Bolsonaro tests positive for coronavirus; Trudeau assassination attempt

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, has coronavirus. What are your thoughts and where does this leave Brazil?

Well, I mean, you know, if coronavirus was karmic, and I don't believe that, Bolsonaro would be the president you kind of expect would get it, right? Because he's been saying, "it's just a little flu, don't worry about it, I don't need to wear a mask, everyone can come out and rally, we can hug, we can hold hands, we can shake hands with no problem." He's been doing that for months now and he's exposed to an awful lot of people, both in Brazil and internationally, including in the United States when he traveled to meet with President Trump in Mar a Lago. And now he's taken the test. The 65-year-old president has coronavirus.


He's saying, "I'm fine. Look at me. Look at my face. There's no problem." I hope he's fine. You don't wish ill health on anybody, but you also kind of hope that someone who has gotten it this wrong, with well over 50,000 dead in Brazil, with some of the worst case load of any country in the world after the United States, Brazil is right there with us, and per capita looks considerably worse and their hospitals are starting to get overwhelmed and his popularity is going down. And, you know, their ability to manage this effectively and also keep the economy going is really, really challenged. So, I mean, I've said it before. I'll say it again, among Democratic presidents, Jair Bolsonaro is by far been the worst in handling coronavirus on the health care side, on the cheerleading side, on the fake news side and on the economic side. He's kind of got everything going against him. He's just not handled this well.

Brazil does have a lot of strong governors that do have a strong and reasonably independent judiciary, which has helped the country a lot. Bolsonaro also now is in the middle of growing impeachment cases surrounding him and his family, some of which involves corruption. That's going to dog him for the rest of his term. It's possible he'll even be thrown out like his predecessors, but if not, it's hard to imagine that he's going to be reelected. Brazil is, after all, still a democracy. So, horrible to see all this news in a country that really should be doing pretty well, all things considered. But poor governance makes a real difference, especially in a crisis.

There was an assassination attempt on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. What's the story?

I'm stunned that the American media has said virtually nothing about this. This was an extremist from Manitoba who gets in his pickup truck, he drives to the prime minister's residence, breaks through the gates with a bunch of, like heavy rifles, like machine guns, and Trudeau is not home, thankfully, and the guy doesn't do great research, thankfully. Turns out to be some QAnon inspired nut job. And the Canadian police, rather than firing on him and killing him, which probably would have happened in the United States and a lot of other countries, actually managed to talk him down and apprehend him. But it's not making much news. I mean, I've talked about it with friends and colleagues here in the United States, it's the first they've heard of it. And I'm honestly a little surprised. I mean, I know that a lot most Americans don't have passports. They don't travel. We don't pay attention to news that isn't in the United States. And Trump dominates everything. But I mean, Trudeau's been covered like America's boyfriend for the last five years by the mainstream media.

You would think an assassination attempt against him would drive coverage in the US. And it really isn't. And it really should. Because, of course, you know, even though we don't have nearly as much of an international terrorist issue in the United States and in Canada as we did say in 9/11 days, we have a very significant domestic terrorism problem in the United States and Canada. And it's been growing. And we're going to need to deal with it. And, you know, thank God that this guy is not only an ideological nut job, but also doesn't know how to plan an assassination, or we could have very, very different news right now from our friendly neighbors to the north.

Finally, Australia resumes lockdown. How are they handling the pandemic?

And the answer is, reasonably well. You know, they are locking down the border between their two largest provinces. They've not done this an enormously long period of time. And it's because there is serious outbreak. But I mean, this is way earlier than you're seeing in the United States. They've largely been following the scientific guidelines from their own health minister, their own government. And that means that when you see an expansion, you shut everything down. And that's helped the Australian numbers overall to be comparatively limited. And it gives them a handle on the spread. They're not doing the job that New Zealand is, much more isolated, shut down their borders completely. All these billionaires that bought their luxury boat holds and now can't even get to the land they own because New Zealand doesn't want a more coronavirus. Australia doesn't have that. They've got economic problems, too, because increasingly there's a trade war happening between Australia and China with an enormous amount of trade and investment going there. But in terms of general governance around coronavirus, Australia not being cheerleader's, not politicizing this overtly, doing a reasonable job. And hopefully that will continue with this response to recent outbreaks.

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Iran has vowed to avenge Sunday's attack on its Natanz nuclear facility. Tehran blames Israel, which — as in the past — has neither confirmed nor denied it was responsible. And all this happens just days after indirect talks on US plans to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed in Vienna. What the Iranians do now will determine the immediate future of those negotiations, a Biden administration priority.

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week on World In 60: J&J vaccine woes, Blinken warns China, Fukushima water and a large rabbit.

How will the pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine affect the overall pandemic fight in the United States?

Yeah. Right at it, right? Well, we heard that the FDA has suspended vaccines from J&J because of blood clots. They found six in seven million cases. It's kind of like the suspension of AstraZeneca in Europe. It's likely only going to last for a few days. It's a very small percentage of the total number of vaccines that are being jabbed right now into the arms of Americans. It's not going to really slow America's ability to get everyone vaccinated, but it is going to create more vaccine hesitancy. People at the margins will say, "Is this safe? They said it was fine. Now they're saying it's not okay." I understand why there's enormous caution on the part of the FDA, but I wish, wish, wish the communications had been a little softer around all of this. Also will be a problem in terms of export, as J&J is going to be a piece of that. And again, others around the world will say, "Well, if I don't get Moderna, if I don't get Pfizer, I'm not sure I want to take it at all." So all of this is negative news, though I would still say the United States this year is looking really, really good among major economies in dealing with pandemic.

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750 million: While struggling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world right now, India has approved Russia's Sputnik V COVID vaccine. Moscow has a deal in place to produce 750 million doses of the shot in India.

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In recent weeks, both Pfizer and Moderna have announced early phases of vaccine trials in children, and Johnson & Johnson also plans to start soon. If you know a kid who wants to learn about vaccines, how they work, why we need them, this story is just what the doctor ordered.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week and I've got your Quick Take and thought I would talk a little bit about where we are with Iran. One of the Biden administration's promises upon election was to get the Americans back into the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal. As of last week, negotiations are formally restarted, and pretty quickly, in Vienna, they're not direct. The Americans and Iranians are both there, but they're being intermediated by the Europeans because they're not yet ready to show that they can talk directly to each other. That's Iran being cautious in the run-up to their presidential election coming this summer. But the movement is there. So far the talk has largely been about sequencing the Iranian government, saying that all of the sanctions need to be removed before they're willing to go back into the deal, because the Americans after all, unilaterally withdrew from a deal that the Iranians were indeed adhering to, and the inspections did confirm that.

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Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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Andean aftermath: Two big weekend elections in South America produced two stunning results. In Ecuador's presidential runoff, the center-right former banker Guillermo Lasso upset early frontrunner Andrés Arauz, a leftist handpicked by former president Rafael Correa. Lasso will take power amid the social and economic devastation of the pandemic and will have to reckon with the rising political power of Ecuador's indigenous population: the Pachakutik party, which focuses on environmental issues and indigenous rights, is now the second-largest party in parliament. Meanwhile, in a big surprise next door in Perú, far-left union leader Pedro Castillo tallied up the most votes in the first round of that country's highly fragmented presidential election. As of Monday evening it's not clear whom he'll face in the June runoff, but three figures are in the running as votes are counted: prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, rightwing businessman Rafael López Aliaga, and conservative Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's imprisoned former strongman. Meanwhile, in the congressional ballot, at least 10 parties reached the threshold to win seats, but there is no clear majority or obvious coalition in sight.

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