Anti-China sentiment on the rise; Italy slowly emerging from lockdown; Pandemic exposes the ‘violence of social inequality’

Anti-China sentiment on the rise; Italy slowly emerging from lockdown; Pandemic exposes the 'violence of social inequality'

By
The World staff

The Chinese national flag flies at half-mast behind a statue of late Chinese chairman Mao Zedong in Wuhan during a national mourning for those who died of the coronavirus, April 2020.

Credit:

Aly Song/Reuters/File Photo

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Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

Britain said Monday that China has questions to answer over the information it shared about the novel coronavirus outbreak. But British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace refused to comment on reports that the so-called Five Eyes consortium of US, British, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand intelligence services had accused Beijing of a cover-up. The rhetoric from the US and others comes as an internal Chinese report warns Beijing is facing a rising wave of hostility in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak and that global anti-China sentiment is at its highest since the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Also: Scientists may never find the ‘missing link’ species

Italy slowly emerging from lockdown

Italy, among the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus and with one of the longest lockdowns in Europe, began easing lockdown restrictions today, allowing about 4.5 million people to return to work. Spain, Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Malaysia, Israel, Tunisia and Lebanon were also among countries easing some restrictions.

Also: Japan’s Abe extends state of emergency to May 31

Economist Thomas Piketty: Pandemic exposes the ‘violence of social inequality’

French economist Thomas Piketty’s new book, “Capital and Ideology,” which came out in March, examines the history of policies and political systems that have sustained economic inequality — and how the world might move toward a fairer economic system. He spoke to The World’s host Marco Werman about the inequalities the pandemic has exposed and suggested Portugal as example of one country that is looking soberly at the pandemic.

“I think at this stage, you know, everybody is trying to do something. So, some countries have initiatives like — in Portugal, they decided two weeks ago to have a temporary regularization of illegal migrants so at least they can provide income support for people in the street and access to health facilities and some kind of legal status. Actually, during this time of the pandemic, most of the countries in Europe did not do that. And I think, you know, it would be useful.”

Warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico raise alarm as US storm season approaches

As storm season begins in the southeastern US, scientists are casting a wary eye on the warm waters in the Gulf of Mexico. Tornado season in the US generally runs from March through June and hurricane season follows right on its heels. Warm waters in the Gulf provide “a basic fuel” to these massive storms, explains atmospheric scientist Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished scholar at the US National Center for Atmospheric Research.

During social distancing, artists collaborate on ‘Long Distance Art’

Simone Saunders, a visual artist based in Calgary, Canada, created this piece for the Long Distance Art series.

Credit:

Courtesy of Simone Saunders

Long Distance Art, which launched this week, is an international, multidisciplinary collaborative art series that emerged from the Social Distancing Festival. Artists can inquire about collaborating with another artist they’ve seen on the site, or have the creator pair them up with another artist of his choosing.

For online art, I’ve become a matchmaker,” joked creator Nick Green. “I don’t want to be too instructive. So for the most part, I tell [the collaborators], ‘You two are brilliant artists. Go. Do whatever. I’m happy with anything you come up with.’”

Morning meme

There may be some good old fashioned Hollywood marketing going on here. But it is May 4, and the folks over at team “Star Wars” still know how to get the goosebumps to rise. May the 4th be with you.

In case you missed itListen: A global effort to fast-track a vaccine for the coronavirus

A researcher works in a lab at the Duke-NUS Medical School, which is developing a way to track genetic changes that speed testing of vaccines against the coronavirus disease in Singapore, March 2020.

Credit:

Joseph Campbell/Reuters

Most leaders and medical experts say life won’t get back to relative normal until we get a vaccine to prevent COVID-19. It could take a while, so some scientists and ethicists are proposing a controversial method of testing. Also, Russia’s Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin has tested positive for the coronavirus and is temporarily stepping down from his position as he recovers. Plus, the British rock band Queen has updated the classic rock ballad, “We Are The Champions,” to honor health care workers around the world.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

During social distancing, artists collaborate on ‘Long Distance Art’

During social distancing, artists collaborate on 'Long Distance Art'

Long Distance Art, which launched this week, is an international, multidisciplinary collaborative art series with The Social Distancing Festival. Artists can inquire about collaborating with another artist they’ve seen on the site, or have the creator pair them up with another artist of his choosing. 

By
Bianca Hillier

Artist Liza Merkalova painted this piece for the Long Distance Art Series, as part of a collaboration with musician Charlie Rauh. “In conversations with both Liza and Charlie, we decided on a process that involved Liza sending Charlie an existing painting of hers, which he used as inspiration to compose new guitar music,” Long Distance Art series creator Nick Green said.

