A century after the rise and destruction of Tulsa's Greenwood neighborhood, Greenwood Rising is turning the site of a tragedy into a vibrant community hub, supported by a $1 million grant from Bank of America.
Greenwood, or Black Wall Street, was a thriving community of Black-owned businesses until the race-fueled massacre of 1921 that killed hundreds of Black residents and wiped out the neighborhood's homes and businesses. Nearing the 100th anniversary of this tragedy, focused activity in the neighborhood—including a history center—is bringing to life the spirit of Black Wall Street.
The most ambitious global vaccination drive in history is in motion. Over the past three months, more than 213 million COVID-19 shots have been administered across 95 countries, and the vaccination rate is slowly increasing. At the current rate, around 6.11 million doses are being administered daily.
It's a rare bit of hopeful news after 15 months of collective misery. So where do things stand at the moment, and what's keeping the world from getting to herd immunity faster?
<p><strong>Vaccines for the neediest.</strong> The <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/the-covax-state-of-play" target="_self">COVAX facility</a>, formed last summer to ensure cash-strapped countries get their hands on vaccines, shipped the first batch of AstraZeneca vaccines to the West African country of <a href="https://apnews.com/article/world-news-ghana-health-coronavirus-pandemic-africa-f8058eed5b2935d1d22931ef321e807b?utm_source=dailybrief&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=DailyBrief2021Feb24&utm_term=DailyNewsBrief" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Ghana</a> on Wednesday. Neighboring Ivory Coast will be next in line, and could start vaccinating its 26 million people as soon as next week.</p><p>The COVAX rollout is a big deal given that so far, 75 percent of all shots worldwide have been administered in just <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/19/covid-vaccine" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">10 wealthy countries.</a> But there are still massive shortfalls in the program. For one thing, the facility's commitment to provide 2 billion vaccines to 92 low-income countries covers shots for only 20 percent of the population in those states, far below the herd immunity threshold of about 70 percent. For another, the vaccines are arriving slowly: Ghana, for instance, has received only <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/health-coronavirus-ghana-vaccines/first-covid-19-vaccine-doses-dispatched-by-covax-arrive-in-ghana-idUSL8N2KT6I7" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">600,000 doses</a>, covering 1 percent of its population. </p><p>So far, COVAX's ability to <a href="https://www.statnews.com/pharmalot/2021/02/22/covid19-coronavirus-vaccine-who-covax-pfizer-jnj-moderna-astrazeneca/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">reach its goal</a> remains precarious, in part because of <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-who-covax/u-s-alone-wont-fill-covax-funding-gap-lead-official-says-idUSKBN29R1Q3" target="_blank">funding</a> shortfalls as well as global supply issues — drugs simply aren't being made fast enough to cover people spanning the 54 countries waiting on jabs through the scheme. </p><p><strong>Early stars of the vaccine show. </strong>Several countries are doing a top-notch job at getting needles into arms. </p><p>When <a href="https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24632863-300-how-south-america-became-the-new-centre-of-the-coronavirus-pandemic/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">South America</a> became a COVID hotspot last summer, <strong>Chile </strong>emerged as an epicenter within an epicenter, recording one of the world's <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/chile-coronavirus-lockdown-sebastian-pinera/2020/06/23/70e9701a-b4a7-11ea-aca5-ebb63d27e1ff_story.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">fastest growing</a> caseloads. Now, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/19/world/chile-vaccination-romo-latam-intl/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Chile </a>is overseeing one of the world's most efficient vaccine rollouts, having vaccinated over 16 percent of its population already, the fifth highest in the world. Santiago succeeded by diversifying its procurement efforts (buying doses from China's Sinovac, Pfizer-BioNTech, as well as through COVAX), and turning <a href="https://www.laprensalatina.com/chile-offers-drive-up-coronavirus-vaccination/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">any public space</a> into a mass vaccination site. </p><p><strong>Israel </strong>has now vaccinated over 88 percent of its population of 9 million, leading the global vaccination race by a long shot. Analysts say that Israel's <a href="https://www.forbes.com/sites/startupnationcentral/2019/03/26/how-israel-turned-decades-of-medical-data-into-digital-health-gold/?sh=6b474da43ee4" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">digitized universal health-care infrastructure </a>has made it easier to monitor the vaccination drive and quickly identify groups of eligible people. But for all its successes, Israel has not ensured equitable access to Palestinians living in the occupied West Bank, many of whom regularly cross into Israel. At the same time, the government plans on sending up to 100,000 doses to far-flung places like Honduras, Chad, and the Czech Republic in <a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-said-set-to-give-nearly-100000-vaccine-doses-to-15-countries/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">exchange for</a> their diplomatic backing.