• Omicron Covid variant discovered in west Africa and the Gulf | Coronavirus | The Guardian

    Omicron Covid variant discovered in west Africa and the Gulf

    US tightens border controls as more countries report first cases of coronavirus variant
    The Omicron variant of Covid-19 has been identified in west Africa and the Gulf, as the US said it was further tightening its border controls. Washington’s announcement was made as more countries reported their first cases of the variant, suggesting it is spreading around the globe.
    With Ghana, Nigeria, Norway, Saudi Arabia and South Korea among the latest states to record cases, Omicron has been identified in 24 countries.
    Dozens of countries have imposed stricter travel rules, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Wednesday it was requiring all air travellers entering the country to show a negative Covid-19 test performed within one day of departure.Fifty-six countries were reportedly implementing travel measures to guard against Omicron despite warnings by the World Health Organization that “introducing blunt, blanket measures … will only worsen inequities”.However, a report on Wednesday suggesting that retrospective analysis in Nigeria had found evidence of Omicron as early as October – raising fears it had been circulating weeks earlier than first thought – proved to be incorrect.In fact, the genetic sequence identified in October was for the prevalent Delta variant of the virus, Nigerian health authorities said.Saudi Arabia became the first Gulf state to identify an Omicron case on Wednesday. Authorities in Riyadh said the variant had been identified in a traveller arriving from a north African country, without naming it.
    In Asia, South Korea confirmed its first cases, and Japan asked international airlines to stop taking new reservations for all flights arriving in the country until the end of December in a further tightening of already strict border controls. The transportation ministry said the request was an emergency precaution.The move by the world’s third-largest economy, coupled with its recent return to a ban on foreign visitors, is among the most stringent anywhere, and more in line with its cloistered neighbour China than with some other democracies in the region.This week the World Health Organization urged countries to avoid blanket travel bans.Japan has confirmed a second case of the Omicron variant in a person who arrived from Peru, one day after it reported its first case in a Namibian diplomat.
    Scientists are working frantically to determine how threatening Omicron is. Much remains unknown about the new variant, which has been identified in more than 20 countries, including whether it is more contagious, whether it makes people more seriously ill, and whether it can thwart the vaccine.
    Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease expert, said more would be known about the variant in two to four weeks as scientists grow and test lab samples of the virus.


  • Dancer, singer … spy: France’s Panthéon to honour Josephine Baker | Espionage | The Guardian

    Her supposed assistant was Jacques Abtey, a French intelligence officer developing an underground counter-intelligence network to gather strategic information and funnel it to Charles de Gaulle’s London HQ, where the pair hoped to travel after Portugal.

    Ostensibly, they were on their way to scout venues for Baker’s planned tour of the Iberian peninsula. In reality, they carried secret details of German troops in western France, including photos of landing craft the Nazis were lining up to invade Britain.

    The information was mostly written on the singer’s musical scores in invisible ink, to be revealed with lemon juice. The photographs she had hidden in her underwear. The whole package was handed to British agents at the Lisbon embassy – who informed Abtey and Baker they would be far more valuable assets in France than in London.

  • Cars are killing us. Within 10 years, we must phase them out | George Monbiot | The Guardian

    Yes, the car is still useful – for a few people it’s essential. It would make a good servant. But it has become our master, and it spoils everything it touches. It now presents us with a series of emergencies that demand an emergency response.

    • The number of people killed on the roads was falling steadily in the UK until 2010, at which point the decline suddenly ended. Why? Because, while fewer drivers and passengers are dying, the number of pedestrians killed has risen by 11%. In the US, it’s even worse: a 51% rise in the annual death rate of pedestrians since 2009. There seem to be two reasons: drivers distracted by their mobile phones, and a switch from ordinary cars to sports-utility vehicles. As SUVs are higher and heavier, they are more likely to kill the people they hit. Driving an SUV in an urban area is an antisocial act.

  • ‘It’s devastating’: how fentanyl is unfolding as one of America’s greatest tragedies | Opioids crisis | The Guardian

    It was August 2020, and Luca Manuel, 13, was starting eighth grade the following day in Redding, California. He was excited to see his friends; his mother had bought him a stash of masks and school supplies for his first in-person school day in six months.

    But the week earlier, he’d gotten a root canal, and his mouth still hurt. He sent a message on Snapchat to find marijuana for the pain. Instead, the dealer said he had something better: Percocet.

    Luca didn’t know that the pill, which had been pressed to look like the real pain medication, was actually a counterfeit laced with fentanyl, a substance 30 times more potent than heroin. He died of drug poisoning that afternoon, a video game looping like a ghost across the screen in front of him.

  • Part of the ‘great resignation’ is actually just mothers forced to leave their jobs | Moira Donegan | The Guardian

    The fact of the matter is that when we speak of the Great Resignation, we are really referring to a great resignation of women. During the pandemic, women have exited the labor force at twice the rate that men have; their participation in the paid labor force is now the lowest it has been in more than 30 years. About one-third of all mothers in the workforce have scaled back or left their jobs since March 2020. That labor shortage? It’s being felt most acutely in sectors like hospitality, retail and healthcare – industries where women make up a majority of workers.

    • But the loss of female workers is nothing new. Women’s workforce participation rate has been declining steadily since the 2008 financial crisis. The pandemic merely accelerated an already alarming trend. Childcare – along with its generational inverse, elder care – have always been among the primary culprits. American disinvestment in the care economy has waged a war of attrition on women’s employment, with women forced to chose between jobs where they are paid too little and childcare solutions that cost too much. The result has been a massive loss of talent, creativity and human potential from the paid economy. When care is not invested in, women are not prioritized – and that means that half of the nation’s minds risk being exiled to the domestic sphere.

  • Sally Rooney turns down an Israeli translation on political grounds | Books | The Guardian

    In a statement released on Tuesday, Rooney explained her decision, writing that while she was “very proud” to have had her previous novels translated into Hebrew, she has for now “chosen not to sell these translation rights to an Israeli-based publishing house”.
    The statement expressed her desire to support the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement (BDS), a campaign that works to “end international support for Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and pressure Israel to comply with international law”.

  • Italian town faces backlash for ’sexist’ bronze statue of ’#La_Spigolatrice'

    Italian authorities in Sapri have defended a new bronze statue of a woman wearing a transparent dress.

    The sculpture is a tribute to La Spigolatrice di Sapri (The Gleaner of Sapri), an 1857 poem written by Luigi Mercantini.

    The poem refers to a female gleaner who leaves her job to join Italian revolutionary Carlo Pisacane’s failed expedition against the Kingdom of Naples.

    It was unveiled at a ceremony on Saturday in the province of Salerno, at a ceremony featuring local officials and former Italian prime minister Giuseppe Conte.

    But the statue has generated some backlash on social media, with many labeling its design “sexist” and others calling for it to be taken down.

    Italian authorities in Sapri have defended a new bronze statue of a woman wearing a transparent dress.

    Laura Boldrini, an MP with the centre-left Democratic party, said the monument was “an offense to women and to the history it is supposed to celebrate”.

    “How can even the institutions accept the representation of women as sexualised bodies,” she added on Twitter.


    Monica Cirinnà, a member of the Italian Senate, also stated that it was a “slap in the face to history and to women who are still only sexualised bodies.”

    “This statue of the Gleaner says nothing about the self-determination of the woman who chose not to go to work in order to stand up against the Bourbon oppressor”.

    The mayor of Sapri has defended the statue as “a very important work of art which will be a great tourist attraction for our town”.

    In a post on Facebook, Antonio Gentile said that critics of the statue held “a lack of knowledge of local history”.

    “Our community...has always been committed to combating all forms of gender violence,” he added.

    La nuova statua della Spigolatrice di Sapri è stata realizzata con maestria e impeccabile interpretazione dall’artista...


    Meanwhile, the sculptor #Emanuele_Stifano stated that he was “appalled and disheartened” by the criticism.

    “All kinds of accusations have been made against me which have nothing to do with my person and my story,” Stifano said on Facebook.

    “When I make a sculpture, I always tend to cover the human body as little as possible, regardless of gender.”

    #image #femmes #travailleuses #statue #Italie #commémoration #sexisme #espace_public #spigolatrice #corps

    ping @cede

    • Anche no

      Sui social da qualche giorno è in atto una forte polemica su una statua commissionata dal Comune di Sapri (Salerno) allo scultore Emanuele Stifano. Raffigura una giovane donna voluttuosa, coperta solo da un abito succinto e trasparente, in stile camicia bagnata vedo/non vedo che mette in risalto seni e glutei. Ricordo una polemica simile per la statua discinta della Violata ad Ancona, commissionata per portare l’attenzione sulla violenza maschile sulle donne.

      Il riferimento stavolta è alla spigolatrice protagonista di una notissima poesia di #Luigi_Mercantini ispirata a un tragico episodio del Risorgimento italiano: la spedizione del socialista Carlo Pisacane, che aveva lo scopo di innescare una rivoluzione antiborbonica nel Regno delle Due Sicilie, ma al posto delle masse rivoluzionarie trovò una popolazione ostile che si unì alla gendarmeria borbonica per trucidarli. La contadina immaginata dal poeta assiste allo sbarco, affascinata da una speranza di libertà lascia il lavoro per seguirli e inorridita e incredula piange i trecento giovani morti.
      Siamo in presenza di un’opera a destinazione pubblica, esposta in pubblico, pagata con fondi pubblici, che ha una dichiarata funzione celebrativa.  Poteva essere il simbolo della presenza femminile nelle battaglie, nella storia, nella letteratura. È diventata l’ennesimo triste ammiccante tributo non alla rappresentazione artistica del nudo femminile, ma agli stereotipi che l’accompagnano.
      Giunta e scultore ovviamente difendono l’iniziativa. La perversione è nell’occhio di chi guarda, dicono.
      L’inaugurazione avviene alla presenza delle autorità locali e del presidente M5s Giuseppe Conte in tour elettorale nella zona. Uomini con responsabilità di governo, noti e applauditi, si fanno fotografare compunti, con la mano sul cuore, di fronte a una statua di donna che stimola reazioni pruriginose e a noi pare ridicola per la storia, per la dignità, per il buonsenso e per il buon gusto.
      Non si pongono alcun problema, sembra che la banalità di questa iconografia non li riguardi.
      Le intenzioni non bastano quando il messaggio è sbagliato.
      No, Prassitele o Canova non c’entrano. Non c’entrano «le fattezze fisiche delle donne meridionali», come sostiene un arguto senatore. Figuriamoci se pensiamo che il nudo in sé rechi offesa. Non è la presenza di modelle più o meno vestite a determinare una lesione alla persona, ma l’uso del loro corpo e il senso della posa e dell’atteggiamento, troppo spesso evidentemente allusivi a una disponibilità sul piano sessuale.
      Dietro alla statua bronzea di Sapri c’è la plastica rappresentazione non della forza femminile o del risveglio della coscienza popolare (come pretende l’autore) ma dei più scontati sogni erotici maschili.

