Witness what needs to be witnessed

+ The big pandemic what-ifs, The peace Russia could afford, Spotify spam (#386)

We're three weeks into this terrible war waged by Russia. I have, again, tried to pick a few articles for you that help understand the current moment and where we're headed (along with other topics we should not lose sight of, and a few lighter pieces to give your mind some rest).

Before we get to this week's recommendations, some ideas on how to follow what's happening in Ukraine.

  • For a daily, in-depth update, I still think the BBC's Ukrainecast is the best.
  • Ezra Klein has had some of the foremost experts on Russia on his podcast, and will probably keep doing so. For additional context, these are excellent.
  • Meduza is one of the last independent Russian outlets, in dire need of money to keep going. Worth supporting.

1. 'Why? Why? Why?' Ukraine's Mariupol descends into despair

⚠️ Content warning: graphic images and descriptions of violence • It's the details: Inhabitans of besieged Mariupol toss bodies into mass graves as fast as they can, to minimize the risk of being killed themselves. A lot of what you're about to see and read in this report from inside Mariupol is unfathomable, unbearable. It made me think of something I learned from philosopher and former war journalist Carolin Emcke: Journalism is about bearing witness, giving a voice to those who can't speak for themselves. The reporters of the Associated Press took great risks to witness what needs to be witnessed.

‘Why? Why? Why?’ Ukraine’s Mariupol descends into despair
In the more than two weeks since Russia’s war began, two AP journalists have been the only international media present in Mariupol, chronicling its fall into chaos and despair.

2. What If This Is Just the Way Things Are Now

«We don’t leave crisis mode; we just move from one (or more) primary sources of crisis into the next.» This essay captures what most of us are currently feeling — have been feeling for a while — and points to the all-important question: «How do those of us with the privilege to be merely shocked actually put in the work that helps protect those who are, and have been, afraid?»

What If This Is Just the Way Things Are Now
One thing I’ve tried to get better at this past year: figuring out how to better acknowledge the labor that goes into work that I enjoy, that I find myself looking forward to, and that challenges me. That means figuring out how to support the person producing it — including financially. If you’re ne…

3. How Millions of Lives Might Have Been Saved From Covid-19

Looking back at 2.5 years of Covid, and imagining the counterfactual, we see how, at various points, this pandemic could have taken a different turn. Zeynep Tufekci examines four big What-ifs:

  • China tells the world the truth and the pandemic is avoided.
  • The world sees through China’s deception and takes action.
  • Officials put in place effective and early mitigation strategies.
  • Vaccine supply ramps up, with sensible distribution.
Opinion | How Millions of Lives Might Have Been Saved From Covid-19
Different choices that were available and plausible could have been made at several crucial turning points.