for a new cinematic discovery: the Russian writer-director Kantemir Balagov, a protégé of the last Soviet master Alexander Sokurov, not yet thirty and possibly the most arresting young filmmaker to emerge in the last few years.
Beanpole, Balagov’s beautifully acted second feature—set in Leningrad in 1945, and featuring two shellshocked nurses tending to even more damaged soldiers—won a prize at Cannes last year and was a hit at the 2019 New York Film Festival. It opened in January and is available for streaming on both MUBI and Kinomarquee.
Closeness, Balagov’s first feature, aptly named given its tight framing and the claustrophobic family situation it depicts, can be streamed through Anthology Film Archives.… Seguir leyendo »
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK—I live in an apartment that is somewhere between Greenpoint and the East Williamsburg Industrial Park. It’s mostly warehouses and the BQE, far from the things most associated with life in New York. The news coming out of the city can feel dire and overwhelming, but when I stay off the Internet, life still floods in. These are some of the moments that have kept me connected, and given me some hope.
PACKAGES: I was supposed to visit my family in California in April. Instead, my parents send me USPS boxes full of home-baked cookies, jars of olives, homemade masks.… Seguir leyendo »
Three years ago, a foodie friend recommended the 1985 Japanese film Tampopo, a self-styled “ramen western.” I wasn’t a foodie and I didn’t much care for ramen, so I ignored him. Now dinner has become the thrilling climax of every locked-down day, and my most sensual aesthetic encounters come from the watermelon radishes and candy cane beets that I buy at the farmer’s market. This weekend, I realized that the time had come for me to watch Tampopo—after dinner, of course.
At the beginning of the film, a laconic trucker named Gorō, a Robert Mitchum type in a plaid shirt and cowboy hat, stops for a bite at a dingy roadside ramen shop.… Seguir leyendo »
PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA—In the summer of 2019, after I gave birth to my son, I flunked the postpartum depression screener. A multiple-choice questionnaire, all new mothers were required to fill it out before leaving the hospital: In the past seven days, have you felt scared? Panicky? Had difficulty sleeping?
I was a first-time mom past her due date. In Philadelphia, it was 111º F. Yes, yes, and yes.
Five months later, in January, I sat on the couch holding my son and tried to convince myself I was just being paranoid. Coronavirus had leveled China’s Hubei Province, had even landed in the US, but Washington state was far away.… Seguir leyendo »
EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND—In Scotland, the spread of the virus was two or three weeks behind London as lockdown came in, and we’ve seen the benefit of that delay. Bed occupancy in Edinburgh’s ICUs peaked around April 9, is dropping now, and only briefly breached the pre-Covid-19 capacity. But the delivery of medical care is utterly transformed.
I work in primary care. As the hospitals were cleared out for Covid-19, specialist outpatient clinics for practically everything but cancer were cancelled. Many routine hospital tests are now unavailable. The labs are frantically expanding their viral testing capability and have little capacity for anything else.… Seguir leyendo »
LIVINGSTON, MONTANA—Spring has finally arrived in late April, and after a nearly monthlong shelter-in-place order, Governor Steve Bullock announced last Wednesday that Montana has “seen the number of positive [coronavirus] cases decline over these past weeks.” Along with a handful of other states, including Colorado, Minnesota, Georgia, and Tennessee, Montana has now begun a “phased reopening,” which commenced on Sunday, April 26, with churches. As of this Monday, retail businesses can open if they operate at “reduced capacity” to ensure “physical distancing”—a mandate that is not as difficult to achieve here as it is in other places, in this state with an abundance of land and only a million people.… Seguir leyendo »