      Non c’entrano la censura né la cancel culture, né il puritanesimo. Le opere d’arte non devono per forza essere “politicamente corrette”, né pudiche, né rappresentare fedelmente una scena storica. Tuttavia per un’opera pubblica il problema del contesto culturale è importante (già Facebook sta riportando autoscatti orgogliosi di maschietti che palpano il sedere della statua. E ve le immaginate le gite scolastiche con ragazzini in pieno tumulto ormonale?).
      Lo scultore afferma di «prescindere dal sesso», ma eroi risorgimentali in perizoma nelle piazze italiane o nei parchi io non ne ho visti mai.
      Rompere l’assuefazione.
      Si possono raccontare le donne senza spogliarle, senza ridurle allo stereotipo della fanciulla sexy offerta agli sguardi, inchiodata al ruolo-gabbia di oggetto di piacere che i maschi hanno costruito per lei? Si può prescindere dalla ricca elaborazione che studiose di molte discipline hanno prodotto sulla mercificazione a scopi promozionali e pubblicitari dei corpi femminili? Può chi ha responsabilità pubbliche non interrogarsi sulle condizioni del discorso, ignorare il risultato sull’immaginario collettivo di decenni di offerte di immagini scollacciate?
      Oppure la rappresentazione stereotipata della donna è considerata in Italia un tratto antropologico così radicato che non si pensa valga la pena di contrastarlo con politiche evolutive?
      I commentatori si appiattiscono su quell’altro cliché, “che noia queste femministe”. Nessuno sa o comprende che molte delle voci che si levano sono di persone che sul tema riflettono da anni. Probabilmente ben pochi leggono, molti rifuggono da firme femminili. L’importante è ridurre tutto a un quadro di donne frustrate che polemizzano su qualsiasi cosa.

      Il sessismo: c’è chi lo riconosce e chi no. C’è chi pensa, parla e agisce per contrastarlo e chi per preservarlo. C’è chi fa l’indifferente, perché gli va bene così.

      In copertina, Jean-François Millet, Le spigolatrici (Des glaneuses), 1857, Parigi, Musée d’Orsay.


    • Italy: bronze statue of scantily dressed woman sparks sexism row

      Sculpture based on the poem The Gleaner of Sapri was unveiled by former PM Giuseppe Conte on Saturday


      A statue depicting a scantily dressed woman from a 19th-century poem has sparked a sexism row in Italy.

      The bronze statue, which portrays the woman in a transparent dress, was unveiled on Saturday during a ceremony attended by the former prime minister Giuseppe Conte in Sapri, in the southern Campania region.

      The work by the sculptor Emanuele Stifano is a tribute to La Spigolatrice di Sapri (The Gleaner of Sapri), written by the poet Luigi Mercantini in 1857. The poem is based on the story of a failed expedition against the Kingdom of Naples by Carlo Pisacane, one of the first Italian socialist thinkers.


      Laura Boldrini, a deputy with the centre-left Democratic party, said the statue was an “offence to women and the history it should celebrate”. She wrote on Twitter: “But how can even the institutions accept the representation of a woman as a sexualised body?”

      A group of female politicians from the Democratic party’s unit in Palermo called for the statue to be knocked down. “Once again, we have to suffer the humiliation of seeing ourselves represented in the form of a sexualised body, devoid of soul and without any connection with the social and political issues of the story,” the group said in a statement.

      They argued that the statue reflected nothing of the anti-Bourbon revolution nor the “self-determination of a woman who chooses not to go to work in order to take sides against the oppressor”.

      Stifano defended his work, writing on Facebook that if it had been up to him the statue would have been “completely naked … simply because I am a lover of the human body”. He said it was “useless” to try to explain artwork to those “who absolutely only want to see depravity”.

      Antonio Gentile, the mayor of Sapri, said that until the row erupted “nobody had criticised or distorted the work of art”.

      In photos of the ceremony, Conte, now the leader of the Five Star Movement, appeared puzzled as he looked at the statue, surrounded by a mostly male entourage.


  • England’s Covid travel rules spark outrage around the world | Coronavirus | The Guardian

