About: the world this week, 22 May to 28 May 2022, shootings, fragmentation, stuck farm grain, yet another virus trying to fox us, and a literary prize is awarded.
One barely noticed: the Russia-Ukraine War has slid down from the headlines into a regular ‘work in progress’ story. And perhaps joins the list of many other low-key never-ending wars happening in different parts of the world. Feeding the weapon manufacturers? But what’s happening in America refuses to get the solution it deserves – and America does not seem too eager to bite the bullet.
It was his 18th birthday in Uvalde County, 135 kilometres west of San Antonio, in Texas, United States (US). He celebrated by purchasing two military-style rifles at a Gun-Store, went home, put on body armour, shot his grandmother, and drove down to the nearby Robb Elementary School wrecking his car – crashing into a ditch near the school. And he gathered himself, entered the School and went on a shooting spree killing at least 19 children and two adults-including a teacher- as he went from classroom to classroom before Law Enforcement entered the scene and shot him down. The killer was later identified as Salvador Ramos. The grandmother is in critical condition.
The shooting was the deadliest at an elementary school since the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut, about a decade ago, in 2012, that left 26 people dead, including 20 children. So far in 2022 there have been at least 39 shootings in schools, colleges and universities, resulting in at least 10 deaths and 51 injuries. Overall, the US has seen about 200 mass shootings since January this year, more than any developed country in the world! That should rattle every American on Earth.
Robb Elementary School teaches second through fourth grades and holds over 500 students in its classrooms. About 90% of students are Hispanic and about 81% are economically disadvantaged. The day of the shooting was to be the last day of school before the summer break. The school canceled all school activities following the shooting.
US President Joe Biden was quick to shoot, “Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Why do we keep letting this happen? Where in God’s name is our backbone to have the courage to deal with it? It’s time to turn this pain into action”
These kinds of mass shootings rarely happen elsewhere in the world – a unique American phenomenon. Gun Control? America should seriously talk about gun violence prevention.
For e.g., in the United Kingdom (UK) about 26 years ago, a gunman entered Dunblane Primary School in Scotland, killing 16 children and a teacher. The UK Govt responded by enacting tight gun control legislation. Ever since, and there has been not one instance of a school shooting in the UK.
In Australia in 1996, a gunman went on a shooting spree in Tasmania – killing 35 people and injuring 23 others. This prompted then Australian Prime Minister John Howard to tighten laws, confiscating more than 650,000 weapons in the world’s largest mandatory gun buy-back scheme. A school shooting never happened again.
Reminds me of Bob Dylan’s unforgettable song, Blowing in the Wind.
Yes, ’n how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ’n how many deaths will it take ’til he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) is an independent, impartial, International Organization for public-private cooperation not tied to any special interests. It engages the foremost political, business-CEO’s, and billionaires, cultural, and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. The WEF was established in 1971 as a not-for-profit foundation with headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
This year, its manifesto runs like this: Companies should pay their fair share of taxes, show zero tolerance for corruption, uphold human rights throughout their global supply chains, and advocate for a competitive level playing field.
The WEF’s Annual Meeting usually happens at the start of the year. Covid19 prevented an in-person event for the last two years, and, for the first time, the Davos 2022 meeting was held this May.
The last time the WEF gathered in the Swiss mountain village of Davos to discuss society’s biggest problems and pitch their solutions, the coronavirus outbreak was little more than a remote threat. The economy was humming, and nobody considered a major armed conflict in Europe as a possible risk. This time, the stage is different: the world has been upended by the Covid19 pandemic and Russia’s ruthless invasion of Ukraine.
The conference famously combines high-minded panels with flashy parties, bringing important people together to tackle pressing issues like inequality, climate change, the future of technology, and geopolitical conflict. But the logic behind inviting some of the wealthiest people on Earth to solve these problems, from a resort town, looks even shakier these days.
One of the many buzzwords percolating around Davos this week is fragmentation, the force, Economists warn could have ‘devastating human consequences.’ By fragmentation, they are referring to a breakdown of the kind of free-wheeling, border-crossing trade and investment that’s defined the global economic order over the past three decades. It is a form of deglobalization: rebuilding fences around national or regional fiefdoms.
Said one of the Attendees: “fragmentation is the sense that we may be having economies protect themselves a little more domestically, and that could slow things down. And then it may make things more expensive in return.”
We are already kind of fragmented. Look at Ukraine, left to fend for itself against the might of a ‘self-sufficient’ Nation called Russia. Of course, the World is helping with arms and ammunition, but there are so many boundaries to crash! And mind-boggling risks associated!
These are absolutely tough times for Ukraine in almost every field. Ukrainian farmers have 20 million tonnes of grain they cannot get to international markets because of the crazy war started by Russia. And a new harvest is about to begin. Before the war, 90% of Ukraine’s exports left via the deep ports in the Black Sea, which can load tankers large enough to travel long distances. But Russia has closed all of these ports. Now, it has offered to lift its blockade of Ukrainian Black Sea ports in exchange for lifting sanctions. This was promptly shot down by Ukraine as ‘blackmail’.
