Bill Gates on How the U.S. Can Course Correct Its COVID-19 Response: ‘You Wish Experts Were Taking Charge’

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The U.S. domestic response to the COVID-19 pandemic thus far has been “weak,” Bill Gates believes. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair and Microsoft co-founder told TIME senior health correspondent Alice Park during a TIME100 Talks discussion on Thursday that he’d give the U.S.’s COVID-19 response, “on a relative and absolute basis, not a passing grade.”

But, he added, the U.S.’s funding for vaccine and therapeutic research “has been the best in the world,” so if it coordinates to share resources globally, the U.S. could “potentially score the highest” in that realm.

During a global pandemic like COVID-19, Gates argued, governments must collaborate to ensure the virus is fully eradicated. The U.S. has historically led global responses to past health crises like smallpox or polio, he told Park, but has been less of a leader during COVID-19. Instead, countries that were exposed to SARS or MERS responded most quickly and “set a very strong model.”

“There’s about six countries that immediately went to the private sector and said okay, ‘how do we get mass testing? We’ll commit to buy tests’,” he said. “That never happened in the U.S.”

The U.S. continues to face huge delays that make many tests “a waste of money,” he continued, adding that while the responsibility for testing has been delegated to the states, they “don’t have enough power” to speed up testing.

“The more you know about this, the more you wish experts were taking charge,” Gates continued.

If the U.S. can get its COVID-19 numbers down in the next few months, he noted, that will make a “huge difference” in terms of the death rate “going into the fall,” which “could be a challenge because people are indoors more, it’s colder and the flu symptoms will be confusing.”

Fall could also bring new developments in vaccine and therapeutic research, however. “Even within two months, we can have some new anti-virals and antibodies that could make a big difference,” Gates said, adding that countries will need to work together to distribute those resources globally.

Companies that create vaccines need to coordinate with those that have factory capacity and adopt tiered pricing “so the poorest countries get it for the lowest price,” he continued. And governments will also need to ensure that the vaccine is allocated equally—not only within countries but between countries. That can’t be done using only market forces, he said. “The private sector all by itself, would simply charge the highest price and only give to the very wealthy.”

As of yet, the U.S. hasn’t “shown up in the international forums where money to get these tools out to countries is being discussed,” he told Park. Still, he continued, “that still absolutely can be fixed.”

By Madeleine Carlisle

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Margaret Atwood: It’s the Best of Times, It’s the Worst of Times. Make the Most of It

Do you think you remember a movie in which a knight gallops toward a castle just as its drawbridge is going up, and his white horse jumps the moat in one glorious airborne leap? I could picture it too, but when I went looking for this image on the Internet, all I could find was a couple of cars sailing over rivers via lift bridges and the Pink Panther detective flailing around in the murky water, having missed.

Nonetheless, we’re that rider. Chasing us is the dreaded coronavirus. We’re in midair, hoping we make it to the other side, where life will have returned to what we think of as normal. So what should we do while we’re up there, between now and then?

Think of all the things you hope will still be there in that castle of the future when we get across. Then do what you can, now, to ensure the future existence of those things.

Health care workers go without saying: everyone should be supporting them, because let’s assume we all want a health care system in that Castle Future. But what made your life worth living when you were healthy, apart from friends and family? We each have our own lists. Here are some of mine.

Favorite restaurants and cafés. Strange how we assume these happy places will always be there, so we can step out or drop in whenever we feel like it. To help them over the jump, order takeout and buy gift certificates. You can usually find out online what’s on offer, where.

Your local bookstore. Some offer curbside pickup, some delivery, some mail-order. Keep them going! In the same department, publishers and authors can use a hand—especially those whose spring book launches have been canceled. All sorts of inventive solutions are popping up: Twitter launches, podcasts, virtual events of various sorts. People are fond of saying “the reading community” and “the writing community,” which is not exactly true—there are many groups and entities, not all of them friendly to the others—but you can make it truer. When I was 25, things were so sparse on the ground in Canadian publishing that it was a truism that writers should help both other writers and their publishers. And we did, mostly, even though some of us hated some others. (That’s part of “community,” too. Ask anyone from a small town. In face of an emergency you support your local enemies, because though they might be jerks, they’re your jerks, right?)

