The outbreak has now reached 2,062 infections, with deaths climbing to 1,390.
This image of The Donut Hole on Amar Road, La Puente, CA, is one of over 1,400 images in the Library of Congress’s “Roadside America” set on Flickr. It’s full of amazing copyright-free images you should check out. Btw, can you believe that The Donut Hole has a perfectly situated drive-thru? (via flickr.com/library_of_congress)
- Alexandra Stock doesn’t like Christoph Büchel’s “Barca Nostra” project at the Venice Biennale at all — and I certainly don’t blame her. She goes for it:
Writing about Büchel’s project goes against my better judgement. Four friends asked independently of each other to please not give it more attention than it’s already received, but this fucking boat project made me both sad and mad and I have to push back at what Büchel is doing, even if that means feeding the publicity — actually, especially in light of the tame acceptance it has received in the press. A friend who works as a curator in Amsterdam suggested that the work is a much-needed one-liner in a sea of art in the biennale that demands a lot of time and attention (but even she drew a line at a price tag of €2 million). The thing is, being able to turn the deaths of hundreds of migrants into a one-liner isn’t a sophisticated intellectual feat, it’s just white privilege, with or without an art context.
In no uncertain terms, and not cloaked in neutral art speak, I find Christoph Büchel’s Barca Nostra vulgar and terrifyingly violent. I am repelled by the artist’s obliviousness — regardless if it’s performed or not — to his privilege, and by the curators and organizers who enabled him, but also by the damage the work has already done and might continue to do when it comes to feeding into the idea that being detached from life by one degree is part of the package deal of being in the arts. Even an art context cannot swallow this one whole.
Most of them say Instagram made them feel bad, or took up too much of their time, or in Kaitlyn’s case, made her sad after a breakup.
The whole podcast is worth a listen.
- Did you know you could make a private appointment to see a work in the collection of the Harvard Art Museums? One retiree has really been enjoying that service:
Since it opened, 4,200 appointments have been made, accommodating some 13,200 people. None have had quite the presence of Westlund. He refers to staff by first name — “I usually e-mail Mary” — Mary Lister, the assistant director for collections — “and ask, ‘Can I see these things next time?’ ” he said. When he needs guidance on where to look next, “Miriam” — Miriam Stewart, the museum’s curator of the collection for the division of American and European Art — “gives me good advice.”
His looking has shed light all around. “He brings as much to us as we hope we bring to him,” Lister said. “I think we’re just always so wonderfully surprised by his enthusiasm. His exploration of the collection helps us look at it in a different way.”
- Caroline Haskins, author of AirPods Are a Tragedy, has a lot to say about the environmental and social cost of AirPods:
The particles that make up these elements were created 13.8 billion years ago, during the Big Bang. Humans extract these elements from the earth, heat them, refine them. As they work, humans breathe in airborne particles, which deposit in their lungs. The materials are shipped from places like Vietnam, South Africa, Kazakhstan, Peru, Mexico, Indonesia, and India, to factories in China. A literal city of workers creates four tiny computing chips and assembles them into a logic board. Sensors, microphones, grilles, and an antenna are glued together and packaged into a white, strange-looking plastic exoskeleton.
These are AirPods. They’re a collection of atoms born at the dawn of the universe, churned beneath the surface of the earth, and condensed in an anthropogenic parallel to the Big Crunch—a proposed version of the death of the universe where all matter shrinks and condenses together. Workers are paid unlivable wages in more than a dozen countries to make this product possible. Then it’s sold by Apple, the world’s first trillion-dollar company, for $159 USD.
- Why are the Trumps obsessed with royalty and status? Nine Burleigh has some fascinating thoughts on the matter over at Newsweek:
For Trump, however, this royal dinner was clearly more than the usual state visit, as the New York Times pointed out on Tuesday. While Trump has worked hard to build his life into a glittering, eponymous brand, there has long been a royal-specific yearning in the Trump family. What is less known is that this desire arguably dates back to Trump’s mother, an immigrant maid who came to America almost 100 years ago and bequeathed to her fourth child the notion that all that glitters really is gold.