    England’s Covid travel rules spark outrage around the world
    England’s Covid travel rules and refusal to recognise vaccines administered across huge swaths of the world have sparked outrage and bewilderment across Latin America, Africa and south Asia, with critics denouncing what they called an illogical and discriminatory policy.The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, described England’s rules, unveiled last Friday, as “a new simplified system for international travel”. “The purpose is to make it easier for people to travel,” Shapps said.But in many parts of the world there is anger and frustration at the government’s decision to recognise only vaccinations given in a select group of countries. Under the new rules, travellers fully vaccinated with Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or Janssen shots in the US, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea or an EU country will be considered “fully vaccinated” and exempt from quarantine when they arrive in England from an amber list country.
    But people who have been fully vaccinated with the same vaccines in Africa or Latin America, as well as other countries including India, will be considered “not fully vaccinated” and forced to quarantine for 10 days on arrival from an amber list country. In Europe, there is frustration at Britain’s refusal to accept as “fully vaccinated” people who have had Covid and then a single dose of a two-dose shot. Such people are considered fully vaccinated in most EU countries and are able to travel freely around the bloc with an EU digital Covid certificate.
    To visit the UK, however, they must quarantine for 10 days, with UK government guidelines currently requiring people vaccinated with a two-dose vaccine such as Moderna or Pfizer to have had both doses “even if you have recently recovered from Covid-19 and have natural immunity”.Britain did relax its rules on Wednesday to allow quarantine-free travel by people from Europe who have had doses of two different vaccines. Hundreds of thousands on the continent received mix-and-match shots after the use of AstraZeneca was restricted to older age groups over rare blood clot concerns. But amid mounting anger abroad at what many view as discriminatory treatment, the Indian politician Shashi Tharoor announced on Monday that he was pulling out of a series of appearances in England to protest the “offensive” decision to ask fully vaccinated Indians to quarantine.“There isn’t a single person I have spoken to who isn’t angry about this. People are perplexed,” said one exasperated Latin American diplomat.“How can a Pfizer or Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine that is administered [in Latin America] not be sufficient for someone to be allowed in? I just don’t see how this can be acceptable. I simply cannot get my head around it,” they added. “I cannot explain what is behind this – I just know that it is very, very, very unfair.”A west African diplomat condemned the restrictions as “discriminatory”. “[But] it’s not even the discrimination that concerns me the most, it’s the message it sends out,” they added.
    “All around the world we’re struggling with vaccine hesitancy. There’s all sorts of fake news. When you say, ‘We are not going to accept the vaccine from Africa’, you lend credence to these kinds of theories. It’s only going to create a situation where it allows the pandemic to be prolonged.”
    Ifeanyi Nsofor, a doctor and chief executive of a public health consultancy in Nigeria, said: “The UK is one of the largest funders of the Covax facility and now the UK is saying that the same vaccines they have sent, will now not be considered. It’s sad, it’s wrong, it’s discriminatory.”
    The Moonsamys reunited in Oakland after a year of socially distanced gatherings.
    The new travel rules came as a severe blow to families who have spent many months separated from their England-based loved ones because of the pandemic. André Siqueira, a tropical diseases specialist from Rio de Janeiro, said he was desperate to see his four-year-old son who lives in London for the first time in a year. But the new rules made it almost impossible for him to travel to England – despite having been fully vaccinated in red-listed Brazil – since he would have to spend 10 days in an amber list country before spending another 10 days quarantining in England after he arrived. “Does the world do this for any other vaccines? Does the UK say we’re not going to recognise your polio vaccines from Pakistan? No. We accept that your vaccines are safely administered. If we’re worried that there are variants that are resistant to the vaccines, that’s happening all over the world. But the Delta variant is in 100 countries of the world and the vaccines do work against Delta.”
    Rees said she hoped the decision would be reconsidered. “I’m not worried that this is cast in stone but I think it’s something that really must be discussed. Not least because if the world starts closing borders to what looks like poorer countries, what does that mean for inequality? For refugees? We can’t close our borders, we must trust the vaccines and we must trust the governments that are administering the vaccines.”
    Asked to explain why vaccines administered in certain countries were acceptable but in others not, a government spokesperson said in a statement: “Our top priority remains protecting public health, and reopening travel in a safe and sustainable way, which is why vaccine certification from all countries must meet the minimum criteria taking into account public health and wider considerations.”
    The statement did not make clear what those wider considerations were.
    In response to international upset at the restrictions, the UK has pledged to work with some countries to recognise their vaccine passports. On Wednesday, the UK high commission in Kenya released a joint statement with the Kenya health ministry, saying the UK recognised vaccines administered in the east African country. The joint statement recognised there had been “significant public concern about the issue of vaccine certification” but added, “establishing a system to mutually recognise each other’s vaccine passport programme for travel takes time, particularly in an unprecedented pandemic”.


  • France grants citizenship to 12,000 Covid frontline workers | France | The Guardian

    France grants citizenship to 12,000 Covid frontline workers. Fast-track scheme is aimed at those whose jobs put them at risk in pandemic. France has granted citizenship to more than 12,000 frontline workers whose jobs put them at risk during the Covid pandemic under a special fast-track scheme.As well as speeding up the application process, which normally takes up to two years, the government also cut the residency requirement from five years to two. “Frontline workers responded to the call of the nation, so it is right that the nation takes a step towards them,” said the citizenship minister, Marlène Schiappa. “The country pulled through thanks to them. “I welcome our new compatriots to French nationality and thank them in the name of the republic. The country also thanks them.”
    In September 2020, the interior ministry invited those who had “actively contributed” to fighting the Covid health crisis to apply for fast-track naturalisation. On Thursday, Schiappa said 16,381 had applied and 12,012 applications were approved. Among them were health professionals, security and cleaning staff, those who looked after essential workers’ children, home help workers and refuse collectors, the minister announced.
    John Spacey, a Briton, was one of those given fast-track nationality as a foreigner who had “proved their commitment to the republic” in the eyes of the ministry. Spacey lives in the Creuse region in central France and works for an organisation that provides domestic care for elderly people. “It genuinely feels like a great honour to be offered citizenship,” he told the Local earlier this year. “France has been very good to me since my arrival and has given me opportunities I could never have dreamed of before stepping off the Eurostar in 2016 – a home of my own, a wonderful relationship, a 20-year-old Peugeot 106, a 40-year-old Mobilette, the most satisfying job in the world and a very bright future.“Soon, I’ll be able to vote, will regain my freedom of movement and will finally feel fully European once more, finally feel fully integrated into the nation I’ve already come to love like my own.”Spacey said he also received a one-off bonus payment from the state “as a kind of merci for services rendered during the crisis … something for which I was very grateful and that I’d not expected, given I’d been paid for my work anyway”.He added: “Then came another, far more unexpected, thank you – the chance to apply for French nationality six months earlier than would have been possible under the normal rules and to have the process fast-tracked. All for doing a job I love.”In April 2020, French hospital staff and nursing home workers were awarded tax-free bonuses of between €1,000 and €1,500 as part of the government thank you for their work during the Covid-19 crisis.In August 2020, France’s 320,000 home-care workers were given Covid-19 bonuses of up to €1,000.