Your trusted newspapers and magazines. Democracy is increasingly under pressure, since there’s nothing like a crisis to allow an authoritarian regime to toss civil liberties, democratic freedoms and human rights out the window. Part of this tossing is the always popular move toward a totalitarian shutdown of information and debate. It’s vital to keep the lines of communication both open and independent. Give subscriptions. Support sites that combat fake news, and others, such as PEN America, that fight for responsible free speech. Donate to publicly supported radio stations. Provide some free ad time by spreading the word via your own social media. Don’t let a virus cut out our tongues.

Keep up to date on the growing threat to global health by signing up for our daily coronavirus newsletter.

Arts organizations, of all kinds. Art is how we express our humanity, in all of its dimensions. Through art, we descend to the depths of our human nature, rise to the heights and everything in between. Theater, music, dance, festivals, galleries—all have had to cancel shows, all are hurting. Donations, gift certificates, ticketed online events. Without an audience there is, eventually, no art. You can be that audience.

Your planet. One you can live on. Short form: kill the ocean, and there goes your oxygen supply. Many have commented on the fact that during this pandemic, global emissions and global pollution have actually gone down. Will we live differently, to make that a reality in the Castle of the Future? Will we source energy and food in better ways? Or will we simply revert? Choose an environmental organization or two, or more, and donate. Now’s your chance.

Finally, keep the faith. You can make it across that moat! Yes, this moment is scary and unpleasant. People are dying. People are losing their jobs and the feeling that they’re in control of their lives, however cliff’s-edge that control may have been. But if you aren’t ill—and even if you have small children and feel your brain has been kidnapped—you’re actually in a good place, comparatively speaking.

You can enjoy this time, albeit at a pace somewhat less frenzied than it was when things were “normal.” Many are questioning that pace—What was the hurry?—and deciding to live differently.

It’s the best of times, it’s the worst of times. How you experience this time will be, in part, up to you. If you’re reading this, you’re alive, or so I assume. If you’re not alive, I’m in for a big surprise.

By Margaret Atwood April 16, 2020 7:01 AM EDT

Source: Margaret Atwood: It’s the Best of Times, It’s the Worst of Times. Make the Most of It

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What’s Needed is Magic: Writing Advice from Haruki Murakami

If you can believe it, Japanese novelist, talking cat enthusiast, and weird ear chronicler Haruki Murakami turned 70 years old this weekend. 70! But I suppose we should believe it, despite the youthful gaiety and creative magic of his prose: the internationally bestselling writer has 14 novels and a handful of short stories under his belt, and it’s safe to say he’s one of the most famous contemporary writers in the world. To celebrate his birthday, and as a gift to those of you who hope to be the kind of writer Murakami is when you turn 70, I’ve collected some of his best writing advice……..

Source: What’s Needed is Magic: Writing Advice from Haruki Murakami

Bubbles of Love — The Lonely Author

I would like to dedicate this to my muse, if I had one, but I don’t. So, I won’t. (Wink Wink) bubbles of love Soaking in an effervescent tubof your warm poetrytiny inspirationsburst all around meSparkling suds of passioncleanse my soulof the unsightly stainsof dirty loversand tainted memories For you are the nymphetof my passionsa […]

via bubbles of love — The Lonely Author

Finding Love, as the Lights are, Going Out — JUST the Unwinding of Thoughts

Her husband’s gentle acts toward her, translated… The Latin name for rosemary meant the “Dews from the Oceans”, my husband planted a few pots on our lanai. There was, the Pacific Ocean that we can see from there, it’s a weird thing though, no matter how big the wind, I could, never smell the scent […]

via Finding Love, as the Lights are, Going Out — JUST the Unwinding of Thoughts

Poetry – Underneath London Bridge – VinX

How can my heart Forgive a mark Permanently Engraved for gaze Each time I see Her photographs Hanging behind Walls of my heart I do recall The notes she left: ‘I appreciate Your sweet kindness But these my legs Just have to walk Probably run… I must delay Tomorrow’s egg Well, this my heart I […]

via Underneath London Bridge — Poems by VinX

 

