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Gender: Female
Hometown: London
Home country: USA/UK/Sweden
Current location: Stockholm, Sweden
Member since: Sun Jul 1, 2018, 07:25 PM
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Journal Archives

Why Estonia Was Poised to Handle How a Pandemic Would Change Everything


Panic, dismay, anger, defiance, fear, despair, doubt, and occasional portions of denial: all of these have been common notes of communication lately, from the news media to private texts. But some of the messages coming out of Estonia, a tiny country on the Baltic Sea, sound discordantly confident. Estonians seem to think they’ve got this: they are not only handling the coronavirus pandemic but also facing the world in which we will live after it’s over.

In many ways, Estonia’s response has looked indistinguishable from that of most European nations. The country has closed its borders, shuttered its schools, and banned entertainment and leisure businesses from operating. The government has pledged to cover the bulk of personal income lost because of the pandemic; it has also been criticized for lacking a coherent strategy for addressing the crisis, including not having a clear and consistent approach to testing for covid-19. Still, with a relatively high rate of infection among European nations—it’s in ninth place as of today, with two hundred and thirty-one known infections per million people—Estonia appears to have one of the lowest levels of panic. Politico is keeping track of panic levels, ranking them on a ten-point scale based on media coverage, panic buying, and other indicators. Estonia’s level of panic is ranked three out of ten (compared to seven in France, which is just above Estonia in the number of known cases per capita; and five in Denmark, whose case number is just below Estonia’s).

Estonia may be the nation best prepared for the consequences of the pandemic, both economically and socially. As my colleague Nathan Heller has written, its economy is bound to tech, its government is digital, and most services in the country either are or can be provided electronically—in fact, it’s nearly impossible to overstate the extent of Estonian digitization. People vote online and use digital prescriptions; a single piece of I.D. securely stores each Estonian’s personal information, including health, tax, and police records; one can even establish residency and begin paying taxes in the country digitally—effectively immigrating online. Estonians say that only three kinds of interaction with the state require a person’s physical presence: marriage, the transfer of property, and divorce. In some cases, births had to be registered in person, but this requirement has been suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Ninety-nine per cent of households have broadband Internet connections, and the education system is a world leader in developing and using electronic technologies. In other words, the prospect of having to work, study, and shop online may not require the sort of readjustment in Estonia as many people face elsewhere.

The story of how Estonia went digital has been told before. A central role in it belongs to the former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who learned to code when he was a tenth-grader at a high school in New Jersey. Ilves was born in Sweden, grew up in the United States, worked as a psychologist, educator, and journalist, and was asked by the president of Estonia to become the Ambassador to the United States a year after the Soviet occupation of the country ended, in 1992. As a diplomat, Parliament member, and, later, President, Ilves promoted the introduction of computer classes in schools in the nineteen-nineties, the creation of public Internet-access centers throughout the country, and the idea that technological “innovation was possible in a remote backwater of northeast Europe,” as he put it to me when I reached him by direct message and phone last week. (Ilves, whose last Presidential term ended in 2016, is currently at Stanford, where he was sheltering in place along with other Californians when I reached him.) Skype, an Estonian invention, served as the ultimate proof of concept.


I intubated my colleague today, a young, healthy ER doc like me. This is what I learned...



U.K. Subs - Limo Life (1982 Studio Version, plus Live 1983) Endangered Species (1982)

and Violent City (1981)

With the country's attention turned north, the coronavirus pandemic is exploding in Louisiana.


Between the time this sentence was written and the time this article is published, hundreds more Americans will likely have died from COVID-19. Hundreds or perhaps thousands more people will have been hospitalized, and certainly tens of thousands more will have tested positive for the coronavirus. At this point, making predictions about the pandemic is like riding a barrel over Niagara Falls: We can only guess how it ends, but we do know things are going down.

Here’s another prediction that’s safe to make: The city of New Orleans—and, potentially, all of Louisiana—is going to become the next front in the fight against the pandemic. Even as national attention is justifiably focused on the aggressive outbreak in Washington State and the mounting pressures on New York City’s hospitals, the virus’s advance in Louisiana has shaken local officials and doctors, and the state is already approaching a similar burden of infections and deaths as the crises to the north. There’s good reason to believe that this southern outbreak will be even more difficult to contain, and is perhaps a better harbinger of what’s to come as the pandemic spreads across the country.

