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How U.S. Immigration is Embracing Diplomacy Through the Arts
Summertime is generally considered the height of festival season. That means everything from multi-artist concertpaloozas to glossy film festivals to avant-garde art installations. As artists and performers from around the world are hoping to participate, the American government is looking to assist in this cultural exchange in a way not seen for some time.
In perhaps their biggest diplomatic gesture in some time, U.S. Immigration has granted a Visa to Cuban singer Silvio Rodriguez. An artist synonymous with Castro’s Cuba, Rodriguez will be performing across the country for the first time in decades, including a June performance at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Considering Rodriguez’s sing-song praises of Che Guevara, the Visa signifies a serious loosening of immigration policy when it comes to Cuban artists. Factoring in the 2008 performance in North Korea by the New York Philharmonic, not to mention a failed attempt at performing in Cuba, the arts certainly seem to be an emerging diplomatic tool with some of the regimes the U.S. government has vilified over the years.
That softening appears to be happening primarily with Cuba, as demonstrated by Sylvio Rodriguez’s Visa. This summer will also see stateside performances from Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso (pictured), who was recently granted a Visa to perform in the United States, according to the National Ballet of Cuba. With Cuban musician Carlos Varela performing in the United States for the first time in eleven years and the U.S.-Cuba Cultural Exchange encouraging more performances, there are signs of a U.S.-Cuba thaw that some say is long overdue.
As recently as a few years ago, this process was considerably harder. In the past ten to fifteen years, filmmakers from Iran and artists from Cuba have been denied Visas to showcase their work in the United States. Over time, the process of issuing artist Visas became increasingly restrictive. By the time Welsh harpists and Celtic musicians were having trouble coming into the United States, the stricter policies came under fire. More recently, Australia came under fire for refusing Visas to North Korean artists and Iranian-French artist Ghazel used Skype to attend a film festival in Virginia after being refused a Visa.
But as cultural exchange programs have seen impressive growth in the past year or two, the U.S. government has begun making it easier for artists from certain countries to come to America. U.S. embassies around the world have assisted in these cultural exchanges by backing artist tours and showcasing American culture. With symposia exploring cultural exchanges both in America and abroad, signs are that the arts might be a prime diplomatic tool worth exploring. Considering the sudden popularity of Iranian artists, it could result in a perfect convergence of art, commerce, and diplomacy.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
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Are we genetically inclined for superstition or just fearful of the truth?
- From secret societies to faked moon landings, one thing that humanity seems to have an endless supply of is conspiracy theories. In this compilation, physicist Michio Kaku, science communicator Bill Nye, psychologist Sarah Rose Cavanagh, skeptic Michael Shermer, and actor and playwright John Cameron Mitchell consider the nature of truth and why some groups believe the things they do.
- "I think there's a gene for superstition, a gene for hearsay, a gene for magic, a gene for magical thinking," argues Kaku. The theoretical physicist says that science goes against "natural thinking," and that the superstition gene persists because, one out of ten times, it actually worked and saved us.
- Other theories shared include the idea of cognitive dissonance, the dangerous power of fear to inhibit critical thinking, and Hollywood's romanticization of conspiracies. Because conspiracy theories are so diverse and multifaceted, combating them has not been an easy task for science.
A growing body of research suggests COVID-19 can cause serious neurological problems.
- The new study seeks to track the health of 50,000 people who have tested positive for COVID-19.
- The study aims to explore whether the disease causes cognitive impairment and other conditions.
- Recent research suggests that COVID-19 can, directly or indirectly, cause brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage and other neurological problems.
Brain images of a patient with acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis.
COVID-19 and the brain<p>A growing body of research reveals alarming neurological complications among COVID-19 patients. On Wednesday, for example, researchers from University College London published a <a href="https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/doi/10.1093/brain/awaa240/5868408" target="_blank">study</a> in the journal Brain that describes how some patients have suffered temporary brain dysfunction, strokes, nerve damage, and other neurological problems concurrent with COVID-19.</p><p>Some patients suffered brain inflammation as a result of a rare disease called acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, which can cause numbness, seizures, and confusion. One patient in the study even hallucinated monkeys and lions in her home.</p>
Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images<p>A separate study published in the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7198407/" target="_blank">Journal of Clinical Neuroscience</a> notes that some COVID-19 patients have also suffered neurological complications like impaired consciousness and acute cerebrovascular disease. The study notes that past viruses like MERS and SARS also seemed to cause neurological problems.</p><p>A troubling finding among this growing body of research is that some patients seem to suffer neurological damage even when respiratory symptoms aren't obvious. Additionally, scientists aren't sure whether damage from the disease will be permanent.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Given that the disease has only been around for a matter of months, we might not yet know what long-term damage COVID-19 can cause," Dr. Ross Paterson, joint first author of the University College London study, said in a <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2020-07/ucl-iid070620.php" target="_blank">press release</a>. "Doctors needs to be aware of possible neurological effects, as early diagnosis can improve patient outcomes."</p><p>If you've been diagnosed with COVID-19 and want to enroll in the study, visit <a href="https://www.cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study" target="_blank">cambridgebrainsciences.com/studies/covid-brain-study</a>.</p>
Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.