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.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Alcohol. It's a dangerous drug that has ruined countless lives and derailed many a global summit. But it's also humanity's oldest social lubricant, a magical elixir that can fuel diplomatic breakthroughs, well into the wee hours of the night. As Winston Churchill once quipped, "I've taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me." On GZERO World, we take a deep dive down the bottle and examine the role alcohol has played in society, politics, and global summitry—from the earliest hunter-gatherer days to that memorable Obama Beer Summit in 2009. Joining Ian Bremmer is philosopher Edward Slingerland, whose new book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way Into Civilization makes a compelling, if nuanced, case for alcohol's place in the world.

Also: since alcohol isn't the only social drug, a look at the state of marijuana legalization across the US and around the world.

A few weeks ago, a Signal reader emailed me to ask why so much of our coverage of the world is so damn dark. Aren't there any good news stories out there?

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Listen: A deep dive down the bottle to examine the role alcohol has played in society, politics, and global summitry—from the earliest hunter-gatherer days to that memorable Obama Beer Summit in 2009. Joining Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast is philosopher Edward Slingerland, whose new book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way Into Civilization makes a compelling, if nuanced, case for alcohol's place in the world.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

There's a lot of doom and gloom in the world these days, and much cause for pessimism. Still, the advent of new technologies and scientific advancements has lifted billions out of poverty and increased quality of life for many over the last half century. Since 1990, global average life expectancy has increased by eight years to 73, while GDP per capita has also grown exponentially, doubling over the past decade alone. We take a look at how life expectancy and GDP per capita have evolved globally from 1960-2019.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Why can't President Biden order a vaccine mandate for all Americans?

Well, the reason is it's out of his powers. The one of the fundamental challenges in the pandemic is that the federal government has actually been fairly limited in the steps they can take to stop the spread of the virus. So, that's why you've seen President Biden order masks on transit, mass transit, airplanes, and the like. But he can't order masks in workplaces because that's not within his power. That power lies within state governments. State governments and other entities, like employers, can require vaccinations before you come into their buildings, or you come back to school, or you go to work in your office. But the federal government can't do that. What Biden is doing is, allegedly, supposedly going to announce a mandate for federal workers to get vaccinated.

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American gymnast Sunisa "Suni" Lee, 18, stunned spectators around the world with her breathtaking performance in Tokyo Thursday that earned her the gold.

Here are some interesting facts about Suni Lee, the gymnast queen:

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"Super Mario" takes his chances: Less than five months after becoming Italy's consensus prime minister, Mario Draghi's coalition government is on shaky ground over Draghi's proposed judicial reforms. "Super Mario" — as he's known for saving the Eurozone as European Central Bank chief during the financial crisis — wants to dramatically speed up Italy's famously slow courts. But his push to reduce judicial backlogs is opposed both by the populist 5-Star Movement, the coalition government's biggest party, and by prosecutors because many cases could be scrapped before reaching a verdict. Draghi, upset that this resistance is stalling his other initiatives to cut Italian red tape, has decided to roll the dice anyway: he'll put his plan to overhaul the courts to a no-confidence vote in parliament. If Draghi wins, he gets the reforms passed without debate; if he loses, the PM technically has to resign, but he'll keep his job because he has enough votes even if the 5-Star Movement bows out of the coalition.

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