Coronavirus Politics Daily: Refugees resettled, Moscow checks your digital code, measles set to surge

Coronavirus Politics Daily: Refugees resettled, Moscow checks your digital code, measles set to surge

Greece relocates migrant children: Amid growing concern over migrant populations' vulnerability to a coronavirus outbreak, Greece this week began transferring dozens of unaccompanied migrant children from crowded Greek refugee camps to dwellings elsewhere in the EU. Some have been sent to Luxembourg, while others are expected to go to Germany and Switzerland. Over 5,200 migrant children, many from war-torn Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, currently live in overcrowded camps on the Greek islands, where infectious disease is rife, and sanitation is extremely poor. Greece, which has long complained about bearing the brunt of migrants fleeing conflict in Africa and the Middle East, says it hopes to relocate some 1,600 unaccompanied migrants to other EU countries in the months ahead. About a dozen states, including Italy and Portugal, have said they are willing to absorb them. But with many EU countries now crippled by massive coronavirus outbreaks themselves, it remains to be seen whether they will follow through.


Moscow restrictions go back to the future: With COVID-19 cases continuing to climb in the Russian capital, the city government has unveiled a new system of digital permits that people must have in order to travel anywhere in the city by car or public transportation. Essential workers get 30-day passes, while others can get one-day passes for doctor's visits or other approved personal reasons. In a way this is a 21st century rehashing of the old Soviet system of propuski, which were required to travel between regions. Two things to consider here: first, when and under what circumstances does this system end? Unlimited physical freedom to travel is one of the fundamental perks of Vladimir Putin's neo-authoritarian system of governance. And second, as countries in Western Europe and the US discuss the prospect of widespread testing as a means to reopen economies, will we too have to develop a similar system of centralized data, permissions, and control?

Coronavirus gives a boost to measles: Disruption to global supply chains because of the coronavirus pandemic, coupled with national stay-at-home orders, have disrupted mass immunization programs that low and middle-income countries rely on to keep children inoculated from otherwise deadly diseases. The Measles and Rubella initiative said that, so far, 24 countries had suspended their immunization programs, warning that as many as 100 million children could now be at risk of contracting measles. Measles remains one of the world's most contagious diseases, and in the absence of a vaccination, can be lethal. (In 2018, the most recent year for which there's comprehensive global data, measles killed 142,300 people.) While parents in wealthier countries might get their kids vaccinated by the family doctor, in countries like Brazil, Cambodia, and Nigeria, where measles epidemics are rife, many take their children to a community center or marketplace where large-scale immunization drives take place. This is not possible under social distancing guidelines, and medical experts say it will be a huge challenge to stop the spread of coronavirus without creating conditions for an explosive resurgence of measles or other infectious diseases.

This week, the market value of Tencent, China's biggest video game company, nosedived after a state media outlet suggested that online gaming was as addictive and destructive as opium. Tencent immediately pledged to cap the number of hours people can play, and to keep minors off its platforms.

It's the latest example of a months-long crackdown on major Chinese technology firms that until recently were viewed as some of the world's most powerful and successful companies, as well as a source of national pride. Beijing's about-face on its own tech titans could have big implications for China, and beyond.

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Whenever Burkina Faso is in the news, it's often about how the crisis-ridden country has got caught up in the crosshairs of horrific jihadist violence plaguing the Sahel.

But this week, the nation of 20 million was celebrating because Hugues Fabrice Zango won its first-ever Olympic medal after finishing third in the men's triple jump in Tokyo.

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Should people get COVID vaccine booster shots? Not yet, says the World Health Organization, which is pushing for rich nations or those with access to jabs to hold off until at least the end of September so all countries get to fully vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations before some jump ahead with boosters. But the WHO's call has fallen on deaf ears in nations like Israel, France, Germany and Russia, which are already planning to offer boosters, in part to better protect people against the more contagious delta variant. What's more, mRNA vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna are recommending supplemental doses for the same reason. The problem is that, beyond the obvious moral imperative for equal access to vaccines, if the rich continue hoarding jabs while vaccination rates stay low elsewhere, the virus will continue to thrive — and mutate into new, potentially even more infectious variants that sooner or later will reach every corner of the planet.

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80: If polar ice caps continue to melt at their current pace due to climate change, 80 percent of all emperor penguins will be wiped out by the end of the century because they need the ice for breeding and keeping their offspring safe. American authorities want to list emperor penguins, which only live in Antarctica, as an endangered species so that US fishing vessels will be required to protect them when operating in their habitat.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent COVID-19 policy developments:

The Biden administration extended an eviction moratorium even after the Supreme Court said they couldn't, what's next?

Well, the CDC imposed a nationwide eviction moratorium in light of increased risk from evicted people because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Supreme Court in June ruled that they (CDC) overextended their authority in doing so and mandated that the moratorium expire on schedule in July. A group of progressive activists weren't happy about this and raised a huge stink in Congress, but Congress recessed for their August vacation before they could solve the problem, putting big pressure on President Biden to extend the moratorium even though he said he didn't think that it would pass constitutional muster. The CDC did it anyway, extending the moratorium until October 3rd, which is a time that's short enough to probably avoid it being overturned by lawsuits, but long enough that Congress has time to figure out how to either extend it on a bipartisan basis or put more money into a rental assistance fund that few people have taken advantage of so far. This whole incident shows the power of progressive activists in the Biden administration who were able to elevate the profile of this issue and potentially prevent millions of people from losing their homes this summer.

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On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer takes a look at the yin and the yang of alcohol's role in high-level diplomacy and society at large. Alcohol can bring people together just as easily as it can tear them apart. From a 1995 Clinton/Yeltsin Summit where a drunk Yeltsin almost derailed Bosnian peace talks, to Obama's Beer Summit and the recent G7 Summit, booze plays a part in how world leaders interact. Globally, alcohol consumption has been steadily increasing, by over 70 percent between 1990 and 2017, according to one report. . Low and middle-income nations like Vietnam, India, and China are a driving force behind that trend, with drinking in Southeast Asia rising by over 34 percent between 2010 and 2017. And yet, amidst this global booze boom, the world has only grown more and more divided.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

Equestrian jumpers, and their horses, are disciplined species. They don't appreciate surprises very much.

But many participants were caught off guard during this week's individual jumping qualifiers in Tokyo by a very daunting statue of a sumo wrestler on the hurdle course (which is dotted with statues paying homage to traditional Japanese culture, like geisha kimonos, cherry blossoms, and taiko drums).

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Does alcohol help bring the world together?

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