The numbers already indicate that Louisiana is a global epicenter of the pandemic. Just over 1 percent of the U.S. population lives in Louisiana. But according to the COVID Tracking Project, 7 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, 7 percent of all hospitalizations, and 3 percent of all positive tests have been in the state. New York has suffered about two deaths per 100,000 residents. Louisiana is at 1.8.

To put the numbers into perspective, if Louisiana were a country, its death count would put it in the top 15 globally. The burden appears to be increasing so quickly that all of these statistics will become quickly out of date. The state reported 83 total deaths from COVID-19 as of noon yesterday. It had reported 34 as of Monday. And, as is the nature of this virus, most of the reported data represent only a snapshot of the infections that took place a week or two ago. Hospitalizations and deaths will increase. And, if other outbreaks around the world are any example, the curve will not rise gently. The fallout in Louisiana will be most painful in the New Orleans metropolitan area, whose Orleans and Jefferson Parishes account for two-thirds of all cases in the state.


Trump is already cutting Congress out of any oversight on the COVID Bill via his signing statement

Matt Stoller


Us dumbass weirdos against the bailouts have never been proved right quicker.

Tim Mak
NPR's Washington Investigative Correspondent.
Covering politics, with an interest in natsec/tech/disinfo.
Also an EMT.

read Trump's signing statement for the $2 trillion package and notes that the president is already trying to cut Congress out of oversight.

See here that the WH considers Congressional input into $$$ oversight cmte as a suggestion not law

Don't Need That $1,200 Stimulus Check? Here Are Places to Donate It.

The federal government approved a $2 trillion stimulus package, which includes direct payments to millions of Americans to help get through the coronavirus outbreak. If you don’t need the money, here are some ideas to help you give it to someone in need.


Congress passed a sweeping $2 trillion stimulus package on Friday, its most drastic measure to date to throw a buoy to the American economy that is sinking under the coronavirus outbreak. Included in the legislation is an expansion of unemployment benefits, lending programs for small businesses and direct support for large and small companies. But lawmakers also agreed to send $1,200, starting in April, to millions of Americans, including those with incomes up to $75,000. Families would receive an additional $500 per child.

For many Americans, this could be an essential lifeline for keeping their families fed and housed during the outbreak and the resulting economic turmoil. But not all Americans need that extra cash to tide them over until this outbreak passes. If you are looking to give this money to those who need it most, you may want to consider an organization that will directly help with the coronavirus relief effort — one that provides food or helps with medical efforts.

Be sure to take care when choosing a charity. Most of the organizations listed here have been vetted by the watchdogs Charity Navigator or CharityWatch. You can also consider giving to local businesses and families in need directly. Or helping your neighbors in ways that are not necessarily monetary.

Here are a list, no means exclusive, of some charities and nongovernmental organizations on the front lines of the outbreak.

Health aid and protection for medical personnel


Instacart's Gig Workers Are Planning a Massive, Nationwide Strike

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the grocery delivery company has refused to offer its 175,000 gig workers basic protections like hazard pay, hand sanitizer, and paid leave for those with pre-existing health conditions.


Instacart shoppers are planning a nationwide mass revolt over the grocery delivery app's response to the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, workers say they will refuse to accept orders until Instacart provides hazard pay of an additional $5 an order, free safety gear (hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and soap) to workers, and expands its paid sick leave to include workers with pre-existing conditions who have been advised by their doctors not to work at this time. Workers say the strike will last until Instacart agrees to these terms.

The March 30 walkout will build on a wave of wildcat strikes sweeping across the country. In recent days, Amazon warehouse workers in Queens, New York, sanitation workers in Pittsburgh, and poultry plant workers at Perdue Farms in Georgia have all walked off the job, demanding greater protections from coronavirus, and leading to calls for a “general strike,” or mass strike action across the country. Meanwhile, the upcoming Instacart strike will mark the first time gig workers in the United States—who face the double bind of working on the front lines of virus and lacking basic labor protections like healthcare and paid sick days—have walked off the job in response to coronavirus.

“The health and safety of our entire community — shoppers, customers, and employees — is our first priority," a spokesperson for Instacart told Motherboard. "Our goal is to offer a safe and flexible earnings opportunity to shoppers, while also proactively taking the appropriate precautionary measures to operate safely. We want to underscore that we absolutely respect the rights of shoppers to provide us feedback and voice their concerns. It’s a valuable way for us to continuously make improvements to the shopper experience and we’re committed to supporting this important community during this critical time.”

