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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.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

Over the weekend, some 40,000 Russians braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexey Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Russian opposition leader Navalny in jail. Hundreds of thousands demonstrating across the country in Russia over well over 100 cities, well over 3000 arrested. And Putin responding by saying that this video that was put out that showed what Navalny said was Putin's palace that costs well over a billion dollars to create and Putin, I got to say, usually he doesn't respond to this stuff very quickly. Looked a little defensive, said didn't really watch it, saw some of it, but it definitely wasn't owned by him or owned by his relatives.

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Even as vaccines roll out around the world, COVID-19 is continuing to spread like wildfire in many places, dashing hopes of a return to normal life any time soon. Some countries, like Israel and the UK for instance, have been praised for their inoculation drives, while still recording a high number of new cases. It's clear that while inoculations are cause for hope, the pace of rollouts cannot keep up with the fast-moving virus. Here's a look at the countries that have vaccinated the largest percentages of their populations so far – and a snapshot of their daily COVID caseloads (7-day rolling average) in recent weeks.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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