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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Protest in Mumbai, IMF cancels debts, women lead best COVID-19 responses

Coronavirus Politics Daily: Protest in Mumbai, IMF cancels debts, women lead best COVID-19 responses

Migrant workers protest in Mumbai: After India's government extended a nationwide lockdown until May 3, thousands of jobless migrant workers stranded in Mumbai staged a protest at a local railway station. The quarantines are especially hard on Mumbai's migrant laborers, many of whom have left their families behind to work in the city in textiles and service industries. They are now not only unemployed while India's economy is in hibernation, but also stuck in the city because public transport has been halted. Some have tried to make their way home on foot. Many say they are now staying in cramped shelters (or in some cases on the street) where social distancing is impossible and food is scarce, and they want the government to restart bus and train services so they can get home. So far, the state of Maharashtra, home to Mumbai, has been hardest hit by the virus.

Women lead on Covid-19 responses: Now more than ever, concerned citizens are turning to their elected officials to guide them through a once-in-a-lifetime global health and economic crisis. What do some of the world leaders who have shown the most innovative and compassionate approaches to managing the pandemic have in common, one Forbes analyst asks? They are women. Consider that in Taiwan, where new coronavirus cases have hovered in the single digits for weeks, President Tsa Ing-wen was an early adopter of data technology to trace those infected. She also ramped up production of crucial protective equipment before global supplies dwindled. Meanwhile, in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has been praised for closing borders and enforcing home quarantines early, despite the low number of cases in her country. Arden has also taken to Facebook to respond directly to questions from concerned New Zealanders, while reassuring children that the Easter Bunny and tooth fairy are essential workers. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, meanwhile, held a special conference specifically for children where she spent half an hour answering their questions. Meanwhile, in Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasized the severity of this crisis early, before rolling out one of the world's most consistent testing programs, which has contributed to Germany's relative success in dealing with the pandemic.

IMF cancels debt for poor nations: Amid what could be the worst global economic crisis in 90 years, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed Monday to annul six months of debt repayments for 25 of the world's poorest countries. Many of these cash-strapped countries, which include those mired in conflict like Yemen and Afghanistan, as well as low-income countries in Africa, have limited medical supplies, few doctors, and poor healthcare systems – a serious outbreak of COVID-19 in any of these countries would be catastrophic. More than 90-countries have so far lobbied the IMF for financial assistance in recent weeks, in an unprecedented appeal for help from the Fund. The IMF says that emerging market economies will need at least $2.5 trillion this year to make ends meet.

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