Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Coronavirus News (187)

‘Only those with plastic visors were infected’: Swiss government warns against face shields

‘Only those with plastic visors were infected’: Swiss government warns against face shields  plastic shields are inadequate protection and should only be worn in combination with a face mask. ...... “It has been shown that only those employees who had plastic visors were infected. There was not a single infection among employees with a mask.” .......  not only are plastic face shields less effective than face masks, they may provide wearers with a false sense of security. 

Covid-19 has exposed India's failure to deliver even the most basic obligations to its people  Far from flattening the curve, India's graph of transmission is swinging skyward like a Mo Salah free kick. ....... India's ratio currently hovers at around 9,231 tests per million -- or 9 per 1,000, compared to 128 per 1,000 in the United States. ........  about a fifth of all deaths in India are not registered and less than a quarter are medically certified. ...... The lockdown of 1.35 billion people has been the subject of competing hypotheticals. What is known is that it flattened the economy -- in June, the IMF predicted that India's GDP would contract by 4.5% in 2020, while rating agency ICRA estimated a contraction of 9.5% -- and signaled the deepest recession in 60 years. The human cost, amplified by images of millions of migrants forced to return home after losing their jobs, is still unraveling. .......... Vulnerability is aggravated by the comorbidity of poor governance and neglect of seven-odd decades. The Indian state struggles to provide what economist and philosopher Adam Smith defined as the most basic of obligations -- water, health, education, power and security. ..........  India is in the company of low-income sub-Saharan countries on the Health Care Access and Quality Index -- trailing neighbors Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Bhutan and Bangladesh . .........  Health care depends on investment in state capacity. For decades, committees and commissions have urged expenditure on health to be raised to between 4% and 6% of GDP -- but it has stayed at less than 1%. ..........  "Wash hands," say doctors and health officials. Yet in 2019, only one in five Indian households had piped water in their homes. Every second home depends on water from wells, unprotected water bodies or tanker water -- 70% cent of water is contaminated, with India ranked 120 among 122 countries in the water quality index. Pneumonia and diarrhoea also kill more than 1.3 million children each year. ............. poor air quality kills over a Million every year. .............  Such is the state of government schools that millions of students have graduated in the past decade without rudimentary skills of reading and math. In 2016, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, then deputy prime minister of Singapore, invited by the government of India, told the audience of policy makers, "Schools are the biggest crisis in India today, and have been for a long time. Schools are the biggest gap between India and East Asia." .........  Seventy years after its independence, India finally managed to electrify all its villages in 2019. Still, quality of supply is another matter. Barring Mumbai, no city in India can boast of 24/7 supply and households and businesses across the country must depend on inverters. ..............  Indians pay for over 60% of heath care costs from their savings -- some even borrow and land in penury . More parents are also opting for private schools, with nearly 40% of students enrolled in non-public education. Water tankers, air purifiers and inverters are other ubiquitous essentials of living. ......... Successive regimes have taken refuge in the diffusion of authority between federal and state governments and evaded accountability. This has been enabled by the nature of public discourse, which is riveted by emotion and rhetoric rather than reflection on realities.

Covid-19 has many faces even when all of the different influenza types (a or b) and subtypes (h1n1, h3n2, etc) were analysed, there were few differences in the ways they presented clinically. Literature on sars-cov-2 suggests, by contrast, that this virus is a master of disguise. ...........  Patients brought into hospital with all the symptoms of a heart attack have later been found to be suffering from cardiac inflammation caused by the virus. It has also demonstrated that it can begin as a kidney infection, or even as meningitis, before sometimes going on to cause its characteristic respiratory problems. ...........  the two-phase activity of sars-cov-2, whereby it starts in the upper respiratory tract and then migrates deep into the lungs, is the critical factor that allows it to travel around the body. “Influenza rarely gets deep into the lungs,” he says. “This new virus gets down there all the time.” ............   As for why the disease sometimes makes its initial appearance in the digestive system, as it did in Dr DeBenedet’s patient, this is probably because ace2, the cell-surface protein that sars-cov-2 binds to, is abundant in the gut as well as the lungs. How the virus gets through the highly acidic stomach unharmed is unknown. But clearly it can, and does. ............   ace2 is also found in the kidneys and the heart, which may help explain why symptoms manifest there, as well. By contrast, the entry molecules preferred by influenza viruses are almost exclusive to the upper respiratory tract.
America’s Enduring Caste System Our founding ideals promise liberty and equality for all. Our reality is an enduring racial hierarchy that has persisted for centuries. .........  The owner of an old house knows that whatever you are ignoring will never go away. Whatever is lurking will fester whether you choose to look or not. Ignorance is no protection from the consequences of inaction. Whatever you are wishing away will gnaw at you until you gather the courage to face what you would rather not see. .........  We did not erect the uneven pillars or joists, but they are ours to deal with now. ...........  Like other old houses, America has an unseen skeleton: its caste system, which is as central to its operation as are the studs and joists that we cannot see in the physical buildings we call home. Caste is the infrastructure of our divisions. It is the architecture of human hierarchy, the subconscious code of instructions for maintaining, in our case, a 400-year-old social order. Looking at caste is like holding the country’s X-ray up to the light. ...........  A caste system is an artificial construction, a fixed and embedded ranking of human value that sets the presumed supremacy of one group against the presumed inferiority of other groups on the basis of ancestry and often immutable traits, traits that would be neutral in the abstract but are ascribed life-and-death meaning in a hierarchy favoring the dominant caste, whose forebears designed it. A caste system uses rigid, often arbitrary boundaries to keep the ranks apart, distinct from one another and in their assigned places. ..............  Throughout human history, three caste systems have stood out. The lingering, millenniums-long caste system of India. The tragically accelerated, chilling and officially vanquished caste system of Nazi Germany. And the shape-shifting, unspoken, race-based caste pyramid in the United States. ............. In America, race is the primary tool and the visible decoy for caste. ......... Caste, like grammar, becomes an invisible guide not only of how we speak but also of how we process information, the autonomic calculations that figure into a sentence without our having to think about it. ..........  We know that the letters of the alphabet are neutral and meaningless until they are combined to make a word, which itself has no significance until it is inserted into a sentence and interpreted by those who speak or hear it. In the same way that “black” and “white” were applied to people who were literally neither, but rather gradations of brown and beige and ivory, the caste system sets people at poles from one another and attaches meaning to the extremes, and to the gradations in between, and then reinforces those meanings, replicates them in the roles each caste was and is assigned and permitted or required to perform..........  we have learned from the human genome that all human beings are 99.9 percent the same. “Race is a social concept, not a scientific one” ...........  “We all evolved in the last 100,000 years from the small number of tribes that migrated out of Africa and colonized the world.” ...........  Caste is the bones, race the skin. ...... Caste is the powerful infrastructure that holds each group in its place. Its very invisibility is what gives it power and longevity. And though it may move in and out of consciousness, though it may flare and reassert itself in times of upheaval and recede in times of relative calm, it is an ever-present through line in the country’s operation. ...........   While the requirements to qualify as white have changed over the centuries, the fact of a dominant caste has remained constant from its inception — whoever fit the definition of white, at whatever point in history, was granted the legal rights and privileges of the dominant caste. Perhaps more critical and tragic, at the other end of the ladder, the subordinated caste, too, has been fixed from the beginning as the psychological floor beneath which all other castes cannot fall. .........  “Young people,” he said, “I would like to present to you a fellow untouchable from the United States of America.” ..............  20 million people, consigned to the lowest rank in America for centuries, “still smothering in an airtight cage of poverty,” quarantined in isolated ghettos, exiled in their own country. ........ he realized that the Land of the Free had imposed a caste system not unlike the caste system of India and that he had lived under that system all his life .........  What we face in our current day is not the classical racism of our ancestors’ era but a mutation of the software that adjusts to the updated needs of the operating system. ........  Resistance to the word often derails any discussion of the underlying behavior it is meant to describe, thus eroding it of meaning. ......... What does racism mean in an era when even extremists won’t admit to it? ........   The instinctive desire to reject the very idea of current discrimination on the basis of a chemical compound in the skin is an unconscious admission of the absurdity of race as a concept. ........  caste does not allow us to ignore structure. Caste is structure. Caste is ranking. Caste is the boundaries that reinforce the fixed assignments based upon what people look like. Caste is a living, breathing entity. It is like a corporation that seeks to sustain itself at all costs. To achieve a truly egalitarian world requires looking deeper than what we think we see. .........  Caste is the granting or withholding of respect, status, honor, attention, privileges, resources, benefit of the doubt and human kindness to someone on the basis of their perceived rank or standing in the hierarchy. .........  