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The Wednesday Politics Thread Lying Flat

Procrastinating assembling the header until nearly midnight is so tame, but I’m too sleepy to relish the excitement of putting it off until the dawn and scheduling the post with moments to spare.

Seizing Russian Assets to Help Ukraine Sets Off White House Debate

The devastation in Ukraine brought on by Russia’s war has leaders around the world calling for seizing more than $300 billion of Russian central bank assets and handing the funds to Ukraine to help rebuild the country.

But the movement, which has gained momentum in parts of Europe, has run into resistance in the United States. Top Biden administration officials warned that diverting those funds could be illegal and discourage other countries from relying on the United States as a haven for investment.

The New York Times [archive]

The Race Against Food Inflation Starts on Rusty Soviet Railway Lines

Overgrown with vegetation, the rusted rail tracks running between Reni in Ukraine’s southwest corner to the port of Galati in Romania had been consigned to Soviet-era history long ago. About a quarter of the 20-kilometer (12-mile) line is missing.

Yet like other relics of the old Eastern Bloc network, the route along the Danube River could eventually play a small part in an increasingly large and complex operation to secure vital food shipments.

Bloomberg [archive]

The Rising Costs of China’s Zero-COVID Policy

Over the last two decades, China has contributed a quarter of the rise in global GDP—in that time, the first quarter of 2020 was the only one when its economy did not expand. Today, however, more than 200 million Chinese live under pandemic restrictions, battering an already slowing economy. Retail sales in April were 11% lower year-on-year, while housing sales—comprising over a fifth of GDP—plummeted 47% over the same period.

On May 25, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held an emergency meeting with over 100,000 party members where he warned China’s current economic woes were in some ways greater than the initial impact of the pandemic in 2020 and indicated that the annual growth target of 5.5% was unobtainable.

Time [archive]

China’s Lockdowns Prompt a Rethinking of Life Plans Among the Young

Versions of Shanghai’s lockdown are playing out across the country, adding to anxiety among many younger Chinese over limited upward mobility. Many middle-class citizens who have believed if they work hard and obey the rules they can expect a brighter future now are coming to the realization that the “China Dream,” as laid out by President Xi Jinping, might not include them.

There was already a catchphrase to describe young people’s disenchantment: “lying flat”—a rejection of long working hours and traditional expectations of marriage and children within certain age milestones. A new expression for deeper despair is now gaining ground: “let it rot.”

The Wall Street Journal [archive]

How Shanghai Is Cautiously Reopening After Two Months of Hardcore Lockdowns

As Shanghainese cheered their newfound freedoms with fireworks and parties in their housing compounds, business appears to be more circumspect, with the lockdown inflicting a heavy toll on operations and production.

In a statement late Tuesday, the Shanghai government said it would “spare no effort to promote the full restoration” of normal life and “do our best to recover the time and losses caused by the epidemic.”

People will still need a valid negative PCR test result before leaving home. Workers returning to the office were reminded to avoid meeting in rooms, practise social distancing in canteens and to disinfect their keyboards. Most subway lines will resume operations Wednesday, although the minimum interval between trains will be as long as 5-10 minutes in the initial phase of reopening.

Bloomberg [archive]

I’ve been stuck inside for 2 months due to Shanghai’s COVID-19 lockdowns. It’s taken a toll on me.

When the lockdown was first announced on March 28, the government told us it would be for only those five days only. I went to the store and stocked up on the food and necessities that I’d need. Five days seemed manageable, especially after everything that’s happened over the last couple of years here. 

But more than two months later, I was still stuck inside my building in Shanghai. I spent more than 60 days living alone before I was allowed to leave my housing compound — and even then, I had to stay in the district I lived in. It’s been tough.

Business Insider [archive]

Reported COVID-19 infection levels nearly 6 times higher than last Memorial Day

This week also marks the eighth consecutive week of increasing COVID-19 cases in the U.S., the data shows.

On average, the U.S. is reporting nearly 110,000 new cases every day, and for the seventh consecutive week, COVID-19 cases among children have also increased. Last week, 112,000 additional pediatric COVID-19 cases were reported, a doubling of case counts from the four weeks prior, according to a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Children’s Hospital Association (CHA). Last year, at this time, the U.S. was reporting around 10,000 pediatric cases a week.

The U.S. also continues to see an increase in the overall number of patients requiring care for COVID-19. On average, more than 3,500 virus-positive Americans are being admitted to the hospital each day.

However, the hospitalization level is nowhere near its peak, and while virus-related deaths are ticking up, they are not near peak levels either.

ABC News [archive]

Politicados, you’re great. Y’know why? Because I don’t even have to remind you about the McSquirrel Rule or Clams or Hogpoggling, but if I didn’t I’d have to think of something else to write at the end of these.