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 impact of Covid-19 is being felt in every household, changing the way we live our lives. The pandemic continues to reinforce the drive for cooperation between communities, governments and businesses in order to combat the threat.

Microsoft responded to the pandemic in its home state through efforts like donating protective equipment, making boxed lunches for families and using technology to better understand the spread of the virus over the last year. Now, we're sharing six ways Microsoft is pulling together with the community to lend a hand to fellow Washingtonians in 2021 including helping with vaccination efforts. To read more, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Europe has been hit by a green wave in recent years. Green parties in countries as varied as Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, Finland, and Sweden have made sizable electoral gains, with some now sitting in national governments.

The Green phenomenon seems to be gaining yet more momentum in the lead up to some crucial European elections (Germany, France) in the months ahead. What explains the green shift, and where might this trend be headed?

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Guilty: Eleven months after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died under the knee of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, on a Minneapolis street corner, we finally have a verdict in the murder trial. On Tuesday, a jury found Chauvin guilty of all three charges: second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. The verdict was celebrated by advocates for racial justice and police reform. Last summer, video footage of Floyd suffocating to death as he cried out "I can't breathe" galvanized anti-racism protests across America (some of which turned violent) that went global. We're watching to see if the jury's verdict gives fresh impetus to the nationwide movement for police accountability and broader criminal justice reform, both of which have been met with fierce resistance from law-and-order conservatives and police unions. And we'll also be keeping an eye on the sentence, as Chauvin faces up to 75 years in prison for his crimes.

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120,000: Ukraine warns that Russia will soon have as many as 120,000 troops on its eastern border, a larger presence than when Moscow seized Crimea in 2014. Kyiv wants to join NATO to deter the Russian forces from invading the Donbas region, where about half the population are ethnic Russians.

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During a pandemic, the work of reporters around the world is particularly important to ensure transparency about the scope of outbreaks and the measures that governments are taking to contain them. But in many countries, press freedom has been declining since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Press freedom took a bit hit over the past year, as governments across the world doubled down on censoring media that criticized their handling of the pandemic, and locking up reporters for reporting the facts. Reporters Without Borders today published its annual World Press Freedom Index, which takes a microscope to every country, ranking the ability of its media to report freely and independently. Here's a look at how countries' scores have changed over the past year.

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on World In 60 Seconds (aka Around the World in 180 Seconds) and discusses Xi Jinping's message to the US, Russia's buildup at the Ukraine border, and Cuba's new leader.

What did you make of Xi Jinping's message to the US at China's annual Boao Forum?

Well, he didn't mention the United States directly, but he basically said that we don't accept hegemonic powers, we don't accept people that are setting the rules for other countries. Basically, consistently Xi Jinping saying that the Chinese want to be treated as equals with the United States. They're going to be rule makers for themselves. The Chinese political and economic system, every bit as legitimate as that of the United States. This is going to be a real fight. The American perspective is that the relationship between the two is going to be very competitive, whether it's a happy competition or an unhealthy competition depends on the Chinese. Xi Jinping's perspective is the Americans are not treating the Chinese with due respect. And that's going to play out on security, it's going to play out in climate, on the economy. I mean, you name it.

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One of the world's most famous political dissidents may die in a Russian prison this week.

Alexei Navalny has been on a hunger strike since March 31 over the authorities' refusal to let his own medical team examine him after he developed signs of tuberculosis. Now, one of his aides says Navalny is "close to death."

The fate of Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic — who was poisoned last summer, allegedly by state officials, treated in Germany, and then jailed upon his return to Russia — is being closely watched both inside and outside the country.

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The Biden administration's much ballyhooed Earth Day Summit this week promises to be revealing. We're going to learn a little about what additional action a few dozen of the world's largest emitters are willing to take on climate change, and a lot more about which countries are willing to take such action at the behest of the United States.

Call it a situational assessment of the status of American power just shy of Biden's 100th day in office.

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