Caste is insidious and therefore powerful because it is not hatred; it is not necessarily personal. It is the worn grooves of comforting routines and unthinking expectations, patterns of a social order that have been in place for so long that it looks like the natural order of things. .........  For those in the marginalized castes, casteism can mean seeking to keep those on your disfavored rung from gaining on you, to curry the favor and remain in the good graces of the dominant caste, all of which serve to keep the structure intact. ..........   What race and its precursor, racism, do extraordinarily well is to confuse and distract from the underlying structural and more powerful Sith lord of caste. Like the cast on a broken arm, like the cast in a play, a caste system holds everyone in a fixed place. ........  many people — including those we might see as good and kind people — could be casteist, meaning invested in keeping the hierarchy as it is or content to do nothing to change it, but not racist in the classical sense, not active and openly hateful of this or that group. ................ It’s the autonomic, unconscious, reflexive response to expectations from a thousand imaging inputs and neurological societal downloads that affix people to certain roles based upon what they look like and what they historically have been assigned to or the characteristics and stereotypes by which they have been categorized. No ethnic or racial category is immune to the messaging we all receive about the hierarchy, and thus no one escapes its consequences. ........  Its invisibility is what gives it power and longevity. Caste, along with its faithful servant race, is an X-factor in most any American equation, and any answer one might ever come up with to address our current challenges is flawed without it. ...........  The United States and India are profoundly different from each other — in culture, technology, economics, history, ethnic composition. And yet, many generations ago, these two great lands paralleled each other, each protected by oceans, fertile and coveted and ruled for a time by the British. Each adopted social hierarchies and abides great chasms between the highest and the lowest in their respective lands. Each was conquered by people said to be Aryans arriving, in one case, from across the Atlantic Ocean, in the other, from the north. Those deemed lowest in each country would serve those deemed high. The younger country, the United States, would become the most powerful democracy on Earth. The older country, India, would become the largest. .........  Both exiled their Indigenous peoples — the Adivasi in India, the Native Americans in the United States — to remote lands and to the unseen margins of society. Both countries enacted an amalgam of laws to chain the lowliest group — Dalits in India (formerly known as the untouchables) and African-Americans in the United States — to the bottom, using terror and force to keep them there. ............  “Perhaps only the Jews have as long a history of suffering from discrimination as the Dalits,” the American civil rights advocate Yussuf Naim Kly wrote in 1987. “However, when we consider the nature of the suffering endured by the Dalits, it is the African-American parallel of enslavement, apartheid and forced assimilation that comes to mind.” ........ both caste systems live on in hearts and habits, institutions and infrastructures. .........  In both countries and often at the same time, the lowest castes toiled for their masters — African-Americans in the tobacco fields along the Chesapeake or in the cotton fields of Mississippi, Dalits plucking tea in Kerala and cotton in Nandurbar. Both worked as enslaved people and later for the right to live on the land that they were farming, African-Americans in the system of sharecropping, Dalits in the Indian equivalent, known as saldari, both still confined to their fixed roles at the bottom of their respective societies. ...........  What is called “affirmative action” in the United States is called “reservations” in India, and they are equally unpopular with the upper castes in both countries, language tracking in lock step, with complaints of reverse discrimination in one and reverse casteism in the other. ...........  The Indian caste system historically has been said to be stable and unquestioned by those within it, bound as it is by religion and the Hindu belief in reincarnation, the belief that a person carries out in this life the karma of the previous ones, suffers the punishment or reaps the rewards for deeds in a past life, and that the more keenly you follow the rules for the caste you were born into, the higher your station will be in the next life. ............ a fundamental truth of the species, that all human beings want to be free. .........   Some Dalits felt so strong a kinship with one wing of the American civil rights movement and followed it so closely that in the 1970s they created the Dalit Panthers, inspired by the Black Panther Party. ........ In a caste system, the mudsill is the bottom caste that everything else rests upon. ........  “Anything that causes the Negro to aspire to rise above the plow handle, the cook pot — in a word the functions of a servant,” said Gov. James K. Vardaman of Mississippi, elected in 1903, “will be the worst thing on earth for the Negro. God Almighty designed him for a menial; he is fit for nothing else.” ....... the caste lines in America may have at one time appeared even starker than those in India. In 1890, “85 percent of Black men and 96 percent of Black women were employed in just two occupational categories,” wrote the sociologist Stephen Steinberg, “agriculture and domestic or personal service.” ...........  “If white and colored persons are employed together,” the sociologist Bertram Doyle wrote in the 1930s, “they do not engage in the same tasks, generally, and certainly not as equals.” He continued: “Negroes are seldom, if ever, put into authority over white persons. Moreover, the Negro expects to remain in the lower ranks; rising, if at all, only over other Negroes.” No matter how well he does his job, Doyle wrote, “he cannot often hope for promotion.” ...........  Since the early 20th century, the wealthiest African-Americans — from Louis Armstrong to Muhammad Ali — have traditionally been entertainers and athletes. Even now, in a recent ranking of the richest African-Americans, 17 of the top 20 — from Oprah Winfrey to Jay-Z to Michael Jordan — made their wealth as innovators, and then moguls, in the entertainment industry or in sports. ........... Johnson knocked Jeffries down in the 15th round and was declared the victor, to jeers and epithets. It was taken as an affront to white sovereignty and triggered white riots across the country, in the North and the South, including 11 separate ones in New York City, where white mobs set fire to Black tenements and tried to lynch two Black men over the defeat. ..........  What did it mean to be white if someone with actual white skin was not white? ............  A Japanese novelist once noted that, on paper anyway, it was a single apostrophe that stood between rejection and citizenship for a Japanese Ohara versus an Irish O’Hara. ..........  the unyielding rigidity of a caste system, defiant in the face of evidence contrary to its foundation, how it holds fast against the assault of logic. .................  If there is anything that distinguishes caste in America, it is, first, the policing of roles and behavior expected of people based on what they look like, and second, the monitoring of boundaries — the disregard for the boundaries of subordinated castes or the passionate construction of them by those in the dominating caste, to keep the hierarchy in place. ...........  Modern-day caste protocols are often less about overt attacks or conscious hostility. They are like the wind, powerful enough to knock you down but invisible as they go about their work. They are sustained by the muscle memory of relative rank and the expectations of how one person interacts with others based on their place in the hierarchy. It is a form of status hypervigilance, the entitlement of the dominant caste to step in and assert itself wherever it chooses, to monitor or dismiss those deemed beneath them, as they see fit. ...............  Through no fault of any individual born to it, a caste system centers the dominant caste as the sun around which all other castes revolve and defines it as the default-setting standard of normalcy, of intellect, of beauty, against which all others are measured, ranked in descending order by their physiological proximity to the dominant caste. ............  Society builds a trapdoor of self-reference that, without any effort on the part of people in the dominant caste, unwittingly forces on them a narcissistic isolation from those assigned to lower categories. It replicates the structure of narcissistic family systems, the interplay of competing supporting roles — the golden-child middle castes of so-called model minorities, the lost-child Indigenous peoples and the scapegoat caste at the bottom. ............  The highest and lowest rungs are seen as so far apart as to seem planted in place, immovable. Thus those straddling the middle may succumb to the greatest angst and uncertainty as they aspire to a higher rung. ...........  Everyone in the caste system is trained to covet proximity to the dominant caste: an Iranian immigrant feeling the need to mention that a relative had blond hair as a child; a second-generation child of Caribbean immigrants quick to clarify that they are Dominican and categorically not African-American; a Mexican immigrant boasting that one of his grandfathers back in Mexico “looked just like an American” — blond hair and blue eyes — at which point he was reminded by an African-American that Americans come in all colors of hair and eyes. ......................... “No matter what happens, they can never become ‘Black.’” Hacker continued, “White Americans of all classes have found it comforting to preserve Blacks as a subordinate caste: a presence that despite all its pain and problems still provides whites with some solace in a stressful world.” ................ the seductive power of nationalistic appeals to the anxieties of ordinary people .........  “The survival of a group,” Fromm wrote, “depends to some extent on the fact that its members consider its importance as great as or greater than that of their own lives.” .........  “Group narcissism leads people to fascism.” He went on, “An extreme form of group narcissism means malignant narcissism, which gives to rise to a fanatical fascist politics, an extreme racialism and so on.” .........  A person in this group “feels: ‘Even though I am poor and uncultured, I am somebody important because I belong to the most admirable group in the world — I am white’; or ‘I am an Aryan.’” ..........  A group whipped into narcissistic fervor “is eager to have a leader with whom it can identify,” Fromm wrote. “The leader is then admired by the group which projects its narcissism onto him.” The right kind of leader can inspire a symbiotic connection that supplants logic. The susceptible group, Fromm teaches us, sees itself in the narcissistic leader, becomes one with the leader, sees his fortunes and his fate as their own.   

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in India, whose nonviolent-protest movement inspired his own.

No comments: