exclusives | January 28, 2016

Lavin Weekly 23: Garrett, Sax, Shukla, Fahmy, & Coates

1. The Zika Virus Takes Flight—and Could Take a Major Toll: Laurie Garrett Reports on the New Disease

According to Laurie Garrett, Senior Fellow for Global Health at the Council on Foreign Relations, the world should brace itself for the Zika virus: a new health threat that’s apparently here for good. An African virus, quickly spread by mosquito throughout the Americas, and with no known treatment or vaccine, Zika “has already gone from being an epidemic to an endemic disease” in Brazil (as she writes for Foreign Policy, and The Huffington Post). While most cases of the virus are mild, there’s evidence to suggest it causes microcephaly (or skull deformations) in children of infected mothers (Brazil’s cases jumped from 147 to 4,000 between 2014 and 2015) and, in rare instances, the debilitating and paralytic Guillain-Barré syndrome. As cases begin to appear across the world, and the virus spreads through North America, “public health leaders and politicians had better brace for a very long haul,” Garrett writes. “Until we have an effective vaccine and have executed mammoth immunization campaigns in all of the nations of the Americas, Zika will haunt us, sicken some of us, and endanger our babies.”

2. What the Kodak Super 8 Reveals about Digital vs. Analog Culture: David Sax in The New Yorker

In “Kodak’s Old-School Response to Disruption” in The New Yorker, journalist David Sax reports on the launch of the company’s analog Super 8 camera at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show. Though the gadget “is neither fundamentally groundbreaking nor even especially new,” Sax writes, it created quite a buzz among showgoers. “Kodak’s Super 8 project tells an interesting tale about opportunity and value in today’s post-digital economy,” he states. In the digital world, where disruptive and innovative companies and tech unicorns seem to dominate the collective imagination, Sax shows how the “tactile charms of analog goods appeal to a certain subset of consumers”—and that vinyl, board games, moleskins, and yes, Super 8 cameras, tap “into the scarcity of a historically resonant product.” For more on the how analog goods and experiences are making a comeback, watch for Sax’s next book, The Revenge of Analog.

3. Reducing Food Waste, One FreshPaper Sheet at a Time: Kavita Shukla Speaks with Food & Wine

“Unlike many of the big challenges we face right now on our planet, food waste is something that literally every single person can do something about.” That’s Kavita Shukla, Fenugreen FreshPaper founder and CEO, in a new and revealing interview with Food & Wine magazine. FreshPaper—the simple, organic, inexpensive, and effective tool to keep food fresher, longer—continues to grow in popularity and availability across the world. Its main goal is to help reduce food waste, especially in areas with little or hard-to-manage refrigeration, and the energy, water, and labor that are lost along with it. “Even being aware of the issue has been shown to reduce food waste,” Shukla says. “So for us, raising awareness is very important, because that in and of itself makes a difference.” For more on FreshPaper’s surprising origins, and more on Shukla’s ambitious goals, check out the interview in full—or our recent Twitter #AskASpeaker Q&A!

4. How Canada Can Help Imprisoned Citizens: Mohamed Fahmy Releases a New Protection Charter

Working alongside Amnesty International, and through his own Fahmy Foundation, new Lavin keynote speaker Mohamed Fahmy has submitted a 12-point “Protection Charter” to the Canadian government, “for reform of Canada’s consular laws, policies and practices dealing with imprisonment abroad” (Toronto Star). “In addition to a law enshrining the right to consular assistance,” reports The Huffington Post, “the charter calls for more protection for Canadian journalists abroad, consistent support for death penalty clemency and more oversight of national security agencies” (you can read Fahmy’s 12 proposals in his Toronto Star article mentioned above). Should the charter laws be ratified, Fahmy argues that the “reforms can better assure stronger, more consistent action to protect the rights of other Canadians who face human rights abuse in foreign prisons.” Having spent over 400 days in an Egyptian prison for crimes he did not commit—time spent in solitary confinement, or surrounded by hardened jihadists—Fahmy is fully committed to assisting wrongfully accused and often abused or mistreated prisoners around the globe. “To survive a situation like this,” he tell Global News, “you need to step up your ego and show your enemies that you are stronger sometimes than you really are. I had to present myself as this person who will not be beaten.”

5. Expanding the Political Imagination through Reparations: Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Recent Atlantic Articles

Ta-Nehisi Coates has released a number of thought- and dialogue-provoking articles this week on the state of liberal politics in America, specifically as they address—or fail to address—racism and the question of reparations. As Bernie Sanders gains in popularity, Coates has criticized his public opposition to reparations, saying that “Sanders’s radicalism has failed in the ancient fight against white supremacy.” Afterward, in another article, Coates wonders why, if the liberal left can imagine a new state of governance, with universal health care and tuition-free college education, when “confronting racism, presumably a mere adjunct of class, should it suddenly come up shaky?” After receiving criticism of his own for confronting Sanders—presumably the more left-leaning Democrat candidate—Coates turned his attention to Clinton’s spotty understanding of racial relations, as can be read in “Hillary Clinton Goes Back to the Dunning School.” Ultimately, in “The Case for Considering Reparations,” Coates asks for a more ambitious imagination among leftists. “Liberals and radicals see no problem imagining a socialist presidency,” he states. “They do not demand specific details of how single-payer health care, free public-college tuition, and the break-up of big banks would make it through a Republican Congress. They are not wrong. God bless them and their radical imagination ... I just want them to imagine more.”

To hire Laurie Garrett, David Sax, Kavita Shukla, Mohamed Fahmy, or Ta-Nehisi Coates as the keynote speaker of your next event, contact The Lavin Agency speakers bureau.

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