Quick Take: Cities on fire, protests & pandemic

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

First of all, from the global perspective, taking what we have here in New York City, obviously the biggest problem is America's leadership, America's ability to lead by example, which has been eroding now really for, you know, certainly a decade plus, but much more quickly now.

And, you know, you can say it's all about President Trump, but my view is it's a lot deeper and more structural than that. The response that we have had to coronavirus has been so divided and so divisive and the response to George Floyd and his murder. And I mean, not premeditated murder, but nonetheless, very clearly murder from this policeman with other officers standing around as witnesses. And we've now all seen the video. We've seen the transcript. We've seen nationwide demonstrations. And in literally dozens of cities across the country, we've seen violence. We've seen looting. And, you know, how do you tell other countries that America is a democracy to be emulated when this is what is happening on the ground in the United States and this level of division, this level of racial injustice, the lack of rallying around the flag?

I mean, I will say that pretty much every American understands that those police officers should be punished. I don't think there's real division on that. In fact, I saw only four percent of Americans in one poll disagreed that the police officer who was kneeling on George Floyd's neck should be let go, should go free. I mean, four percent is functionally the entire country agrees on that. But in terms of who to blame for all of this and whether the ire should be at the lockdowns or reopening the economy, should it be at Black Lives Matter or blue lives matter? Do we care more about health care workers as opposed to police officers? What are the priorities? What should they be in the United States? Does free market capitalism, as America presently employs it, function properly for the American society? Does representative democracy function properly for American society around the world? The answer is increasingly no. We would not want to import that model. What does the United States stand for? Increasingly, a lot of Americans don't know and certainly Americans don't agree.

And it's painful to see the Chinese government calling out American racism as they systematically dismantle the agreement for Hong Kong to experience autonomy and democracy in its own territory. The inability to have freedom of press, freedom of expression, freedom of dissent in Hong Kong, while the Chinese are able to say the Americans or worse. The Russians throwing doctors out of windows, the way they're treating frontline workers who are letting people know about just how much the government is lying about coronavirus and running laps around the Americans on racism. The Iranian foreign minister taking his own red pen, stealing from us a little bit. Foreign Minister Zarif, who I know very well and is one of the moderates in Iran, but nonetheless, writing about how taking Secretary of state Pompeo's words against the corruption and injustice in Iranian society and turning it around to focus on American racism.

I want to be very clear that the that the American political system as damaged, as eroded, as delegitimized as its institutions are, you cannot compare it to the lack of human rights, to the systematic corruption and the inability of citizens to have a social contract, to have a voice in Russia, in China, in Iran. You cannot compare these systems. And yet the ability of the United States, which has for decades, even centuries, promoted itself as having the system that all others should emulate, the beacon on the Hill, well, there's an awful lot of turnabout is fair play. There's an awful lot of people that are very, very happy the Americans are facing such difficulties deeply in our own society today.

And that is that is indeed very painful to see, to give such dictatorships as Russia, now, just announcing today that on July 1st, they will have their constitutional referendum where you can turn out and vote and allow Putin to be president until 2036. And why? Why even bother with the election? We know what the outcome is going to be. There's no point. They don't bother with elections widespread in China. Why bother in Russia? They don't bother. I mean, they have elections in Iran, but you can only vote for people that have already been preselected for you by the Guardians Council, by the clerics that actually do run the country in Iran. In the United States, we have an election many people say are rigged, we don't know who the next president's going to be, come November 3rd. There's a lot to play for. That's not true in these dictatorships.

There is no ability for someone like me to get online and say that we disagree with something that's happening in our country, which is, after all, what patriotism is all about in a country like the United States. It's the ability to not only love your country, but also dissent with it when people in government are doing something fundamentally wrong, that we know we disagree with. You can't do that in Russia or in China or in Iran.

The fact that so many Americans are resorting to violence because they feel like they have no opportunity. And to be clear, the looters are, of course, a very small piece of the population and they're not supported by a majority. But nonetheless, this is happening in so many places. There is so much anger. The black community in the United States is a community that not only has the highest unemployment, not only has the worst access to health care, not only has the worst treatment at the hands of police, and the greatest incarceration rates, and the lowest education levels, but also has experienced the most personal danger on the back of coronavirus, dying at much higher rates, precisely for all of those intrinsic reasons for inequality. And so, then when you see a black man killed by a police officer, videotaped by a bystander and no action taken against that officer in the court system until there are demonstrations and riots across the country, you know, something is fundamentally wrong.

Do I feel like that's going to get addressed right now? Well, it's a hell of a lot harder to for it to be addressed when we're experiencing the first depression of our lifetimes, when unemployment is at 25%, when over 40 million Americans have declared themselves newly unemployed in the past two months and when we're going to experience six to eight percent economic contraction, this year. In other words, bad time for a crisis. Bad time for this kind of social discontent. Bad time for the most divisive president in my lifetime. Bad time for an election in the United States. We'll get through it.

And for people that say it's scary, I certainly have to say I don't think it's scary. And of course, that's part of the problem. It's not scary for me because people in the knowledge economy have our jobs safe. We don't have to worry about where the next paycheck is coming from. We don't have to worry about our own safety. No one is coming after me on the streets right now or coming at my house right now, which in a sense makes it worse. It's precisely the fact that it's not actually a scary time for the average American. It's a scary time for the underclass and the working class who have been forgotten by the political leaders and the elites for decades now. And if those of us that are in the elites can't recognize that, admit that and do something about it, it is only going to get worse.

