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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.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream