By Robert A. Vella
For many years now, if not decades, learned people have been sounding alarms about the fragility of our modern civilization. No matter how well-reasoned and evidence-based the warnings were, a large proportion of the population flippantly dismissed it. This denial has a myriad of convenient rationales such as “the world has always been this way,” “nothing changes,” “the future is predetermined,” “people are powerless,” “I don’t believe in science,” “I don’t trust the Establishment,” and “God will save me.” Such uninformed opinion is typical of human nature. We are generally averse to thoughtful consideration, too reliant on instinct and intuition, too susceptible to ideas which reinforce our subjective beliefs, too preoccupied with our mundane daily lives, and too frightened to anticipate large-scale dangers. Complacency isn’t the exception, it is the prevailing norm of human behavior; otherwise, social organization on national and global levels would be impossible.
However, reality cares not for our predispositions. The consequences of our actions and inactions will happen regardless. Over the course of human history, catastrophes both big and small have continually shocked us into belated awareness. No, we never heeded the warnings; but, we always acknowledged the damage after the fact. This shortsightedness is not only a flaw in our nature, it also has the potential to incur the gravest of costs. As our population and technology increasingly exceed our collective wisdom, the existential threats we face also rises exponentially.
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense released a stunning report detailing the domino effect consequences of climate change on global stability. Specifically, it identified food and water shortages, humanitarian crises, mass migrations, infectious disease outbreaks, extreme weather, coastal flooding, international tensions, and armed conflict, as direct threats to the stability of modern civilization. Not only have numerous other national security agencies around the world issued similar warnings, but evidence for all these consequences is plainly obvious today. The coronavirus pandemic is just the latest in an ever-expanding list of examples.
The reason why people are panicking now is not because they were warned, but because their precious daily lives are being disrupted. Ponder that for a moment. When thousands of victims perish in a faraway land, the news barely registers in our consciousness. But, when we are forced to radically alter and restrict our daily activities, then the problem becomes paramount. If that isn’t futility and stupidity, then nothing is.
To those who still believe that government isn’t necessary or that President Trump isn’t harming us, I say it’s long past the time to wake up.
Currently, there are over 140,000 cases of COVID-19 infections and over 5,000 fatalities worldwide, and over 1,800 and over 40 respectively in the U.S. (although these numbers are expected to increase significantly as testing ramps-up). President Trump’s disapproval rating has risen to 53.1% and his approval rating has fallen to 42.4%. (according to comprehensive analysis of opinion polls by Nate Silver’s 538 blog).
Here’s today’s news:
President Trump plans to declare a national emergency Friday, as public life in America continues to grind to a halt. Concerns about the coronavirus pandemic rippled across the globe, as more events were canceled and more landmarks were shuttered; U.S. schools closed to millions of students; Louisiana delayed its presidential primary until summer; and the Group of Seven leaders planned a virtual crisis conference.
Here are some other significant developments:
The World Health Organization warned that Europe “has now become the epicenter” of the pandemic, and more European Union nations took action — shutting down schools, implementing travel restrictions and passing other emergency measures.
Miami Mayor Francis Suarez said he tested positive for the virus after attending an event in Florida with a Brazilian government aide, who has also tested positive. A top Australian official also tested positive just days after meeting with U.S. Attorney General William P. Barr in Washington.
After facing heated, bipartisan criticism over U.S. testing, the Trump administration announced a series of steps to boost the availability of tests and said it would partner with the private sector to set up drive-through testing sites.
Scientists have found that the coronavirus can stay infectious for days on some surfaces. They also discovered that the coronavirus can be shed by people before they develop symptoms and can linger in the body for many weeks.
President Donald Trump plans to declare a national emergency on Friday over the coronavirus outbreak, invoking the Stafford Act to open the door to more federal aid for states and municipalities, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Trump is under increasing pressure to act as governors and mayors nationwide step up actions to mitigate the spread, closing schools and canceling public events. The president said he will hold a news conference at 3 p.m. in Washington.
Senate Democrats have urged Trump to invoke the Stafford Act and other disaster declaration requests they say would free up more than $42 billion in funding for states available in the Disaster Relief Fund.
From: Surveillance Tools Will Lapse as Trump Signals Possible Veto (Note: Trump sees FISA as part of the “deep state conspiracy” which investigated his collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election)
WASHINGTON — Three F.B.I. tools for investigating terrorism and espionage will expire at least temporarily on Sunday after President Trump suggested on Thursday that he might veto a bipartisan surveillance bill to extend them and the Senate left town without voting on it.
The intervention by the president — known for his unpredictability on surveillance policy — potentially disrupted an agreement to resolve a broad debate over national security and privacy related to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA.
Mr. Trump’s comments came a day after the House had passed a bipartisan bill to extend the expiring tools while also adding safeguards to national security wiretapping under FISA.
Several of the president’s most vocal allies backed the legislation, and Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, enthusiastically urged swift passage of the House’s bill. But on Thursday, the Republicans whom Mr. Trump had referred to in his tweet raised objections that prevented the Senate from passing the bill on an expedited basis. An attempt to extend the expiring authorities for 45 days to buy more time also fell apart.
By the day’s end, senators left town for the weekend and Republican leaders had plans to pass the House’s agreement early next week when they have more time — with hopes that Mr. Trump would ultimately relent and sign it into law.