So, I mean, for all of those that say, oh, you criticize the United States, you can leave. No, that's kind of the whole point. It's the reason that someone like me would never leave is because the opportunities that have been afforded to me have been so extraordinary. It truly is the American dream. It has been the best country in the world. And yet those opportunities, all the kids I grew up with in the projects didn't have them, didn't have the mother who pushed them and did everything possible, and they're still there. And today, the opportunities that I had 40 years ago, a lot of kids even in my position, would have a much harder time today. The inequality is a lot greater.

So, I mean, it's not about someone like me going to Canada. I love it here. It's fantastic for me in the United States and it's not getting any worse in an environment of coronavirus, and depression and race riots. But it is for so many hundreds of thousands and millions of Americans in this society today. And it's getting worse for them. It's going to get a lot worse for them.

So, I hope that's something to think about. I'll certainly, as long as I have a platform, I'll certainly keep talking about it. And I hope that makes me more of a patron, not less. I think it does. I think my mother would think that. And always happy to hear your comments. I hope everyone's doing well. Fight the good fight. Avoid people, wear masks. Please if you're going to protest, socially distance, right? Yes, I do care about that because the pandemic is still out there. It's a lot worse if you are indoors than you're outdoors. So, I guess from that perspective, you know, maybe the outdoor protests won't lead to so many super spreader events. Those will mostly come from churches and the rest. But I mean, we do have to remember, you got to walk and chew gum at the same time. You got to deal with an economic crisis, a social crisis and a health crisis. None of them are going away. And we got to keep that in mind. See you guys, very soon.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

"The people are stronger," pro-democracy demonstrators chanted as news broke that the Sudanese military had staged a coup Monday, overthrowing the joint civilian-military government and dashing hopes of democracy in the war-torn country.

The backstory. In 2019, Omar al-Bashir – a despot who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years – was deposed after a months-long popular uprising.

Al-Bashir was a bad guy: he cozied up to terrorists like Osama bin Laden and dropped barrel bombs on his own people. He also embezzled truck loads of money from oil production while millions of Sudanese went hungry, and oversaw a genocide in the Darfur region that left 300,000 people dead and displaced 1.6 million.

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Sort of, but governments haven't lost all control yet. On the one hand, The Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson says that governments can still push tech companies for transparency in their algorithms, while Microsoft has partnered with the US government to together fight hackers "so the company is seen as a champion for freedom and democracy." On the other, over time Thompson expects tech firms in the US and China to gradually become more powerful as the state becomes less powerful toward them. Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Big Tech: Global sovereignty, unintended consequences

As COP26 nears, the need for real climate action has never been more urgent. There are reasons for hope, but many scientists believe the ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2050 is unattainable without immediate and significant change. Governments, financial institutions, and private sector companies alike have all recognized the need for a multistakeholder approach to solving this crisis of a lifetime.

Watch "Climate Crisis: Is net zero really possible?" a one-hour virtual livestream, hosted by GZERO Media and Microsoft as part of the Global Stage series, to hear scientists, corporate leaders and policymakers debate this question and offer critical perspectives on the way forward. Live on Tuesday, November 2nd at 11am ET, we'll break down what "net zero" means, take stock of where the world is on the path to carbon neutrality, and discuss critical steps needed to make real progress.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody and happy Monday. Back in the office, getting a little cool. So I've got my sweater going on. It's the first time I've had a sweater on. What do you do with that? Discussing fashion, as I talk to you about what is on my mind this week?

And what's on my mind this week, Facebook. Facebook is on my mind. It's a tough week for Facebook. There are all sorts of whistleblowers out there. There's testimony going on. There's calls for regulation. Everybody seems unhappy with them. Indeed, you even got the government relations types, Nick Clegg, who I've known for a long time back when he was a policymaker in the UK saying that the headlines are going to be rough, but we're are going to get through it. But I will say, first of all, I'm kind of skeptical that any of this goes anywhere in terms of impact on how Facebook actually operates.

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Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the continent's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

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ASEAN gets tough(ish) with Myanmar: The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet Tuesday for their annual summit with one notable absence: the head of Myanmar's military junta. It's a rare snub from ASEAN, a regional bloc that's gotten a lot of heat in the past for giving tyrants a free pass. The junta says ASEAN violated its traditional principles of deciding by consensus by disinviting its leader, and non-interference in domestic affairs for demanding the bloc's special envoy meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For their part, the other ASEAN members have grown visibly alarmed at Myanmar's rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation since the February coup, and they're worried about the spillover effects of Myanmar becoming a failed state. More importantly, Myanmar is a big thorn in ASEAN's side as it walks a fine line between keeping warm ties with the US — which most members want cash and security from — and getting along with China, one of Myanmar's few remaining friends and viewed with suspicion by most ASEAN members over its South China Sea shenanigans.

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149: The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record-high 413.2 parts per million in 2020, 149 percent above pre-industrial levels. A new report by the UN weather agency released ahead of the COP26 climate summit found that last year's lower emissions due to COVID-related lockdowns had no impact on the overall amount of greenhouse gases causing global warming.

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