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30.04.2020 – Human Wrongs Watch

Global Military Expenditure Sees Largest Annual Increase in a Decade, Reaching $1917 Billion in 2019 – SIPRI

Total global military expenditure rose to $1917 billion in 2019, according to new data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). The total for 2019 represents an increase of 3.6 per cent from 2018 and the largest annual growth in spending since 2010.

The five largest spenders in 2019, which accounted for 62 per cent of expenditure, were the United States, China, India, Russia and Saudi Arabia. This is the first time that two Asian states have featured among the top three military spenders.

The comprehensive annual update of the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database is accessible from today at www.sipri.org.

Global military spending in 2019 represented 2.2 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP), which equates to approximately $249 per person. ‘Global military expenditure was 7.2 per cent higher in 2019 than it was in 2010, showing a trend that military spending growth has accelerated in recent years,’ says Dr Nan Tian, SIPRI Researcher. ‘This is the highest level of spending since the 2008 global financial crisis and probably represents a peak in expenditure.’

United States drives global growth in military spending

Military spending by the United States grew by 5.3 per cent to a total of $732 billion in 2019 and accounted for 38 per cent of global military spending. The increase in US spending in 2019 alone was equivalent to the entirety of Germany’s military expenditure for that year. ‘The recent growth in US military spending is largely based on a perceived return to competition between the great powers,’ says Pieter D. Wezeman, Senior Researcher at SIPRI.

China and India top Asian military spending

In 2019 China and India were, respectively, the second- and third-largest military spenders in the world. China’s military expenditure reached $261 billion in 2019, a 5.1 per cent increase compared with 2018, while India’s grew by 6.8 per cent to $71.1 billion. ‘India’s tensions and rivalry with both Pakistan and China are among the major drivers for its increased military spending,’ says Siemon T. Wezeman, SIPRI Senior Researcher.

In addition to China and India, Japan ($47.6 billion) and South Korea ($43.9 billion) were the largest military spenders in Asia and Oceania. Military expenditure in the region has risen every year since at least 1989.

Germany leads military expenditure increases in Europe

Germany’s military spending rose by 10 per cent in 2019, to $49.3 billion. This was the largest increase in spending among the top 15 military spenders in 2019. ‘The growth in German military spending can partly be explained by the perception of an increased threat from Russia, shared by many North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) member states,’ says Diego Lopes da Silva, Researcher at SIPRI. ‘At the same time, however, military spending by France and the United Kingdom remained relatively stable.’

There were sharp increases in military expenditure among NATO member states in Central Europe: for example, Bulgaria’s increased by 127 per cent—mainly due to payments for new combat aircraft—and Romania’s rose by 17 per cent. Total military spending by all 29 NATO member states was $1035 billion in 2019.

In 2019 Russia was the fourth-largest spender in the world and increased its military expenditure by 4.5 per cent to $65.1 billion. ‘At 3.9 per cent of its GDP, Russia’s military spending burden was among the highest in Europe in 2019,’ says Alexandra Kuimova, Researcher at SIPRI.

Volatile military spending in African states in conflict

Armed conflict is one of the main drivers for the volatile nature of military spending in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, in the Sahel and Lake Chad region, where there are several ongoing armed conflicts, military spending in 2019 increased in Burkina Faso (22 per cent), Cameroon (1.4 per cent) and Mali(3.6 per cent) but fell in Chad (–5.1 per cent), Niger (–20 per cent) and Nigeria (–8.2 per cent). Among Central African countries that were involved in armed conflict, military spending in 2019 rose overall. The Central African Republic (8.7 per cent), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (16 per cent) and Uganda (52 per cent) all increased military spending in 2019.

Other notable regional developments

  • South America: Military expenditure in South America was relatively unchanged in 2019, at $52.8 billion. Brazil accounted for 51 per cent of total military expenditure in the subregion.
  • Africa: The combined military expenditure of states in Africa grew by 1.5 per cent to an estimated $41.2 billion in 2019—the region’s first spending increase for five years.
  • South East Asia: Military spending in South East Asia increased by 4.2 per cent in 2019 to reach $40.5 billion.
  • The average military spending burden was 1.4 per cent of GDP for countries in the Americas, 1.6 per cent for Africa, 1.7 per cent for Asia and Oceania and for Europe and 4.5 per cent for the Middle East (in countries for which data is available).

SIPRI monitors developments in military expenditure worldwide and maintains the most comprehensive, consistent and extensive publicly available data source on military expenditure. The data is accessible on the Military Expenditure Database page of SIPRI’s website.

Data from previous global economic downturns suggests that the economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic will probably disrupt future military spending. SIPRI is monitoring current developments to assess the extent of this crisis on military spending.

All percentage changes are expressed in real terms (constant 2018 prices). Military expenditure refers to all government spending on current military forces and activities, including salaries and benefits, operational expenses, arms and equipment purchases, military construction, research and development, and central administration, command and support. SIPRI therefore discourages the use of terms such as ‘arms spending’ when referring to military expenditure, as spending on armaments is usually only a minority of the total.
*SOURCE: The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Go to ORIGINAL.

Doug Gwyn has been a frequent contributor to Quaker Theology. Our readers have known him as a theological historian, who has written in depth about early Friends, as well as recent American Quakers. I’d pick as his masterwork, Personality and Place (our review is here), which he calls a theological history of Pendle hill, the…

via Doug Gwyn: Theologian and — Quaker Theological Folksinger? Yes! — A Friendly Letter

29.04.2020 – Independent Media Institute

Why Did the World Health Organization Wait Until March to Declare a Global Pandemic?
(Image by WHO)

The 2005 regulations pushed on the World Health Organization by the United States and the Europeans hampered the WHO’s ability to declare an emergency and a pandemic.

By Vijay Prashad

When U.S. President Donald Trump cut off his government’s funding to the World Health Organization (WHO), one of his grievances was that the WHO—under Chinese tutelage—failed to declare the global coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic soon enough. Not long after the virus brought patients to Hubei Provincial Hospital, the Chinese medical and public health authorities brought it to the notice of the WHO. The WHO investigated the virus over the course of early January, sending a team into Wuhan and making public whatever credible information it could report.

The WHO’s International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee met twice in January, first on January 22-23 and then again on January 30; in the first meeting, the committee felt it had insufficient evidence to declare an emergency, but at the second meeting it took the decision to declare a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC). This is the penultimate step for the WHO; on March 11, after it became clear that the virus was spreading across borders, but not before the WHO made many warnings to governments, the WHO declared a global pandemic.

Trump and his Democratic rival Joe Biden, as well as a host of other U.S. politicians, made the argument that the WHO did not act fast enough with its declaration. Whatever problems posed to the United States by the virus were not the responsibility of the U.S. government, they suggested; the fault lay with the Chinese government and with the WHO.

Our investigation finds that this argument has little foundation. The WHO’s reporting mechanisms are sound, but the WHO’s own ability to make these formal declarations—a public health emergency and a global pandemic, which come with serious financial consequences for member states—has been circumscribed; those who have constrained the World Health Organization—the United States and European nations—are the very same countries whose leaders are now complaining about Chinese influence over the WHO.

Revisions

By the 1990s, it had become clear that the WHO’s old International Health Regulations—originally issued in 1969, with only a few minor updates and new editions over the two decades after that—were inadequate. For one, these regulations were produced before the emergence of very infectious, lethal, and recurrent infections such as Ebola and the avian influenzas. Secondly, these old regulations were made before air travel began to move about 4.3 billion passengers per year, the scale of air traffic now making the movement of viruses so much easier.

In May 2005, the 58th World Health Assembly revised the 1969 regulations, pointing out that the new regulations would “prevent, protect against, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks, and which avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade.”

The North American and European states, in particular, insisted that the declaration of a PHEIC or global pandemic only be made after it was clear that air travel and trade would not be unduly interrupted. This restriction, essentially the core foundations of globalization, has constrained the WHO since 2005.

The 2009 Test

The new WHO regulations were tested when a new influenza emerged out of Mexico and the United States in mid-April 2009. This H1N1 was a combination of influenza virus genes that had links to swine-lineage H1N1 from both North America and Eurasia (thus the 2009 outbreak was commonly known as “swine flu”). It was first detected on April 15. On April 24, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention uploaded a gene sequence onto a publicly accessible influenzas database. On April 25, ten days after the first detection of the virus, the WHO declared the 2009 H1N1 outbreak a PHEIC. On June 11, the WHO said that a global pandemic was underway.

In 2020, the WHO took a month to declare a PHEIC for the coronavirus and took an additional two months after that to pronounce a global pandemic. It was slower to announce the emergency, but it took the same time to declare a global pandemic.

By July 2009, the dangerous H1N1 virus had a less lethal impact than the WHO had feared. However, for the full year from its first detection, 60.8 million people were infected and 12,469 died.

Almost immediately, the WHO was attacked for the June 11 description of the outbreak as a pandemic. When the WHO declares a pandemic, governments are expected to do a variety of things including mass purchase of drugs and vaccines. These are costly.

That December, members of parliament in the Council of Europe opened an inquiry into the WHO declaration. Fourteen members of the Council charged the WHO with what was essentially fraud. They said that “pharmaceutical companies have influenced scientists and official agencies, responsible for public health standards, to alarm governments worldwide. They have made them squander tight health care resources for inefficient vaccine strategies and needlessly exposed millions of healthy people to the rise of unknown side-effects of insufficiently tested vaccines.” “The definition of an alarming pandemic,” they wrote, “must not be under the influence of drug-sellers.”

The criticism of the WHO stung. It had declared a pandemic, but the virus had stabilized very soon after the declaration. The WHO responded to such criticism with humility. “Adjusting public perceptions to suit a far less lethal virus has been problematic,” the WHO responded. “Given the discrepancy between what was expected and what has happened, a search for ulterior motives on the part of the WHO and its scientific advisers is understandable, though without justification.”

Trump’s Attacks

A WHO official told one of us that the agency had been shaken by the assault in 2009. Over the past ten years, the agency has struggled to regain its confidence, working through the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and then Zika in 2016. In neither of those cases was there a need to make any global declaration.

This year, the WHO declared a global pandemic within three months of the first cases. But there is no doubt that the attack on the WHO a decade ago has made an impact. Former WHO employees tell us that fear of being attacked like this by the main donors seriously hampers the independence of the WHO and its scientific advisers. Trump’s current attack is going to weaken further the ability of the WHO to operate at its own pace and with credibility.

The World Health Organization is not the first UN agency to face the wrath of the U.S. administration. The Trump administration sent its budget to Congress with zero dollars for a line item called International Organizations and Programs. Under this line item comes United States funds for UN Development Program, UNICEF, UNESCO, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN Women, and UN Population Fund. In 2018, the United States stopped funding the UN’s Palestine agency (UNRWA). When the UN is useful, the United States uses it; when the UN goes against United States interests, it will lose its funding.

When Trump said that the WHO is “China centric,” he offered no evidence; he did not have to.

No doubt that the United States is currently facing the wrath of the global pandemic. If the U.S. government had begun to plan effectively after the WHO declared a public emergency on January 30 or even when it declared a global pandemic on March 11, the problems would not be so grave. But there was no planning at all, which is distressing. As George Packer put it in the Atlantic, the United States in the months after January was “like a country with shoddy infrastructure and a dysfunctional government whose leaders were too corrupt or stupid to head off mass suffering.” From Trump, the U.S. citizenry got “willful blindness, scapegoating, boasts, and lies.” This sums it up. Part of the scapegoating was directed at China; it is far easier to blame China—already part of a dangerous trade war and a simmering regional struggle in Asia—than to accept responsibility oneself.

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.


Vijay Prashad is an Indian historian, editor and journalist. He is a writing fellow and chief correspondent at Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute. He is the chief editor of LeftWord Books and the director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research. He has written more than twenty books, including The Darker Nations and The Poorer Nations. His latest book is Washington Bullets, with an introduction by Evo Morales Ayma.

