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.

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Iran has vowed to avenge Sunday's attack on its Natanz nuclear facility. Tehran blames Israel, which — as in the past — has neither confirmed nor denied it was responsible. And all this happens just days after indirect talks on US plans to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed in Vienna. What the Iranians do now will determine the immediate future of those negotiations, a Biden administration priority.

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week on World In 60: J&J vaccine woes, Blinken warns China, Fukushima water and a large rabbit.

How will the pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine affect the overall pandemic fight in the United States?

Yeah. Right at it, right? Well, we heard that the FDA has suspended vaccines from J&J because of blood clots. They found six in seven million cases. It's kind of like the suspension of AstraZeneca in Europe. It's likely only going to last for a few days. It's a very small percentage of the total number of vaccines that are being jabbed right now into the arms of Americans. It's not going to really slow America's ability to get everyone vaccinated, but it is going to create more vaccine hesitancy. People at the margins will say, "Is this safe? They said it was fine. Now they're saying it's not okay." I understand why there's enormous caution on the part of the FDA, but I wish, wish, wish the communications had been a little softer around all of this. Also will be a problem in terms of export, as J&J is going to be a piece of that. And again, others around the world will say, "Well, if I don't get Moderna, if I don't get Pfizer, I'm not sure I want to take it at all." So all of this is negative news, though I would still say the United States this year is looking really, really good among major economies in dealing with pandemic.

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750 million: While struggling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world right now, India has approved Russia's Sputnik V COVID vaccine. Moscow has a deal in place to produce 750 million doses of the shot in India.

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In recent weeks, both Pfizer and Moderna have announced early phases of vaccine trials in children, and Johnson & Johnson also plans to start soon. If you know a kid who wants to learn about vaccines, how they work, why we need them, this story is just what the doctor ordered.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week and I've got your Quick Take and thought I would talk a little bit about where we are with Iran. One of the Biden administration's promises upon election was to get the Americans back into the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal. As of last week, negotiations are formally restarted, and pretty quickly, in Vienna, they're not direct. The Americans and Iranians are both there, but they're being intermediated by the Europeans because they're not yet ready to show that they can talk directly to each other. That's Iran being cautious in the run-up to their presidential election coming this summer. But the movement is there. So far the talk has largely been about sequencing the Iranian government, saying that all of the sanctions need to be removed before they're willing to go back into the deal, because the Americans after all, unilaterally withdrew from a deal that the Iranians were indeed adhering to, and the inspections did confirm that.

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Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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Andean aftermath: Two big weekend elections in South America produced two stunning results. In Ecuador's presidential runoff, the center-right former banker Guillermo Lasso upset early frontrunner Andrés Arauz, a leftist handpicked by former president Rafael Correa. Lasso will take power amid the social and economic devastation of the pandemic and will have to reckon with the rising political power of Ecuador's indigenous population: the Pachakutik party, which focuses on environmental issues and indigenous rights, is now the second-largest party in parliament. Meanwhile, in a big surprise next door in Perú, far-left union leader Pedro Castillo tallied up the most votes in the first round of that country's highly fragmented presidential election. As of Monday evening it's not clear whom he'll face in the June runoff, but three figures are in the running as votes are counted: prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, rightwing businessman Rafael López Aliaga, and conservative Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's imprisoned former strongman. Meanwhile, in the congressional ballot, at least 10 parties reached the threshold to win seats, but there is no clear majority or obvious coalition in sight.

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