  • ‘Sex isn’t difficult any more’: the men who are quitting watching porn | Pornography | The Guardian

    Addiction to pornography has been blamed for erectile dysfunction, relationship issues and depression, yet problematic use is rising. Now therapists and tech companies are offering new solutions

  • Atlas of the Invisible: using data to map the climate crisis | Climate crisis | The Guardian

    In a new book, Atlas of the Invisible, the geographer James Cheshire and designer Oliver Uberti redefine what an atlas can be. The following eight graphics reveal some of the causes and consequences of the climate crisis that are hard to detect with the naked eye but become clear when the data is collected and visualised.

    #cartographie #atlas #climat

    Atlas of the Invisible
    Maps & Graphics That Will Change How You See the World
    James Cheshire Oliver Uberti

  • EU removes six countries including US from Covid safe travel list | Coronavirus | The Guardian

    EU removes six countries including US from Covid safe travel list. Travellers from Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and North Macedonia also affected by move. The EU has removed six countries, including the US, from a Covid “white list” of places whose tourists should be permitted entry without restrictions such as mandatory quarantine.
    A majority of EU countries had reopened their borders to Americans in June, in the hope of salvaging the summer tourism season although most required a negative test ahead of travel. The move was not, however, reciprocated by the US.The EU’s white list necessitates having fewer than 75 new cases daily for every 100,000 people over the previous 14 days – a threshold that is not currently being met in the US. According to Johns Hopkins University, the US suffered the world’s highest number of infections over the past 28 days. Also removed from the EU’s safe list because of a rise in Covid infections are Israel, Kosovo, Lebanon, Montenegro, and the Republic of North Macedonia. The current white list now includes: Albania, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Japan, Jordan, New Zealand, Qatar, Republic of Moldova, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Singapore, South Korea, Ukraine and China.
    The member states are also advised that travel restrictions should be gradually lifted for the special administrative regions of China Hong Kong and Macao. The guidance is non-binding and the recommendation is that the fully vaccinated should nevertheless be granted entry for non-essential travel.


  • ‘A world problem’: immigrant families hit by Covid jab gap | Global development | The Guardian

    ‘A world problem’: immigrant families hit by Covid jab gap
    Families spread across rich and poor countries are acutely aware of relatives’ lack of access to vaccine. For months she had been dreaming of it and finally Susheela Moonsamy was able to do it: get together with her relatives and give them a big hug. Throughout the pandemic she had only seen her siblings, nieces and nephews fully “masked up” at socially distanced gatherings. But a few weeks ago, as their home state of California pressed on with its efficient vaccination rollout, they could have a proper reunion.“It was such an emotional experience, we all hugged each other; and with tears in our eyes, we thanked God for being with us and giving us the opportunity to see each other close up again and actually touch each other,” she says. “We never valued a hug from our family members that much before.”
    A couple of weeks later, the high school counsellor set off from her home in Oakland for a family trip to Disneyland on the outskirts of Los Angeles. It felt “strange … but wonderful” after a year spent hunkered down with her elderly parents. But while they were away she and her relatives received news that brought great sorrow: one of Moonsamy’s cousins, the daughter of her father’s sister, had died of Covid-19.This was not a family member in California, where Moonsamy has lived for 35 years, but in South Africa, the country where she was born and her parents left during apartheid. There, Covid is running rampant in a virulent third wave. Less than 6% of the population has had one dose of the vaccine and less than 1% has had two.
    The virus has now claimed the lives of 13 of Moonsamy’s family and friends, and she feels every day may bring more bad news. Amid talk of the pandemic nearing its end in California, where more than half the population is fully vaccinated, she has very mixed feelings.“It’s definitely exciting,” she says. “But at the same time you think of the ones that have gone, and you feel, if only they were able to get to this point – to celebrate with us. That would be just so great. We need to remember them … and look forward. To celebrate the freedom but at the same time keep the ones who have gone in mind.”
    Moonsamy is far from the only person to feel conflicted about the easing of restrictions. Across Europe and North America in the coming months, mass vaccination programmes are expected to bring back some form of normality. In England restrictions are due to be eased on 19 July, baptised “Freedom Day” by the tabloid press. In the US, most states have lifted restrictions already. Across the EU, to varying degrees, countries are preparing to reopen for summer. But in much of the rest of the world – from Kampala to Cape Town, the Philippines to Peru – the pandemic is not only ongoing but worsening. In low-income countries just 1% of the population on average has been given at least one dose of the vaccine.Caught in the middle of this growing divide are millions of people with relatives in the developed and the developing worlds, who find themselves struck by the staggering global inequality in their daily family catchups, WhatsApp groups and Skype chats.These huge differences have long been a facet of the diaspora experience, but the pandemic has magnified them. For many, the two-speed vaccination programmes have come to represent all that one part of the family has and the other has not.
    “[I feel] a huge amount of guilt … and a lot of sadness,” says Isabella (not her real name), a law student born in Colombia but who has lived in Canada since she was four.Like much of South America, Colombia is in the grip of a third wave of Covid-19, which has claimed about 45,000 lives since mid-March – more than 40% of the total death toll. About 24% of the population has had their first dose of the vaccine; in Canada, the figure is 69%.
    Isabella, 23, is fully vaccinated. Getting her first dose last month was an emotional experience. “I felt happy but I also remember just wanting to burst into tears when I was sitting in the little chair, because when I looked around me it was incredible to see how well organised the vaccination programme was, but I also knew that this is not the case in Colombia and it would be at least another year before my cousin my age in Colombia would be sitting in the same chair,” she says. “And who knows what might happen between now and then?” Farouk Triki, 30, is a Tunisian software engineer living in Paris. He left his parents and siblings behind to move to France with his wife four years ago. He has had his vaccination, but none of his family back home have: the Tunisian rollout has seemed tortuously slow to those living there, with just 5% having received both doses.
    “[I’m] concerned and scared,” says Triki, “because I’ve heard that it’s even worse than the British [variant]”, which his family caught in March. His parents, Farouk and Hanen, both teachers in Sfax on the Mediterranean coast, emerged unscathed from the illness, with neither requiring hospital treatment. But Hanen remembers the time with sadness. “Many relatives and friends died of Covid 19,” she says.For Isabella, who could only watch from afar as Covid tore through first her mother’s side of the family and then, last month, her father’s, the predominant feeling is helplessness. “I think [that] is the biggest thing, a feeling of not being able to do anything,” she says. “We try to help our family financially, sending them money if they need it, but other than that … that’s really all we can do from here.”
    Others in a similar situation have attempted to rally the community to send money to help their home countries. Raj Ojha, a mortgage broker from Nepal living in Slough in the south of England, has raised £2,000 through his organisation, the Nepalese British Community UK group. The money will go to two grassroots charities helping those hit hardest in the small Himalayan nation.“We are here in the UK and we can’t physically go back to Nepal. All we can do is extend our helping hands to the organisations that are working tirelessly in Nepal,” he says.
    At the start of this year, the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, warned that the world stood “on the brink of a catastrophic moral failure” if it did not get more vaccinations to the developing world. But such efforts have stalled. The Covax scheme, designed to deliver cheap doses and promote vaccine equality, was already facing accusations of aiming too low when its chief supplier, the Serum Institute of India, announced it was diverting its vaccine exports for domestic use. So far, it has distributed only 95m of the almost 2bn vaccines promised this year. Supplies are not the only problem: in many lower- and middle-income countries the logistics of a mass vaccination rollout put a huge strain on fragile healthcare systems.
    Moonsamy, Ojha and Isabella agree that there is an ethical imperative for richer countries to help those with fewer resources. However it would not simply be altruism – it just makes sense.“Now that developed countries are getting on the way to having their populations vaccinated, huge, huge efforts need to be made to get vaccines to developing countries – if not for the goodness of doing that for others then at least to protect the rest of the world from more variants,” says Isabella. Moonsamy agrees. “This is a world problem that affects all of us. By helping others, we are actually helping ourselves,” she says. Last weekend, Moonsamy held a 4 July gathering for some of her Californian relatives. They laughed, ate and talked. They also prayed for their family in South Africa. “Our hearts ache for them,” she says.
    “As much as we enjoy our amazing freedom from being locked down for the past year … we are not really free until we are all free. So we continue to do our part by helping others so that we can one day all celebrate our freedom together.”


  • Black women’s hair products are killing us. Why isn’t more being done ? | Tayo Bero | The Guardian

    Certains refusent de regarder en face les choses. Et pourtant. Voici un excellent exemple du « racisme systémique » : au nom d’une idéologie de ce que serait la « beauté », on augmente le risque de cancer des femmes noires, et malgré les connaissances scientifiques, les gouvernements ne font rien pour interdire ces produits « cosmétiques ».

    A new study reveals what some scientists and researchers have suspected for years – that frequent and long-term use of lye-based hair relaxers may have serious health effects, including breast cancer. Published in Oxford University’s Carcinogenesis Journal, the study found that Black women who used these products at least seven times a year for 15 or more years had a roughly 30% increased risk of developing breast cancer compared with more infrequent users.

    The research team also analyzed survey data from Boston University’s Black Women’s Health Study, which followed more than 50,000 African American women for more than 25 years and observed their medical diagnoses and any factors that could influence their health. The results? Of the women followed from 1997 to 2017, 95% reported using lye-based relaxers, and ultimately 2,311 developed breast cancers.

    This additional risk factor is just one part of a wide race gap in breast cancer rates among American women. We already know that Black women have the highest occurrence of breast cancer before reaching the age of 40, are more likely than white women to develop highly aggressive breast cancers, and are more likely to die from it at any age – 40% more likely, to be precise.

    And when it comes to the role of haircare products in that imbalance, none of this is new. In 2019, research published in the International Journal of Cancer found that ​​permanent dye use was associated with a 45% higher breast cancer risk in Black women, compared with a roughly 7% higher risk among white women who used these products.

    It’s important to examine why Black women are so overrepresented in the market for these harmful products to begin with. For centuries Black women in the west have been told that their skin tones and hair textures were inferior, unprofessional and largely undesirable.

    Even today, anti-Black hair discrimination is rampant in many professional settings, particularly in corporate and customer-facing roles – so much so that Black advocacy groups and US legislators have been working to pass new laws that would make hair discrimination illegal. So far, however, only 13 states have passed the “Crown Act.”

    Biased, white-centric beauty standards have led many Black women to embrace hair and skin treatments that pose serious risks to their health, often without their knowledge. And despite the abundance of evidence pointing to these risks, corporations and government regulators aren’t doing nearly enough to protect the Black women who are the main consumers of these products.

    For context, one in 12 beauty and personal care products marketed to Black women in the US were found to contain highly hazardous ingredients such as lye, parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives. Research from the nonprofit Environmental Working Group also found that fewer than 25% of products marketed to Black women scored low in an assessment of their potentially hazardous ingredients, compared with 40% of products marketed to the general public which researchers classified as low-risk.

    This issue cuts across all aspects of the beauty industry. Skin lightening products, another legacy of the cultural idea that dark skin is less desirable, are a thriving industry in the US. Women of color reportedly spent more than $2bn on such products in 2020. Users have reported chemical burns and lifelong scars.

