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Weekend Reads 5/9/20

Trolls and bots are flooding social media with disinformation encouraging states to end quarantine

"Empowering violent extremists is a very old method for collapsing unstable states," Binkowski says. "This is the end result of weaponized disinformation — it's doing its job. It would have been the virus or it would have been something like a fire, or a hurricane, or an earthquake. But disinformation purveyors are nothing if not opportunistic."

Why Scientists Think The Novel Coronavirus Developed Naturally — Not In A Chinese Lab

To genetically engineer a new virus, scientists can combine pieces of viruses they’ve seen before. In the case of a genetically engineered coronavirus that was designed to infect humans, the bulk of its genetic material — its “backbone” — would come from SARS or a close relative, while the tools it used to infect cells would be grafted on. But the backbone doesn’t look like any disease-causing virus, and other key parts of the virus are new to science.

Normal Wasn't Working: Economic Justice in a Post-COVID Reality

This crisis has revealed an economy that is set up to benefit corporations and the wealthy at the expense and exploitation of millions of low-income and middle-class people for whom decades of free market, trickle-down economic policy has left with increasing cost of living, unlivable wages, limited or no benefits, little job security, and without adequate support from a woefully underfunded safety net to provide essential support in the form of unemployment benefits, food security, affordable health care and housing, debt relief, and overall increased financial security in the event of the loss of a job or income.

The Coming Post-COVID Anarchy

As for the United States’ power, the Trump administration’s chaotic management has left an indelible impression around the world of a country incapable of handling its own crises, let alone anybody else’s. More important, the United States seems set to emerge from this period as a more divided polity rather than a more united one, as would normally be the case following a national crisis of this magnitude; this continued fracturing of the American political establishment adds a further constraint on U.S. global leadership.

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