January 27, 2020

Up Against the Coronavirus, China’s Surveillance State Has Failed
HONG KONG—The Chinese government has a famously (or infamously) sophisticated surveillance system that incorporates facial recognition, tight observations of social media networks, and phone tracking. One piece of equipment that Chinese police departments have adopted is described by its manufacturer like this: “People pass and leave a shadow. The phone passes and leaves a number. The system connects the two.”Fifth U.S. Case of Coronavirus Confirmed in Patient Who Traveled From Wuhan, ChinaBut at a time of critical need, as a medical crisis is escalating across the country and spreading to other parts of the world, threatening to become a global epidemic if quarantines cannot be enforced, the Chinese government’s vaunted ability to monitor the population has been nullified.In the days leading up to a citywide quarantine of Wuhan and lockdowns in nearby areas, where residents of the Hubei provincial capital have been barred from leaving its limits, 5 million people left the city nonetheless. In a cold winter where people are bundled up, and where many are donning face masks, face-scanning software has been rendered moot. And though every SIM card purchase requires a face scan to verify a user’s identity, tracking down millions of travelers who have left the viral outbreak’s epicenter is proving to be a Sisyphean task.To make matters worse, we now know that the coronavirus can be transmitted by carriers who exhibit no symptoms, compounding worries that body temperature checks are ineffective as screening measures. As of 8:30 p.m. on Monday in China, 81 people have been killed by the coronavirus. More than half of the confirmed infections and most of the deaths were in Hubei province, where Wuhan is the capital.So far, there are five confirmed cases of the coronavirus within American borders. They are in Washington state, California, Texas, and Chicago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said the coronavirus’ risk to America remains low, though U.S. health officials are retracing these patients’ footsteps to identify people who they have been in close contact with.American and other stock markets took major hits on Monday amid fears that China's oil consumption, tourism and trade may all see massive declines.There is some good news. With supplies from across the country and abroad pouring in, hospitals in Wuhan are catching up to the backlog to treat people who are seeking help. Waiting rooms at most hospitals aren’t as congested, and reinforcements from other parts of China, including more than 2,000 military and civilian doctors, are providing relief for local physicians and nurses. The head of China’s National Health Commission, Ma Xiaowei, said the government has added 2,400 hospital beds in Wuhan, with 5,000 more coming in the next two days.Right now, however, hospitals are at full capacity, and new patients are still being turned away by some facilities.Local officials have been slow to react and inept. At a press conference held on Sunday, Wuhan’s mayor, Zhou Xianwang, showed up wearing his face mask upside-down, and Hubei’s governor, Wang Xiaodong, provided incorrect figures about the province’s production capacity for face masks—10.8 billion, then 1.8 billion, then finally 1.08 million after being corrected by someone who passed a note to him.WeChat, the dominant social media platform in China, has implemented a “whistleblower” function, allowing users to file reports about officials’ negligence or mismanagement when handling the coronavirus crisis.There have been other snafus and points of disorganization. Police haven’t received clear direction on how to execute the private vehicle ban on roads in Wuhan’s city center. Text messages that were supposed to indicate who can drive where and when weren’t sent out to the general population. Six thousand taxi drivers who have been commissioned to deliver medication don’t know how the system is supposed to work.A Chinese Saga of Swine, Surveillance, and SanctionsThe general rule of thumb for everyone in the city has been to remain indoors and venture out only for supply runs or emergencies.People in Wuhan—and across Hubei—are angry. Some have questioned why local officials have been so slow to respond to the outbreak, and why significant efforts were put into censoring information about the coronavirus in news reports and on social media. They’re also bored because they have been stuck at home for days, with no end of the quarantine in sight. Some people have resorted to shouting out windows to vent and communicate with their neighbors in real life, and not just through screens.Major airports worldwide are checking arriving travelers’ body temperatures, but that may be ineffective in stopping the virus from landing in new locations via global transportation hubs.The coronavirus has an incubation period of up to two weeks. During this period, hosts may not run fevers or exhibit any flu-like symptoms.On Monday, China’s National Education Examinations Authority canceled all February exams for the IELTS, TOEFL, GRE, and GMAT—all tests that Chinese students need to take before they can be enrolled in schools abroad.A Shanghai-based Reuters journalist who visited Wuhan was tracked down by government officials and placed under a 14-day self-quarantine at home. There are cases in other provinces, like southeastern China’s Guangdong, where police are actively seeking out travelers who originated from the infection zone, possibly by tracking the locations of their smartphones.  A chartered plane arranged by the U.S. State Department will evacuate 230 Americans, including diplomats and people working in Wuhan, taking them Stateside. That’s roughly one-quarter of Americans who live in the city that is the origin of the coronavirus outbreak. The Japanese and Australian governments are making similar arrangements to move their nationals back home.The American consulate in Wuhan has suspended its regular services.As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc around China and appear in new corners around the world, infecting thousands, and efforts to manage the crisis are falling short of what’s needed, experts are already looking beyond this phase, outlining plans for a global push to fight an epidemic.Tom Inglesby, director of the Johns Hopkins SPH Center for Health Security, pointed out in a series of tweets that governments and health institutions worldwide need to plan for the possibility that the coronavirus cannot be effectively contained in China. He said this should include multiple, parallel efforts to create and manufacture vaccines, as well as plans for a global stockpile and allocation by the World Health Organization. Inglesby also underlined the importance of urgent blood serum diagnostics to figure out how severe the virus’ spread is around the globe, as well as new plans for determining potential infections in travelers beyond airport screenings.All of these measures require collaboration among nations and the relevant corporations, as well as a coordinator to manage the information flow. So far, no such cooperation is taking place.The World Health Organization’s director general is traveling to Beijing to meet with government officials and health experts in China. The WHO has been hesitant to declare a global health emergency that would demand a “coordinated international response” to the virus’ spread across borders.Chinese Communist Party premier Li Keqiang is in Wuhan coordinating the efforts to contain the coronavirus. Two hospitals designed to house a combined 2,300 beds are being constructed to treat people who have fallen sick. The first is expected to be completed by Monday, February 3, and will be staffed to handle 1,000 patients.For now, people who are stuck in Wuhan and other parts of Hubei feel paralyzed. Mixed messages about what will happen to them in the coming days are fraying nerves. Beijing has extended the Lunar New Year holiday until February 2, hoping to delay mass travel as people head back to work, but the history of the last few days suggests the deferment is far from enough to contain a virus that has spread, already, around the world.
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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