…ok…you’ve probably lost count by now…between that party in a garden…& the other one…& leaving dos…especially the poorly-timed one on the eve of a royal funeral…& possibly something called “wine fridays”…you’d maybe think you’d heard about all the parties boris & his crew threw themselves while the UK was on lockdown…but there’s another one
A British broadcaster on Monday reported that yet another alleged “bash” occurred at 10 Downing Street during strict lockdown, this one to celebrate Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s birthday in June 2020, at a time when rules designed to stop the spread of the coronavirus forbid indoor social gatherings.
ITV News also said that on the evening of the same day, June 19, 2020, Johnson hosted family and friends upstairs in the prime minister’s residence, another breach of the government’s own orders.
The allegations come as Johnson awaits an investigative report by senior civil servant Sue Gray into a string of allegations about garden parties, “bring your own booze” fetes and basement “blowouts” at 10 Downing Street, which like the White House, serves as both office and residence for the country’s leader.https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/24/boris-johnson-birthday-party/
…but never fear…the tory party is here to rise to the occasion & parse the meaning of the term party for you…since obviously that’s the vital order of the day
Boris Johnson’s gathering with birthday cake in the cabinet room was not a party, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, has said, denying the prime minister had organised the event.
“The prime minister clearly didn’t organise to be given a cake,” Shapps told Sky News after the latest revelations about lockdown breaches in Downing Street. “Some people came forward and thought it would be appropriate for on his birthday.”
Asked if, at the time, he would have advised someone at a Downing Street press conference that the gathering as described would be allowed, Shapps said: “I think it’s clearly unwise to do those things…. This is in a workplace with a bunch of people who were working together all of the time, who decide to give the prime minister a birthday cake on his birthday. Unwise, I’m sure, given the circumstances as we know them.”
Shapps confirmed that the event on 19 June 2020 would be considered by the official inquiry into the breaches by Sue Gray, saying she was “already aware of this particular incident, so she will be using that in her report and we’ll wait to see what she says”.https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2022/jan/25/cake-and-singing-boris-johnson-birthday-not-a-party-say-grant-shapps
…poor sue gray…you’d think somehow the lady had superpowers…because apparently nobody can even think their way around to answering a question about what anyone might say or think even hypothetically until after they hear her conclusions about this stuff…which is a little odd considering that one fairly major component of it is a lot more commonplace than it’s being made out to be
But the reports have done more than reveal potential rule breaking at the highest echelons — they have also highlighted a culture of heavy drinking in Britain and the outsize role that alcohol often plays in society.
While the stereotype of repressed Brits becoming rowdy, maudlin or overly amorous after over-imbibing has long dogged the country, on average, U.K. drinkers don’t consume significantly more than Americans. Also, the pandemic has increased alcohol consumption in both countries, with alcohol duty receipts going up 4.5 percent in the U.K., compared to 4 percent in 15 U.S. states from April to October 2020, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
One difference appears to be who is drinking and how.
According to the latest Health Survey for England published in 2019, drinking habits are strongly related to income level. Unlike in other parts of the world, a larger proportion of high earners in Britain drink more than those earning less.
“There’s a history of workplace drinking around the rhythms of working life: celebrating the end of the working week on Friday afternoons, when payday comes around people celebrate that, pre-drinks around Christmas and leaving parties. There are moments of ritual or occasions where alcohol, or offering to take people to the pub, is part of the social function around working office life.”
This strong intersection of alcohol and work life appears to be what has landed Johnson in hot water, with former aides describing an environment where staff members regularly drank.
“Drinks would start at lunchtime, they could start a little bit later in the day,” Sonia Khan, who was fired as a former Downing St. special adviser in August 2019, said in an interview on the BBC last week. “The idea of kind of minifridges or having drinks underneath your table wasn’t uncommon.”https://www.nbcnews.com/news/world/boris-johnson-byob-lockdown-covid-parties-uk-drinking-coronavirus
…&…most of that tracks…not least in that journalists are more or less typecast as functional alcoholics…so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there were newsrooms who could give downing st a run for its money when it came to carousing in the face of a national lockdown…but harping on this one theme while acting like boris is schrödinger’s prime minister does seem to have a maddening effect of trying to imply that a bunch of the news is on pause…when pause seems like it’s not a button that’s working on some things
We knew this was coming.
“George, you have to understand that Ukraine is not even a country. Part of its territory is in Eastern Europe and the greater part was given to us.” These were the ominous words of President Vladimir Putin of Russia to President George W. Bush in Bucharest, Romania, at a NATO summit in April 2008.
