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Coronavirus Politics Daily: African Americans and COVID-19, EU agrees to rescue package, coronavirus vs crime

Coronavirus Politics Daily: African Americans and COVID-19, EU agrees to rescue package, coronavirus vs crime

Why are African Americans disproportionately suffering from COVID-19? In principle, we are all equal before pandemics, but in practice, COVID-19 is hitting some people much harder than others. An abundance of research out of the US in recent weeks shows that COVID-19 is ravaging African American – and to a lesser extent Latino – communities at disproportionately high rates. Not only are African-Americans more likely to contract the disease, they're also more likely to die from it. In Louisiana, a coronavirus hotspot, some 70 percent of virus-related deaths were among African Americans, although they make up just 32 percent of the population. In Michigan, blacks are 133 percent more likely to be infected by the disease. Similar stories are emerging in New York, where the COVID-19 death rate for Black and Latino New Yorkers is around twice that of whites. Why? Many health experts attribute this to long-existing structural inequalities in health and healthcare that put African American communities at higher risk of falling seriously ill from the disease. Black Americans are also more likely to live in densely populated urban areas, while immigrants from Latin America sometimes live in inter-generational homes, complicating efforts to socially distance. But another huge – and often overlooked – factor contributing to this gap is that Black and Latino Americans make-up a much bigger part of the COVID-19 essential workforce, working as food service workers, cleaners, and public transport operators. Home quarantine and work from home arrangements are a luxury that many of them don't have, resulting in their over-exposure to the deadly virus.


Coronavirus fights crime: Coronavirus-related lockdowns have already helped clean up the environment in countries around the world, now there's evidence that by keeping people off the streets, they are cleaning up crime too — for now. In New York City, crime plummeted 20 percent in the second half of March. Murders in Los Angeles were down 43 percent. In the gang-plagued central American nation of El Salvador, which has the highest murder rate in the world, murders fell from 114 in February to just 65 in March, the lowest figure on record, as quarantines (enforced, ironically, by gangs) kept people indoors. Colombian authorities have seen killings fall more than 50 percent as a result of lockdowns. But there are two big caveats to the good news. The first is that the economic devastation left behind by the coronavirus lockdowns could cause crime to rise again sharply as quarantines are eased and governments have fewer resources to dedicate to security. The second is that while violence on the streets may be falling, violence within the home is on the rise, as reports of domestic violence surge around the world.

EU agrees on an anti-viral aid package: The coronavirus may be the toughest challenge the EU has ever faced, but the Union has at least agreed to throw some serious money at it. After a 14-hour marathon meeting, the bloc's finance ministers reached a deal on 500 billion Euros worth of credit lines and unemployment insurance for member states. Getting to yes required the usual wrangling over lending conditions between northern member states — which on the whole have more balanced budgets and insist on strict economic reforms in exchange for loans — and their generally more indebted southern counterparts, who are bearing the brunt of the pandemic. The rescue package will help get EU members through the worst of the crisis, but the bigger question of what the post-crisis economic reconstruction looks like, or who will pay for it, remains unanswered.

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It's been four days since Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, died in a hail of bullets on a highway near Tehran. Iran has plausibly blamed Israel for the killing, but more than that, not much is known credibly or in detail.

This is hardly the first time that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated in an operation that has a whiff of Mossad about it. But Fakhrizadeh's prominence — he is widely regarded as the father of the Iranian nuclear program — as well as the timing of the killing, just six weeks from the inauguration of a new American president, make it a particularly big deal. Not least because an operation this sensitive would almost certainly have required a US sign-off.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here, have your quick take. Plenty going on this week. I could of course talk about all these new Biden appointees, but frankly, there's not that much that surprising there. Moderate, lots of expertise, not very controversial, almost all of which could get through a Republican controlled Senate, presuming that markets are going to be reasonably happy, Progressive's in the Democratic party somewhat less so. But no, the big news right now internationally, certainly about Iran. The Iranians started this year with the assassination by the United States of their defense leader, Qasem Soleimani. Everyone was worried about war. Now, closing the year with the assassination of the head of their nuclear program and historically the head of their nuclear weapons program.

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Joe Biden has had one of the longest political careers in American history, but his most important act is yet to come. Can decades of experience in Washington prepare him to lead the most divided America since the end of the Civil War?

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe


Ethiopia on the brink: After ethnic tensions between Ethiopia's federal government and separatist forces in the northern Tigray region erupted into a full-blown armed conflict in recent weeks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced his forces had taken control of Tigray's capital on Saturday and declared victory. But the fugitive Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael quickly called Abiy's bluff, saying the fighting is raging on, and demanded Abiy withdraw his forces. Gebremichael accused Abiy of launching "a genocidal campaign" that has displaced 1 million people, with thousands fleeing to neighboring Sudan, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. The Tigray, who make up about five percent of Ethiopia's population, are fighting for self-determination, but Abiy's government has repeatedly rejected invitations to discuss the issue, accusing the coalition led by Gebremichael's Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of "instigating clashes along ethnic and religious lines." As the two sides dig in their heels, Ethiopia faces the risk of a civil war that could threaten the stability of the entire Horn of Africa.

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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