Ukraine is a major supplier of key crops with about 42% share of global exports of sunflower oil, 16% of maize, 10% of barley and 9% of wheat. Some countries heavily depend on Ukraine, such as Moldova which gets 92% of its wheat requirement from Ukraine, Lebanon 81% and Qatar 64%.
There must be a way: food going waste is criminal. And Russia is becoming a pariah nation is so many dimensions. Hard to believe that it is a responsible country!
It can begin with a fever, a headache, or muscle aches, and swollen lymph nodes. You might notice a rash develop, usually starting on the face before spreading to other parts of the body. And may lead to a range of medical complications depending on the person infected. These are typical symptoms that may point towards monkeypox, a disease now slowly spreading across the World.
When monkeypox does spread between humans, it is through physical contact with someone who has symptoms. The virus is transmitted from one person to another by close contact with lesions, body fluids, respiratory droplets and contaminated materials such as bedding. In the current outbreak, clusters have occurred among men who have sex with men, which has not been the case previously. But experts have warned against declaring it a sexually transmitted disease, or attributing the spread to certain communities.
Monkeypox is caused by the monkeypox virus – enveloped in a double-stranded DNA – a member of the Orthopoxvirus Genus in the Family Poxviridae. It is a viral zoonotic-virus transmitted to humans from animals-disease that occurs primarily in tropical rainforest areas of central and west Africa and is occasionally exported to other regions.
Human monkeypox was first identified in humans in the year 1970 in the Democratic Republic of The Congo in a 9 years old boy, in a region where smallpox had been eliminated in 1968. Since then, most cases have been reported from rural, rainforest regions of the Congo Basin, particularly in Congo and human cases have increasingly been reported from across central and west Africa.
Monkeypox is usually a self-limited disease with the symptoms lasting from 2 to 4 weeks. Severe cases occur more commonly among children and are related to the extent of virus exposure, patient health status, and nature of complications. The incubation period -interval from infection to onset of symptoms- of monkeypox is usually from 6 to 13 days but can range from 5 to 21 days. Severe cases can occur. In recent times, the case fatality ratio has been around 3–6%.
An antiviral agent developed for the treatment of smallpox has also been licensed for the treatment of monkeypox. The clinical presentation of monkeypox resembles that of smallpox, a related orthopoxvirus infection which was declared eradicated worldwide in 1980. Monkeypox is less contagious than smallpox and causes less severe illness.
Vaccines used during the smallpox eradication programme also provide protection against monkeypox. Newer vaccines have been developed of which one has been approved for prevention of monkeypox.
Underlying immune deficiencies may lead to worse outcomes. Although vaccination against smallpox was protective in the past, today persons younger than 40 to 50 years of age (depending on the country) may be more susceptible to monkeypox due to cessation of smallpox vaccination campaigns globally after eradication of the disease. Complications of monkeypox can include secondary infections, bronchopneumonia, sepsis, encephalitis, and infection of the cornea with ensuing loss of vision. The extent to which asymptomatic infection may occur is unknown.
An antiviral agent known as Tecovirimat that was developed for smallpox was licensed by the European Medical Association (EMA) for monkeypox in 2022 based on data in animal and human studies. It is not yet widely available.
The Booker Prize, formerly known as the ‘Booker Prize for Fiction’ and the ‘Man Booker Prize’ is a literary prize awarded each year for the best novel written in English and published in the UK or Ireland. A sister prize, the International Booker Prize, is awarded for a book translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland.
Indian Author Geetanjali Shree’s translated Hindi novel, ‘Tomb of Sand’, has become the first book written in an Indian language to be awarded the 2022 International Booker Prize. Originally published in Hindi as ‘Ret Samadhi’, the book was translated into English by Daisy Rockwell.
The Chair of the Judges had this to say, “This is a luminous novel of India and partition, but one whose spellbinding brio and fierce compassion weaves youth and age, male and female, family and nation into a kaleidoscopic whole”.
‘Tomb of Sand’ is the story of a 80 years old woman who goes into deep depression after the death of her husband. Eventually, she overcomes her depression and decides to visit Pakistan to confront the past that she left behind during the Partition.
Geetanjali Shree born in Manipur, India, is the author of three novels and several story collections, and her work has been translated into English, French, German, Serbian, and Korean.
Indians who have won the other Booker Prize are, Arundhati Roy for ‘God of Small Things’ in 1997, Kiran Desai for ‘The Inheritance of Loss’ in 2006, and Aravind Adiga for ‘The White Tiger’ in 2008.
More stories will be booked and fired in the weeks to come. Live healthy with World Inthavaaram.