29.04.2020 – US, United States – Pressenza New York

WPC Statement of Condemnation of the Decision of US Against Venezuela
The U.S. is withdrawing its remaining diplomatic personnel from the embassy in Venezuela,

The World Peace Council condemns strongly the decision of the US Attorney General, on behalf of the US administration, to announce criminal charges against the President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and other high ranking officials with the pretext of their alleged involvement in international drug trafficking.

The US General Attorney threatens to designate the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as “a state sponsoring terrorism”. This decision of the US-administration constitutes not only a further escalation in the provocations, coercive measures and interference against a sovereign country, it proves also the cynical and arrogant approach of the USA, which is using the critical times of the pandemic of COVID 19 worldwide, to impose new additional sanctions on the country and its people.

The people of Venezuela are already suffering from the sanctions and restrictions imposed by the US imperialists and its allies from EU and the “Lima Group”, which do not allow the country to purchase medicine and other vital products since more than one year. It is the same forces who recognize a self-proclaimed puppet as their “chosen leader” against any legitimacy, logic and international law and it is the same forces which do not allow during the COVID 19 crisis the country to buy and provide technical equipment and health products for the National Health System in the international markets.

The new decision of the USA today, acting as the “world sheriff” and announcing millions of US Dollars for the capturing of the legitimate President Nicolas Maduro, officers and ministers of the country has no precedent and are arbitrary and void.

The WPC expresses its profound solidarity to the people of Venezuela, to the anti-imperialist peace loving forces in their struggle to defend their sovereign right to choose their leadership and destiny alone and without any foreign interference and to fight back the imperialist aggression, interference and provocations.

We call upon all WPC members and friends to strengthen the solidarity actions with the people of Venezuela and to plan for the 19th April, which is the International Day in Solidarity with the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, actions in protest of the imperialist threats and actions in solidarity of the Venezuelan people in coordination with our Member Organisation in Venezuela (Committee for International Solidarity and Struggle for Peace-COSI).

The WPC Secretariat
26th March 2020

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

In a time of all-encompassing catastrophe, bad news comes at us from all directions. But insight can comes form anywhere as well. There’s much of this in an editorial in the April 17-30 issue of the liberal Catholic paper, the National Catholic Reporter, (NCR) entitled “Catholics and Trump, a reckoning.” I believe it calls for…

via A Catholic Reckoning? How about an Evangelical Quaker Reckoning? — A Friendly Letter

27.04.2020 – UNHCR

UN refugee chief calls for solidarity during Ramadan
Brazil is the BRICS country that has done the most for Palestinian refugees, says Filippo Grandi (Image by Fabíola Ortiz/IPS)

As holy month begins amid the coronavirus pandemic, Filippo Grandi asks us to remember almost 70 million people forcibly uprooted from their homes.

Ramadan wishes during coronavirus pandemic (Vicky Tennant, producer / Alex St-Denis, camera/editor)

Assalamualaikum

With the Holy Month of Ramadan upon us, I would like to wish all those observing a blessed month ahead.

This Ramadan is very different from any we have experienced in our lifetime. A month that symbolizes coming together has now been characterized by families and communities separated by a global pandemic that has left no one unaffected.

There will be very little congregation or group prayer.

Many will not be able to break the fast with families and friends.

Instead, most will dedicate the month to spiritual growth and deep reflection.

For more than 70 million refugees and displaced persons, the concept of “home” is a distant reality. For some, separation from family, loved ones, and their communities has been part of their lives for years, if not decades.

In this time of uncertainty and fear, I am inspired by the countless stories of hope, humanity, and generosity.

Ordinary individuals are at the front lines supporting governments and institutions. UNHCR is with them working round the clock to contain this deadly outbreak and ensure that the most vulnerable are supported.

Refugees themselves are stepping forward to help their host communities in every way they can. We have seen families delivering food to elderly neighbours; refugee-led businesses donating essential medical supplies to charities; and many other acts in support of the communities in which refugees find themselves.

And host communities continue to demonstrate overwhelming generosity in providing shelter and sharing what little they have.

It is important to remember that generosity is not only translated materially but through a kind gesture; a word of encouragement; a smile; a good deed.

