The dominant story of the Western left in the last two years has been decline from the high watermark of post-crash electoral radicalism. From Syriza to Podemos, parties have fallen short of either winning power or delivering in office — or, in the recent case of Germany’s Die Linke, slid backward from already weak positions. Left organizations are dealing simultaneously with the rapid escalation of structural crises from public health to the environment to geopolitics, huge changes in their operating environment, and the limits of their current support base.
The Nutcracker balloon hovers above the crowd during the 93rd Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, November 28, 2019. (Caitlin Ochs / Reuters)
On a cancellation of The Nutcracker; Russia’s threat to Ukraine; the screwiness of the Women’s March; the bravery of J.K. Rowling; and more
Now they have come for The Nutcracker. What I mean is, did you see this? The Berlin State Ballet has canceled Tchaikovsky’s ballet on grounds that the Chinese dance and the Arab dance give offense. Well, they give offense to those who are truly dying to take offense.
On Monday, Joe Biden held a press conference to calm Americans concerned about the newly discovered omicron variant of Covid-19, which the World Health Organization recently described as a “variant of concern.” First sequenced in a lab in South Africa, omicron is the second strain, after the now-familiar delta, to cause alarm given its unique genetic profile. It’s the kind of mutation that’s incubated in places with particularly low vaccination rates.
Last month, a former employee of Deutsche Bank hit the jackpot. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission awarded this publicly unnamed whistleblower almost $200 million for supplying “specific, credible, and timely original information” that aided the agency in its investigation into the illegal rigging of inter-bank interest rates. This was the largest whistleblower payment in history.
The former bank employee now joins a select group of whistleblowers who not only spoke out and were heard by the authorities, but also were rewarded handsomely for their effort.
In a pre-Thanksgiving poll from Yahoo News and YouGov, 74 percent of respondents said their lives had “returned to normal” since the pandemic. As we learned on a particularly Black Friday, that was an inaccurate and even destructive fiction.
The desire for normalcy is human, and reasonable. Most of us are not conditioned to isolating ourselves from friends and loved ones, and require social interaction. The 2020 election was predicated on a new president returning the country to normalcy, a century after Warren Harding ran and won explicitly on that theme.
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Yes, a new variant has emerged. On Friday, the WHO designated a fourth, possibly more transmissible “variant of concern”—B.1.1.529 or Omicron—after a steep increase in COVID-19 infections in South Africa.
Health officials have detected the variant in Belgium, Britain Botswana, Hong Kong, Israel, and the United Kingdom. As of Friday, there have been no cases of Omicron detected in the United States, according to the CDC.
The United States is a country where the lives and working conditions of the average person are shaped by business and oligarchy to a unique extent. US workers lack the benefits and protections that most of the world takes for granted. They pay some of the world’s highest prices for medicine and health care, in a system that leaves them sicker and financially devastated. And their communities are plagued by exceptionally high rates of poverty, debt, homelessness, and deaths of despair.
It is incredible to think that in November 2020, no COVID-19 vaccine had yet been approved. A year later, more than 7 billion doses have been administered worldwide, preventing countless deaths and helping to turn the tide of the pandemic in many countries. But this scientific triumph is being overshadowed by the failure to ensure that all people benefit from it.
At the time of writing, more than one-third of the world’s population is fully vaccinated. But in Africa, that share is just 6.7%. This is unacceptable, and we must urgently change it.
A new Covid-19 variant, now named the omicron variant, was detected in South Africa on Wednesday, prompting renewed concern about the pandemic, a major stock market drop, and the imposition of new international travel restrictions to stop the spread.
Though the variant’s existence was first reported by South Africa, it has also been found in Belgium, Botswana, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, and the United Kingdom, meaning the variant has already spread — though how far is unclear, as new cases continue cropping up around the world.
As much of the world was worried about the new COVID-19 variant, there are increasing hints that omicron may have already started spreading around the world. Britain, Germany, and Italy all said they detected cases of the new variant on Saturday as Dr. Anthony Fauci warned omicron could already be in the United States. Even though there are no confirmed cases of the new variant yet, Fauci said he “would not be surprised” to learn it had already arrived.