2021
February
26
Friday

Monitor Daily Podcast

February 26, 2021
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TODAY’S INTRO

Congress, Costco, and the question of a fair minimum wage

What’s a fair wage? Back in the 1970s, a teenage girl in suburban Boston could make 75 cents an hour babysitting – or $1 an hour if the “employer” was more generous. Her brothers would make several times that for snow-blowing people’s driveways.

That, of course, was the informal labor market, and not about a living wage. (The gender disparity was – and is – another issue altogether!) Today, America is deep into a debate about its federally mandated minimum wage – currently $7.25 an hour, where it has sat since 2009. 

The Democrats want a phased increase to $15 an hour by 2025, but they are unlikely to get it as part of their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill. Thursday night the Senate parliamentarian ruled that the $15 provision cannot be included in that chamber’s version and still allow passage by a simple majority. 

And so the debate will go on. Costco made headlines this week by announcing a raise in starting pay to $16, not out of “altruism,” the CEO said, but because it “makes sense for our business.” 

Some employers say they’d have to cut payrolls to accommodate the higher wage. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates the $15 plan would cost 1.4 million jobs by 2025 even as it lifts 900,000 people out of poverty. 

Democrats and Republicans alike are putting forth their own ideas, each highlighting the values that they say wage decisions need to embrace. It’s a discussion well worth having. 

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As Beijing’s power grows, can it shift meaning of ‘human rights’?

The debate over boycotting the 2022 Olympics throws into relief a far bigger question: Is Beijing’s growing influence allowing it to reshape global human rights priorities?

Linda
Tingshu Wang/Reuters
People wearing face masks due to the coronavirus are seen near the lit-up Olympic rings at the top of the Olympic Tower a year ahead of the opening of the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing on Feb. 4, 2021.

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One year from now, thousands of athletes and officials will be gathering in Beijing for the Winter Olympics. But how many, exactly? Calls are growing to boycott the 2022 Games over human rights concerns in the host country, from Xinjiang to Hong Kong.

Many observers think few participants will bow out. But that expectation points, in part, to China’s growing leverage on the international stage to push its own vision of human rights and block criticism of its record. Ultimately, experts say, Beijing is promoting a doctrine of non-interference that weakens global norms of human rights transparency and accountability.

“China is attempting to reinterpret or at least change the balance of our thinking about what we mean by human rights,” says Rosemary Foot, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford. 

Beijing advances a concept of human rights that puts priority on a strong, state-led system meeting people’s basic economic needs – something China has excelled at in recent decades – while downplaying civil rights and political freedoms. China is also pushing for a return to more orthodox notions of the security of the sovereign state, which stress the collective over individuals, Dr. Foot adds – reversing the international community’s post-Cold War emphasis on protecting individuals from abusive governments.

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As Beijing’s power grows, can it shift meaning of ‘human rights’?

The Beijing Winter Olympics may be a year away, but China’s official media has already shown leader Xi Jinping in a fur hat and long coat, inspecting ski slopes and ice arenas.

Around the world, however, many activists are hoping those venues go unused as they call on nations to boycott the 2022 Games. Canada’s House of Commons on Monday overwhelmingly passed a motion accusing China of committing “genocide” against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in the western region of Xinjiang, and called for relocating the games if it continues. U.S. lawmakers this week also stepped up calls for a boycott in response to what both the Trump and Biden administrations have called a genocide in Xinjiang. On Thursday, the Dutch parliament also declared that China’s actions constitute “genocide.”

China is threatening consequences for any country that withdraws, and many observers predict few will. In part, the expectation that the games will proceed largely as planned reflects an important shift, experts say: China’s increased leverage in shaping the human rights agenda and protection mechanisms in line with its interests. China is now moving more assertively than ever before, they say, to block international criticism of its record and promote a doctrine of non-interference that ultimately weakens global norms of human rights transparency and accountability.

“China is attempting to reinterpret or at least change the balance of our thinking about what we mean by human rights,” says Rosemary Foot, author of “China, the UN, and Human Protection: Beliefs, Power, Image.”

Beijing, for its part, has rejected the charges of genocide and religious oppression in Xinjiang as fabrications, and warned of retaliation. “China will firmly respond to any action that undermines its interests,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Tuesday, in response to a question about the Canadian lawmakers’ declaration.

“China will seriously sanction any country that follows such a call [for a boycott],” tweeted Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the state-affiliated, nationalist newspaper Global Times, earlier this month. The tweet came after a coalition of 180 human rights groups – many advocating for the rights of Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities, Tibetans, and residents of Hong Kong and Taiwan – called for a “diplomatic” boycott of the games, asking governments not to send officials to attend.

Jean-Christophe Bott/Keystone/AP
Protesters hold Tibetan flags during a protest against the Beijing Olympics by activists of the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe, in front of the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, Feb. 3, 2021. A coalition of 180 rights groups is calling for a boycott of next year's games.

Reframing rights

Seeking to promote its authoritarian model, Beijing is advancing a concept of human rights that puts priority on a strong, state-led system meeting people’s basic economic needs – something China has excelled at in recent decades – while downplaying civil rights and political freedoms that are increasingly restricted inside China.

“In the last few years, Beijing has emphasized that economic development is the fundamental human right,” and takes precedence over other rights, says Dr. Foot, a senior research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations. For example, in a 2017 speech, Mr. Xi stressed that by meeting the “basic living needs” of its population and helping to lift hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty, China had made “a significant contribution to the global cause of human rights.”

China is also pushing for a return to more orthodox notions of the security of the sovereign state, which stress the collective over individuals – reversing the international community’s post-Cold War emphasis on protecting individuals from abusive governments, Dr. Foot adds.

By asserting the notion that human rights such as development and security must come before democracy and freedom, and that each country must promote rights based on their unique situation, China is essentially launching “an attack on universality, by saying different states are at different levels of development, and therefore we can’t expect universal adherence to rights,” she says.

Beijing has concentrated its campaign at the United Nations, where it has growing influence on the Human Rights Council in Geneva, especially after the United States abandoned the council in 2018.

Speaking before the council on Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stressed Beijing’s main themes, saying “the rights to subsistence and development are the basic human rights of paramount importance.” In terms of global governance, he said, human rights should not be “used as a tool to pressure other countries and meddle in their internal affairs.”

