Coronavirus Politics Daily: Guatemalans unwelcome at home, UK minorities hit hardest, Turkey's PPE-diplomacy

Coronavirus Politics Daily: Guatemalans unwelcome at home, UK minorities hit hardest, Turkey's PPE-diplomacy

Ethnic minorities hit hardest in the UK: We recently wrote about how long-standing structural inequalities in health and healthcare in the United States have put African American communities at higher risk of falling seriously ill from COVID-19. Now data out of the UK shows a similar trend: ethnic minorities in the UK are dying at disproportionately high numbers from the disease. Research conducted up to April 19 found that Black, Asian and minority ethnic people (referred to as "BAME" in the UK) account for 19 percent of all hospital deaths despite making up just 15 percent of the overall population — and are overrepresented in the total COVID-19 death toll by 27 percent. While the analysis doesn't unpack precisely why this dynamic is playing out, some public health experts say that structural health inequalities, as well as social exclusion of minorities in the UK, have resulted in increased burden of comorbidities like diabetes and heart disease that put BAME individuals at higher risk of falling seriously ill from COVID-19. This comes as the situation in the UK is spiraling, with over 27,000 coronavirus deaths, the second highest toll in Europe behind Italy.


Maya villages reject US returnees: Guatemala's Maya villages, home to indigenous communities that account for more than 40 percent of the population, are rebuffing migrants returning from the US for fear they are bringing the coronavirus with them. In some of these villages, where vigilante justice is common, groups have attacked returning migrants and threatened to burn their families' homes – or even kill their loved ones. Societal distrust peaked after Guatemala's president confirmed that over 100 Guatemalans deported from the US since late March (many returning to poor Maya villages with limited capacity to manage a deadly outbreak of disease) had tested positive for COVID-19. Worsening poverty and scarce employment opportunities have forced thousands of Guatemalans to migrate to the US in recent years. But the volatile situation in Guatemala's Maya enclaves reflects the challenge for poor countries with large emigrant populations who are now returning – either by choice or force – from highly infected countries.

Turkey's mask-and-gown diplomacy: As some of the world's largest economies compete to win hearts and minds with shipments of medical aid abroad, one country that is keen to punch above its weight is Turkey. The government has recently sent mask and gown shipments produced by the country's vast textiles industry to at least 55 different countries, including much of Europe, the UK, US, and China. Why is Turkey going to this extent? There's a domestic angle: President Erdogan – who has suffered political and economic setbacks over the past year – wants to show, as a point of nationalistic pride, that Turkey's response to the pandemic has been better than Europe's or the United States'. Recent polling bumps suggest it's working, though there are questions about whether the mere 3,000 COVID deaths reported in the country tell the whole story. But there's a foreign policy angle too: Ankara's ties with the EU have become strained over the question of who should house Syrian refugees, while Turkey is in danger of US sanctions over its purchase of Russian missile systems. Erdogan may be hoping that his mask-and-gown diplomacy will curry some goodwill that he can use in Brussels and Washington.

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Listen: Can Big Government still rein in Big Tech or has it already lost control? Never before have just a few companies exerted such an outsized influence on humanity. Today's digital space, where we live so much of our daily lives, has increasingly become an area that national governments are unable to control. It may be time to start thinking of these corporations as nation-states in their own rights. Ian Bremmer speaks with Nicholas Thompson, CEO of the Atlantic and former WIRED editor-in-chief, about how to police the digital 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.

In the lead-up to this year's COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, much of the attention has been focused on last summer's wildfires across the US and Europe, and more recently skyrocketing European energy prices. But what about Asia, the world's biggest and most populated region, which also has the highest share of global carbon dioxide emissions that cause global warming? Asia has unique climate risks but also many opportunities for solutions, and whatever happens at COP26, Asian countries led by China and India are primed to lead the world in the struggle to make the planet greener before it's too late. In a live discussion moderated by Shari Friedman, Eurasia Group's Managing Director of Climate and Sustainability, global experts discussed these and other topics during the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit sponsored by Suntory.

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We're just days away from COP26, the landmark global climate conference that's been dubbed the last chance to get the climate crisis in check. In the lead-up to the event in Glasgow, dozens of countries have released new ambitions to reduce their future carbon footprints. For years, climate activists and experts have called on governments to introduce carbon pricing schemes – either through taxes or emissions-trading schemes. So who's heeded the warning? We take a look at the top ten carbon emitters' share of global emissions and details about their respective national carbon pricing schemes.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

Do cryptocurrencies make it harder to enforce foreign policy sanctions?

Well, that is exactly what the Biden administration worries about. As part of growing concerns of whether unregulated currencies undermine a whole host of policies, sanctions and foreign or trade policy should be a priority area. And just like others who wish to evade tracing of their wealth or transactions, the very states or their sanctioned entities should be assumed to resort to all options to evade restrictions while continuing to do business. So having cryptocurrencies undermining the ability to enforce strategic goals logically raises eyebrows in Washington.

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Back in August, when the Taliban took over, we asked whether anyone in the international community would recognize them. Now it looks like things are heading that way.

This week, the Kremlin hosted a summit with the Taliban that was attended by China, India and Pakistan, as well as all five Central Asian Republics.

The domestically-focused US, however, wasn't there. The US continues to maintain that the Taliban can't be trusted. But does it matter? In 2021 does a Taliban-led government even need American recognition to function and thrive?

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For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

Taking place on October 21 and 22, the Sustainability Leaders Summit will go beyond preexisting narratives and debate priorities for governments and industries ahead of COP26. Placing the spotlight on Asia's role in the global sustainability agenda, the event will address whether Asian countries and companies can achieve shared sustainability goals, and what is needed to help get them there. The summit will be co-hosted by Tak Niinami, CEO of Suntory Holdings, and Ian Bremmer, founder and president of Eurasia Group and GZERO Media. We will address three key questions: How can Asian countries, with the help of the private sector, achieve shared Sustainability Goals? Why does this matter? And what are the policy changes needed to bring it about?

Attendance is free and open to the public. Register to attend.

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