 

 

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The Only Story in the World John Steinbeck on Kindness Good & Evil the Wellspring of Good Writing – Maria Popova

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A decade later, and a decade before he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, Steinbeck turned this abiding tug of war between good and evil into a literary inquiry in East of Eden (public library) — the 1952 novel that gave us his beautiful wisdom on creativity and the meaning of life, eventually adapted into the 1955 film of the same title starring James Dean……

Read more: https://www.brainpickings.org/2018/09/17/john-steinbeck-good-evil-east-of-eden/

 

 

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Joan McGregor: What Philosophers Have to Say About Eating Meat — Vox Populi

WeWork, a co-working and office space company, recently made a company policy not to serve or reimburse meals that include meat. WeWork’s co-founder and chief culture officer, Miguel McKelvey, said in an email that it was the company’s attempt at reducing its carbon footprint. His moral arguments are based on the devastating environmental effects of […]

via Joan McGregor: What philosophers have to say about eating meat — Vox Populi

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When Should Children Have Access To Their Inheritances – Rob Clarfeld

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Regardless of whether or not you are subject to the estate tax, it is essential to have a current will and related documents. I recently wrote two articles on the sticking points that can cause well-intended adults to delay the execution of their estate plan: Choosing an Executor of your Estate and Naming Potential Guardians for Minor Children.

Another common consideration is determining the appropriate time for children to have access to their inheritance.  Although my focus here is on distributions from trusts created by a will (testamentary trusts), these considerations also apply to trusts created during your lifetime (inter-vivos trusts).

A major distinction between your will and lifetime irrevocable trusts is that; during your lifetime your will can be regularly updated to reflect current thinking, while amending or changing provisions within a lifetime irrevocable trust will generally be more restrictive and often require a statutory solution (decanting), where possible, or having to seek permission from the courts.

Generally, distributions can be discretionary, mandatory or event-driven. For most (with high confidence in a trustee), I recommend a combination of allowing for both mandatory and discretionary powers to make distributions – assuming the facts and circumstances allow for it.

The most common distribution structure we’ve seen over time seems to include mandatory distributions at specified ages – i.e. ages 25, 30 and 35. This could mean that one-third of the principle is distributed at age 25, one-half of the balance at age 30, and the remaining balance distributed at age 35.

Prior to or between mandatory distributions, the trust can provide that the fiduciary has the power to make either fully discretionary distributions or distributions under some “ascertainable standard,” such as for the beneficiary’s health, education, maintenance and support (HEMS). The power to distribute can be very broad (absolute) or narrow – the HEMS standard is a statutory standard that lies somewhere in between and may provide certain tax protections.

I find it interesting that clients with young children often initially choose ages 25, 30 and 35, only to then stretch out the ages of mandatory distributions as both they and their offspring age. This implies that any initial confidence the parents had in their children’s ability to handle large sums of money early on (e.g. age 25) dissipates as the distribution becomes more imminent and, perhaps, the monetary sum increases.

A common alternative is to allow for a portion of the principal to remain in trust for the beneficiary’s lifetime, while granting current beneficiaries the power to appoint future beneficiaries (e.g. descendants). Putting aside one’s choice of ages of distribution, I favor a hybrid approach that combines some mandatory distributions with the ability to make discretionary distributions for assets in continuing trusts. To me, this approach stands out for its flexibility and asset protection benefits.

Specifying only mandatory distributions or event-based distributions (i.e. earning a degree, marrying, passing drug screens, etc.), greatly reduces the fiduciary’s flexibility. As a fiduciary for many estates and trusts, I often see inflexibility as an unnecessary impediment to a more successful plan particularly when a beneficiary’s life circumstances change.

