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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Chile's miners in a jam, sexist attacks in Italy, climate summit postponed

Coronavirus Politics Daily: Chile's miners in a jam, sexist attacks in Italy, climate summit postponed

Chile's miners caught in a COVID bind: Even as coronavirus swept their country, Chile's hardy copper miners, whose industry accounts for a full ten percent of Chile's economy, continued to go to work. But now, as their unions prepare for new contract negotiations and seek bonuses for having worked amid COVID-19 hazards, they might be stuck in a tight shaft. For one thing, coronavirus related economic shutdowns around the world, especially in copper-hungry China, have caused prices to plunge, putting copper companies in an especially tight-fisted frame of mind. For another, the pandemic has increased many companies' desire to replace more of their workers with robots — Chile's mining industry is particularly exposed. The outcome of the negotiations, which could shape life for Chile's miners for years to come, is an early bellwether of the kinds of issues that unions around the world may face as they seek to negotiate with employers in the aftermath of the pandemic.


Sexist attacks fly in Italy's Senate: We've already written about how Italy's women doctors and public health experts have been largely left out of Italy's coronavirus response — but here's the kind of abuse that one of the few female officials who is involved has to deal with: amid an angry debate about how to reopen the economy, Education Minister Lucia Azzolina was attacked in grotesque terms on the Senate floor yesterday, when a critic of her school-reopening plans challenged her credibility by likening it to her virginity. Ms. Azzolina, a member of Italy's anti-establishment Five Star Movement, is under police protection after receiving a spate of sexist threats on social media as well. Ensuring the safety of top officials is becoming a wider problem in Italy as tempers flare over the handling of the pandemic and its aftermath. Attilio Fontana, the embattled far-right governor of the Lombardy region — epicenter of the outbreak in Italy — and Deputy Health Minister Pierpaolo Sileri have also been given extra security after receiving serious threats on social media and in public spaces.

UN climate summit postponed: Coronavirus quarantines have done some short-term wonders for the environment, causing emissions to fall and giving wildlife a chance to paint the town in cities around the world. But it's also now caused the United Nations critical COP26 climate summit to be officially postponed for one year, to November 2021. It was simply too hard to get delegates from 196 countries together amid travel restrictions, and effective diplomacy by Zoom at that scale isn't really feasible. So, is the postponement a good thing or a bad thing from the planet's perspective? On the one hand, it pushes off a critical summit where countries were to present, revise, and agree on new emissions targets. At the moment, the world still isn't doing enough to meet the Paris Agreement goals, inked at the 2015 climate summit, of limiting warming to 2 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels. And the coronavirus crisis, in principle, presents a rare opportunity to reset the agenda on emissions as countries plan their economic recovery strategies. But on the other hand, this year's summit was due to occur right alongside a US presidential election that could dramatically change the climate policy of the world's largest economy: President Donald Trump walked out of the Paris accords, but his opponent Joe Biden has pledged to rejoin them. Maybe waiting to see how that shakes out isn't the worst thing after all.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream