Thursday 2nd of July 2020

can't hug each others? hug a tree for love today...


On 18 March, the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung published, in translation, a critique of the shutdown by renowned Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben. Originally published in Italian on 11 March (with English translations here), Agamben’s critique revolves around the notion of what he calls “bare life” — that is to say, biological life.

His claim is that the response to COVID-19 reveals a unilateral concern with “bare life.” We are willing to give up everything that matters to us — our relationship to others, our work, our study, our love, our political rights, our emotional well-being, our religion — for the sake of our physical bodies, for bare life. But, Agamben contends, this is not all that life is. Life is not just biological life, but also all those other things that make life worth living: connections to family, work, social relations, political rights, religion and so on.

In a follow-up article, Agamben argues that our response to COVID-19 is essentially anti-social. For, he contends, we have transformed ourselves from sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, friends and co-workers to “virus-carriers.” All that we think about when we see another person approaching us on the street is whether she or he might have the virus. Consider, for instance, how children are presented in the media. The majority of discussions of children in Europe revolve around the extent to which they are infectious. Ultimately, for Agamben, what this shows is that our social relations — or ways of perceiving, relating to and responding to others — have been fundamentally disrupted.

Agamben’s views have not gone unchallenged. Critics have argued that the focus on “bare life” should be praised rather than criticised. The shutdown, for the sake of life, reveals a real heart in us: we care about the lives of others and we are willing to give up so much in order to protect those lives. In turn, biological (“bare”) life is itself a form of abstraction. After all, without biological life there is no possibility for that richer form of life that Agamben highly prizes. In other words, biological life is the condition for our social, cultural, economic and political lives, such that protecting it is a way of (indirectly) protecting these lives as well. Accordingly, and as Slavoj Žižek has argued, the response to COVID-19 is not at all anti-social, but deeply social: it reveals a fundamental care for others, and a willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of the most vulnerable.

There is, no doubt, truth to these critiques. However, they do not ultimately get at the kernel of Agamben’s argument. As Italian philosopher Luca Illetterati has argued, the crucial problem has to do with the abstract nature of the COVID-19 response: it is abstract because, in its effort to save “lives,” it has overlooked the reality of lives — the lives that we actually live. Another way of putting it is this: even if we do not agree with Agamben’s notion of “bare life,” his critique of the shutdown and of its implications challenges us to think carefully about life — and the real, non-abstract consequences of the shutdown for life.



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Meanwhile, no lock-down in Vietnam:


Reporting its first case on January 22, Vietnam rapidly moved to establish a ministerial taskforce known as the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control.

"Its first risk assessment exercise was conducted in early January — soon after cases in China started being reported," the World Health Organization's representative to Vietnam, Kidong Park, told AAP.

Professor Toole said Vietnam "acted probably faster than any country in the world outside China".


By February 1, flag carrier Vietnam Airlines announced the suspension of all flights to and from China, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Borders were closed soon afterwards, suspending all international flights by March 21.

"There were many lessons learnt from the SARS epidemic of 2003,and the Government has cleverly used this rich experience and acted responsibly," Ms Kane said.

Those returning to Vietnam have been required to quarantine for 14 days at Government-funded and operated facilities. 

Vietnam has isolated all people even suspected of being infected. Tens of thousands of people have been placed into quarantine.

By early March, Vietnamese scientists had already developed several low-cost test kits. 

"By that point, the US didn't even have an effective test," Professor Toole said. "Vietnam had three."


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salivating about cash to be made...

Billionaire currency speculator George Soros has hailed the Covid-19 pandemic as the crisis of his lifetime, all but salivating over the chance to remake society amid the “revolutionary moment” he claims preceded the virus.

“Even before the pandemic hit, I realized that we were in a revolutionary moment where what would be impossible or even inconceivable in normal times had become not only possible, but probably absolutely necessary,” Soros told Project Syndicate on Monday. “And then came Covid-19.”