    Warnings about the dangers of these products are minimal, leaving many Black women with insufficient information with which to make decisions on what products they use. To combat this, the EWG created a database listing all known personal care products targeted toward Black people, with information about their ingredients and potential problems. Unfortunately, this kind of effort isn’t happening on any large scale, or being supported by the companies who actually make and market these products – a gap that will no doubt continue to leave Black women at risk.

    In a society that imposes largely Eurocentric standards of beauty, desirability and respectability on all women, Black women in particular are placed under immense pressure to mold themselves to these standards in order to be accepted in social and professional settings. It’s crucial that personal care companies and the government do their part to keep Black female consumers safe and healthy.

    Tayo Bero is a freelance journalist

    #Racisme #Beauté #Cancer #Cheveux #Femmes_noires

  • France fiasco to pingdemic U-turn: Boris Johnson’s week of chaos | Coronavirus | The Guardian

    France fiasco to pingdemic U-turn: Boris Johnson’s week of chaos. In the last seven days the UK government has flailed from one controversy or misstep to the next. Often, the political week heading into the Commons summer recess can feel almost soporific, with the thoughts of ministers and MPs geared more towards holiday sunbeds than rows. But the last seven days has been different, and not only because of the ongoing political flux of coronavirus, with the government seeming to flail from one controversy, U-turn or misstep to the next, day after day.
    The reports began earlier in the week: France, which in a normal years attracts 10 million-plus UK visitors, was to be put on Britain’s red list, in effect banning almost all travel, because of concern about the spread of the potentially vaccine-resistant Beta variant. Eventually, late on Friday, it was announced that although France would stay on the amber list, double-vaccinated Britons returning from there would still have to quarantine for 10 days, unlike the new, relaxed policy for other amber destinations. Cue: anger from holidaymakers and some Conservative MPs – and polite bafflement from France itself.


  • What has Norway learned from the Utøya attack 10 years ago? Not what I hoped | Sindre Bangstad | The Guardian

    The already extensive literature on the 22 July attacks has recently been complemented by numerous new accounts in books written by survivors. They provide harrowing and chilling details, and make it clear that many survivors wanted such a reckoning, focused on the politics of rightwing Islamophobia. But in government, the Labour party faced the political and moral conundrum of choosing between an inclusive political rhetoric, casting these terrorist attacks as attacks on all Norwegians, or emphasising the fact that it had been the Norwegian left in particular that had been targeted. The staff at the prime minister’s office and the then PM, Jens Stoltenberg, chose the former.

    That choice had a number of consequences. For it meant that any talk of the undeniable links between the conspiratorial and anti-Muslim world views of Breivik and the wider populist right – including the Progress party, of which Breivik had been a member for several years – became taboo. The mainstream media’s sudden shift from the discourse of terrorism to talk of “tragedy” and “catastrophe” once it became known that the perpetrator was a white, Norwegian rightwing extremist, rather than a radicalised Muslim, was telling in this regard.

