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Coronavirus Politics Daily: Singapore shutdown, European strawberries stranded, Mossad's medical mission

Coronavirus Politics Daily: Singapore shutdown, European strawberries stranded, Mossad's medical mission

Singapore's "circuit breaker" lockdown: The Asian financial hub of Singapore has been held up as an example of a country that had the COVID-19 outbreak under better control than most. The chief of the World Health Organization chief even singled out Singapore for praise, commending its "all-government approach" to containment and mitigation of the deadly disease. But after experiencing its largest daily rise in new cases, it will now shutter schools, workplaces, and non-essential businesses for at least a month, in a move dubbed a "circuit breaker" to stop the disease's spread. The growth of "unlinked" or untraceable community infections is part of "very worrying trends," a government minister said Friday. Come Tuesday, Singaporeans will join half of humanity under stay-at-home orders. If even the countries that have done best at fighting coronavirus still have to take more drastic measures like this, it's a grim sign for what awaits the rest of the world.


Mossad's medical mission: The Mossad, Israel's top spy agency, is known for tracking down far-flung enemies and foiling plots through its sly undercover operations. Now, those crafty spooks have been assigned a new mission: procuring medical equipment from around the world to fight COVID-19. While Mossad officials confirmed that they have overseen the shipment of millions of medical masks and testing kits in recent days – as well as around 30 ventilators – they are staying mum on where the equipment is coming from. One Mossad agent told the Washington Post that at a moment when everyone is scrambling for the same diminishing supplies, "we are utilizing our special connections to win the race." Some observers have suggested the Mossad could be getting equipment from officially hostile Arab countries with which the agency has strong back-channel relations. But not all of the vaunted Mossad's efforts have gone well: when it ordered a huge number of coronavirus tests recently, it discovered that a lack of swabs made them unusable.

Coronavirus vs the strawberry harvest: With the spring strawberry crops just about ready to be picked, Germany will now allow farms to bring in some 80,000 seasonal agricultural workers, mainly from EU countries in Eastern Europe, reversing an earlier coronavirus-related ban on outsiders entering the country. The German agriculture sector had lobbied fiercely for the change, fearing that without its usual supply of labor, the upcoming spring harvest of fruits and vegetables would rot in the fields, leaving supermarkets short-stocked. Farms all across Western Europe are struggling with the same problem: coronavirus border closures have cut them off from an essential labor force. Some in Italy are even asking the government to open up more spots for non-EU farm workers. The seasonal workers who go to Germany will arrive by plane and will be subject to a 14-day quarantine period. Now, spare a moment to consider again the many ways in which the coronavirus crisis highlights the kinds of workers — and migrants — who are irreplaceable for the functioning of our societies and economies.

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.

On Tuesday night, you can finally watch Trump and Biden tangle on the debate stage. But you TOO can go head to head on debate night .. with your fellow US politics junkies.

Print out GZERO's handy debate BINGO cards and get ready to rumble. There are four different cards so that each player may have a unique board. Every time one of the candidates says one of these words or terms, X it on your card. First player to get five across wins. And if you really want to jazz it up, you can mark each of your words by taking a swig of your drink, or doing five burpees, or donating to your favorite charity or political candidate. Whatever gets you tipsy, in shape, or motivated, get the bingo cards here. It's fight night!

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GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.

The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Watch the full video above.

Mexico reckons with abortion rights: Scores of people joined protests in Mexico's capital on Monday, demanding the legalization of abortion in the majority Roman Catholic country. The demonstrations coincided with International Safe Abortion Day, which aims to ensure women around the world have access to safe sexual and reproductive health services. In Mexico, which has a female population of at least 65 million, the procedure is banned outside Mexico City and the southern state of Oaxaca (which moved to legalize the procedure last year), though it's legal in instances of rape. More than half of all pregnancies in Mexico are estimated to be unintended, leading many women to seek (botched) illegal abortions that often lead to complications requiring serious medical care. Protesters clashed with police — with some women even hurling Molotov cocktails — as confrontations became increasingly heated throughout the day. Many attendees were clad in green scarfs, which have become the symbol of the pro-choice movement in parts of Latin America in recent years. Some analysts say that the recent death of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a women's right icon, has put renewed global focus on abortion rights — and women's rights more broadly.

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Join us today, September 29th, at 11 am ET for a GZERO Town Hall livestream event, Ending the COVID-19 Pandemic, to learn about the latest in the global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Watch here at 11am ET: https://www.gzeromedia.com/events/town-hall-ending-the-covid-19-pandemic-livestream/

Our panel will discuss where things really stand on vaccine development, the political and economic challenges of distribution, and what societies need to be focused on until vaccine arrives in large scale. This event is the second in a series presented by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group.

Apoorva Mandavilli, science & global health reporter for the New York Times, will moderate a conversation with:

  • Lynda Stuart, Deputy Director, Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group
  • Mark Suzman, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Gayle E. Smith, President & CEO, ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development

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