Unlike his mother’s origins, Trump’s obsession with the royals — the human epitome of his old go-to word, “classy” — is hardly a secret. Besides all the gold T’s and his gilded Versailles triplex in Trump Tower, there’s the family crest that Trump essentially stole from the socialite who built Mar-a-Lago, modifying it to remove the word “Integritas” but keeping the three rampant lions.
… Pundits like historian Doug Brinkley have blamed Trump’s obsession on his autocratic political bent — he wanted to be “King Donald.” Or simply a penchant for outrageous marketing strategies. But the true source is likely a far more personal inheritance: A Trump family secret is that his mother worked as a maid in the household of steel magnate Andrew Carnegie.
- Somewhat related … Hadley Freeman goes for it in her response to the Trump visit to the UK. Ouch:
Quite why US taxpayers were funding Trump’s four very definitely adult children to come on a family holiday to London has never been explained by a White House administration whose only consistent policy has been “never explain, never apologise”. Yet, in an administrative snafu, someone with self-awareness has been hired to run the White House’s Instagram account and he or she notably cut the Trump juniors out of all photos posted of National Lampoon’s London Vacation. Even Ivanka only makes a fleeting, possibly accidental appearance, even though, as we all know, she has a very important job in the White House that she totally got on her own merit.
- The first season of Curbed’s new Nice Try! podcast tells the stories of the world’s most fascinating attempts at utopian communities. It’s worth a listen:
- Really rich people can be a problem:
“When John McFarlane, now 71, arrived as Barclays chairman, and was told by his feng shui consultant that he should only be driven around in a silver car, the whole Mercedes fleet was changed from blue to silver” https://t.co/hOFn09Fewf
— Josh Spero (@joshspero) June 7, 2019
This is to say nothing of Wolf’s unhinged public pronouncements. She has alleged the American military is importing Ebola from Africa with an intention of spreading it at home, that Edward Snowden might be a government plant and that she has seen the figure of Jesus while she was (inexplicably) in the form of a 13-year-old boy. She appeared on Alex Jones’s show, and accused the government of intercepting and reading her daughter’s mail.
Throughout it all, she remains impervious to criticism. “I’m lucky,” she said in a recent profile in The Guardian. “I had a good education. I know my books are true.”
Not accurate or factual, but true. This is a key to understanding why charges of sloppiness or misrepresentation don’t seem to stymie, or even embarrass, writers like Wolf (or Jared Diamond and Annie Jacobsen, who have both been involved in similar scandals in recent weeks, facing them with the same blithe indifference). The issue isn’t simply that publishers don’t spring for fact-checking and leave writers vulnerable to making such errors. These writers see themselves in service of something larger than grubby reporting. “The important thing is that these stories are told,” Wolf recently told The Times of London. They are the emissaries of great stories, suppressed stories, and if they take liberties or eschew careful research — as consistently as Wolf has done — it is because they believe they have a right to them, that the story, the cause, somehow sanctions it.
- The best part of the news that there will be a ‘straight pride’ parade in Boston has been all the responses, including this humorous take:
me explaining to my boyfriend why we’re going to straight pride pic.twitter.com/ZtXpLaV05s
— Eva Victor (@evaandheriud) June 4, 2019
A sapling planted by the French and US presidents on the White House lawn, meant to symbolize friendship between the two nations, has died. It had been living in US quarantine for the last year.
Trump has used tariffs as a stick to threaten the US’s trading partners into submission, as in his spat with Mexico. But if the US cuts immigration from its southern neighbors, who will do the jobs Americans don’t want?
Kyrgyzstan journalist Azimjon Askarov and his wife, Khadicha, pictured during a family vacation in Arslanbob in the summer of 2009. ‘This was Azimjon’s last summer of freedom,’ Khadicha told CPJ. (Askarov family)
By Gulnoza Said
NEW YORK, Jun 10 2019 (IPS)
On a recent morning in Bazar-Korgon, southern Kyrgyzstan, Khadicha Askarova was giving hasty instructions to her daughter about what needed to be packed.
