Coronavirus Politics Daily: Banging at Bolsonaro, warning for Africa, enlisting tech

Banging pots at Bolsonaro – How do you protest your government while following social distancing guidelines? Grab a pot, head to the window, and bang it loudly. That's what millions of Brazilians did this week to vent frustration at President Jair Bolsonaro's poor handling of the coronavirus crisis. Bolsonaro at first derided the pandemic as a media-fueled "hysteria." Then, shrugging off social distancing recommendations, he egged on a mass pro-Bolsonaro demonstration last weekend. To top it off, despite being exposed to the disease during a recent trip to Donald Trump's Florida estate, he showed up at the event to glad-hand, fist bump, and take selfies with his supporters. With two of his ministers among the more than 500 positive cases of COVID-19 in Brazil, Bolsonaro's government is finally mounting a rear-guard action to squelch the outbreak and soften the economic blow. But we'll see if that stops the racket echoing through the streets of Sao Paulo and Rio. To date these are the largest protests against Bolsonaro since he took office just over a year ago.


WHO's stark warning for Africa – The director general of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has told African nations to "prepare for the worst," warning that lax measures to curb transmission of COVID-19 will be catastrophic for the world's poorest continent and its 1 billion people. Africa's handling of the pandemic has received little global attention as Europe takes the spotlight. But medical experts are worried about the pandemic hitting African countries that have weak health systems, poor infrastructure, inept governments, and populations disproportionately affected by HIV and other infectious diseases. Though initially slow to act, Burkina Faso, which recorded its first death from the virus Wednesday, has now closed its schools and banned public gatherings. South Africa, the continent's largest economy and sub-Saharan Africa's worst hit country, has implemented travel restrictions, but commuters continue to cram into trains. Meanwhile, the country's health minister recently warned that cases are piling up at an "explosive" rate.

Tech fights coronavirus – Tech companies have joined the fight against COVID-19 in amazing ways: facial recognition is helping to enforce quarantines. Artificial Intelligence is being trained to detect, predict, and treat COVID-19 cases. Cellphone data is being used to track outbreaks. Social media platforms are deleting misinformation about the virus. Right now, it's all tech on deck to fight a pandemic that could cause a global depression. But these approaches raise big questions about privacy, personal data, and free speech that may arise more forcefully once the pandemic has passed.

In Italy, stacks of plastic boxes in supermarkets and stores are not garbage - they are collected and reused, thanks to a consortium that specializes in recycling them for food storage. How do these "circular" plastic boxes help reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions?

Learn more in this episode of Eni's Energy SUPERFACTS series.

Over the past few years, we've seen three major emerging powers take bold action to right what they say are historical wrongs.

First came Crimea. When the Kremlin decided in 2014 that Western powers were working against Russian interests in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, which was then part of Ukraine. Moscow claimed that Crimea and its ethnic Russian majority had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries until a shameful deal in 1954 made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Americans and Europeans imposed sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine is not part of NATO or the EU, and no further action was taken.

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British economist Jim O'Neill says the global economy can bounce back right to where it was before, in a V-shaped recovery. But his argument is based on a lot of "ifs," plus comparisons to the 2008 recession and conditions in China and South Korea that may not truly apply. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Robert Kahn take issue with O'Neill's op-ed, on this edition of The Red Pen.

Today, we're taking our Red Pen to an article titled "A V-Shaped Recovery Could Still Happen." I'm not buying it. It's published recently by Project Syndicate, authored by British economist named Jim O'Neill. Jim O'Neill is very well known. He was chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He's the guy that coined the acronym BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China. So, no slouch. But as you know, we don't agree with everything out there. And this is the case. Brought to you by the letter V. We're taking sharp issue with the idea that recovery from all the economic devastation created by the coronavirus pandemic is going to happen quickly. That after the sharp drop that the world has experienced, everything bounces back to where it was before. That's the V. Economists around the world are debating how quickly recovery will happen to be sure. But we're not buying the V. Here's why. W-H-Y.

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The United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, but their COVID-19 death toll trajectories have recently become very different. Since the beginning of July, the average number of both new fatalities and new deaths per 1 million people is rapidly increasing in the US while it remains mostly flat in the EU. We compare this to the average number of new cases each seven days in both regions, where the US trend continues upward but is not surging like the death toll. EU countries' robust public health systems and citizens' willingness to wear masks and maintain social distance could explain the disparity.

"Neither America first, which is ultimately America alone, nor America the world's policeman," Sen. Chris Coons told Ian Bremmer in describing VP Joe Biden's approach to foreign policy should he win the presidential election in November. In the latest episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, Sen. Coons provides details of how U.S. relationships with foreign governments and multilateral alliances could change in a Biden presidency. He also defended President Obama's track record, saying "I think it is a mischaracterization of the Obama-Biden foreign policy for President Trump to say that we were picking up the tab and fighting the world's wars and that we were disrespected." Coons stated that Biden would work to restore U.S. involvement in alliances like NATO, and shore up global support to pressure China on labor and environmental standards. The exchange is part of a broad conversation with the Senator about COVID response and economic relief, Russian interference in elections, and the 2020 presidential race. The episode begins airing nationally in the U.S. on Friday, July 10. Check local listings.