Acknowledging the “unprecedented event that probably has never occurred in this combination…really endangers the survival of our civilization,” the philanthropist warned “we will not go back to where we were when the pandemic started.”

Everything else is up for grabs. I do not think anybody knows how capitalism will evolve.

While he didn’t specify what exactly defined the pre-coronavirus “revolutionary moment” he was referring to, Soros has in recent months poured $1 billion of his prodigious fortune into setting up a university network to fight “nationalism” and climate change, calling the initiative “the most important project of my life.” 

And he returned to that subject in Monday’s interview, hinting that the political lives of both Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump – whom he slimed as “dictator” and wannabe-dictator, respectively – were coming to an end. The crisis would bring nations closer “in the long run,” he predicted, even if in the short term they “hurt themselves” out of fear.

China’s battle with the coronavirus had left Xi “perhaps vulnerable,” Soros speculated, declaring himself to be “on the side of those who believe in an open society. And there are many people in China who are very much in favor of an open society too.” Soros’ Open Society Foundations have played a prominent role in fomenting “color revolutions” in societies lacking in Soros-determined “openness,” adding a potential layer of threat to what on the surface sounded benign.

But despite essentially agreeing with Trump that “we must protect our democratic open society” by not working too closely with China, Soros maintained his revulsion for the American leader. “I will also say that I have put my faith in Trump to destroy himself, and he has exceeded my wildest expectations,” he said.

Soros-funded groups have been working to remove Trump from power practically since he took office, more recently focusing their efforts on a mail-in voting campaign Republicans have claimed would open the door to unprecedented levels of voter fraud. Soros himself, meanwhile, had accused Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg of colluding with the Trump campaign to help Trump secure reelection, going so far as to demand his removal from control of the social media platform if he did not halt all political advertising.



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Soros hates the "left" and the right of politics. He hates the middle as well. In regard to the right, he hates Trump. In regard to the "left", he hates the socialists such as Bernie, but tolerates the rich Democrats... Soros loves money first, especially when invested with a hypocritical moralistic value in order to make more money, while doing "philanthropy"...



"philanthropy" with an elastic band...


Most state and territory governments say they are not using the Covid-19 tests brought to Australia by the billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest at a $200m cost to taxpayers, which the Guardian can reveal have been sent to the national medical stockpile rather than the coronavirus frontline.

When announcing the purchase last month, the federal health minister, Greg Hunt, said the tests would be used to help state public health units test throughout 2020.

But weeks later most states say they are not using the type of tests purchased by Forrest’s Minderoo Foundation, which were on-sold at cost to the government. Some say they have no need for any additional tests.

The federal health department has told Guardian Australia the tests bought by Forrest have been added to a strategic reserve.

The mining magnate announced last month that he had secured 10m Covid-19 PCR tests for Australia from the Chinese manufacturer Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) at a cost of $200m, which would be refunded by the federal government.

Forrest and his philanthropic arm, the Minderoo Foundation, had set about securing the tests for the government at a time of extreme global demand, and when it was unclear whether Australia’s crisis would be as severe as in nations like the US and Italy.



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The independent MP Zali Steggall says she is increasingly concerned about the Morrison government’s influential National Covid Coordination Commission, because there is “no transparency about its governance or processes”.

With representatives of the commission to appear before a Senate inquiry to answer questions about the Covid-19 response on Wednesday, Steggall told Guardian Australia the body needed “transparency, proper governance, and independent reporting so the Australian people know what it is considering, and why it’s considering it, and what it is recommending to government”.

“It also needs a clear disclosure process for conflicts of interest,” she said.

Steggall’s concerns will be echoed on Wednesday by a coalition of integrity groups, including the Human Rights Law Centre, Transparency International, the Grata Fund and the Centre for Public Integrity. Environment groups are also concerned the commission is promoting gas as central to the Covid economic recovery rather than a mix of fuel sources.


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