Coronavirus Politics Daily: Italy snubs women, the COCAINE-19 crisis, ISIS exploits pandemic in Iraq

Italy's women snubbed in COVID response – Italy's COVID-19 commission, which was selected to advise the government on how to manage the crisis, has gathered for a televised briefing each night to update the public on the day's news. But in a country where more than half of doctors, and three-quarters of nurses, are women, Italians have noted a glaring omission: the 20-member body is made up entirely of men. Now, anger over gender inequality in the coronavirus response is gaining momentum: more than 70 women doctors and scientists have signed a petition demanding that the Italian government include females in the councils that govern the country's response to the pandemic. Female lawmakers have lodged a similar motion in the Senate. The absence of women in the policymaking process has led to some big mistakes, critics say: Prime Minister Conte's reopening plan, for example, fails to address childcare burdens, which disproportionately fall on the female population. The gender imbalance in the government's coronavirus response tracks broader inequalities in Italy, where only 53 percent of Italian women are represented in the workforce, the second lowest mark in the EU.


COCAINE-19: the pandemic and traffickers – The coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc with the global narcotics trade, scrambling its supply chains, and causing street prices for some illicit drugs to skyrocket, says a new UN report. In normal times, cartels ship most of their stuff hidden in planes and ships carrying otherwise legitimate goods. But as coronavirus lockdowns close borders, cripple air travel, and reduce maritime trade, drug producers are struggling with shortages of labor and precursor chemicals, while smuggling their final product is getting a lot riskier. Mexican opioid producers, for example, can't get the chemicals they usually import from China. Poppy farmers in South Asia are seeing demand, and prices, for their crops collapse as opportunities to export shrivel. Latin American drug lords are risking bigger shipments to Europe, which are easier to detect. Drug shortages can push down consumption, but they also raise prices on the street, which can stoke violence over smuggling routes and markets. More broadly, with the coronavirus pandemic set to plunge as many as 500 million people into poverty, the UN warns that as economies open up again, traffickers will have a huge group of willing, vulnerable recruits.

ISIS exploits Iraq's COVID crisis – We previously wrote about the fear that militant groups might take advantage of the coronavirus crisis to wreak havoc as governments are distracted. That's precisely what's playing out in Iraq, where ISIS has exploited COVID-19 lockdowns in recent weeks to launch fresh attacks in urban areas like Baghdad and Kirkuk, killing scores of Iraqi soldiers. Although ISIS holds little of the territory it once ruled (mostly in rural areas) the group has more breathing room now as Iraqi security forces are stretched thin policing the public's compliance with lockdown requirements. The surge in violence comes as the Iraqi government struggles to fill the security void left by the US decision to withdraw its own troops because of coronavirus concerns. (In a blow to the Iraqi government, US-led coalition forces that played a central role in the fight to defeat ISIS had already started withdrawing from Iraq as part of a planned troop drawdown.) Even before the COVID-19 crisis, Iraq was plagued by political instability, having failed to install a stable prime minister for five months until yesterday, while also facing rising popular unrest over corruption and economic stagnation.

The goal of Eni's High Performance Computing is to perfect and industrialize low carbon energy technologies developed in collaboration with research centers. Eni's efforts are helping to generate energy from waves and guarantee access to energy in remote areas thanks to light-weight and flexible organic photovoltaic panels


Watch Eni's new docuseries on HPC5

Facing the biggest economic crisis in the EU's history, the European Commission's president, Ursula von der Leyen, pulled out all the stops this week, unveiling an unprecedented plan to boost the union's post-coronavirus recovery.

The plan: The EU would go to international capital markets to raise 750 billion euros ($830 billion). 500 billion of that would be given to member states as grants to fund economic recovery over the next seven years; the remainder would be issued as loans to be paid back to Brussels. The EU would pay back its bondholders for the full 750 billion plus interest by 2058, in part by raising new EU-wide taxes on tech companies and emissions.

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"A lot of people are going to die until we solve the political situation," one Brazilian medical expert said recently when asked about the deteriorating public health situation in that country. For months, Brazil has been one of the countries hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, steered by a President who has repeatedly dismissed the severity of the virus and rejected calls to implement a national social distancing policy. To date, two Brazilian health ministers have either resigned or been fired for pushing back against President Jair Bolsonaro's denialism. Meanwhile, Brazil has emerged as a global epicenter of COVID-19, with almost 27,000 deaths, though health experts believe the real toll is way higher. Here's a look at Brazil's surging daily death toll since it first recorded more than 10 deaths in one day back in March.

Watch GZERO World as host Ian Bremmer talks to acclaimed foreign policy expert Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and author of "The World: A Brief Introduction." Haass explains that while the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of life as we know it, the major issues confronting geopolitics in the 21st Century already existed.

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62: Southeast Asia is one of the world's largest sources of plastic waste, and Thailand is a big culprit. Before the pandemic, Thailand tried to address the problem by banning single use plastics, but that's fallen apart fast: in April, Thailand recorded a 62 percent increase in plastic use, due largely to increased food deliveries as coronavirus-related lockdowns keep people at home.
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