This pandemic reminds us that we are facing these challenges together. This month allows us an opportunity to reflect on the importance of the communities we live in and hold dear and our collective efforts to cope and overcome.

While the spirit of human solidarity has been put to the test, I can confidently say: humanity will not be defeated.

Ramadan Kareem

 

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

28.04.2020 – Countercurrents

Global Pandemic And Global Warming

By Binu Mathew

The COVID-19 has taught us that we are in an emergency. In 2019 a teenager named Greta Thumberg was crying hoarse that we are in an emergency and no one was listening. It’s time for us to take stock of the matter. Which is the greater emergency, this COVID-19 emergency or the climate emergency that Greta Thumberg was warning about?

UN report by Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) published in May 6 2019 reported:

Up to 1 million: species threatened with extinction, many within decades

>500,000 (+/-9%): share of the world’s estimated 5.9 million terrestrial species with insufficient habitat for long term survival without habitat restoration

>40%: amphibian species threatened with extinction

Almost 33%: reef forming corals, sharks and shark relatives, and >33% marine mammals threatened with extinction

25%: average proportion of species threatened with extinction across terrestrial, freshwater and marine vertebrate, invertebrate and plant groups that have been studied in sufficient detail

At least 680: vertebrate species driven to extinction by human actions since the 16th century

+/-10%: tentative estimate of proportion of insect species threatened with extinction

>20%: decline in average abundance of native species in most major terrestrial biomes, mostly since 1900

>6: species of ungulate (hoofed mammals) would likely be extinct or surviving only in captivity today without conservation measures
Food and Agriculture

Yes this is an EMERGENCY that very few is talking about.

Why all these species are going extinct? Just because the actions of this invasive dominant species called homosapiens!

The same UN report points out that:

1 degree Celsius: average global temperature difference in 2017 compared to pre-industrial levels, rising +/-0.2 (+/-0.1) degrees Celsius per decade

>3 mm: annual average global sea level rise over the past two decades

16-21 cm: rise in global average sea level since 1900

100% increase since 1980 in greenhouse gas emissions, raising average global temperature by at least 0.7 degree

40%: rise in carbon footprint of tourism (to 4.5Gt of carbon dioxide) from 2009 to 2013

8%: of total greenhouse gas emissions are from transport and food consumption related to tourism

5%: estimated fraction of species at risk of extinction from 2°C warming alone, rising to 16% at 4.3°C warming

Even for global warming of 1.5 to 2 degrees, the majority of terrestrial species ranges are projected to shrink profoundly.

When Countercurrents.org started in 2002 the CO2 level in atmosphere was 370 ppm. Now it stands at 412 ppm. Dr. Andrew Glikson, a climate scientist has pointed out in several articles in CC that total green house gases in the atmosphere in the atmosphere including CO2, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Ozone etc has topped 500ppm.

The Paris Agreement’s goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels; and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5 °C.

Coordinated by the World Meteorological Organisation which is also backed by the United Nations Environment Programme and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United in Science report released in September 2019 estimates global emissions are not likely to peak before 2030 on the current trajectory. It says policies to reduce emissions must triple to meet the 2°C target and increase fivefold to keep heating to within 1.5°C.

With the forced COVID-19 lockdown we are well on track to reach the Paris temperature goals. The COVID lockdown taught us what is essential for our sustenance. Most of the carbon emitting vehicles and airplanes are grounded. Our consumption has come down to our basic essentials. Continents jumping tourism has come to a standstill, so has the neoliberal globalisation. It is good time for gloablisation to fail and save our planet. Pollution has come down. Cities have become serene. Rivers have become clean. We’ll have to wait for authentic studies to confirm how much carbon footprint did we reduce.

We were living a reckless life like there is no tomorrow, consuming as much as we can and travelling as far as we can. COVID lockdown has put a break to this reckless lifestyle. In fact  it is so much better for the  environment. The COVID lockdown has taught us how much wastage we were making. It also taught us we can live better life with much less than we usually consume.