Turning to Xinjiang, Mr. Wang cast the region as a security problem for state control, adding that China’s policies have created “social stability and a sound development momentum.” “The local people are living a safe and happy life,” he said. “Their personal freedom is never restricted.”

As early as summer 2018, a panel of U.N. human rights experts voiced concern over credible reports that China had detained a million or more Uyghurs and forced them to undergo reeducation, turning Xinjiang into “something resembling a massive internment camp … a sort of no-rights zone.” 

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on Friday for an “independent and comprehensive assessment of the human rights situation” in Xinjiang, saying her office is looking into reports of arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and sexual violence.

Rallying round?

The Biden administration plans to rejoin the Human Rights Council and compete with China and other authoritarian countries in setting its agenda.

Addressing the council on Monday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called for pushing back against “blatant attempts to subvert the values upon which the United Nations is founded – including that each of us as individuals are endowed with human rights and that states are obliged to protect those fundamental rights. Those who hide under the mantle of promoting economic development while seeking to undermine human rights will be held to account,” he said, in an apparent reference to China. “We will speak out for universal values when atrocities are committed in Xinjiang or when fundamental freedoms are undermined in Hong Kong,” he added.

A more robust U.S. role may strengthen regional coalitions in defense of universal rights. But China has grown more adept at pushing back, joined by a growing number of client states, says Ted Piccone, a nonresident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings Institution and author of “Catalysts for Change: How the U.N.’s Independent Experts Promote Human Rights.”

“The number of countries they [China’s officials] can get on their side is really striking,” says Mr. Piccone. “The reality of China’s power in the world has changed … and China now is using that as leverage much more effectively in blocking efforts to call out their behavior.”

After decades of limited involvement in the international human rights system, China’s role has grown significantly since Mr. Xi took power in 2012. Starting in 2017, Beijing has tabled its own resolutions that push China’s model of state-led development, collective human rights, and stability. In terms of enforcement tools, China seeks to downgrade or eliminate the role of independent human rights experts and investigations in favor of quiet dialogue and cooperation between sovereign states with no role for civil society or the media, Mr. Piccone says.

Meanwhile, as calls to skip the Winter Games grow louder, Beijing is attempting to minimize the likelihood of embarrassment by warning of repercussions. The International Olympic Committee opposes a boycott, saying it only harms athletes.

The most likely outcome, experts predict, is that calls for a boycott will shine a spotlight on abuses, and may lead individual sponsors, athletes, or officials to bow out. China’s efforts to muzzle critics could backfire and keep people away, Mr. Piccone says.

“It’s a real dilemma,” he says. “When the host country is the one that is responsible for these kind of gross human rights violations … you have to ask yourself, am I enabling this regime’s behavior or standing in the world? Am I complicit?”

The Explainer

Biden’s big COVID-19 aid package: What’s in the bill?

The latest U.S. coronavirus relief bill is massive and moving through Congress on party-line votes. So it’s worth taking a close look to learn what’s in the bill. Stimulus payments and public health are just the start. 

Linda

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The Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package is so big that it would qualify as one of the world’s top 10 economies if it were the annual output of a country.

Democrats say the package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act, is urgently needed to curb the spread of COVID-19 and help individuals, families, and businesses get back on their feet. Billions of dollars would go toward assisting small businesses, schools, cash-strapped state and local governments, and transit systems – plus an expanded child tax credit to help low-income parents.

As President Joe Biden was laying out his rationale for the plan, most Republicans agreed on the need for new spending on steps from vaccination to stimulus payments for Americans who have been hit hard economically. But GOP lawmakers wanted a package less than half the size.

Democrats are using a process called budget reconciliation, which would allow them to pass the bill on their own with a simple majority in the Senate as well as the House.

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Biden’s big COVID-19 aid package: What’s in the bill?

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
Steam rises from a vent outside the U.S. Capitol in Washington on Feb. 26, 2021, as the House of Representatives prepared to vote on legislation to provide $1.9 trillion in new coronavirus relief. Democrats say the broad-ranging package is urgently needed, while Republicans have favored a much smaller bill.

The Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 aid package is so big that it would qualify as one of the world’s top 10 economies if it were the annual output of a country.

President Joe Biden, White House officials, and congressional Democrats say the package, known as the American Rescue Plan Act, is urgently needed to curb the spread of COVID-19 and help individuals, families, and businesses get back on their feet.

As President Biden was laying out his rationale for the plan, most Republicans agreed on the need for new spending on steps from vaccination to stimulus payments for Americans who have been hit hard economically. But GOP lawmakers differ on the size of the package.

A group of 10 Republicans went to the White House to present President Biden with a plan that would cost less than half of the current bill, but the administration and congressional Democrats have resisted scaling back their plan. Since House Democrats have used a process called budget reconciliation to push the bill through Congress, it would need only 51 votes in the evenly divided Senate instead of the 60 normally needed to pass legislation. If all 50 Democratic senators agree to the measure, Vice President Kamala Harris could provide the tie-breaking 51st vote.

Here’s a look at some highlights of the package, showing each category’s approximate percentage of the total package, based on an analysis of the largest ticket items in the bill. The information is drawn from the full text of the bill, estimates from the Congressional Budget Office, and an analysis by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. CBO projections estimate both increased costs and decreased revenues. 

On Feb. 26, the House passed the bill 219-212 largely along party lines, with only two Democrats voting against it. Once it gets to the Senate, it will likely undergo significant changes. 

Stimulus payments of $1,400 (22% of the total package)

Individuals who meet the following annual income thresholds would receive a one-time payment of $1,400 each: $75,000 for individuals, $112,500 for head of household, and $150,000 for married filing jointly. That will cost the federal government an estimated $422 billion. 

Help for state and local governments (18%)

$350 billion in funding for state and local governments, which would be allocated not only according to population as in previous COVID-19 rescue packages, but would also be based on unemployment rates. Republicans say that effectively subsidizes states that imposed strict lockdowns while penalizing states that opted to keep their economies open. 

Extending unemployment programs (13%)

The bill proposes extending emergency unemployment programs, which enhance the amount and duration of regular unemployment benefits and extend them to people who would not normally be eligible. According to a CBO estimate, this would cost $242 billion, including:

K-12 and higher education (9%)

$170 billion for education, of which $129 billion is designated for K-12 schools, which Mr. Biden said could be used to help schools safely reopen, make up for lost learning, and care for the needs of students hardest hit by the pandemic. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the Department of Education has yet to spend most of the $113 billion it has already received in COVID-19 relief, so the CBO estimates that less than 10% of these additional K-12 funds would be spent in 2021.

In addition, the bill provides $7.7 billion to help schools and libraries support distance learning, mainly through telecommunications equipment and services.  

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters
People receive vaccinations at a community health event in Martinsburg, West Virginia, on Feb. 25, 2021. The latest pandemic relief bill in Congress includes billions of dollars for public health measures and also supports households and businesses struggling with the pandemic's economic effects.

 

Expanded child tax credit, child care tax credit, and earned income tax credit (6%)

According to the CBO, these benefits would cost an estimated $108.4 billion, including:

  • $89.2 billion child tax credit.
  • $19.2 billion earned income tax credit.

Testing, tracing, and vaccines (5%)

The bill includes $92 billion for public health initiatives, including:

  • $46 billion for testing and tracing.
  • $7.6 billion for public health departments.
  • $7.5 billion to plan, promote, distribute, and track COVID-19 vaccines.
  • $6.1 billion for Indian health services, including vaccines ($600 million) and testing and tracing ($1.5 billion).
  • $5.2 billion for the supply chain for COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and medical supplies.

Pensions (5%)

$86 billion in assistance to support troubled pension funds.

Health insurance (4%)

The largest expenses related to health insurance that the Monitor identified total $81.3 billion, and include:

Support for children (3%)

Programs totaling $54.3 billion, including:

  • $24 billion for child care stabilization funding (through September 2021).
  • $15 billion for child care and development block grant funding to states, tribes, and territories.
  • $8 billion dependent care assistance.
  • $6.3 billion for child care for workers.
  • $1 billion for Head Start.

Raise the minimum wage to $15/hour by June 2025 (3%)

The CBO estimates that this would increase the federal deficit by $54 billion over the next decade, and result in the loss of 1.4 million jobs due to the increased cost of hiring workers but also lift 900,000 people out of poverty. In addition, it would cost the federal government an additional $16 billion in interest on its debt.

The Senate parliamentarian ruled Feb. 25 that this measure could not be included in a bill passed by budget reconciliation. Although some progressives are calling to override that ruling, it will likely prevent the minimum wage measure from being included in the Senate version of the bill. House Democrats say they will keep it in their bill, and Senate Democrats are looking for other ways of making good on their campaign promise to raise the minimum wage, possibly by using tax incentives and/or penalties to get companies to pay higher wages.

FEMA funding (3%)

$50 billion is allocated to the Disaster Relief Fund, a portion of which is allocated for funerals related to COVID-19. The federal government would cover 100% of such funeral costs.  

Small-business assistance (3%)

The bill allocates $50 billion for assisting small businesses and restaurants, including:

  • $25 billion for Restaurant Revitalization Fund, with grants of up to $10 million per entity and $5 million per location.
  • $15 billion for Economic Injury Disaster Loans for small businesses.
  • $7.25 billion in additional funding for the paycheck protection program for small businesses.

Eviction prevention, housing, and food (2%)

Programs totaling $44.3 billion:

  • $19 billion for housing assistance.
  • $9.96 billion homeowner assistance fund.
  • $5 billion in emergency housing vouchers.
  • $4.5 billion for low-income housing energy assistance act.
  • $5.8 billion for expanded food assistance through SNAP. 

Transportation, not including air travel (2%)

$30 billion to transit agencies, most of which would go to urban areas. The funds can be used to develop long-range transportation plans, statewide transportation plans, and statewide transportation improvement programs.

$2.2 billion is designated for maintaining public transit operations, $1.7 billion is allocated to Amtrak, and $1 billion to provisions of the FAST Act, a 2015 measure to improve surface transportation such as highways, freight, ferries, and bridges.  

Airlines and associated contractors (1%)

$14 billion payroll support grants for eligible air carriers.

$8 billion to airports, including for operations, personnel, sanitizing, and debt service payments.

Agriculture (<1%)

$4 billion for food supply chain and agriculture pandemic response.

A deeper look

Ten years after tsunami, a Japanese town rebuilds its homes and heart

Many fishing villages along Japan’s northern coast have an intimate and fraught relationship with the sea. Minamisanriku has become a symbol of resolve as it resurrects itself after the 2011 tsunami.

Linda
Robert Gilhooly/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Ten years after the 2011 tsunami, the commercial center of Minamisanriku, Japan, has largely been rebuilt.

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When the most powerful tsunami in Japanese history struck, few places were hit as hard as Minamisanriku.

A wall of water obliterated the town, claiming the lives of 820 people. After the unthinkable human loss and almost total physical destruction, some wondered whether Minamisanriku would continue to exist as a town at all. But today the village hums with a quiet rhythm.

The recovery began with what Minamisanriku residents know best – fishing. In April, a few short weeks after the disaster, the seafood market reopened one day a month in a makeshift tent. Since then, a soba noodle restaurant, offices, park, and shopping center have been rebuilt as the town was moved to higher ground.

As Japan marks the 10th anniversary of the 2011 tsunami, many will focus on what was lost. But lifelong resident Chouko Haga is choosing to focus on something that he says can never be fully taken away: hope.

“If you have your life, if you are still alive, then there is hope and the potential to do something, to carry on,” he says. “That is what I felt then and what I feel most strongly to this day, looking back at these 10 years.”

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Ten years after tsunami, a Japanese town rebuilds its homes and heart

Blisteringly cold gusts blow in off the ocean and sweep across the boat landing. A snowstorm warning has been issued but there is no sign of flakes in the slate gray sky. Still, the temperature is low enough to chill even the hardy fishermen and women who toil on the water off this mountainous stretch of Japan’s northeast coast.     

It is a Saturday afternoon and many of the people who work the sea have finished for the day, but a few still tend to boats and nets. Tomoaki Saito is carrying crates from his 20-foot shrimp boat to a small, white truck parked on the quay. Mr. Saito goes shrimping every day – and has the weathered face and calloused hands to prove it – making his living from the briny waters as generations before him have done in Minamisanriku. 

The craggy inlet that leads into this fishing port is banked by steep slopes blanketed with trees. Similar terrain continues inland through the hills that surround the town on three sides. This striking tableau helped make Minamisanriku a popular tourist destination. Some of those who work the cobalt waters run bed-and-breakfasts to supplement their income, though fishing has always been the lifeblood of the town.

Robert Gilhooly/Special to The Christian Science Monitor/File
Debris litters the port area of Minamisanriku, Japan, on March 19, 2011. Some 820 people died when a tsunami inundated the town.

Minamisanriku hums with a quiet rhythm, which in itself is perhaps remarkable. Ten years ago the town was struck by the most powerful tsunami in Japanese history. A magnitude 9.0 earthquake triggered waves that inundated more than 200 miles of coastline, killing 18,500 people and setting off a nuclear disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant that reverberated around the world. Few places were hit as hard as Minamisanriku. 

“This town was buried by [52-foot] waves in five minutes. They had power beyond human imagination,” says Chouko Haga, who has spent all of his 72 years in Minamisanriku, 47 of them working for the local fishing cooperative. The soft-spoken Mr. Haga now dedicates his time to giving talks on what happened that day and how the town is working to revive itself.  

After the unthinkable human loss and almost total physical destruction, some wondered whether Minamisanriku would continue to exist as a town at all. Residues of that fateful day remain. Empty lots and open spaces dot parts of the landscape, in between the soba noodle restaurant, offices, park, and shopping center that have been rebuilt as the town was moved to higher ground. But much of the activity of daily life has returned.

Minamisanriku, in that sense, mirrors the rest of Japan a decade later. Most of the destruction has been repaired, the more than 200,000 people who lost homes have largely been resettled, and work is progressing on the long decommissioning process at the badly damaged nuclear plant.

Yet even in this country, with its culture of stoicism in the face of adversity and emphasis on the collective, the people of the Tohoku region stand out for their resilience amid such a wrenching moment. 

Robert Gilhooly/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
“[The people of Minamisanriku are] quiet, kind, and calm. They don’t show their sadness.” – Kurumi Endo, a resident of Minamisanriku, who works with her husband, Kazuhiko (right), harvesting seaweed

The wall of water

March 11, 2011, was unfolding like most any day in Minamisanriku. Kazuhiko Endo was thinking about what he was going to do on the weekend while working his wakame seaweed beds. Then, shortly before 3 p.m., the earth began to rumble. Soon, it was shaking violently.

Like many people who live on this disaster-prone coastline, he knew what would eventually follow – a wall of water. He grabbed what equipment he could and spirited it off to the building where he dries seaweed, about a half-mile uphill from the dock. Then he headed for even higher ground. 

The picturesque slopes of Minamisanriku’s inlet compressed the surging waters, amplifying the already immense power of the tsunami. Wave after wave hurtled over the 18-foot sea wall, obliterating the town.

Though 820 people here lost their lives that day, many more were likely saved by Minamisanriku’s disaster emergency team. Members heroically stayed at their posts issuing desperate warnings, closing floodgates, and contacting evacuation centers until the waves engulfed their building. 

The immediate response to the disaster was hampered by the devastating casualties and infrastructure damage suffered by the local police, fire department, government, and hospital. The main road in and out of town, which became congested as many of Minamisanriku’s 17,500 residents attempted to flee after the tsunami warning sounded, was destroyed. 

With the road and nearby railway line gone, and cellphone networks down, the town was effectively cut off. Supplies, rescuers, and medical personnel could only reach Minamisanriku by air.  

Robert Gilhooly/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Fishing boats are moored off Minamisanriku, Japan, which has largely been rebuilt after being hit by a tsunami.

Among those unable to make contact in the aftermath was Mr. Saito, the shrimp fisherman, who was attending a fishing cooperative meeting 25 miles south in Ishinomaki, which was also devastated.

“I called my wife about 100 times but couldn’t get through,” he says. “She was safe, and so was my son because he was at the high school, which is up on high ground.” 

More than a dozen of his relatives in Minamisanriku and other communities along the coast didn’t survive. 

For survivors, the early weeks in the shelters were particularly tough: Food and clean water shortages affected the more than 10,000 evacuees. Poor sanitation led to outbreaks of disease, and radiation was leaking from three reactors at the Fukushima nuclear plant to the south. 

The spirit of pulling together was crucial as the town began the long, arduous task of resurrecting itself. In some ways, the bonds of this close-knit community grew tighter.

The recovery began with what Minamisanriku residents know best – fishing. In April, a few short weeks after the disaster, the seafood market – a vital piece of the town’s identity – reopened one day a month in a makeshift tent. 

Robert Gilhooly/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
“This town was buried by [52-foot] waves in five minutes. They had power beyond human imagination.” – Chouko Haga, who used to work for a fishing cooperative, now gives talks on the tsunami that hit his town a decade ago

With much of their fleet destroyed, fishermen and women banded into small groups the first few years after the tsunami, sharing boats, equipment, and catches. “Fishing is a hard life, even tougher than farming,” says Mr. Haga. “It was pretty competitive before the disaster. There was quite a lot of rivalry between the fishermen. But after what they went through, and then working together, they are much more cooperative now.”   

The equipment Mr. Endo thought he had carried to safety was washed away, as were his boats. “But with money donated through a 24-hour TV charity program, fishermen in Chiba [north of Tokyo] bought me a new boat and brought it here,” he says. “People here now find it easier to talk to each other, because of that experience we shared.” 

Mr. Endo’s wife, Kurumi, survived the earthquake that struck Kobe in 1995, killing nearly 6,500. Living through that disaster prompted her to volunteer in Minamisanriku, helping to revive the farming of seaweed, for which the area is famous. 

The folks of Minamisanriku are “quiet, kind, and calm,” says Ms. Endo. “They don’t show their sadness.”

Returning in 2013, she met Kazuhiko and they married shortly afterward. Now they work the seaweed beds together. 

Robert Gilhooly/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Workers build a new sea wall in the coastal town of Minamisanriku on Feb. 2, 2021, to protect against future tsunamis. Waves from the 2011 disaster, triggered by a massive earthquake, reached 52 feet high.

