• Politics
    Indiewire

    The Decision Not to Air Trump’s Coronavirus Briefing Is Commendable, and Overdue — Opinion

    When the president’s medical briefing swung to an unrelated discussion of the border wall, CNN and MSNBC decided they’d had enough.

  • Entertainment
    Deadline

    Rebecca Ramsey Dies: Visual Effects Producer On ‘Watchmen’, ‘Spider-Man 3’ & More Was 53

    Rebecca Ramsey, whose dozens of visual effects credits include Watchmen, The Hunger Games and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, has died. She was 53. Ramsey passed on March 7 from complications related to a fall in her home, according to her longtime friend, Jenny McShane. Ramsey was a producer and EP of VFX, VR/AR/MR, 3D stereo, […]

  • Lifestyle
    Car and Driver

    View Photos of the 2021 Rivian R1S

    View Photos of the 2021 Rivian R1SFrom Car and Driver

  • World
    National Review

    China Wants to Use the Coronavirus to Take Over the World

    What started as a catastrophe for China is shaping up to be a moment of strategic opportunity, a rare turning point in the flow of history. Suddenly, the protests in Hong Kong, carrying a mortal threat to political stability in the mainland, became a physical impossibility. More important, the pandemic set in motion a global competition, to contain the virus, for which China and the Chinese Communist Party seem uniquely prepared.As the virus spread to the whole world, it became apparent that Western societies — Beijing’s true rivals — did not have the ability to quickly organize every citizen around a single goal. As opposed to China, which remains to a large extent a revolutionary society, their political systems were built for normal times. Chinese society is a mobilized army, which can quickly drop everything else and march in one direction.Mao once said, “Everything under heaven is in utter chaos, the situation is excellent.” And so it seems at present, as seen from Beijing. Chinese diplomats stationed all over the world spend their time raising the stakes to a dangerous level. Following instructions from the very top, they have taken to the media to issue a challenge to America, to point out its failure, and to compare the chaos in American cities and hospitals with what they see as a singular success in stopping the epidemic in China.Several commentators have suggested that China may be winning the coronavirus battle by stepping forward in providing medical help to affected countries, mostly in Europe, at a time when the United States is consumed with its own difficulties. This misses the point.The cases have been multiplying where the medical equipment provided by Chinese companies and even the Chinese state turned out to be faulty, provoking justified ire in, for example, Spain, the Netherlands, and Turkey. Moreover, medical help is a normal occurrence in a crisis. China has done nothing different, except perhaps in the clumsy way it publicizes those efforts.Forget about “mask diplomacy.” It is no more than a distraction. There are other ways for China to use the coronavirus pandemic to upturn the existing global order. I see three main levers.The first one is the direct comparison between the situation in China and elsewhere. The numbers of cases and fatalities provided by Chinese authorities almost certainly misrepresent the real figures by more than an order of magnitude, but the fact remains that a semblance of normalcy was achieved in a small period of time. If the United States fails to do the same, its prestige will suffer a severe blow. People all over the world will quickly change their perceptions about relative power and capacity.The second lever resides with industrial value chains. Last month General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler closed all their automotive production plants across the United States and Canada. Other sectors have followed. In the meantime, China contained the worst of the pandemic to one province, allowing economic activity to quickly resume elsewhere. The most recent data show renewed activity in the flow of goods across the country, as well as at ports worldwide that do business with China. If the freeze in Europe and America continues for much longer, Chinese companies will be able to dramatically expand market share and replace Western-led value chains. Just yesterday Chinese authorities announced that manufacturing activity expanded in March, defying expectations of a contraction. In February the official Purchasing Managers’ Index hit a record low of 35.7. It bounced back to 52.0 in March. Prepare for a worldwide wave of Chinese acquisitions at knockdown prices.Finally, in a more extreme scenario, important countries could experience the kind of economic shock that leads to widespread social and political collapse. At that point, China would have a unique opportunity to step in, provide aid, and refashion these countries in its image. It would look like a repeat of the Marshall Plan and the beginning of the American world order after the ravages of World War II. Indonesia, South Asia, and even Russia might be of special interest in such a scenario.We knew that a generalized race or competition between alternative geopolitical models had started, but it was never clear what the background for such a competition would be. If the clash took place within the existing global trade and financial system, which was of course built according to Western rules and principles, the United States was confident the battle could be decisively won. But what if it took place on neutral ground? What if it took place in a kind of neutral landscape, a state of nature with few or no rules, against a chaotic and quickly evolving background? The outcome would become considerably more uncertain.To put it more bluntly: There was always an argument that the existing world order cannot change because only a momentous war has done that in the past and world wars have become impossible. But in pandemics — and soon in climate change — we may have found two functional equivalents of war.

