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COVID-19 in US, Emerging Markets; US-China Blame Game; Venezuela Coup?

What is the coronavirus update? Have emerging markets been spared so far?

The biggest news is that the US might have a lot more mortality from coronavirus than previously expected in the models. Particularly as we start seeing opening of economies. The US is a federal system and states don't necessarily listen to each other. They don't follow the federal government, and people don't necessarily pay attention to what state governments say. Put all that together, expect to see a lot more people get sick. Whether that is 3,000 or 800 deaths a day, two wildly different models, for the next month. What I've seen so far makes me feel a bit more optimistic, because opening up economies isn't people in full engagement. Big difference in what government says and what people do.


Have emerging markets been spared so far?

Not at all. But, it is hitting emerging markets a little later. Also, numbers of cases are suppressed by the fact that they're not doing as much testing. In some cases, also suppressed by the fact that maybe there is reduced transmission with much warmer weather. I hope that's the case, but the doctors aren't agreed. Either way, the developing world is focusing more on keeping economies open than at extended lockdowns. For some of the poorest countries, like in sub-Saharan Africa, where average age can be under 20, and economies aren't as globalized, in many cases, focused more on agriculture, the fact that they are as underdeveloped as they are is ironically buffering and protecting them from the worst of the coronavirus crisis.

What are the consequences of US-China blame game over coronavirus origins?

The most important consequence is that we'll see more confrontation and less interdependence between the two economies. The Americans will be investing less in China, reducing supply chain footprint, allowing Chinese to invest less in the United States, much more scrutiny. Some key American allies will be doing the same. In the wealthier European states. In Japan, for example. But the Americans are not getting coordination from allies. In part, that's about Trump. In part, that's about the way they've decided to engage in blame. Particularly the last couple days, saying this came from a lab in China and the secretary of state and President Trump saying there is conclusive evidence, strong, very strong evidence that that is the case. The Americans have shared that intelligence with key allies and the allies are saying this is all open source. There's nothing conclusive and we don't buy it. Even Australia, which can't stand the Chinese right now, getting into a big fight, not supporting the Americans. Really overplaying their hand. There's no reason why the Americans can't focus on, there was a cover up, it came from China, we're blaming the Chinese for that. But by going too far, it's like the weapons of mass destruction moment that Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, had in the Bush administration on Iraq. The Americans lose more credibility hitting the Chinese on this.

Finally, what's going on in Venezuela?

According to the Venezuelan government, there was an effort to invade and stage a coup against Mr. Maduro, that included two Americans, former Green Berets, they are saying. The Venezuelan opposition are denying. The American government is denying. We have no idea what the truth is. You can't imagine the American government saying, that was us, if that was indeed the case. But the Venezuelan government has even less credibility than the US and the opposition. It would not surprise me at all if there were a couple of Americans involved in a military incident. That doesn't mean that it was supported directly or indirectly by the US government. They could be mercenaries for hire. They could be ideologically aligned. They could be dual nationals, Venezuelans or Colombians. There's been a lot of talk, but no one in the Trump administration, now that Bolton is gone, actively interested in a military solution for Venezuela. In fact, Trump was resistant for Bolton's hard line. He was undermining Bolton both privately and publicly. So, I'm deeply skeptical of that, as I'm deeply skeptical of most things that come out of the Venezuelan government these days.

The role of the public library has evolved over time. As we move online at an even faster rate, knowledge, entertainment and opportunities for education and employment are found on the internet. Those living in well-connected, affluent places may have come to take internet access for granted. But there is a digital divide in the U.S. that has left people at a disadvantage – particularly since the arrival of COVID-19.

Finding ways to overcome that divide in a sustainable, community-led way could help bring the benefits of the internet to those who need it most. One solution is to use technologies such as TV white space to facilitate wireless broadband – as Microsoft's Airband Initiative is doing. To read more about Microsoft's work with public libraries, visit Microsoft On The Issues.

Who does Vladimir Putin want to win the US election? Given the Kremlin's well-documented efforts to sway the 2016 vote in Donald Trump's favor, it's certainly a fair question. And while there's no solid evidence that Russian interference had any decisive effect on the outcome four years ago, the Trump administration itself says the Kremlin — and others — are now trying to mess with the election again.

So let's put you in Vladimir Putin's size 9 shoes as you weigh up Donald Trump vs Joe Biden while refreshing your own personal PyatTridsatVosem (FiveThirtyEight) up there in the Kremlin.

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Less than a week out from Election Day, 66 million Americans have already cast their ballots, and many of those are people who are voting "early" for the first time because of the pandemic. In fact, the early vote total alone this year is already equal to nearly half of all ballots cast in the 2016 general election, suggesting that 2020 turnout could reach historic levels. Most important, however, is how things are playing out in key battleground states where the outcome of the US election will be determined. In Texas, for instance, a huge surge in early voting by Democrats this year has raised the possibility that a state which has been won by Republican candidates since 1976 could now be up for grabs. Here we take a look at early voting in battleground states in 2020 as compared to 2016.

In a national referendum on Sunday, Chileans overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new constitution. But, why are people in this oasis of political stability and steady economic growth in South America willing to undo the bedrock of the system that has allowed Chile to prosper for so long?

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Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

One week before the US election. What do other world leaders want to happen?

Well, I mean, let's face it. Outside the United States, most of the world's leaders would prefer to see the back of Trump. An America first policy was not exactly made for non-Americans. That was not the intended demographic audience. Trump doesn't really care. In fact, to a degree, it's kind of a selling point that a lot of foreign leaders don't want Trump. It's showing that Trump is strong in negotiations and indeed is doing better for the American people.

That's largely BS, but occasionally it's true. I mean, his willingness to use American power to force the Mexican government to actually tighten up on Mexico's Southern border and stop immigration from coming through. AMLO would have much rather that not have happened, but the fact that it did was an America first policy, that rebounded to the benefits of the United States. And there are other examples of that. But generally speaking, it would be better for the US long-term, and for the world, if we had more harmonious, smoother relations with other countries around the world, certainly pretty much all the Europeans would much rather see Trump lose. The United Kingdom is the significant exception given the nature of Brexit, and the fact that Trump has been in favor of that, like being called Mr. Brexit by five or six Brits or however many did.

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