They were about to set off: first for the capital Bishkek, some 600km from where they live, and then another 70km to a prison colony where her husband, Azimjon Askarov, was transferred in March.
But Askarov, a 68-year-old independent journalist and rights activist, shouldn’t be in jail at all. The U.N. Human Rights Committee ruled in 2016 that Askarov was subject to torture and mistreatment from the moment of his detention on June 15, 2010 to his speedy trial and subsequent imprisonment, and that he should be released immediately.
CPJ’s research into his case found that the original trial was marred by irregularities and allegations of torture, mistreatment and harassment of defendants, including Askarov, and their witnesses. But Kyrgyz authorities defied the U.N. resolution and in 2017, amid international outcry, upheld his life sentence.
Conditions in the new prison are harsh. In letters home, the journalist wrote that he had run ins with the guards and that prison officials punish detainees after visiting days. His health is also deteriorating and he has limited access to medication, the journalist’s wife, Askarova, said.
“What breaks my heart is to see how much he aged since being imprisoned. He used to be a man full of energy and vigor. Now, he is old, sickly, skinny, and there’s no way out of this situation for him,” she said, fighting back the tears when we spoke via a video messaging app earlier this month.
The couple, who have been married for over 40 years, now have limited contact: just six family visits and two phone calls a year. As Askarov wrote in a recent letter to his wife, “They like keeping us under a tight lid here. Communication with the outside world is banned.”
The letter, which his wife shared with CPJ, also gave a glimpse of the harsh prison conditions: “After family visits, inmates are punished by being forced to eat raw onions and carrots for several days.”
“On regular days, they give us pea soup that contains nothing but watery peas. On public holidays, we get what the prison administration calls plov [pilaf] but it is not more than 150g of rice cooked with some carrots, per person.”
Since Askarov’s transfer to a prison outside Bishkek in March, he wrote that he has had three “incidents” with prison guards. The journalist did not specify the nature of incidents, but wrote that guards were known for their mistreatment of and conflicts with inmates.
“There are few good ones among them”, he added, almost as if he was preventing possible punishment should the content of the letter became known to the guards.
One of the incidents was connected to the journalist’s poor health. He has the heart condition tachycardia, hypotension, and gets dizzy and nauseated if he stands for too long.
Under prison rules, if a guard enters a cell, the inmate must stand. “That’s the rule. Twice a day, guards enter cells. An inmate has to cite his full name and an article of the criminal code he was convicted of violating. But Azimjon was not able to stand straight for too long. His knees bend, he had to sit down. That was the ‘incident’,” the journalist’s wife, Askarova, told me.
Soon after the transfer, Askarov complained about his health to prison administration, and said that low blood pressure and a cold was diagnosed. “But they did not have any medication to give me,” he wrote.
Askarova told CPJ that doctors at the prison ask families to bring medication. “They rely on us for something that they ought to provide,” she said.
She added that the few visits they are allowed are emotional, and the travel hard and costly. She makes sure that one visit falls on her husband’s birthday, May 17. This year, the couple’s daughter and their three grandchildren also visited on his birthday, their first visit to a new jail.
‘I’m afraid they will forget how he looks’ Askarov’s wife says
Azimjon Askarov, pictured with his daughter Navruza and grandchildren, during a May 2018 visit in Bishek prison. The journalist was moved to a new prison in 2019 that bans families from taking photographs during visits. (Askarova family)
“The new prison is much farther from Bishkek. After a nearly 14-hour drive to Bishkek, we took another taxi to the prison, but then had to walk about seven kilometers in the heat and dust. It was especially hard for the little ones, although they were excited to see their grandfather. They are still little, and I am afraid they can forget how he looks like, how he sounds,” Askarova said.
Adding to that concern is a rule at the prison banning families from taking photographs during visits. “Now, I have to look at old pictures of Azimjon. They deprived me even of the photos of my husband,” she said.