    • Il y a dix ans, le 22 juillet 2011, j’étais en France. Je terminais mon congé mat. C’étaient les vacances, quand un peu avant 16h, j’ai consulté mon téléphone. Tous les médias pour lesquels je travaillais à l’époque avaient cherché à me joindre. Libé a rappelé. /1
      J’ai appris qu’une explosion avait eu lieu dans le centre d’Oslo. On avait alors peu d’informations, mais les images, arrivant de Norvège, montraient la puissance de la déflgration. Le siège du gouvernement était en partie détruit. Les fenêtres soufflées partout autour. /2
      Sur les trottoires, des passants, en sang, marchaient, hagards, dans ce qui ressemblait à une zone de guerre. Libération a décidé d’envoyer sur place un de ses grands reporters, habitué à couvrir la guerre et le terrorisme islamiste. /3
      Car l’hypothèse d’un attentat islamiste était la plus probable. Jusqu’à ce que qques heures plus tard, les médias norvégiens évoquent une attaque, sur l’île d’Utoya, à l’ouest d’Oslo - où se tiennent tous les ans, les universités d’été des jeunes travaillistes (AUF). /4
      Des tweets sur les réseaux sociaux faisaient état d’une fusillade en cours. Des images ont commencé à arriver : filmées depuis les hélicoptéres de la télé, elles montraient des taches de couleur immobiles sur l’île, des jeunes qui tentaient de traverser le fjord à la nage ... /5
      Dans la soirée, les autorités norvégiennes ont révélé que le tueur avait été arrêté : il s’agissait d’un Norvégien, âgé de 32 ans - Anders Behring Breivik, né et élevé dans les quartiers cossus de l’ouest d’Oslo. /6
      Pendant la nuit, les chiffres ont commencé à tomber. On parlait de plusieurs dizaines de morts. Des jeunes de 14-15 ans. Je me souviens du discours du PM Jens Stoltenberg, qui a parlé d’une « attaque contre la démocratie » et promis de lutter pour préserver « la société ouverte ». /7
      Je me souviens aussi du réveil, après qques heures de sommeil, et de ce chiffre hallucinant : autour de 80 morts. Sans nouvelle, des parents continuaient à espérer. Des dizaines de blessés étaient soignés à l’hôpital. Finalement, le macabre décompte s’est arrêté à 77 morts. /8
      Je ne suis pas allée sur place alors, mais j’ai passé les jours suivant à appeler des chercheurs, des historiens, des élus ... Tous étaient sous le choc. Et puis, j’ai lu ce manifeste de 1500 pages, envoyé par Anders Behring Breivik, avant de faire exploser sa bombe, à Oslo. /9
      1500 pages de théories conspirationnistes, d’un discours faisant l’apologie du « contre-djihadisme », partageant avec la théorie du grand remplacement, le fantasme d’une islamisation de l’Occident, orchestrée - selon Breivik - par le parti travailliste et son mouvement jeune. /10
      1500 pages où le tueur exprimait sa haine du féminisme et sa misogynie, où il racontait ses années de militantisme au sein du Parti du progrès (FrP), formation populiste anti-immigration, qui l’avait décu : pas assez radical, à son goût. /11
      1500 pages où il citait à n’en plus finir ceux qui l’avaient inspiré. En Norvège et à l’étranger. Sur internet et dans les médias. /12
      Soyons clairs : Breivik est seul responsable de ses actes. Mais il n’est pas sorti de nulle part. Le discours déshumanisant contre les étrangers, qui se propagent aujourd’hui en Europe, a servi de terreau à sa haine et son extrêmisme. /13
      Les 2 premiers psychiatres qui l’ont examiné ont pourtant jugé qu’il était pénalement irresponsable : pour eux, ses théories étaient démentielles. Chercheurs et historiens, spécialistes de l’ext-droite, ont réagi et contredit les conclusions des experts. /14
      Deux autres psychiatres ont été chargés de l’évaluer. Eux aussi ont jugé que Breivik était un véritable sociopathe. Mais ils ont aussi reconnu que son acte était politique et conclu qu’il devait être reconnu pénalement responsable. /15
      Le procès, qui s’est tenu en 2012, a été une lecon magistrale de ce que doit être un Etat de droit, respectueux jusqu’à la lettre des règles et procédures. Cela a aussi été un moment terrible, quand les médecins légistes sont intervenus. /16
      Les proches des victimes avaient rédigé un texte, pour raconter la vie des morts. Ces biographies ont été lues pendant le procès. 77 vies fauchées le 22 juillet. /17
      Breivik n’a montré aucun remord. Il a tendu le poing, dans un salut néonazi. Son avocat a appelé des experts de l’ext-droite à la barre. Ils ont confirmé : le terroriste était peut être un loup solitaire, mais ses idées étaient largement partagées, sur internet notamment. /18
      Finalement, Breivik a été reconnu coupable et condamné à 21 ans d’emprisonnement (reconductibles), la plus lourde peine. Il n’a pas fait appel, puisque la cour l’avait jugé responsable de ses actes : ce qu’il voulait. /19
      Mais pour les survivants et les familles des victimes, le calvaire a continué. Breivik a intenté une action en justice contre l’Etat norvégien, l’accusant de « traitement inhumain ». Procès qu’il a en partie gagné. /20
      Pendant ce temps-là, les jeunes travaillistes exigeaient une discussion sur la facon de parler des immigrés en Norvège, les mots utilisés et leurs csq, la haine du parti social-démocrate ... Ils ont été accusés d’exploiter leur statut de victimes, de jouer la carte du 22/07. /21
      En 2018, certains d’entre eux ont témoigné : ils ont révélé être régulièrement menacés. Surtout quand ils parlaient du 22/07, discutaient de l’immigration, de la parité ... Une étude, publiée en mai, a révélé qu’un tiers des survivants est tjs la cible de menaces. /22
      Dix ans plus tard, le discours est en train de changer. Doucement. Certains d’entre eux ont décidé qu’ils ne se laisseraient plus intimider. Ils parlent haut et fort. Exigent d’être entendu. Revendiquent leur statut de victime. Sa légitimité dans le débat. /23
      Que dire d’autre, si ce n’est tte l’admiration qu’on leur doit : non pas parce qu’ils ont survécu à une attaque terroriste. Mais car en dépit du traumatisme, de leurs amis assassinés, des intimidations, ils continuent à se battre pour défendre leurs idées et leurs valeurs. /24
      Alors, nous n’oublions pas : #aldriglemme #22juli 🌹 /25
      Et si vous voulez suivre le débat et comprendre les demandes des survivants et jeunes travaillistes, alors connectez vous aux comptes de @elinlestrange et @eskilpedersen (et oui, c’est du norvégien donc utilisez la fonction translate).
      Pour comprendre l’ampleur de ce qui s’est passé le 22/07 et l’horreur qu’ont vécu les 564 personnes - pour la plupart des jeunes de -20 ans, 69 sont morts, une 100 aine a été gravement blessée - allez sur le compte @aldriglemme qui retranscrit en « live » le déroulé des attaques.

  • Covid live news: accinated UK travellers returning to England from all amber list countries except France will not need to quarantine on arrival | World news | The Guardian

    From Monday, vaccinated UK travellers returning to England from all amber list countries except France will not need to quarantine on arrival if they have been double vaccinated or are under the age of 18.
    The France announcement underlines the uncertainty in some areas over the lifting of lockdown restrictions in England from 19 July, PA Media reports.It also marks another hit to the fortunes of the travel sector, with industry body Abta saying it was a further setback for hopes of a “meaningful recovery”.It also came just two days after the Spanish holiday islands of Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca were moved from green to amber, meaning anyone over 18 who is not fully vaccinated must quarantine on their return.The UK health secretary. Sajid Javid, said the government had always been clear it would take rapid action at the borders to “protect the gains made by our successful vaccination programme”, while Labour accused ministers of creating holiday “chaos”.
    Ministers are making up rules on the hoof and causing chaos. They have never had a proper strategy in place - once again the travel industry and the British people are paying the price.Meanwhile, the French tourism minister, Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, tweeted on Saturday morning that France was adapting its border measures to require non-vaccinated travellers arriving from the UK, Cyprus, Spain, Greece, the Netherlands and Portugal to complete an antigen or PCR test less than 24 hours before departure.