The COVID lockdown has also taught us we have to do a lot more work to do make our economy resilient. We have to make our local economies resilient. We have to grow our food in our neighbourhood. It will create more local jobs and stop the long haul migration to the cities. The cities too have to become resilient by producing its own food. May be the cities itself may not be a good idea and wither away.

The COVID lockdown has given us a sneak preview into the future if we are to meet the global temperature goals. We have no other choice if we are to believe our science experts. Scientists like James Hansen predicts that even the human species may go extinct if we can not control global warming.

Human civilization has seen many pandemics and have won over all of them. We’ll overcome this pandemic too. But I’m not so sure about the battle against global warming. The COVID-19 lockdown has taught us that we can win the battle against global warming too. With a little bit more planning we can do even better.


Binu Mathew is the editor of Countercurrents.org

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

25.04.2020 – Manila, Philippines – Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc. (PMPI)

Stay, Protect and Work with our Mother Earth
Image by Jasmin777 from Pixabay

PMPI STATEMENT ON EARTH DAY

This is no ordinary Earth Day to celebrate. We are now both in a climate and health crisis. Each crisis threatens humanity’s existence.

WE are being asked to STAY. In the context of the health pandemic, we are being asked to limit movements and manage social distancing and STAY home. In the context of a climate crisis, we are being asked to be with our mother earth and to make it STAY.

As we are being asked to STAY, we are called to be still and reflect on what we have been doing to nature and how and why have reached this almost point of no return, where we, the human species are being threatened.

Planet Earth is a huge living organism composed of different lifeforms. It is alive. It is breathing. We humans are part of it. We are connected to other beings in this whole living system. Staying with planet Earth means we need to be with them – wildlife, rainforest, mountains, rivers, oceans and seas and animal’s habitat, with awe and reverence. To experience and understand their life dynamics. To ensure that we all STAY in good health and shape. To meld and blend with our surroundings of green, blue, brown and with all the wonderful colors in it and away from human activities that brings them destruction.

We are being called to PROTECT it. We are to kin of and stewards of our planet. Yet, we have failed nourish and nurture them. We brought them to a state where they are forced to take away our precious human lives through many natural disasters. We push them to deny us enough food, plenty of water or clean air, when we wantonly clear the forest, paved our mountains, or pollute our rivers and marine ecosystem in the name of profit and development. We forced them to give us deadly diseases when we tinker with the animals and wild. We cannot sit idly by and let the future generation suffer the consequences of our reckless and selfish actions.

We admonish all to WORK hard to change our ways. We cannot go back what is “normal” or what we use to do. What is normal is unsustainable. We cannot go on wantonly using earth’s natural resources like it will not suck dry. We cannot continue massively producing technology and machines from extracted minerals. We cannot push for human development without considering other sentient beings.

We, from the Philippine Misereor Partnership, Inc. (PMPI), a network of civil society organizations is pushing for a Paradigm Shift, in the way we relate and behave towards nature.
We are called to uphold an integrative sense of justice, “to hear the cry of the poor and the cry of mother earth. To have an awareness of our common home, of our mutual belonging and a future to be shared by everyone.”

We aim for a fundamental shift in economic and social governance structures, a new legal framework recognizing the Rights of Nature and a change in our personal habits and way of living. The shift requires a recovery of the lost paradigm believed and practiced by our indigenous brothers and sisters and our ancient religions.

Only when we can truly STAY with nature, PROTECT it unselfishly and WORK tirelessly towards a more harmonious, connected, inter-dependent life with other beings, will the celebration of an Earth Day become more meaningful.

 

25.04.2020 – New York City – Amy Goodman

This post is also available in: Spanish

As Earth Day Turns 50, Imagine a Just, Green, Pandemic-Free Future
(Image by social nets)

Humanity marks Earth Day’s 50th anniversary on a worldwide lockdown, as nature’s fury asserts itself through one of the smallest known particles of life, the novel coronavirus. Many argue viruses aren’t alive, relying on host organisms to replicate. Whether living or dead, the SARS-CoV-2 virus is driving us inexorably to a “new normal,” forcing us to adjust to its looming presence, at least until treatments and a vaccine become available. There are thousands of coronaviruses, though; defeat one, and another that jumps from bat or bird to human can smite us just as easily. As humans penetrate habitats of other species, decimating forests and other wildlands, zoonotic transmission–the transfer of a virus from animal to human — increases. The onrushing climate catastrophe promises unrelenting extreme weather events,  more severe and frequent. This “new normal” demands that we radically realign our relationship with Nature, and that we do it now. Waiting fifty years is not an option.