Mr. Putin was furious: NATO had just announced that Ukraine and Georgia would eventually join the alliance. This was a compromise formula to allay concerns of our European allies — an explicit promise to join the bloc, but no specific timeline for membership.
Within four months, in August 2008, Russia invaded Georgia. Ukraine got Russia’s message loud and clear. It backpedaled on NATO membership for the next several years. But in 2014, Ukraine wanted to sign an association agreement with the European Union, thinking this might be a safer route to the West. Moscow struck again, accusing Ukraine of seeking a back door to NATO, annexing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and starting an ongoing proxy war in Ukraine’s southeastern Donbas region. The West’s muted reactions to both the 2008 and 2014 invasions emboldened Mr. Putin.
This time, Mr. Putin’s aim is bigger than closing NATO’s “open door” to Ukraine and taking more territory — he wants to evict the United States from Europe. As he might put it: “Goodbye, America. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
As I have seen over two decades of observing Mr. Putin, and analyzing his moves, his actions are purposeful and his choice of this moment to throw down the gauntlet in Ukraine and Europe is very intentional. He has a personal obsession with history and anniversaries. December 2021 marked the 30th anniversary of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, when Russia lost its dominant position in Europe. Mr. Putin wants to give the United States a taste of the same bitter medicine Russia had to swallow in the 1990s. He believes that the United States is currently in the same predicament as Russia was after the Soviet collapse: grievously weakened at home and in retreat abroad. He also thinks NATO is nothing more than an extension of the United States. Russian officials and commentators routinely deny any agency or independent strategic thought to other NATO members. So, when it comes to the alliance, all of Moscow’s moves are directed against Washington.
In the 1990s, the United States and NATO forced Russia to withdraw the remnants of the Soviet military from their bases in Eastern Europe, Germany and the Baltic States. Mr. Putin wants the United States to suffer in a similar way. From Russia’s perspective, America’s domestic travails after four years of Donald Trump’s disastrous presidency, as well as the rifts he created with U.S. allies and then America’s precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan, signal weakness. If Russia presses hard enough, Mr. Putin hopes he can strike a new security deal with NATO and Europe to avoid an open-ended conflict, and then it will be America’s turn to leave, taking its troops and missiles with it.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/opinion/russia-ukraine-putin-biden.html
All the while, Mr. Putin and his proxies have ratcheted up their statements. Kremlin officials have not just challenged the legitimacy of America’s position in Europe, they have raised questions about America’s bases in Japan and its role in the Asia-Pacific region. They have also intimated that they may ship hypersonic missiles to America’s back door in Cuba and Venezuela to revive what the Russians call the Caribbean Crisis of the 1960s.
Mr. Putin plays a longer, strategic game and knows how to prevail in the tactical scrum. He has the United States right where he wants it. His posturing and threats have set the agenda in European security debates, and have drawn our full attention. Unlike President Biden, Mr. Putin doesn’t have to worry about midterm elections or pushback from his own party or the opposition. Mr. Putin has no concerns about bad press or poor poll ratings. He isn’t part of a political party and he has crushed the Russian opposition. The Kremlin has largely silenced the local, independent press. Mr. Putin is up for re-election in 2024, but his only viable opponent, Aleksei Navalny, is locked in a penal colony outside of Moscow.
Contrary to Mr. Putin’s premise in 2008 that Ukraine is “not a real country,” Ukraine has been a full-fledged member of the United Nations since 1991. Another Russian assault would challenge the entire U.N. system and imperil the arrangements that have guaranteed member states’ sovereignty since World War II — akin to the Iraq invasion of Kuwait in 1990, but on an even bigger scale. The United States and its allies, and Ukraine itself, should take this issue to the United Nations and put it before the General Assembly as well as the Security Council. Even if Russia blocks a resolution, the future of Ukraine merits a global response. The United States should also raise concerns in other regional institutions. Why is Russia trying to take its disputes in Europe to Asia and the Western Hemisphere? What does Ukraine have to do with Japan, or Cuba and Venezuela?
…& the lady that wrote that “was an intelligence officer on Russia and Eurasian affairs for Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama and served on the National Security Council under President Donald Trump”…so probably ought to know more about that stuff than the likes of me…but it would seem not everybody’s on the same page
When it comes to assessing the risk of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, there is a major geopolitical divide. The United States, along with its ever-close foreign policy ally Britain, has warned that Russian troops massing on the border of Ukraine suggest that Moscow could start a major conflict on European soil. And yet even with this risk, some European nations closer to the action remain skeptical.
