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The Atlantic Politics Daily: How This Will All Play Out – The Atlantic

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It’s Wednesday, March 25. A $2-trillion relief package in response to the coronavirus pandemic crawls toward the finish line. Such legislation could give life to the argument, most common on the left, that big government can be, and do, good.

In the rest of today’s newsletter: How this will play out. Plus: Is an extended national shutdown now the least worst option?

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« TODAY IN POLITICS »

(THE ATLANTIC)

The U.S. may end up with the worst COVID-19 outbreak in the industrialized world. Our science writer Ed Yong reports in this single most important story of the current moment how this will all play out, and explores the changes that need to be made urgently for the U.S. to come back from the brink.

The first and most important is to rapidly produce masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment. If health-care workers can’t stay healthy, the rest of the response will collapse. In some places, stockpiles are already so low that doctors are reusing masks between patients, calling for donations from the public, or sewing their own homemade alternatives. These shortages are happening because medical supplies are made-to-order and depend on byzantine international supply chainsthat are currently straining and snapping. Hubei province in China, the epicenter of the pandemic, was also a manufacturing center of medical masks.

Make time to read the full piece.

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« SNAPSHOT »

(Narinder Nanu / AFP / Getty)

People gather on a balcony of a residential building to clap and make noise with kitchenware to thank essential service providers during a one-day curfew imposed amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19, in Amritsar, India earlier this week.

Our photo editor Alan Taylor scoured the wires for other images of how people show gratitude for their health care professionals from the balconies and windows of quarantine. These are some of the gentler moments of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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« THE CORONAVIRUS READER »

(TRAVELVIEW / SHUTTERSTOCK / THE ATLANTIC)

+ We’re just at the beginning of this national crisis, our contributing writer Yascha Mounk argues, and an extended national shutdown now is the least worst option.

+ For decades other countries were shaped by the traumas of disease outbreaks while the United States remained largely untouched. No longer, Uri Friedman reports.

+ Even before the pandemic, Joe Biden’s rise in the 2020 primaries signaled a Democratic longing for a return to some sort of normalcy. After the pandemic, the longing for normal might smash hopes for any political revolution, Shadi Hamid writes.

+ Americans sometimes espouse a desire for rugged individualism and independence. But when a national crisis like this hits, a strong federal government can start to sound more appealing than ever, one history professor writes.

You can keep up with The Atlantic’s most crucial coronavirus coverage here.


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Today’s newsletter was written by Christian Paz, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.

You can reply directly to this newsletter with questions or comments, or send a note to politicsdaily@theatlantic.com.

Your support makes our journalism possible. Subscribe here.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

Christian Paz is an editorial fellow at The Atlantic.

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India: COVID-19 politics catches apolitical Muslim group – Anadolu Agency

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NEW DELHI

A Muslim missionary group Tablighi Jamaat is in the headlines, as reports of coronavirus or COVID-19 cases, emerging from different parts of the world are being linked to its gatherings.

The Indian government has filed a case against its Chief Maulana Mohammad Saad Kandhalvi for arranging a gathering at its headquarters located in Nizamuddin locality in the heart of capital New Delhi.

A strictly apolitical organization that focuses only on teaching basics of Islam to its followers, has invoked the ire of Indian media, which is projecting Muslims in general and the group in particular as villains in the battle against the spread of the virus.

Even senior leaders of India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were quick to denounce the Jamaat for arranging congregation, alleging the act had endangered lives.

Authorities said Kandhalvi had made a mockery of social distancing norms. They said that after Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a 21-day lockdown, thousands of people continued to stay inside the Nizamuddin Markaz. But Jamaat office-bearers say that participants of the gathering had no way to go to their homes, because of sudden lockdown.