For example, recently a beneficiary with a medical degree finished his residency and chose to specialize in high-risk surgery. As a trust provides a significant degree of asset protection, I would have preferred that at least a portion of the principal remain in trust for the beneficiary’s lifetime. This would have been most beneficial to the beneficiary given his exposure to potential future liability due to his choice of profession.

Of course, decisions with respect to trust distributions include both the principal (as discussed above) and the income that is generated by that principal. It has been common to allow income distributions at age 21 or some other age. However, it should be noted that when an estate plan is designed, you may be unsure of the ultimate size of the children’s inheritance, thus requiring mandatory income distributions (or principal distributions) that may lead to very large distributions at relatively young ages.

An alternative approach can be to designate an income stream in today’s dollars, and then build in a cost of living adjustment to account for inflation. Even better, perhaps, would be to allow for income distributions to simply be at the discretion of the trustee. By giving greater flexibility to the fiduciary, distributions can be made based on the requisite need at the time.

Overall, there is not a “one size fits all” solution to these situations. It is of paramount importance to invest the appropriate amount of time, thought and care when drafting these documents. Doing so will help to lay the groundwork for more favorable outcomes later in life that ultimately better reflect the grantor’s initial intentions.

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6 Handy Charts for Performing Critical Thinking Assessment – Lee Watanabe-Crockett

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How do we know when our learners are thinking critically? Critical thinking assessment can be tricky to perform as it encompasses such a broad area of skills. However, we can begin to assess critical thinking by breaking it down into more basic components, and then determining criteria you can use with your learners.

The following rubrics cover some crucial aspects of critical thinking. These charts are included along with the amazing critical thinking activities we offer in our popular Critical Thinking Teacher’s Companion. You’ll find specific criteria for each category within the rubrics that will make an initial critical thinking assessment possible.

6 Categories for Critical Thinking Assessment

These rubrics for critical thinking assessment are based on the stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy. They can be used for either teacher or peer assessment. Here are the 6 basic categories we cover:

  • Questioning Abilities—This is all about a learner’s capacity for formulating questions and framing relevant inquiries around a problem or challenge. It also refers to their ability to state questions clearly and concisely so as to be easily understood by anyone else.
  • Use of Information—Information is everywhere today and the amount we have available is growing exponentially. Part of the critical thinking abilities learners need involves finding information that is useful and relevant to their needs in school and in life.
  • Keeping an Open Mind—It takes many cultures, beliefs and stories to make a world. There are also many possible answers to the questions we face every day in life. Critical thinkers remain open at all times to the multiple possibilities within their environments.
  • Drawing Conclusions—When we draw conclusions, we see the true purpose of an information quest come to its fruition. It gives us an opportunity to clarify whether or not our question was answered or our challenge was met. It is also the recognition of new learning.
  • Communication & Collaboration—The classrooms and workforces of today and of the future are places of teamwork and trust. Learning how to build connections and manage a role in a collaborative group is an essential modern learner skill. Such skills are life skills.
  • Self Awareness—By far, one of the most important aspects of being able to think critically is based in self-awareness. It’s knowing potential without any expectation, limits without judging, and ability without arrogance. In short, it is mastery of the self.

A Word of Caution

It’s important to note that critical thinking assessment isn’t exact. As such, there are many other factors to take into account beyond what’s presented below. What we want to provide for you here is a starting point for contemplating how critical thinking assessment can be approached.

These charts will provide a good baseline to work with. Beyond this, feel free to expand on their concepts as you develop different assessment strategies for different learners.

Develop Critical Thinking Skills the Right Way

Honing and assessing critical thinking skills in your learners can be even easier with the right teaching tools. The above charts are essential companions to the learning you can create with Wabisabi, a revolutionary new way to teach

Imagine real-time reporting against standards, rich media-driven learner portfolios, a vibrant collaborative learning experience, top-notch unit plans from teachers around the world, and much more. Schools all over the world are using Wabisabi to transform instruction for their own learners, and you can too.

Prepare to get excited about the learning journey every day. Check out Wabisabi now—it’s teaching simplified, and learning amplified.

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