Germany has been particularly resistant to the prevailing wisdom in Washington and London. Berlin has ruled out supplying Ukraine with defensive weapons so far; British Royal Air Force planes even avoided German airspace when delivering antitank weapons to Ukraine, instead taking a longer route over the North Sea and Denmark.
There are many reasons for the divide, but one key difference is in views of the Russian president and his intentions, according to Liana Fix, an expert on Russia at Berlin’s Körber Foundation. Many in Europe think Vladimir Putin is bluffing, she said.
The stark difference was highlighted in remarks Friday by Germany’s navy chief, who asked a think tank panel in New Delhi if they thought Russia was interested in having a “small and tiny strip of Ukraine soil” under its control? “No, this is nonsense,” Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach said, before adding that “Putin is probably putting pressure on us because he can do it.”
Western nations should respond by giving the Russian leader the respect he craves — and deserves — the German naval leader continued. Schönbach offered his resignation Saturday after an international outcry.
Such views are not as isolated as you may think. There are plenty of officials and experts who believe that Russia does not seek a conflict and its military buildup is a ploy designed to force concessions from the West. However, there is disagreement on whether his demands, which include an end to the eastern expansion of military alliance NATO, should be met.
Russia has surprised everyone and began major international aggression before under Putin — Chechnya from 1999, Georgia in 2008, Syria from 2015 and even not-so-covertly in breakaway regions of Ukraine from 2014 — and still frequently engages in lower-level international acts. But a full-scale invasion of an enormous country — which borders the European Union, is well-supplied with Western arms and has a largely hostile population — may be a very different proposition.
“Few serious negotiations begin with one side drafting, let alone publishing, an entire agreement,” Michael McFaul, a former U.S. ambassador to Moscow, recently wrote for The Post, adding that Putin appeared to not be negotiating but offering an ultimatum. “And ultimatums, as we know from history, are often pretexts for annexation or war.”
“By backing away from a military escalation, Putin would risk being accused of failing to secure serious concessions on Ukraine or from NATO. He would be seen as a man who talks a lot and threatens but, when faced with a tough response from the other side, eventually backs down,” British historian Timothy Ash wrote for the Atlantic Council this week.
Others agree. Fiona Hill, formerly a top Russia official for President Donald Trump’s National Security Council, has said roughly the same, telling Puck News that Putin believes it can extract concessions from Biden as he cares more deeply about Ukraine than Trump. “If we call his bluff, he has to do something, because otherwise none of his threats are credible,” Hill said.https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2022/01/25/russia-ukraine-putin-bluff/
…but we’re back around to fiona hill again…so that’s in danger of going in yet more circles
Kim Jong-un, the country’s ruler, has launched six ballistic missiles in four weapons tests since Jan. 5, almost as many missiles in one month as North Korea launched in all of last year. On Tuesday, the South Korean military confirmed that the North had fired two cruise missiles in its fifth test of 2022.
The message was clear: The North Korean leader feels he is being ignored and wants to push the Biden administration to re-engage and pay attention to his economically ailing nation.
Mr. Kim needs Washington to engage with him on economic concessions so that he can fix his country’s devastated economy. Over the years, he has learned that the best way to grab the attention of an American president is with weapons. And that the best time to do it is when the world can least afford the instability.
According to that playbook, 2022 looks like a promising year.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/25/world/asia/north-korea-launches-missiles-kim.html
…not really sure I know quite where in the mix is the part where boris has done anything much about anything…but apparently that light-on-detail announcement the other day about how moscow was considering a coup was of much interest to those poring over the situation from that US perspective
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III has put 8,500 American troops on “high alert” for possible deployment to Eastern Europe, as NATO and the United States braced for a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Pentagon announced on Monday.https://www.nytimes.com/2022/01/24/us/politics/russia-ukraine-us-troops.html
…which is just some marvelous timing for a pointedly vague bit of headline wrangling by the embattled birthday boy, there…anyway…not to worry…I’m sure vlad can’t actually do anything until after we’ve all finally heard from sue gray…so we should be fine…for a given value of fine, anyway
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision in Brown v. Board of Education, Southern states launched a campaign of massive resistance to school desegregation. Today, a version of massive resistance is again playing out, this time to the court’s ruling in the Texas abortion case — and this time, the resistance is coming from within the judiciary itself.
