Splainer

Thursday, July 9 2020


Dive In

The way to defeat bad ideas is by exposure, argument, and persuasion, not by trying to silence or wish them away. We refuse any false choice between justice and freedom, which cannot exist without each other. As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences.

That’s from an open letter penned by the who’s who of the intellectual establishment calling out 'cancel culture'. Signed by the authors of different political stripes and reputations, it takes aim at the left’s “intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.” Of course, there’s been a huge backlash—and the letter in turn has been called out for being tone-deaf and smug. Self-righteousness begets self-righteousness etc. etc. Illustration: Parth Savla

the big story

A big question mark over WHO

The TLDR: The World Health Organisation is increasingly under fire for its handling of the pandemic. From the very outset, a number of its policy recommendations have been wildly off the mark—some made more questionable due its perceived ‘soft on China’ approach. Now, the US has withdrawn its funding, and many countries are ignoring its advice. We look at why and how WHO lost the plot—just when we needed it most.

 

Who is the WHO

The United Nations agency was founded in 1948. It is broadly in charge of global public health and was created with a lofty goal: “the attainment by all people of the highest possible levels of health.” Its biggest success story: the coordination of a worldwide campaign to eliminate smallpox.

 

But until 2003, WHO enabled policy coordination and cooperation among different countries. It took on a more aggressive role—of telling governments what to do—during the SARS outbreak. And that role has remained controversial ever since. It has been accused of both over-reacting and under-reacting to potential threats. That resentment has now boiled over thanks to the pandemic.

 

A series of blunders

The organisation misread the coronavirus from the very beginning, and its performance has gone downhill from there.

 

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In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

  • An alarming Covid prediction for India
  • Harvard and MIT sue Trump
  • A China update: Another retreat, another ban
  • Apple Music is killing your battery

 

Smart And Curious

  • A chain of restaurants is making mask-shaped parottas
  • Women more likely to have uncharitable thoughts about exes than men

 

Life Advisory

  • So you want to take a Covid-safe road trip...
  • So you want to do good and buy something pretty…
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