A false sense of security

Approximately 20% of the globe’s major earthquakes strike the Japanese archipelago, many of the strongest along its northern Pacific coast. The area near Minamisanriku was battered by tsunamis triggered by massive tremors in 869, 1896, and 1933. 

The 1960 Great Chilean Earthquake is one of only three recorded as more powerful than the 2011 temblor. It caused a tsunami that traveled for nearly 24 hours across the Pacific and hit Minamisanriku with 16-foot waves, killing 41. Mr. Haga was in elementary school and remembers the day clearly. 

“Because of that, we had tsunami drills every year,” he notes. “And that is why the town’s three schools were built on high ground. That saved most of the children in 2011, and the schools were able to be used as evacuation centers.”  

Yet the sea wall built in response to the 1960 tsunami gave some a false sense of security. “My older brother and his wife thought they would be safe as their place was high up and the 1960 tsunami hadn’t reached it,” says Mr. Haga. “But the waves hit the house and they both died. My wife went [to their house] at first, but decided to go further up the mountain and somehow escaped.”

He shows a picture of himself standing on the foundation of his former home, all that was left of the house that had stood in the center of the town. “I found nothing, not a single photo, a dish, a piece of clothing, that I could keep as a memory,” he says. “But I used a piece of the foundation as a rock in the garden of my new house.” 

A physical renaissance

Under Minamisanriku’s reconstruction plan, authorities decided that only commercial buildings would be built on the site of the old town center. Residences would be placed on higher ground, presumably beyond the reach of the next tsunami.

The basic elevation of the town has been raised more than 32 feet using rock cut from the encircling mountains. Construction continues on the flatlands where the old town stood, but like the emotional scars quietly borne by so many, evidence of the destruction is not easily erased. 

At the heart of the town’s physical renaissance is the Sun Sun Shopping Village. Moved from a temporary location to its current spot in 2017, it houses dozens of shops and eateries in two broad rows of wooden buildings. The restaurants all serve local seafood. Even pizza is topped with harvests from the sea: One outlet’s signature dish is wakame seaweed pizza. 

Robert Gilhooly/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Visitors in Minamisanriku check out stores and restaurants inside the Sun Sun Shopping Village, which has become a symbol of recovery from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
Robert Gilhooly/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
A bridge connects the shopping mall and a park commemorating the wrenching moment in the town’s history.

Along with other elements of the rebuilding plan, the shopping village was designed by internationally renowned architect Kengo Kuma (designer of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium), a source of local pride. 

A footbridge connects the shopping village to the Minamisanriku Memorial Park, which opened in October 2020. At its center is the shell of the three-story disaster emergency building, its reddish-brown steel girders the most visible standing remnant of March 2011. The building and what happened there have been a source of friction in this town still working through its pain. 

Robert Gilhooly/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
Two women place flowers on a shrine to Miki Endo, who is credited with saving many lives when she continued to issue warnings from the building’s roof in a moment of heroic self-sacrifice.
Robert Gilhooly/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
The skeletal remains of the local disaster management center that was destroyed in the 2011 tsunami are preserved in a park in the rebuilt town of Minamisanriku. The memorial is controversial because some residents find it too painful a reminder of loved ones who died when the waves struck.

For some, the sight of the building is too raw a reminder of that ominous day. Even among the families of the 41 government workers and citizens who died there, opinions are divided. For now, the town has decided to keep it as a memorial until 2031, and then look again at whether to demolish it. Recriminations have also surfaced over whether the disaster team should have been ordered to evacuate. 

Mr. Haga is convinced that the actions of Miki Endo helped save the life of his wife and many others. She is the young team member who broadcast warnings over the town public-address system for 30 minutes after the earthquake struck, until the waves engulfed her. In fact, dozens of others also died doing vital work, but it was the story of Ms. Endo that captured the public imagination. Her self-sacrifice made her a posthumous national hero, but the singular focus on her caused resentment among some who had also lost loved ones.            

Like many in the town, Mieko Endo, Miki’s mother, has kept herself busy the past 10 years as a way of not dwelling on the loss. She avoided news in the aftermath of the tsunami and was unaware that her daughter’s actions had become known even beyond Japan’s shores. Ms. Endo empathizes with the trauma experienced by all those who suffered loss, but criticism of the attention given to her daughter clearly stings. 

“After the earth had shaken that much, can you imagine how terrified she was? She was only 24,” says Ms. Endo, her eyes filling with tears. “She must have wanted to run away. I wanted her to run away. I’m proud of what my daughter did, of who she was.” 

When Ms. Endo opened a small guesthouse behind her home in 2014, there was only one candidate for its name, “Miki no Ie” – Miki’s House.

Robert Gilhooly/Special to The Christian Science Monitor
“After the earth had shaken that much, can you imagine how terrified she was? She was only 24. ... I’m proud of what my daughter did, of who she was.” – Mieko Endo, standing near a guesthouse named after her daughter Miki, who was one of more than 40 officials who lost their lives in the town’s disaster management center

Gifts of “courage and hope”

Minamisanriku’s population is now 12,500, almost a third smaller than when the tsunami struck. Many of those who were evacuated to other cities and towns never returned. The disaster accelerated the demographic trends impacting much of Japan, particularly in rural areas: a shrinking population and the drift of young people to big cities. 

The Japanese often used to say they suffered from heiwa-boke, a self-deprecating phrase that translates to something like “peace-foolishness.” It spoke to the relative ease of life in the decades from the 1960s onward, when Japan enjoyed prolonged economic prosperity after rising from the destruction of World War II. It’s not a term heard often since the 2011 triple disasters of the quake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.   

The major rebuilding on the northeast coast is almost done; the 10-year program is reaching the end of its cycle. The last few hundred people in temporary housing are due to move into new homes by the end of March.  

Minamisanriku has changed, but it is once again a busy fishing port and a tourist attraction. Indeed, with the help of a new highway carved through the mountains, it drew more than 1.2 million visitors in 2019, up from 880,000 in 2010. The hospital has been rebuilt with the help of $20 million donated through the Taiwanese Red Cross. 

Local people express gratitude for the aid they received from around the world. “It let us know we were not alone. It gave us courage and hope when we had no food, no clothes,” says Mr. Haga. 

