Hard Numbers: HK vote hopefuls out, US economy tanks, Chileans dip into pensions, Russian mercs in Belarus

12: The pro-Beijing Hong Kong government has disqualified 12 pro-democracy candidates from running in September's parliamentary election, where the opposition was expected to win a majority of seats. The list includes high-profile activists like Joshua Wong and also Dennis Kwok, an outspoken pro-democracy lawmaker who recently discussed China's new security law for Hong Kong on GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.


32.9: The US economy contracted by 9.5 percent in the second quarter of the year, an annualized rate of 32.9 percent for 2020, the sharpest decline in America's history. The coronavirus pandemic has obliterated many US businesses and made unemployment surge above 15 percent, and the economic crisis may get even worse if more states reimpose lockdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19.

1 million: More than 1 million Chileans started lining up on Thursday to withdraw up to 10 percent of their pension funds. The government has passed a controversial new law allowing citizens to tap into part of their state-mandated retirement savings to mitigate the impact of the pandemic-fueled economic crisis.

33: Belarus has detained 33 Russian private security contractors, accusing them of being mercenaries aiming to disrupt the country's upcoming presidential election. It's the latest sign of a growing rift between two authoritarian presidents — Belarus' Alexander Lukashenko and Russia's Vladimir Putin — who used to be close allies but are not getting along lately.

Civil rights activist Janet Murguía joins the 'That Made All the Difference' podcast to discuss her upbringing as the daughter of immigrant parents and how that experience informs her life's work advocating for Hispanic-Latino civil rights and battling systemic inequality.

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"Go ahead, take it," President Putin says to you.

"Take what?" you ask.

"This Covid vaccine," he continues, turning a small syringe over in his hands. "It's safe. Trust me. We… tested it on my daughter."

Would you do it? Russian President Vladimir Putin is betting that a lot of people will say yes. On Tuesday he announced that Russia has become the first country to register a COVID-19 vaccine, and that mass vaccinations will begin there in October.

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20.4: The UK economy is now officially in a recession for the first time in 11 years, after British economic growth plunged by 20.4 percent quarter-on-quarter from April to June 2020. The quarterly decline — attributed to the economic crisis fueled by the coronavirus pandemic ­— is double that of the US and second only to Spain's in Europe.

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Vietnam vs coronavirus (round 2): After going three months with no local transmissions of COVID-19, Vietnam is worried about a resurgence of the disease after a recent outbreak in the coastal city of Da Nang that has already spread to 11 other locations throughout the country. Authorities in Vietnam — widely considered a global success story in handling the pandemic thanks to its aggressive testing, contact-tracing and quarantines — believe the Da Nang outbreak is tied to an influx of domestic tourism there after lockdown restrictions were recently eased by the government. As a precaution, they have converted a 1,000-seat Da Nang sports stadium into a field hospital to treat the sick in case local hospitals become overwhelmed. More than 1,000 medical personnel, assisted by Cuban doctors, have been sent there to screen residents, and the capital Hanoi plans to test 72,000 people who recently returned from Da Nang. Will Vietnam prevail again in its second battle against COVID-19?

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"First off you have to say, it's not just one epidemic. There are many outbreaks. All epidemiology is local, just like politics," former CDC director Dr. Frieden told Ian Bremmer. He expressed concerns that, although COVID-19 is relatively under control in the Northeast, outbreaks continue to rage across the South and Southwest. The real failure, Frieden argues, is at the federal level where nearly six months into a pandemic Washington still lacks the data required to understand the virus' spread, let alone control it.