Credit:

Courtesty of Liza Merkalova

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Speaking a dream or a goal into existence has little evidence proving its effectiveness. But for Nick Green, creator of the Social Distancing Festival, the practice has worked.

“My dream is to hear the story of two artists that have met through my site and collaborate on some really profound piece of art,” Green told The World in March. His site aggregates content from artists whose performances have been canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic. “And they live across the world and never would have met, otherwise.” 

Weeks later, Green’s dream came to fruition.

“It’s quite poetic that we’re speaking again, given the last words in our last interview of what my big dream was — to have this become more of a collaborative project,” Green told The World more recently. “And now, there have been some new projects happening that are really, really exciting. It’s called Long Distance Art.” 

Related: Artists flock to the only ‘festival’ still on during COVID-19

Long Distance Art, which launched this week, is an international, multidisciplinary collaborative art series that emerged from The Social Distancing Festival. Artists can contact Green and inquire about collaborating with another artist they’ve seen on the site, or have Green pair them with another artist of his choosing. There is no cost to the artists.

“For online art, I’ve become a matchmaker.”

Nick Green, creator, Social Distancing Festival

“For online art, I’ve become a matchmaker,” he joked. “I don’t want to be too instructive. So for the most part, I tell [the collaborators], ‘You two are brilliant artists. Go. Do whatever. I’m happy with anything you come up with.’”

Green’s matchmaking magic has recently connected a team of Canadian musicians with a dancer in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Barbara Johnston, a member of the Toronto-based composing team alongside Anika Johnson and Suzy Wilde, was contacted by Green and immediately thought the idea was “the most exciting thing possible in the world.” Once paired with Tanzanian dancer Tadhi Alawi, Johnston’s team got to work.

Related: In a new MoMA audio guide, security guards are the art experts

“Everybody was so excited to create this song and collaborate with the dancer in this way,” Johnston said. “We just wrote an email about what we felt the song was about, how we thought the themes could be expanded upon, how certain aspects of what’s going on in the world can relate to what this song is about. And he wrote us back this beautiful email the next day. And we just began sharing emails back and forth, talking about our process, talking about the song and the movement to the song.”

The final product of the collaboration is a video showing Alawi dancing to Wild Heart, a song composed by Johnston and her team. It’s a partnership unlike any Johnston’s been a part of, she said, but one she wants to explore more.

Johnston said she was amazed the nearly 8,000-mile distance between Tanzania and Toronto felt so small.

“It’s just amazing how quickly we connected as collaborators without ever having met, and with being, you know, literally a world apart,” ” Johnston said. “All I want to do now is try to find ways to connect with people. And I feel that this is an opportunity to see beyond the barriers that exist and have existed, because we’re in unknown land now. We’re just trusting in the process. And it’s kind of, you know, it’s intimidating. But I’m excited for the adventure of it, and I’m really excited to see what comes out of it.”

Other collaborations in the Long Distance Art series’ unveiling include work between Calgary, Canada-based visual artist Simone Elizabeth Saunders and Tekikki Walker, a Cleveland, Ohio based multimedia designer. Painter Liza Merkalova, based in Adelaide, Australia, also teamed up with New York musician Charlie Rauh

Simone Saunders, a visual artist based in Calgary, Canada, created this piece for the Long Distance Art series.

Credit:

Courtesy of Simone Saunders

The Long Distance Art series lives online for now, with many artists working in their apartments and childhood homes instead of their studios and theaters. Though the past week has revealed glimpses of a post-lockdown world as some countries begin reopening businesses, public parks, and schools, experts suggest it will take years for the economy to return to what it once was. Theaters, museums and venues — reliant on crowds of people — are also among those expected to stay closed long after restaurants, schools, and small businesses open again.

But as venue doors remain closed, laptop computers remain open. Green said his aspirations for The Social Distancing Festival and The Long Distance Art series aren’t canceled — but they need funds to sustain themselves.

Related: 5 museums offering virtual art while you’re quarantined

“A dream of mine is that there might be someone or an organization out there who sees that this is the artistic embodiment of connecting people across the world and global conversations about humanity and lived experiences,” Green said. “And they might say, ‘Hey, you know, that aligns really well with what we, as an organization, are doing. Why don’t we put some money into this? Why don’t we fund some of these artists or somehow buy one of the works?’”

This is “new territory,” Green said, and he isn’t sure how The Social Distancing Festival and the Long Distance Art series will evolve. But speaking his dreams into existence has worked so far. Green added: “Why stop now?”