“If you have your life, if you are still alive, then there is hope and the potential to do something, to carry on,” he adds. “That is what I felt then and what I feel most strongly to this day, looking back at these 10 years.”

Television

‘Masterpiece’ at 50: How has the PBS staple influenced US culture?

What does the longevity of “Masterpiece” say about American tastes? As the PBS program known for its British dramas celebrates the half-century mark, we ask an aficionado about its appeal and influence. 

Linda
Courtesy of Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011 for MASTERPIECE
Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery star in a scene from Season 2 of “Downton Abbey” on “Masterpiece.” “Downton Abbey” will be available for streaming on PBS Passport beginning February 27.

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Tales of a Yorkshire vet in the 1930s got rave reviews in the 1970s for PBS – and again this winter when its storied “Masterpiece” aired a smart new remake of “All Creatures Great and Small” to kick off its 50th year.

“Right now the world is a gloomy place and all we want is something sweet that celebrates love and community and family,” says Nancy West, author of “Masterpiece: America’s 50-Year-Old Love Affair with British Television Drama.”  “A lot of ‘Masterpiece’ shows do that. Sometimes that puts people off, but I think right now people love that. They appreciate being able to watch something that doesn’t set them on edge.”

The University of Missouri scholar says that to Americans, the program represents “smart television.” In her view, the most influential “Masterpiece” program was the popular “Downton Abbey.” 

But in terms of legacy, the biggest influence may have come with the program’s connection to what’s on audience’s shelves. 

“People started seeing the potential of adapting books to television, good books, high-quality literature,” she says. “I think that’s entirely due to ‘Masterpiece Theatre.’”

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‘Masterpiece’ at 50: How has the PBS staple influenced US culture?

Nancy West, an English professor at the University of Missouri for more than two decades, is a lover of movies, literature, and all things “Masterpiece.” The author of books about culture and media, she recently published “Masterpiece: America’s 50-Year-Old Love Affair with British Television Drama.” 

Professor West, who has studied and taught 19th-century literature and film, first dreamed up this project 10 years ago. In her book, she writes about “Masterpiece Theatre” and “Mystery,” now combined to just “Masterpiece.” In an interview, she discusses the program’s influence and appeal since its first airing 50 years ago this year.   

Q: Why do you think Americans love “Masterpiece” so much?

Long before HBO came along, “Masterpiece” introduced the world to TV excellence. They got there first and planted the flag. ... It’s just the kind of programming it does. And they, so unapologetically, without a trace of irony, came up with the title “Masterpiece Theatre.” Audiences in 1971 were turning to it because they thought, “We want smart television and we want something that’s going to raise the bar for us a little bit.”

The show has always stuck to a standard of excellence. They try to go after the best, but at the same time recognize the audiences’ tastes. There are no more four-minute lectures from [host] Alistair Cooke; that would never work now. And they can do [historical drama] “Wolf Hall,” but they can’t do just “Wolf Hall,” they have to have something like “All Creatures Great and Small” to balance things out.  

Q: How influential do you think the program has been on American television?

I’m going to go way back to “Upstairs, Downstairs” or “I, Claudius,” which pushed the limits of the small screen with sex and violence, and on PBS of all places! In the research I was doing people would link “I, Claudius” with shows like “Soap.” Even though they are such dramatically different shows, they were linking them as being part of a force that was changing the look and the content of television. Before Jane Tennison in “Prime Suspect,” was there a female detective like her, broken, and where the context is about gender politics? I don’t think so, but afterward she opened up all kinds of representations of female detectives who were much like her. Kyra Sedgwick in “The Closer” – and Gillian Anderson’s role in “The Fall”  is totally descended from Jane Tennison.

Courtesy of the University of Missouri
Nancy West, an English professor at the University of Missouri, is the author of the recently published book, “Masterpiece: America’s 50-Year-Old Love Affair with British Television Drama.”

Q: Do you think Masterpiece has also had an impact on American culture at large?

I do. In its quiet way I really do. For one thing, being around for 50 years makes you a kind of classic. Whether they watch the show or not, I think Americans are very happy that it’s there; it’s part of the American tradition of television. I think that [the program] conditioned a climate where people started seeing the potential of adapting books to television, good books, high-quality literature. I think that’s entirely due to “Masterpiece Theatre.”

Q: Interesting point, but there were certainly a lot of film adaptations of good literature prior to “Masterpiece.”

Movies fail a lot because film is so limited by its time. Television really can adapt much better than film.

Q: And which was the most influential “Masterpiece” offering of all of them?

In 50 years? It’s got to be “Downton Abbey.” In terms of numbers “Upstairs, Downstairs” had a much higher viewing, but it was because there were limited options for viewing. 

Q: How much do you trust the history and research done for the period pieces on Masterpiece?

When Daisy Goodwin did “Victoria,” there were people who said, “Victoria never did this, she never did this, she never did this.” Or they complained that the show was a little too insular and didn’t go into political events enough. But Goodwin did get her Ph.D. in history at Cambridge and I certainly trust her more than I would a lot of other screenwriters. Sure, she takes liberties and she’s got this particular, very feminist angle that she wants to pursue. But it is drama.

Q: Do you think people hunger for programs made with decency and not just gore and violence?

Right now the world is a gloomy place and all we want is something sweet that celebrates love and community and family. A lot of “Masterpiece” shows do that. Sometimes that puts people off, but I think right now people love that. They appreciate being able to watch something that doesn’t set them on edge. Also, there are other more subtle qualities, like courtesy [on “Masterpiece”], which we don’t see much of.

Essay

Think you’ve got winter woes? I've got a slumpy frog.

Even a frivolous pursuit can be worthy of praise. Our essayist turned amateur topiarist fusses over her 12-foot-long boxwood salamander because of the delight it brings – to herself and others.

Linda
Karen Norris/Staff

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Across the country, the trials of winter are many and varied. But nowhere do I see anyone complaining about the dreaded Frog Slumpage. 

I am a fan of amphibians. As one does, I decided to celebrate them in my garden by constructing them out of boxwood shrubs. In the case of my fat frog, it’s possible I am asking more from boxwood than it’s prepared to give: The occasional heavy snow here in Portland, Oregon, flattens it. The salamander in the front yard fares much better..

