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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.

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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Joe Biden wants to move into the White House, but the coast isn't clear. He may need some bleach.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME here.

If former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson could give incoming Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas advice, what would it be? "Well, first I would say, 'Ali, I'm glad it's you, not me.'" His conversation with Ian Bremmer was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: For the first time in twenty years extreme poverty around the world is growing. How does the developing world recover from a pandemic that has brought even the richest nations to their knees? David Malpass, the President of the World Bank, is tasked with answering that question. He joins Ian Bremmer on the podcast to talk about how his organization is trying to keep the developing world from slipping further into poverty in the wake of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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