  • Politics
    The Week

    The noble lie about masks and coronavirus should never have been told

    Those of you of a certain age will doubtless remember a time when it was universally acknowledged that wearing masks would not protect you or anyone else from the coronavirus pandemic. By "certain age" here I mean all living Americans born on or before April 1, 2020, which according to my notes is when it became possible to express a contrary position in polite society.This was always nonsense. The White House is now suggesting that all of us should wear masks whenever we leave our houses. We are even stealing vast stockpiles of them from the Germans, who have been wearing them in public for around a month on the rather more numerous occasions when their leaders exempt them from house arrest. People who can't get proper masks (apparently the kind people wear when they spray for bugs) are being encouraged to make their own. If nothing else, this has given tedious DIY addicts something else to be self satisfied about. No one cares how quaint and interesting you think the piece of cloth meant to protect you from a disease is, okay?Whether the journalists and other apparent experts who enthusiastically spread this apparent lie about masks knew it was false is very much an open question. Some of us found it odd that the same people were also saying that masks should be reserved for use by medical professionals. If masks don't do anything, why do doctors and nurses need them? Are they an ornamental part of a dress uniform? The mind reels.Regardless of the personal honesty of those involved in it, this propaganda campaign should never have been conducted in the first place. It is one thing to debate what should be empirical questions, such as the efficacy of wearing protective equipment in an attempt to forestall the spread of viral infections; it is another for people to bang on about whatever the latest current corona wisdom is with the same tedious certainty that not long ago made us a nation of Logan Act scholars and experts on the non-existent criminal law implications of the emoluments clause. These manias do roughly as much for public health as those kids — there was at least one in every first-grade class — who relentlessly ssshh everyone else in line do to improve schoolyard behavior.The 180-degree shift in acceptable public opinion about masks is in line with how the rest of this crisis has unfolded. Masks won't help. Everyone needs a mask. It's not worth shutting down travel to and from China over the virus, and Trump is just being a xenophobe here. Trump should have done more to prevent the virus from coming to these shores. It's less dangerous than the flu; calling it less dangerous than the flu is a right-wing meme, perhaps even (one shudders) "misinformation." Human beings can't even transmit the virus directly to one another; it originated with animals in Chinese open-air "wet" food markets. Talking about the wet markets is racist, except when Dr. Fauci does it.Can we please stop talking this way? As I write this our paper of record is all but publicly rooting for the failure of anti-malarial drugs that appear to have been successful in treating some coronavirus patients. It is not against "science," whatever that may be, for the president or anyone else to observe that certain medicines or treatments have worked. It is not for science, either. It's just a fact that may or may not have limited application depending upon what happens over the next few months. A bit more epistemic humility would be welcome all around.As would more of I will bluntly call adult behavior. We must put an end to the idea that the best way to get through this crisis is to say things we know are not true in the hope of getting people to behave a certain way. This means not saying masks are useless when what you really mean is, "Masks are in short supply, please consider before you start hoarding them whether you really need them at present and if so how many." Ditto the painfully relentless attempts to give young people the impression that they are horribly likely to die from the new virus. Even in Italy, the country with the worst measured fatality rate so far, around 86 percent of all the deceased have been aged 70 or older, and 50 percent were at least 80. We do not need to zero in on statistical anomalies or otherwise engage in scaremongering. It should be enough to say, "Even though you are very unlikely to die from coronavirus, remember that you could contract the disease and spread it to more vulnerable people without even experiencing symptoms, so please don't revel with 5000 strangers at the beach and then run home to give Grandma a hug."This is how grown-ups talk to one another.More stories from theweek.com Social distancing is going to get darker 5 brutally funny cartoons about Trump's TV ratings boast The political lessons of the 1918 pandemic