I make these things to please myself, but of course they are meant to delight passersby as well. In reality, however, 9 out of 10 people who stand next to my salamander, which is 12 feet long, fail to notice it. 

Still, I continue to scurry out with a broom if it snows, all for what would seem to be a frivolous occupation. But let us not underestimate frivolity. All flower gardening is frivolous. A Taj Mahal painstakingly constructed in beach sand will be gone at high tide. We know this, and we do it anyway. A song lasts only as long as it takes to sing it. And yet we sing.

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Think you’ve got winter woes? I've got a slumpy frog.

It’s winter. What it’s liable to throw at you depends on where you live. But there will be challenges. Here in Portland, Oregon, we’ll see days where the temperature toggles between 31 and 33 degrees Fahrenheit, producing a sort of ice lasagna that nobody can drive in. Nobody. New arrivals from colder climes fiercely believe they can, and now we know what their cars look like upside-down. 

Rather than hoping for a visit from one of the four municipal snowplows, we deal with ice and snow here by canceling everything and flapping our hands at our neighbors and saying “Isn’t this something?” until it goes away.

But we can go a winter without such an event. We’ll have rivers in our basements and moss on our automobiles. We’ll accumulate other people’s umbrellas, and they’ll have custody of ours. It’s a mild climate, and doesn’t require much of us but emotional stamina in the face of gloom.

Not so in other places, where the snow might not even go away until July. Our New England friends struggle to save their roofs from ice dams. Our friends in Alaska take photos of themselves with face icicles and complain about being stuck at home because there are too many moose on the airstrip. In Florida, people stand ready to put emergency sweaters on their oranges. At least, I think that’s what they do in Florida.

The trials of winter are many and varied. But nowhere do I see anyone complaining about the dreaded Frog Slumpage. That is what can occur when a rare snowfall puts a burden on your boxwood topiary frog and it keels over into a much wider frog with a hole in its back. OK, maybe it’s just my boxwood topiary frog. But it’s horrible.

I am a fan of amphibians. As one does, I decided long ago to celebrate them in my garden by constructing them out of boxwood shrubs. In the case of my fat frog, it’s possible I was asking more from the boxwood than the plant was prepared to give. The salamander in the front yard fares much better. It’s slender and sturdy, and except for the year the house painters elected to protect it by putting a slab of plywood on it, it looks tremendous all the time.

I make these things to please myself – and express my amphibian aesthetic – but of course they are meant to delight passersby as well. At least in theory. In reality, 9 out of 10 people who stand next to my salamander, which is 12 feet long, with eyes and identifiable parotoid glands, fail to notice it at all. Somehow, it registers in the periphery of their vision as a short hedge, unworthy of examination. They walk right past it.

I used to think this indicated some kind of moral failing, but I have no standing here. I can’t find what I’m looking for in the refrigerator, even if it’s front and center, if a thought gets in the way.

Still, I continue to clip my boxwood creations once a year by hand, scurry out with a broom if it snows, and mutter about house painters, all for what would seem to be a frivolous occupation. But let us not underestimate frivolous occupations. That’s what all flower gardening is. A neglected salamander will burgeon into formless shrubbery in a matter of years. A neglected garden will go feral, a wild, bird-filled tangle, with a doughty clump of day lilies and a gnarled fruit tree the only tethers to gardeners long gone. A Taj Mahal painstakingly constructed in beach sand will be gone at high tide. We know this, and we do it anyway.

A song lasts only as long as it takes to sing it. And yet we sing.

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The Monitor's View

Shaping a new Syria, one verdict at a time

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This week, a trial verdict in Germany revived hopes that the ideals of the 2011 Arab Spring can endure. A court convicted a former Syrian security officer on charges of torture and sentenced him to 4 1/2 years in prison. The man had sought asylum in Germany and was recognized by other Syrians in Berlin. Then Germany, claiming universal jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, put him in the dock. The verdict marks the first time that any official in the Syrian regime has been held legally accountable for crimes such as torture.

Many Syrians hope that justice will ultimately be a path to national reconciliation. One of the plaintiffs, Hussein Ghrer, noted this effect on himself: “[This is] the first time in my life that I experienced a fair trial.”

Syrians are once again showing that they will not be deterred. The conviction marks a healing moment. For families of the regime’s victims, it may salve their wounds. For the millions displaced and dispersed, it marks a deeper understanding about the purpose of justice in eventually shaping a new Syria that lives up to the ideals of the Arab Spring.

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Shaping a new Syria, one verdict at a time

AP
Two Syrians, Wassim Mukdad, left, and Hussein Ghrer, right, stand with attorney Patrick Kroker, middle, and talk to journalists in Koblenz, Germany, at the start of a trial last April against two former members of Syria's secret police.

It has been a decade since democratic aspirations swept up young people across the Middle East. The Arab Spring did not last long. Most regimes pushed back hard. Military rule returned to Egypt. Libya descended into chaos. In Syria, at the heart of the region, an ongoing and devastating civil war has left more than 60,000 dead, many by torture or in dire conditions in Syrian jails.

Yet this week, a trial verdict in Germany revived hopes that the ideals embraced by millions in 2011 endure. A court in Koblenz convicted a former Syrian security officer on charges of torture and sentenced him to 4 1/2 years in prison. The man had sought asylum in Germany and was recognized by other Syrians in Berlin. Then Germany, claiming universal jurisdiction over crimes against humanity, put him in the dock.

The verdict marks the first time that any official in the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad has been held legally accountable for crimes such as torture. The man, a relatively low-level figure identified as Eyad al-Gharib, was one of two Syrians put on trial in connection with the civil war. Human rights activists know of perhaps a dozen others hiding in Europe under the guise of refugees. The conviction sets the stage for similar trials of former Syrian officials in Germany, Norway, and Austria.

Bolstered by Russia and Iran, Mr. Assad may be on the verge of finally crushing any of his opponents – terrorists, separatists, or democrats – who rose up against him over the past decade. He stands accused of using chemical weapons against his own people. There may be no foreseeable way to hold him accountable within Syria. But the trials in Europe are more than just an exercise in international humanitarian concern. They rest on the persistent efforts of Syrians themselves to uphold ideas of justice and democracy. The evidence brought against Mr. Gharib comes from the meticulous work of collecting evidence by former security officers, journalists, human rights lawyers, the families of victims, and survivors of abuse.

