Coronavirus Politics Daily: Unrest in Paris' suburbs, Turkey's coverup, and immigration to the US on hold

Coronavirus Politics Daily: Unrest in Paris' suburbs, Turkey's coverup, and immigration to the US on hold

Riots in Paris' suburbs: Low-income suburbs on the outskirts of Paris have long been flashpoints of unrest over racial and economic inequality. This week, youths living in districts north of France's capital lit cars on fire and aimed fireworks at police in protest against stay-at-home measures, now in their sixth week, aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus. Police said that a traffic accident involving a policeman and a motorcyclist, who was critically injured in the crash, was likely the impetus for the uptick in violence. The riots in Paris' suburbs, known as banlieues, are perhaps a grim sign of what's to come in many countries where low-income families are now jammed together in crowded apartments with little reprieve, and where stay-at-home orders have disrupted jobs in the informal economy that many of these residents rely on to put food on the table.


Turkey's COVID-19 cover-up? After Turkey's government claimed for weeks that it had the coronavirus pandemic under control, the country has now surpassed China with the most coronavirus cases outside the US and Europe. Turkish authorities announced the first death from COVID-19 in Istanbul on March 17, and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who has avoided enforcing a national lockdown in order to keep parts of the economy open – has said that his government's swift actions to close some businesses and schools in mid-March curbed the disease's spread. But an investigation by The New York Times suggests that the death rate in Istanbul, home to some 16 million people, was 50 percent higher than the city's weekly average in early April. And a breakdown of data in large cities including Istanbul and Izmir suggests that a government cover-up and lack of testing contributed to the small number of reported COVID-19 cases in Turkey. The country's economy was already cratering before the pandemic hit, suffering record levels of unemployment, and Erdogan knows that further economic turmoil – and failure to limit the number of coronavirus-related deaths – would be ruinous for his presidency.

Trump halts immigration: President Trump announced via tweet on Monday that he would temporarily halt immigration into the United States to "protect the jobs of our GREAT American Citizens" in response to COVID-19. The president's critics will charge that he's scapegoating foreigners for something that isn't their fault, and trying to change the subject from his own perceived failures and falling poll numbers. The president's supporters will ask why some want to shut down the country's economy but not its borders, and why Trump should be attacked for something that many other world leaders are doing to contain the virus. Beyond partisan politics is the debate about what this order will and will not actually change. On the one hand, COVID-19 has already halted nearly every form of legal immigration. Refugee programs are on hold. Anyone caught crossing the border illegally would already be expelled.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

More Show less

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

More Show less

In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

More Show less

When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

More Show less

YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

More Show less

Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

More Show less

28: The UK and the EU have again failed to agree on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In a 28-page document, the British government had suggested further changes to trade rules that were already negotiated as part of the Brexit settlement, but Brussels was not having any of it.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal