Effective COVID-19 responses; Danger in China's anger at Trump; UBI

Ian Bremmer takes (slightly) more than 60 seconds to share his analysis:

Which country is combating the COVID-19 pandemic best? Who's doing worst?

Best? Clearly, Singapore, Taiwan. Got out early. Had tests. Incredibly transparent. They got clear information to their people and the people actually listened to their government. Relatively small, wealthy, and homogeneous populations, also with health care systems that actually work. So, I would say they're doing it the best. Who's doing it the worst? Got to be Iran, where you have lack of capacity, lack of information, no trust in government, massive and early explosion of cases, awful lot of people getting killed. Beyond that, though, there are a lot of leaders out there that are doing it badly. Leaders that early were basically telling a great story to their people and as a consequence, weren't able to respond effectively. Effectively lying to their people and here, I mean, it doesn't matter what side of the political spectrum you're on, you need to get facts out there early and not just what your gut tells you. In the UK, Boris Johnson. In the United States, Donald Trump. In Mexico, Lopez Obrador. In Brazil, Bolsonaro. I mean all have really mishandled this for their own populations and as a consequence, the impact of coronavirus, it's going to be a lot worse.


Why is China expelling American journalists?

A big deal, saying they're expelling Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post from China and Hong Kong. And, you know, by the way, The New York Times coverage of China has been, if anything, very positive. The Chinese don't care. They're angry at the Americans, particularly now that President Trump has on a couple of days started beating the drum on the "China virus" as opposed to coronavirus. And by the way, yes, it initially came from China. And yes, the Chinese government absolutely clamped down on transparent information. So as a consequence, this thing exploded. They are ultimately responsible for that. But calling it the China flu, especially in the context of where US-China relations are right now, is incendiary. And they are absolutely feeling very confident about their relations with other countries in the world. They're hitting the Americans back. This is a dangerous place for these two countries to be.

Is UBI a realistic solution for our current economic situation?

UBI being universal basic income? I don't think that ongoing permanent UBI is realistic because we haven't tested it. We don't have a system for it. It'd be incredibly expensive. And we don't know if it works. But certainly, near term, I firmly believe you're going to see something that feels like UBI for now. In other words, direct stimulus where every American gets a check. That is a more efficient way to get money deployed into the economy, to get consumers less worried and spending, than other more indirect fashions of benefits. And I also think that the amount of total stimulus you're going to see in the US by spring is going to be well over a trillion dollars. It's not for want of money that the Americans are going to be unable to fight this if we have problems. It's much more about political leadership and the comparative port development of our health care system.

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.

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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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...

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