The Arab Spring was not meaningless to them.

The effects of this verdict on Syrians are difficult to see for now. A famed Syrian documentary filmmaker, Feras Fayyad, told Agence France-Presse, “I hope the victims can sleep better tonight.”

Many hope that justice will ultimately be a path to national reconciliation. One of the plaintiffs, Hussein Ghrer, noted this effect on himself: “[This is] the first time in my life that I experienced a fair trial.”

In European courtrooms, Syrians are once again showing that they will not be deterred. The conviction of a prison guard marks a healing moment. For families of the regime’s victims, it may salve their wounds. For the millions displaced and dispersed, it marks a deeper understanding about the purpose of justice in eventually shaping a new Syria that lives up to the ideals of the Arab Spring.

A Christian Science Perspective

About this feature

Each weekday, the Monitor includes one clearly labeled religious article offering spiritual insight on contemporary issues, including the news. The publication – in its various forms – is produced for anyone who cares about the progress of the human endeavor around the world and seeks news reported with compassion, intelligence, and an essentially constructive lens. For many, that caring has religious roots. For many, it does not. The Monitor has always embraced both audiences. The Monitor is owned by a church – The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston – whose founder was concerned with both the state of the world and the quality of available news.

Ahhh … just right!

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Sometimes it can seem as if we have too much or too little of something. But the realization that God imparts to us everything we need, in the perfect way, empowers us to experience healing and harmony – as a woman experienced after a growth developed on her face.

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Ahhh … just right!

Today's Christian Science Perspective audio edition

My daughter came out of her bedroom complaining, “This outfit is too big! This one is too small!”

I laughed as a familiar fairy tale came to thought: “This porridge is too hot! This porridge is too cold! Ahh, this porridge is just right,” said Goldilocks.

I smiled to myself, realizing that I’d had days like that as well. But through my study of the Bible and “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” by Mary Baker Eddy, I’ve come to realize that in God’s universe, there is never “too” of anything. Everything is more than just right – it is perfect! And learning more of this spiritual reality brings a sense of balance and order in our lives, including through physical healing.

Many years ago, I had a growth under my eyelid. At first it was small, but over time it grew and was quite noticeable. We might say I had “too much” matter.

So I prayed about this issue, starting with the biblical idea that we are created spiritually, in the image of God. Science and Health defines God as Love, Life, Truth, Mind, Soul, Spirit, Principle – synonyms for God based in the Bible. Attributes such as compassion, vitality, faithfulness, and so on – which express each of these aspects of the divine nature – are spiritual qualities that have nothing to do with physicality. And as the image of God, Spirit, our true identity is not material. Rather, we are spiritual, reflecting everything that originates from our heavenly Father-Mother.

As Science and Health puts it, using “man” to refer to all of us as God’s children: “Man is not matter; he is not made up of brain, blood, bones, and other material elements. The Scriptures inform us that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Matter is not that likeness.... Man is idea, the image, of Love; he is not physique. He is the compound idea of God, including all right ideas;...” (p. 475).

I reasoned that a “compound idea of God” can’t have “too much” or “too little” of anything. Nothing can be overactive or inactive. Rather, God expresses limitlessly in us qualities such as beauty, purity, harmony, and health, in perfect balance.

Through prayer I grew in my understanding of who I am as a child of divine Love, and also actively looked for Godlike qualities in others as well. And as I did this, the lump simply disappeared.

But the lesson stayed.

Physical problems often seem to revolve around “too much” and “too little” scenarios – too little exercise or sleep, too many years under our belt. However, in the light of God’s sustaining power over all creation, we always have exactly what we need at every moment, including health, supply, and peace.

A biblical example that illustrates this is when the Israelites were traveling from Egypt, where they’d been enslaved, to the Promised Land of freedom. They were in the desert, where there was little food or water. But God met their need; an abundance of quails emerged, and breadlike items they called “manna” appeared as well (see Exodus 16:11-18).

Moses commanded that each person should have a certain measure of manna (an “omer”). Some families gathered more than others depending on the number in their family. And what they found was that “he that gathered much had nothing over, and he that gathered little had no lack.” The portions were just right!

Whatever we truly need is already ours, in “just right” proportions. God’s limitless love can never be not enough. Life is always filled with all that is necessary to make it Life, because Life is God. Divine Mind is never in short supply or overactive because God is ever conscious and intelligent.

Everything God provides is not only just right, it is perfect – and through prayer we can experience that perfect care in our everyday lives.

Viewfinder

South Africa’s cuppa

Tristen Taylor
Each year, people around the world drink about 6 billion cups of rooibos tea. And all of it comes from just one small place in South Africa. Wupperthal is isolated. Its closest neighbor is 43 miles away through the Cederberg mountain range. The town’s only shop burned down in 2018 during a wildfire, which left behind the shells of 53 homes. But Wupperthal has endured, and it’s one of two places where wild rooibos is harvested. Going up into the mountains to gather wild rooibos is nothing new for the people of Wupperthal. Most are direct descendants of the indigenous Khoi pastoralists who harvested rooibos for hundreds of years. They taught European settlers about the many uses of the plant – settlers who, in the early 20th century, claimed rooibos tea and then made a global industry to sell it. Christoline Swartz runs Red Cedar Cosmetics, which sells rooibos shampoos, gels, and soaps. The 2018 fire consumed Red Cedar’s factory, but she continues to work from home. She learned about rooibos harvesting from her father, who learned it from his. To her, she said in Afrikaans, “Rooibos is ek.” Rooibos is me. In the view of producers like her, the European rooibos industry took more than traditional knowledge. It took culture. Identity. In 2019, the industry signed an agreement with Khoi and San representatives that recognizes the traditional knowledge of rooibos and pays recompense. It’s a sweet victory for the Khoi and San – and for Wupperthal, the beautiful soul of rooibos. – Tristen Taylor / Correspondent
( The illustrations in today’s Monitor Daily are by Jacob Turcotte. )

A look ahead

Thank you for joining us. Please come back Monday, when we’ll look at why state Republican committees are all in for ex-President Donald Trump – even in states that are trending blue.

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