Kandhalvi, 55, is the great-grandson of Muhammad Ilyas Kandhlavi who founded the group in 1926 in a rural region of Mewat, in the outskirts of Delhi. The organization has millions of members spread in more than 90 countries, including Australia, the U.K., the U.S., Afghanistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

The Jamaat sends followers to different parts of the world, teaching the basics of Islam and rituals to Muslims. Each group consists of eight to 12 people who take care of their expenses and stay in local mosques.

Kandhalvi is considered a scholar of Islam like his great grandfather and his grandfather Mohammad Yusuf.

His brother-in-law and close associate of Tablighi Jamaat, Maulana Zia ul Hasan, told Anadolu Agency: “Jamaat is an apolitical organization and our practices are in strict accordance with the Quran.”

The teachings of Tabligh Jamaat are expressed in “Six Principles”: Kalimah (or the declaration of faith), Salah (prayer), Ilm-o-zikr (knowledge), Ikraam-e-Muslim (respect of muslims), Ikhlas-e-Niyyat (sincerity of intention), and Dawat-o-Tableegh (proselytization).

Split in the group

Although Kandhalvi is a prominent figure with a vast number of his followers, three years ago there was a split and the group was divided into two factions.

Islamic scholars and prominent figures in the group, including Maulana Ibrahim Deol and Maulana Ahmed Lat, left after differences with Kandhalvi.

Deol and Lat, from the western Indian state of Gujarat, are the most well-known faces of the breakaway faction.

There is no figure to prove how many people belong to different groups.

According to critics, the biggest weakness of Kandhalvi’s personality is his “stubbornness”. He does not listen to anyone.

However, Kandhalvi’s brother-in-law Maulana Hasan does not consider him responsible for the split.

“They wanted that there should be different leaders every week. How decisions can be taken if a new leader is changed quickly in a religious organization like this?” he asked.

Regarding Kandhalvi’s “stubborn” nature, his brother-in-law said: “This accusation is not entirely correct. He is a leader of the Jamaat around the world and has to make decisions on many issues.”

When asked about the exact number of Tablighi Jamaat members, Hasan said he has no idea but claimed he read in a book published in the U.K. that there must be around 300 million.

Hasan admits Jamaat has committed mistakes unknowingly. “It would be wrong to say that all this has been done intentionally,” he said.



Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.

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How Chinese Americans Are Living Through a Second Pandemic: Politics Daily – The Atlantic

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It’s Friday, April 3. In today’s newsletter: How many Chinese Americans are now living through their second pandemic. Plus: An unhealthy military, struggling to fight COVID-19.

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« TODAY IN POLITICS »

In January, Mei Mei, a real-estate agent in California, shipped N95 masks to her parents in China. When the outbreak started getting worse in the U.S., they considered sending the same masks back to her. (ERIN BRETHAUER)

As coronavirus cases fall in China and soar in the U.S., many Chinese Americans are experiencing a disconcerting case of déjà vu. The social isolation, overwhelmed hospitals, equipment shortages and deaths all feel eerily familiar, after what those with loved ones in China experienced as the disease first peaked in Wuhan.

First-generation immigrants in particular recognized the virus as a serious threat before much of the rest of America. Many other Chinese Americans still have close ties to China, and went from sending N95 masks to their loved ones in China to receiving them from the same family and friends they once considered at a higher risk.

Mei Mei, a real-estate agent in California, has been coordinating donations of masks, face shields, goggles, and other PPE to send to local hospitals. “A lot of the donations I received, they were all still in the original package shipping by their family [from China],” she told my colleague Sarah Zhang.

“You tell people around you, but they didn’t really want to believe that,” Yahua Yu, a Seattle neurologist who attended medical school in Wuhan, told Sarah. “Then you start saying, ‘You will see. You will see.’”

—Kaila Philo

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« THE CORONAVIRUS READER »

(HISTORICAL / GETTY)

+ The U.S. armed forces are devoted to keeping the American public safe. But the pandemic has military personnel questioning whether they can promise as much for themselves, Kathy Gilsinan reports.

+ Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has used the pandemic to seize absolute power in Hungary indefinitely. Now is the time for widespread scrutiny of the powers that be, Anne Applebaum argues.

+ Americans with disabilities fear that life-saving treatment could be withheld from them should they fall ill with COVID-19, Elaine Godfrey reports.

+ As unemployment skyrockets, President Trump’s reelection chances plummet, Annie Lowrey argues.

You can keep up with The Atlantic’s most crucial coronavirus coverage here.


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Today’s newsletter was written by Kaila Philo, a Politics fellow. It was edited by Shan Wang, who oversees newsletters.

You can reply directly to this newsletter with questions or comments, or send a note to politicsdaily@theatlantic.com.

Your support makes our journalism possible. Subscribe here.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.

Kaila Philo is an editorial fellow at The Atlantic.

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The Coronavirus Is Transforming Politics and Economics – The New Yorker

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Just like in wartime, people are frightened, public attitudes are changing, and the circumstances necessitate an expanded role for the government, including the Department of the Treasury.Photographer by Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg / Getty

In early March, when health experts warned that the United States risked running short of vital medical supplies, such as masks and ventilators, Donald Trump resisted calls to invoke the Defense Production Act, a 1950 law that gives the President broad powers to prioritize the production of certain items when they become important for national security. As recently as last week, he said, “We don’t need it.” Finally, on Thursday, Trump dropped the pretense and invoked the act to order the suppliers of ventilator manufacturers to give them the components they need to speed up production.

Every day, in ways small and large, the spread of the coronavirus is reshaping American politics. As the death toll rises and the economic fallout spreads, measures once considered unthinkable are being adopted, and not just in the public-health sphere. The $2.2 trillion emergency spending bill that Congress passed last week is worth about ten per cent of G.D.P., and in the coming months we are likely to see another stimulus. This dramatic ramp-up in federal spending is comparable to what happened in 1942, the year after Pearl Harbor, when federal spending as a share of G.D.P. rose by more than ten percentage points.

Trump is no F.D.R., of course, and the virus, unlike the Axis Powers, is an invisible enemy. But the record shows that lethal pandemics and major wars can both have enormous political and economic consequences. In his 2017 opus “The Great Leveler,” Walter Scheidel, a Stanford historian, described them as two of the “four horsemen” that have flattened economic inequality throughout human history. (The other two levelling forces that Scheidel identified were revolutions and state failures.) By decimating the population of medieval Europe, the Black Death made labor scarce, which raised wages and undermined the feudal system. The Civil War abolished slavery and gave rise to the Homestead Act of 1862. The First World War changed the role of women in the economy and paved the way for their political emancipation. The Second World War elevated the role of labor unions and led to the explicit adoption of Keynesian full-employment policies, through the 1946 Employment Act. In Europe, it facilitated the creation of a postwar welfare state, including the National Health Service in Britain.

These violent ruptures lasted years. We can hope that this horrible public-health crisis will also be temporary. And yet, the “wartime” metaphor is in many ways apt. Daily life has been transformed; in just two weeks, almost ten million Americans have filed unemployment claims; and earlier this week a White House task force said the death toll could eventually reach two hundred and forty thousand. Just like in wartime, people are frightened, public attitudes are changing, and the circumstances are necessitating a big expansion of the government’s role.

As of today, tens of millions of small and medium-sized firms will be able to take out bank loans to cover all of their running costs, including wages and rent, for the next eight weeks. If they keep their workers on the books, or rehire the ones they have laid off in the past couple of weeks, the Treasury Department will automatically repay the loans in their entirety. (I wrote about the scheme earlier this week.) The involvement of banks disguises the fact that this is essentially a huge, federal grant program, in which Uncle Sam will be paying the wages of tens of millions of Americans who are nominally private-sector employees. For a conservative Republican Administration, this is a strikingly interventionist move. But it doesn’t cover large corporations, and there are doubts about how quickly and widely the loans will be taken up. (The initial reports aren’t encouraging.) If the jobless count keeps rising, pressure will grow for the Administration to go further and copy the emergency job-protection programs that many European countries have adopted, which encompass businesses of all sizes and involve the government paying them directly.