Worse yet: In the years after Brown, the court made clear that it would not tolerate any disobedience of its desegregation ruling. By contrast, in the weeks since the court allowed a limited challenge to the Texas abortion law to proceed, the conservative justices have shown themselves unwilling to enforce even that weak edict.
Once the case was decided, the court, as is its usual practice, sent the case back to the appeals court. The ordinary thing for the appeals court to do would have been to refer it back to the trial-level judge, who appeared inclined to put the law on hold while the litigation continued.
Not here. The ultraconservative U.S. Court for Appeals for the 5th Circuit, in league with Texas, has managed to ensure further weeks, even months, of delay.
The diabolical genius of the Texas law is that it forswears enforcement of the six-week abortion ban by state officials and instead outsources that job to private bounty hunters. This twist made it difficult for the abortion providers challenging the law to find an appropriate state official to sue in federal court, because under the Constitution, the state itself can’t be sued directly.
Then came Texas, with a new delaying tactic. Actually, the state said, the licensing officials don’t have any authority under Texas law to enforce the abortion law. And, the state added, that question of state law should be sent over — “certified,” in legal terms — to the Texas Supreme Court to decide.
Notably, as the litigation made its way up to the justices, Texas had never before suggested this move. Even more notably, this question had already been considered and decided — by the Supreme Court itself. Eight justices — eight — agreed that the case against the licensing officials could proceed. Only Justice Clarence Thomas, dissenting, suggested otherwise.
At the oral argument, Jan. 7, Jones said the quiet part out loud. “What happens when the Supreme Court, if the Supreme Court, as many expect, says something about Roe v. Wade that implies that [the] prohibition on abortions after heartbeat may be enforceable,” she asked. “What happens then? Is this case alive or dead? … Maybe we should just sit on this until the end of June,” by which point the Supreme Court will have ruled on Mississippi’s abortion law and may well have overturned Roe.
Courts are not supposed to work this way. They are supposed to follow the existing law even if they disagree with it. They are not supposed to place their bets on what they deduce — or hope — the justices might do in the future.
In the meantime, the abortion providers returned to the Supreme Court, imploring the justices to, in effect, order the 5th Circuit to cut it out and follow the court’s own ruling. “There is no clearer rule in all appellate jurisprudence than the rule that a lower court must comply with the mandate of a superior court and that the issues decided by the superior court are not subject to relitigation below,” they argued.
No dice. On Friday, over the anguished dissent of the three liberal justices, the court declined to intercede. Here is Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Stephen G. Breyer and Elena Kagan: “Instead of stopping a Fifth Circuit panel from indulging Texas’ newest delay tactics, the Court allows the State yet again to extend the deprivation of the federal constitutional rights of its citizens through procedural manipulation. The Court may look the other way, but I cannot.”https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/01/21/conservative-judges-resist-supreme-court-abortion-rule/
…it’s such a comfort in these trying times to know that those charged with making deliberations for a living are clearly in command of an ability to comprehend the issues inherent in a specific instance…& that their behavior so amply demonstrates the quality of justice from whence they derive their job description
When the Supreme Court term opened on Oct. 4, Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only member of the court to wear a mask during oral argument, no doubt because her Type 1 diabetes put her at greater risk for Covid-19. That changed dramatically earlier this month, when every justice on the bench donned a mask — with the exception of Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Sotomayor’s seat, immediately next to Gorsuch’s, has been empty in January. She has instead participated in hearings remotely from her chambers, which raises immediate questions. Is Sotomayor staying away from Gorsuch to protect herself from possible Covid exposure? And if so, why hasn’t he been more considerate of his colleague’s health?
[…] Even if he rejects the science behind the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s endorsement of masking in closed spaces, it would cause him at most slight discomfort to wear a mask for a couple of hours in the courtroom. He could still slip it down to ask questions of the lawyers, as do some of the other justices. It’s a small imposition for the sake of allaying Sotomayor’s very real health issues.
