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

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.

Meet Ian Martin, an English Professor from Glasgow who is now head of Communications for Eni's International Resources. Approaching his work in the same way he used to hold his lectures, Ian is dedicated to listening and making people around him comfortable. Having working in both Milan and London, Ian utilizes his ability to communicate in different languages and cultures to prepare Eni's global messaging strategy. "Communication is a transfer of humanity," he says, and his job is as much centered around people as it as around language.

Watch Ian's human approach to communications on the most recent episode of Faces of Eni.

Today at 12 noon EST, join GZERO Media for a virtual Town Hall, "Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year," presented in partnership with Eurasia Group and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Our panel will discuss the road ahead in the global response to the COVID crisis. Will there be more multilateral cooperation on issues like gender equality moving forward from the pandemic?

Watch the event here: https://www.gzeromedia.com/townhall

Our moderator, CNBC health care correspondent Bertha Coombs, along with Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media, and Mark Suzman, CEO of the Gates Foundation, will speak with distinguished experts on three key issues:

Heidi Larson, Director, The Vaccine Confidence Project

  • How will COVID vaccines be distributed safely?

Minouche Shafik, Director of London School of Economics & Political Science

  • How has the pandemic disproportionately impacted women?

Madeleine Albright, Chair, Albright Stonebridge Group and Albright Capital Management; former US Secretary of State

  • What is the opportunity for global cooperation emerging from this crisis, and what are the greatest political risks?
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How to capture the essence of this incredible, terrible year in a few short words and without using profanity? It's not easy.

Thankfully, the dictionary website Merriam-Webster.com has released its list of most heavily searched words of 2020, and they tell the story of an historic year in US politics and the life of our planet. Here's a sample.

The top word, unsurprisingly, was "Pandemic," a disease outbreak that covers a wide area and afflicts lots of people. In 2020, the coronavirus crisis hit every region of the world, triggering a public health, economic, and political emergency on a geographic scale our planet has never experienced. Differing responses to that problem defined the politics (and geopolitics) of 2020.

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While recent news from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca on the efficacy of their respective COVID vaccines is encouraging, it has also given rise to bidding wars between wealthy countries trying to secure the largest supply of the new drugs for their citizens. Meanwhile, many governments in emerging market economies, where healthcare infrastructure is generally weaker, are worried they'll be kicked to the back of the line in the global distribution process. Indeed, history bears out their concerns: while a lifesaving HIV treatment hit shelves in the West in the mid-1990s, for example, it took years to become widely available in Africa, which saw some of the worst HIV outbreaks in the world. But here's the catch: even if wealthy countries manage to obtain large supplies of vaccines to immunize their populations, the interconnected nature of the global economy means that no one will really be out of the woods until we all are. Here's a snapshot of how many COVID vaccines select countries have already purchased.

Afghanistan's small breakthrough: For months, disagreements over a range of political issues have hamstrung the intra-Afghan peace talks brokered by the Trump administration that aim to bridge the years-long conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But this week, a significant breakthrough was made on the principles and procedures governing the talks, that, experts say, will help push negotiations to the next phase. One key advance is agreement on the official name of the Afghan government, an issue that stalled talks earlier this year. Still, progress is fragile. Taliban violence and efforts to seize territory have only increased since the militants and the US reached a deal in February on a blueprint for an American troop withdrawal. And the Trump administration says it aims to pull out all but 2,500 US troops by mid-January, whether the Taliban have kept their end of the deal or not. What's more, while this week's development puts the parties one step closer to an eventual power-sharing agreement, it's unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will even honor the Trump administration's deal with the Taliban.

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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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