Askarova said she would move to Bishkek to be closer to the prison, but she cannot sell the house that her husband has owned for decades. The authorities seized the journalist’s property after he was charged in 2010.
In 2015, the journalist’s lawyer successfully appealed against the seizure, but before Askarova had overcome a legal quagmire of changing the ownership, authorities placed a new lien on the house in February. She said she has started another appeal process.
Askarova said that before they visit each year on his birthday, the couple’s daughter Navruza, who lives in Uzbekistan, usually comes to Bazar-Korgon to help pack personal items, food, medicine and books. But it is Askarova who picks flowers from her garden and buys bouquets at a florist for her husband.
“He is an artist, you know. He loves flowers. I get the most beautiful ones for him. Many kinds, sometimes several bouquets,” she said.
Azimjon and Khadicha met at art college in the Uzbek capital Tashkent in 1974. They have been married for 42 years and raised four children, who live in Uzbekistan. He used to work as an artist. But every time he heard a neighbor complain of injustice, he felt the urge to help, Askarova said.
In the late 1990s, he started documenting the cases, mediating between his community members and law enforcement, and researching legal books. He eventually became a go-to person in Bazar-Korgon if the rights of a member of his community had been violated.
He was known for taking up the cases on police brutality. It was this reputation that led many people to come to him for help when violence against ethnic Uzbeks erupted in June 2010, she said.
In prison, Askarov started to paint again. In 2014, international and local activists organized an exhibition of Askarov’s work to raise awareness of his case. In 2018, he wrote a book, “I am happy,” which includes a dedication to his late mother, “who lost me, her son, during her and my life, and left this world, shocked by the greatest injustice.” Copies of the book are still available online.
During his imprisonment, Askarov studied English and is able to read the many cards sent to him from around the world, his wife said. She added that he has been studying Japanese from the books and dictionaries she brought him, and that he has become interested in herbal medicine because conventional medication was not available in prison.
Askarov has also kept a diary since 2010. “He writes down everything. I keep reading them in between prison visits. One word that he uses most frequently is freedom. When he sees rain through the cell window, he writes ‘I wish I was free to feel rain drops on my skin. When he sees snow, he writes ‘I wish I was free to be outside and enjoy the snow now’. Freedom is his main wish and goal. He lives for it,” Askarova said.
* Gulnoza Said is a journalist and communications professional with over 15 years of experience in New York, Prague, Bratislava, and Tashkent. She has covered issues including politics, media, religion, and human rights with a focus on Central Asia, Russia, and Turkey.
Gulnoza Said* is Program Coordinator, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Europe and Central Asia
As lawmakers debate whether to impeach Trump, Democrats at Atlanta’s I Will Vote gala held reproductive rights and voting above other issues
A fierce debate over whether or not to try and impeach Donald Trump is roiling the Democratic party in Washington, pitting scores of lawmakers in favor of impeaching Trump against the party’s leadership, led by the House speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The hotly contested argument has divided the 2020 campaign trail too, as a slew of Democratic candidates, including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, have joined the impeachment movement, while frontrunner Joe Biden has resisted the push.
Three titles call for inquiry into case of Ivan Golunov, arrested on suspicion of drug dealing
Three major Russian newspapers have published almost identical front pages in support of Ivan Golunov, an investigative journalist facing up to 20 years in prison on controversial drug-dealing charges.
Kommersant, RBK and Vedomosti, widely seen as the country’s most respected papers, ran covers that read “I/We are Ivan Golunov”. They also published joint editorials calling for a transparent investigation into the allegations against Golunov, 36, who is currently under house arrest.
Clown days for Trumpers
In yet another needless attack on the LGBTQ community, the Trump administration has rejected all requests from U.S. embassies to fly rainbow flags during June, otherwise known as Pride Month.
Republicans across the country, now bolstered by the Trump administration, have been working very hard to enable healthcare providers, adoption agencies, and other organizations to deny services to LGBTQ people in the name of religious freedom. A disturbing new report by USA Today, the Arizona Republic and the Center…