Gorsuch has voted against almost every Covid prevention measure that has come before the court, including the two recent federal vaccine mandate cases. Other than at the court, he is still subject to the District of Columbia’s regulations requiring masks in all indoor public locations, including stores, theaters, businesses, schools, houses of worship, restaurants and ride share vehicles. Perhaps it was his small act of resistance or personal liberation to appear maskless in a venue where he is literally above the law.https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/supreme-court-covid-mask-controversy-missing-point
…yup…I’m sure it’s a comfort to someone, anyway
The Supreme Court will take up a challenge to the Clean Water Act that could narrow the law’s reach in ways long sought by businesses and home builders.https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2022/01/24/supreme-court-clean-water-act/
…because it’s safe to say there’s some stuff that probably should be settled in court
Federal agents executed a search warrant at the Chicago-area headquarters of a national pop-up testing chain called the Center for COVID Control, a spokesperson for the Health and Human Services inspector general said Monday.
The Center for COVID Control has the same registered address as a laboratory called Doctors Clinical Laboratory, which conducted hundreds of thousands of PCR tests using specimens collected by the pop-up testing company, a company spokesperson said.
Both the pop-up testing company and the lab have been under investigation by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, as well as multiple state attorneys general.
The company has billed the federal government more than $120 million for testing uninsured people, according to federal records.A spokesperson for the Center for COVID Control did not respond to a request for comment about the search, which was first reported by USA Today. Emails and phone messages left at Doctors Clinical Laboratory were not returned.
The Center for COVID Control’s CEO, Aleya Siyaj, 29, and her husband, Ali Syed, could not be immediately reached for comment.
Siyaj and Syed’s previous businesses included a donut shop and an ax throwing business.
The investigations were launched after the company drew dozens of consumer complaints from late test results to concerns that no tests were being conducted at all.
The lab and the Center for COVID Control have been under investigation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services since late November, when an inspection revealed widespread violations, including a failure to label specimens.
The Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota and Oregon attorneys general have all announced investigations. The Massachusetts attorney general is reviewing complaints.https://www.nbcnews.com/investigations/fbi-searches-headquarters-national-covid-testing-company
…but some things…it seems like it shouldn’t take that much effort to figure out what to do about
Supporting low-income families with cash could protect infants from the deleterious effects poverty has on brain development, research published Monday finds.
The preliminary results from an ongoing clinical trial found that infants whose families received an extra $4,000 in annual income were more likely to show brain activity patterns associated with the development of thinking and learning.
The findings come just weeks after the Child Tax Credit, which provided additional money to low-income parents, expired.
Previous research has shown that growing up in poverty has an impact on brain development, including lower rates of college attendance and high school graduation among children who grew up poor. In the past decade, dozens of studies have shown differences in brain matter and brain activity in both kids and adults living in poverty.
But the new study goes a step further, demonstrating the cause-and-effect link between poverty and brain development.https://www.nbcnews.com/health/health-news/poverty-hurts-early-brain-development-giving-families-cash-can-help
…while sometimes an unguarded observation that seems pretty accurate could maybe be viewed as something other than a catalyst for manufacturing as much expedient outrage as possible?
President Joe Biden was caught on camera Monday cursing about Fox News reporter Peter Doocy.
“What a stupid son of a bitch,” Biden said as reporters, including Doocy, were being ushered out of a room after he made remarks about inflation. Biden spoke quietly, but the insult was caught on his microphone, which was still on. The remark was included in an official White House transcript of the president’s remarks.https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/joe-biden/biden-caught-cursing-about-fox-news-reporter-hot-mic
…I get that there are competing priorities out in the world
The global fight against corruption has been at a standstill for a decade, with 86% of countries either worsening or making no progress in tackling the problem, and with numerous governments accused of using the pandemic to erode human rights and democracy, a report has found.
Transparency International’s annual corruption ranking, published on Tuesday, also found countries that violate civil liberties consistently have low scores, underlining how failure to tackle corruption exacerbates human rights abuses and undermines democracy.
First launched in 1995, the corruption perceptions index (CPI) has become one of the leading global trackers of public sector corruption, drawing data from 13 public sources, including the World Bank and the World Economic Forum. At least three sources are required to provide a ranking for each of the 180 countries included.https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/jan/25/governments-around-the-world-used-covid-to-erode-human-rights-report
The 2021 index highlights the connection between corruption, democracy and human rights – from the lowest-scoring countries to advanced economies.
Delia Ferreira Rubio, chair of Transparency International, said: “Human rights are not simply a nice-to-have in the fight against corruption. Authoritarian approaches destroy independent checks and balances and make anti-corruption efforts dependent on the whims of an elite. Ensuring people can speak freely and work collectively to hold power to account is the only sustainable route to a corruption-free society.”
…so I suppose you have to make allowances for context
Mark Zuckerberg has announced his social media empire is building what he claims is the world’s fastest artificial intelligence supercomputer as part of plans to build a virtual metaverse.
The Facebook founder said in a blogpost that the metaverse, a concept that blends the physical and digital world via virtual and augmented reality, will require “enormous” computing power. The AI supercomputer, dubbed AI Research SuperCluster (RSC) by Zuckerberg’s Meta business, is already the fifth fastest in the world, the company said.https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/jan/24/mark-zuckerberg-says-meta-is-building-the-worlds-fastest-supercomputer
[The corporation] It was fined $5bn for privacy violations in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal and Frances Haugen, a former Facebook employee and whistleblower, has warned that the company is focusing on expansion into new areas when it should be putting “more resources on very basic safety systems”.
“We hope RSC will help us build entirely new AI systems that can, for example, power real-time voice translations to large groups of people, each speaking a different language, so they can seamlessly collaborate on a research project or play an AR game together,” wrote the researchers. “Ultimately, the work done with RSC will pave the way toward building technologies for the next major computing platform – the metaverse, where AI-driven applications and products will play an important role.”
…just…don’t crunch the numbers about what that costs in…say…carbon footprint terms…NFTs are doing enough damage on that front already…so I’m sure this isn’t going to snowball into the sort of thing that fucks with the fate of snowballs
…all those big tech types really care about their users being…comfortable, let’s call it…with their user experience
Texas, Indiana, Washington state and the District of Columbia sued Alphabet’s Google on Monday over what they called deceptive location tracking practices that invade users’ privacy.
“Google falsely led consumers to believe that changing their account and device settings would allow customers to protect their privacy and control what personal data the company could access,” the office of the Washington DC attorney general, Karl Racine, said in a statement.
“The truth is that contrary to Google’s representations it continues to systematically surveil customers and profit from customer data. Google’s bold misrepresentations are a clear violation of consumers’ privacy,” the statement said.
“Location data is key to Google’s advertising business. Consequently, it has a financial incentive to dissuade users from withholding access to that data,” the office of the Washington state attorney general, Bob Ferguson, said in a statement.
The lawsuit cites a 2018 article by the Associated Press that revealed Google was continuing to track users’ locations even when users turned off the “location history” setting. The company claimed that turning that setting off would stop any location tracking when in reality there was a separate setting, called “Web & App Activity”, that continued to log location and other personal data.https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2022/jan/24/google-sued-privacy-texas-district-of-columbia
…so I’m sure we can all agree that everyone’s got their priorities in order on this particular ruby of a tuesday
Today we need institutions equipped to rise to the great challenges posed by Covid-19, poverty and the climate crisis. Yet political leaders gripped by vaccine nationalism, climate nationalism and economic nationalism are manifestly lacking the “community of purpose” their citizens and the world need in this moment of crisis.
Nowhere are the failures more starkly evident than in the financial response to the pandemic. When Covid-19 struck, governments in rich countries acted decisively to contain the social and economic impacts. Fiscal rulebooks were torn up and monetary orthodoxies abandoned. Even the most conservative finance ministers responded to the crisis like Keynesians on public finance steroids. According to the IMF, economic stimulus measures equivalent to about one-quarter of GDP were implemented.
Contrasts with lower-income countries could not be more striking. Most were unable to muster more than 1-2% of GDP in increased public spending, leaving vulnerable populations unprotected and economies trapped in a downward spiral.
Recession magnified pre-pandemic debt problems, leaving more than half of low-income countries either in, or at risk of, debt distress. Amid the public health crisis triggered by the pandemic, 43 lower-income countries were left spending more on debt than public health.https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2022/jan/24/we-can-afford-to-reverse-poverty-and-climate-breakdown-what-we-cant-afford-is-the-alternative
The human consequences have been devastating. Progress towards the 2030 sustainable development goals (SDGs) has been thrown into reverse. The number of people in poverty has increased by more than 90 million. Two decades of progress towards universal health coverage have ground to a halt, raising the spectre of setbacks in child survival and maternal health.
John Maynard Keynes, one of the architects of the Bretton Woods system, once dismissed the argument that Britain had reached the limits of affordable social provision with a simple rejoinder: “Anything we can actually do, we can afford.” As an international community we can afford to deliver on the SDGs and prevent climate catastrophe. What we can’t afford is the alternative.
…at any rate…I think we can all agree that on that basis I can in fact afford to be late with these…& even later with the tunes that I strongly suspect are really the best parts of these…so I’ll try to get to that part at some point