Rebuilding will require containment of the COVID-19 pandemic. Global solidarity will be essential. “Stay at home, save a life,” is the prescription. But staying at home is a privilege. The life-saving practice of social distancing is out of reach to hundreds of millions of people.

Take India, for example, the world’s second most populous country. “Millions of workers and migrant workers are under a lockdown, which is supposed to enforce social distancing, but it only enforces physical compression,” Arundhati Roy, renowned writer and dissident, said on the Democracy Now! news hour recently. “People are crammed together. People are separated from their families. In many places, they have no food. They have no access to money even. They’ve sold their phones. You have the sense that you’re sitting on some kind of explosive substance.”

Key steps toward containment are testing, tracing, and isolation. Test kits that yield rapid results must be developed, mass produced, and distributed globally, then administered without cost. Those who may have been exposed must be traced, adhering to strict privacy and human rights standards. Finally, safe, humane isolation options must be provided for those infected, until they are well enough to rejoin their community.

Look no farther than the administration of President Donald Trump to see how wrong it all can go. Trump first denied the pandemic, then called it a hoax, then rolled out testing inexcusably slowly, compelling a jumble of federal, state, county and municipal jurisdictions to compete for tests and equipment while asserting U.S. supremacy during his hate-filled propagandistic pandemic anti-press briefings. He calls himself a “war-time president,” but failed to get healthcare providers the gear to wage battle. His delays and lies have caused the deaths of so many thousands of people.

Outbreaks occur from coast to coast, from meat packing plants, where workers have no choice but to show up for work in hazardous, potentially lethal conditions, to prisons and immigrant detention centers, where prisoners are denied early release, or even access to adequate soap, water, protective gear and safe distancing from others.

In the global south, the pandemic and climate disruption are a double-edged sword. “In Africa, people are saying, ‘If we don’t get killed by COVID-19, we’ll get killed by hunger,’” Kumi Naidoo, who formerly headed both Amnesty International and Greenpeace, said on Democracy Now! “Humanity must take a hard look at ourselves about whether we want to build back after corona exactly what we had, or build back a more equitable, more just and a more sustainable world.”

Arundhati Roy echoed those sentiments in a recent essay, writing, “Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next.”

Donald Trump has pledged U.S. taxpayer money to prop up failing fossil fuel industries like coal and oil. In response, author Naomi Klein tweeted, “Dems need to counter w/ a sweeping plan to cover the full salaries of fossil fuel workers while they retrain for the clean economy. Time to wind down this abusive industry that has always relied on massive public subsidies.”

On the first Earth Day, in 1970, over 20 million people in the United States — fully ten percent of the nation’s population at the time — rallied for an end to pollution, for an ecologically sustainable economy, for a greener future. “Our goal is not just an environment of clean air and water and scenic beauty,” Earth Day co-founder Sen. Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin said that day. “The objective is an environment of decency, quality and mutual respect for all other human beings and all other living creatures.”

Fifty years later, with the planet’s climate on a human-caused precipice, the numbers demanding change are far greater, the organizing is global, but the time is short.

 The original article can be found on our partner’s website here

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Dietrich Bonhoeffer

We must act and dare the appropiateness and not whatever comes to our mind not floating in the likelihood but grasp the reality as brave as we can be freedom lies in action not in the absence of mind obedience knows the essence of good and satisfies it, freedom dares to act and returns God the ultimate judgment of what is right and what is wrong, Obedience performs blindly but Freedom is wide awake Freedom wants to know why, Obedience has its hands tied, Freedom is inventive obedient man respects God’s commands and by virtu of his Freedom, he creats new commands. Both Obedience and Freedom come true in responsability (Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

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