In other policy areas, too, the Overton window—the range of political options considered acceptable—is expanding. The rapid passage of such a big stimulus, with more to come probably, has punctured the idea, assiduously promoted by deficit hawks, that we “can’t afford” more government programs. Despite all the additional spending, the U.S. Treasury is still able to borrow on remarkably favorable terms: on Thursday, the yield on ten-year Treasury bonds was just 0.63 per cent. And as a backstop, there is the Federal Reserve, with its electronic printing press at the ready.

You don’t have to be a convert to Modern Monetary Theory to have noted the alacrity with which the Fed, over the past month, has purchased and placed on its balance sheet about $1.5 trillion worth of Treasury bonds, commercial paper and bonds issued by large corporations, mortgage-backed securities, auto loans, and credit-card loans. In the coming days, it may well start lending directly to big corporations. As the Fed constructs a comprehensive safety net for Wall Street and corporate America, how can anyone argue against an equally comprehensive approach to safeguarding the welfare of medical workers, delivery-truck drivers, grocery-store employees, and other ordinary Americans on the front line of the battle to contain COVID-19?

The public at large may not grasp some of the financial intricacies, but it surely sees the urgent need for universal health care. According to a poll published by Morning Consult earlier this week, net support for Medicare for All—those who support it minus those who oppose it—has risen by nine points. The virus isn’t just raising support for socialized medicine; it is also undermining the finances of the private-insurance model. Caring for COVID-19 patients can be very costly. If the insurers have to recoup these costs next year, they could raise their 2021 premiums by more than forty per cent, according to an analysis by Covered California, the Golden State’s official health-insurance marketplace. Though Elizabeth Warren is out of the Democratic primary and it would be a huge surprise for Bernie Sanders to secure the Party’s nomination, they could well end up winning the debate over health-care policy.

In another important development, the mass layoffs that have resulted from the virus have also laid bare the iniquities of the gig economy, in which Uber drivers and other online-platform workers, temp-agency workers, and a whole variety of freelancers didn’t have access to health insurance, sick leave, or unemployment insurance. During an appearance on CNBC on Thursday, the investor James Chanos said he was selling short the stocks of gig-economy companies because their business model, which is based on classifying workers as self-employed to avoid giving them costly benefits, is likely to be challenged. “I think both political parties are going to be looking at that pretty hard,” Chanos said.

Much depends on the duration of the pandemic, of course. If the associated shutdowns prove to be reasonably short-lived—two or three months—the economy and the markets could rebound fairly rapidly. Congress and the Fed could wind down their emergency programs, and public attitudes could flip back. But the longer the pandemic goes on, and the deadlier it becomes, the greater the pressure will be for more government activism of various forms.

It would be reassuring to think that this pressure will always lead to necessary actions and progressive policies, but that might be kidding ourselves. A new study of the impact of the 1918 flu pandemic on the U.S. and European countries shows that it led to a decline in social trust. The spread of the virus, the confinement measures taken to counter it, and “rumours about enemy spies spreading the infection beyond the lines as a kind of biological weapon created a climate of suspicion and mistrust,” the authors noted.

With some people already calling for residents of COVID-19 hotspots to be confined to their own areas, and Trump referring to “the China virus,” we are already seeing some echoes of this phenomenon. As the pandemic intensifies, it could lead to rising xenophobia, a further accentuation of regional divides, and even demands for authoritarian remedies, which Trump, having settled into the idea of himself as a wartime leader, might be all too eager to exploit.

That is worst-case speculation. But COVID-19 is shifting the tectonic plates that undergird American politics, and, as with the progress of the virus itself, the range of possible outcomes is wide. It is in such circumstances that history is made, for good or ill.


A Guide to the Coronavirus

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