In a blog post Friday morning, Instacart announced several “new features and offerings” to address Covid-19, which address none of the gig workers’ demands. “While Instacart’s corporate employees are working from home, Instacart’s [gig workers] are working on the frontlines in the capacity of first responders,” Vanessa Bain, a lead organizer of the upcoming Instacart walkout, and an Instacart gig worker in Menlo Park, California, told Motherboard. “Instacart’s corporate employees are provided with health insurance, life insurance, and paid time off and [are] also eligible for sick pay and paid family leave. By contrast its [gig workers], who are putting their lives on the line to maintain daily operations are afforded none of these protections. Without [us], Instacart will grind to a halt. We deserve and demand better.”


The 13 Best Meal Kit Delivery Services for Every Kind of Cook


If your Grubhub receipts are piling up, you might want to consider a slightly more hands-on food delivery experience: meal kits. Since Blue Apron pioneered meal kit delivery services, companies have cropped up all over the internet touting great meals that even the most amateur chefs can easily make. Each of these services promise something different — whether it be diet-specific meals or pre-prepped ingredients. We looked into some of the best meal kit delivery services and narrowed it down to the 13 best.

What to Consider When Choosing a Meal Kit Delivery Service

Your Lifestyle: These services typically deliver every week. If your weekly routines are varied, you’ll want to find a delivery service that makes it easy to pause and resume delivery (and doesn’t charge you for changes).

Your Tastebuds: All of these services are going to deliver solid ingredients and meals. Some of them may put a premium on expanding customer’s palates, while others might prioritize easy-to-make staples. Browse each option’s sample menus to get a sense of how varied the meals can be.

Your Fridge Space: These meal kit delivery services send out pre-portioned ingredients for each meal. That means you end up with a lot of packages and a limited amount of space in your fridge. The same can be said for services that offer pre-made food.

Your Budget: These delivery services do make getting food on the table easier, but it’s important to note that most kits, from a cost per serving perspective, work out to about as much as ordering takeout would, but with the added benefit of cooking the food yourself, thus knowing what you’re eating. Let these services jumpstart your passion for cooking, but they’re not the be-all-end-all for meal prep.

Best Meal Kit Delivery Services..........


Sweden's coronavirus strategy is clearly different to other countries so who should people trust?

When Sweden's path for handling the coronavirus pandemic is clearly deviating from other countries, who do international residents place their trust in, asks The Local Sweden's editor Emma Löfgren.


Last week, I wrote that Sweden was becoming an outlier in how it is dealing with the new coronavirus. Now it seems the rest of the world has noticed. I think I have to go back to the refugee crisis of 2015 to find as many international hot takes about Sweden as this week. Is Sweden not implementing stricter restrictions on its people because they are horribly naive and complacent? Is it because decisions are generally made by expert authorities, rather than political ministers? Is it because they place a high premium on individual responsibility and trust? Are tougher rules not needed because people follow them anyway? Or are people still going out to restaurants, ski trips to the mountains, and hanging out with friends as usual, not a care in the world?

The honest answer is that there's a grain of truth in almost everything. It's also the slightly more boring answer, because it makes it harder to talk about Sweden as this peculiar country in the north where everything is either perfect paradise or a collapsing hellhole. There are now stricter rules in place for bars and restaurants, and public gatherings of more than 50 people have been banned. But not much else has changed, while the entire world has changed in other places.

Compare the Swedish guidelines to what the Danes were told by their government on Monday: "Cancel Easter lunch. Postpone family visits. Don't go sightseeing around the country." The Swedish Public Health Agency's corresponding recommendation is: "Ahead of the breaks and Easter, it is important to consider whether planned travel in Sweden is necessary to carry out." Even the official recommendations leave a lot of room for interpretation. Should you think of them as typically bureaucratic Swedish understatements and assume that you are in fact expected to fall in line and make sensible decisions, or should you think that as long as there are no rules it's a free-for-all?

"We can't legislate and ban everything. It's also a question of common-sense manners," said Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, telling people off for not following recommendations. The translation of the last bit is not perfect. He used the word folkvett, the moral sense that every person is expected to have without being taught, and a word every Swede will instinctively recognise as being very, very bad if you do not have it. Still, it tends to be one of those emotional conjugations: I have common sense, you are careless, those people over there are pig-headed fools who go partying during a pandemic. When the recommendations are open to interpretation, how do you know when you or someone else have crossed an invisible line?


more at the link

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