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Brazil, Biden, & the Pandemic Politics

Announced that the epicenter of coronavirus is now South America. Interesting that they said South America, not Latin America. So, Mexico, where the cases are increasing and not close to peak yet, and also badly mishandling this, not a part of South America. I'm kind of wondering if there were some behind the scenes politics from the WHO.

When you look at the cases in Brazil right now, second highest number of cases in the world, a daily death toll that is now more than the United States. A horrible governance in their lack of effective response, very disunited. Lost two ministers of health in the middle of a pandemic. That's like leaving the World Health Organization in the middle of a pandemic. Who does stuff like this? Well, President Bolsonaro in Brazil does. They're the epicenter. Remember, it was China. Then it moved to Italy, then the United States. Now it's Brazil. Don't have anywhere near the economic capacity to effectively respond with relief. Brazil's fiscal response has been one of the strongest in any developing economy in the world. There has been coordination with Congress, despite the fact that the relations are deeply dysfunctional. Kind of like Pelosi-Mnuchin, working together on the fiscal response. Powell, fed chief, has been very effective in the United States, despite the fact that the red and blue divide in the US is worse than any time in our lifetimes, at a time of really horrible crisis, massive infighting, and also now a travel ban from the United States. Not on US citizens or permanent residents flying from Brazil, but everybody else. It's just one more thing to hit the Brazilian economy and currency. Not to mention all the corruption scandals that are now hitting, not just Bolsonaro and his family, but also governors. And Lavo Jato, it was all the former governors, the impeachment of the former president. They finally got past it. And now they're back in the midst of corruption scandals. Good news, strongly independent judiciary. Bad news, yet another massive political and economic distraction.

Here in the United States, the big flap was Biden finally made some news by saying that you weren't really black if you weren't voting for Biden. This interview with a well-known journalist, Charlamagne the K. It was a pretty friendly interview. Biden was obviously joking around. He's not all that funny. He's almost 80. No one was being charitable in their response that doesn't like Biden.

Biden's still not making anywhere close to the headlines that Trump is. This election is overwhelmingly about Trump. There's not a lot of enthusiasm about Biden. But after four years of Trump, there is a lot of enthusiasm against Trump. I think the turnout issue that's relevant for Biden is how many Dems are worried about social distancing and being able to vote compared to Republicans. So far, that is playing in favor of Trump.

It was obvious that Biden didn't really mean you're not a black person if you don't vote for Trump. I don't think there's a lot of concern that Biden is going to lose the black vote to Trump. 93%, 94%, 95%, it's going to be higher than what Hillary got. I remember when Trump was talking to blacks, and said, "what do you have to lose? Might as well vote for me." Four years later, I think a lot of black people have an answer to that. They're voting with their feet.

Biden within a few hours apologized. He was being glib. Trump never would have apologized. In the same way that Biden felt like he had to address Tara Reade, Trump never would have felt like he needed to address the women that accused him of sexual assault. The rules sit very differently because Trump is popular, he refuses to accept responsibility for anything and his support base loves that. The Democratic side got rid of Senator Al Franken, who was a comic, for an inappropriate joke, laying his hands on this woman's torso, upper body, when she had a metal vest on and sleeping. Can you imagine Trump or anyone in the White House resigning for something like that? Inconceivable. Biden is not going to stop trying to win being more empathetic and more human than Trump is. The media also plays by these rules to a significant degree. Things are changing in the way we address all of this and talk about it politically in the United States.

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region, stretching for more than 2,000 miles, is home to the world's highest mountains. The mountain range is also home to the world's third-largest concentration of snow and ice, earning it the moniker the third pole; only the North and South Poles contain more. The glaciers of the Hindu Kush Himalayas are the main source of fresh water for around two billion people living in the region. However, by the end of this century, two-thirds of that snow and ice could be lost because of climate change. A network of data scientists and environmentalists around the world, and on the ground in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, are working to understand the extent of glacial melting in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, its effects and what can be done to minimize its impact. To read more visit Microsoft on the Issues.

When Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned Tuesday — plunging the country into chaos as it faces once-in-a-generation public health and economic crises — he became the fourteenth Italian to vacate the prime ministership in three decades. (For contrast, Germany has only had three chancellors since 1982, and France has had five presidents.)

But Conte, who had no previous political experience until he was tapped for the top job in 2018, is not so much throwing in the towel as he is taking a massive gamble that President Sergio Mattarella will again appoint him to head Conte's third coalition government in less than three years.

The recent dysfunction is unique even within the context of instability-prone Italian politics. How did Italy get here, and what might come next?

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The Democrats shocked the country by eking out a 50-50 majority in the US Senate earlier this month, securing control of the House, Senate and Executive. But do they have enough power to impose the kinds of restrictions to Big Tech that many believe are sorely needed? Renowned tech columnist Kara Swisher is not so sure. But there is one easy legislative win they could pursue early on. "I think it's very important to have privacy legislation, which we currently do not have: a 'national privacy bill.' Every other country does." Swisher's wide-ranging conversation with Ian Bremmer was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

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

What did you think of Xi Jinping's speech at the virtual World Economic Forum?

Well, his last speech at the real World Economic Forum in Davos, I remember being there four years ago, and given that Trump had just been elected, Xi Jinping gives this big, "We want to stand up and be leaders while the Americans are doing America first." And generally speaking, was probably the most important speech of the week. People liked it. This is a pretty different environment, not so much because Trump has gone, but rather because support and belief in Xi Jinping is pretty low. I will say one thing that was generally well responded to was the call not to enter into a new Cold War. Anybody in the business community generally supports that. There's so much integration and interdependence between the US and the Chinese economies that when Xi Jinping says, "We need to find ways to continue to work together," I mean, this is the pro-globalization audience he's speaking to. They generally agree. But otherwise, the message fell pretty flat. So, the idea that China is going to be globally useful on issues of leadership, especially when it comes to anything that might threaten Beijing's sovereignty, they check global norms at the door. And a few examples of that, when Xi called for support for the rules-based international order, that's in obvious contrast with China's violation of the one country, two systems framework in Hong Kong. And they said, "Well, that's a domestic issue." Well, actually that's not what your agreement was with the British handover. And just because you're more powerful doesn't mean that norm doesn't matter anymore.

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Over the weekend, some 40,000 people in Moscow and thousands more across Russia braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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