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What happens when animals aren’t as stressed out? In Sri Lanka, strict lockdowns and a ban on flights from abroad for nearly a year kept visitors from swarming their zoos. As a result, zoo animals are more relaxed and giving births at record rates. Even animals with a history of not breeding in captivity gave birth, contributing to an overall 25% increase in births over the past year. A special shout out to reader Alyssa Schaedler for bringing this story to our attention!

POST-QUARANTINE

Covid changed the rules — now Americans want some to be the norm
Mon May 31

Along with stay-at-home orders came the new rules of living, such as alcohol to-go, virtual doctor’s appointments, and simplified access to medical cannabis. But as the country begins opening up, many are advocating for such exceptions to become the norm. So far, alcohol allowances has made the most progress with 17 proposed bills across five states. Some states, such as California, have already announced that restaurants can continue to serve alcohol outdoors, for delivery, and to-go through December 31st.


When it comes to medical cannabiss, states are pushing to make the temporary allowances for delivery and curbside pickup options permanent. Pennsylvania already passed a bill to continue these practices in addition to allowing patients to pick up a three month supply (instead of the previous 30 day) all at once.

Meanwhile many telehealth options permitted in 2020 may disappear, causing concern for advocates who say audio and video visits make healthcare access more equitable for people who are homebound, disabled, or can’t find care for dependents like children or elderly relatives. A recent study even found that expanded telehealth options are welcomed by most Americans with 82% using them since the start of the pandemic. Another study showed a 9% increase in patients keeping up with their mental health appointments. The main blocker to keeping telehealth options is physician pay. The 2020 emergency orders only temporarily required insurers to pay doctors for telehealth services at the same rates as in-person ones.

As legislation proposals across all these efforts pick up nationwide, it may be worthwhile to look up your state’s progress and voice your preferences for a post-covid world.
 

Some additional resources... 

→ Full coverage: Politico
→ California’s extended alcohol rules: LA Times
→ Telehealth’s popularity: American Psychiatric Association
→ State-by-state cannabis access: MPP
 

FREE PRESS

Pakistan’s attempts to silence journalists critical of the government
Fri May 28

It seems politicians making promises they can’t keep is a global tactic for winning over voters. Despite Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s promise for a free press before taking office, the country continues dealing with not only the suppression of media, but online attacks on journalists at home and abroad who criticize its government.
  • In 2019, BBC journalist Ilyas Khan shed light on a protest that Pakistan effectively suppressed. Demonstrators were calling out the military for abuses in the ethnic Pashtun regions of the country bordering Afghanistan. Police responded by arresting them, but it never made headlines, especially given it coincided with a Kashmir rally happening the same day.
  • In response, Pakistan’s ruling party PTI refuted the story on Twitter while calling Ilyas “biased” and “anti-government,” leading to numerous online attacks on the journalist.
  • Since then, journalists and media organizations alike have been called out publicly, imprisoned, or fined for printing or airing “objectionable content” by the government.
  • More recently, a former contact of the Prime Minister with his own show was taken off air after speaking out at a protest for free press in the country’s capital.
Pakistan’s ruling party even launched the account @FakeNews_Buster to counter “fake and negative” reports. They, alongside Imran Khan's special assistant, targeted major media outlets such as Dawn, Jang, and Geo News. In response, the Coalition of Women in Journalism — an organization that has been documenting cases of online harassment against Pakistani journalists since 2017 — published an open letter calling on government authorities to stop officials (such as Imran Khan’s special assistant) from trolling journalists online. In response, she was met with a storm of online abuse and multiple attempts to hack her Twitter account.

Attacks on the press aren’t unique to Pakistan, eithers. India, Turkey, and even the U.S. have seen government officials discredit valid reporting. A 2020 study determined the impact of this strategy. It detailed the efficacy of former President Donald Trump’s attacks on the media in eroding the credibility of the press and undercutting consensus around Covid-19 — even as the pandemic continued killing hundreds of Americans each day.
 

Some additional resources... 

Full coverage: Codastory
→ 2019 hidden protest: BBC
→ Journalist taken off air: The Guardian
→ Study on Trump’s attack on the press: Voice of America

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