</p><p>Lastly, after the <strong>UK</strong> bungled its pandemic containment effort (it has one of the world's highest <a href="https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality" target="_blank">per capita death tolls</a>) Prime Minister Boris Johnson reversed course to manage one of the most <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/29/world/europe/covid-vaccine-uk.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">efficient vaccine drives </a>in the world. Having inoculated a third of all British adults (with at least one dose), British authorities now <a href="https://apnews.com/article/europe-europe-coronavirus-pandemic-bd6d355e8c5f3c1b2d007c1ceb5a7453" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">say </a>that all adults should get a first COVID shot by July 31, more than a month earlier than originally planned.</p><p><strong>Queue jumping and inequality.</strong> Still, access to vaccines remains deeply unequal within many countries. </p><p>The World Bank this week <a href="https://apnews.com/article/world-news-financial-markets-lebanon-coronavirus-pandemic-31e2b62e118b81d6a5725f22b240ef4b" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">threatened</a> to cut off funding for <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/is-lebanon-collapsing" target="_self">cash-strapped</a><strong> Lebanon's </strong>vaccine program after Lebanese politicians bypassed eligibility rules to secure vaccines for themselves and their cronies. This took place mere weeks after the country<a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/coronavirus-live-updates/2021/01/08/954478781/lebanons-full-hospitals-turn-away-coronavirus-patients-amid-record-daily-cases" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> experienced </a>a surge in COVID cases, overwhelming hospitals. The revelation sparked outrage among many Lebanese already disillusioned by the <a href="https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/lebanon/2020-08-14/corrupt-political-class-broke-lebanon" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">corruption </a>plaguing the country's ruling elite.</p><p>A similar scandal has gripped <strong>Peru, </strong>where some 500 former and current government officials admitted to<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/peru-coronavirus-vaccine-scandal/2021/02/17/81ef7958-712c-11eb-93be-c10813e358a2_story.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank"> skipping vaccine queues</a> to snatch jabs intended for healthcare workers. </p><p>Lastly, inequality of access isn't just a problem at the global scale — it's happening even within some of the wealthier countries that have had easy access to vaccines — like the <strong>US.</strong> While America's piecemeal vaccine drive has ramped up after a shaky start, access for Black and Latino communities still lags in many parts of the country. <a href="https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-02-21/governor-admits-problems-covid-19-vaccine-rollout-latino-black-communities" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">California</a> Governor Gavin Newsom came under fire when it emerged that of the 7.3 million doses administered in the state, only 2.9 percent have gone to Black residents, <a href="https://censusreporter.org/profiles/04000US06-california/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">who make up</a> 6.5 percent of the population, and 16 percent to Latinos (who account for 38 percent). Similar <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2021/02/01/us/racial-disparities-covid-19-vaccine-access-new-york/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">trends</a> have been detected in New York. </p>
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February 24, 2021
Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:
With protests growing, where does that leave the Myanmar coup?
Well, certainly no feeling on the part of the military that they need to back down under either domestic or international pressure. There's been relatively limited violence, thankfully so far. A few protesters have been killed. They've used tear gas, they've used water cannons, but much less of a crackdown than certainly they're capable of or that we've seen from the Myanmar military historically. That, of course, gives the protesters on the ground more incentive to think that they have success, and they can continue.
<p> Around the world it's getting a lot of attention and certainly the Biden administration much more focused on human rights, dramatically more, especially Secretary of State Blinken than the Trump administration was. So, focus on additional sanctions, focus on more pressure, coordination with other countries, but not with the countries that matter the most to the Myanmar economy and that is China overwhelmingly. They've got a good relationship with the military and they've been very clear that publicly they are not on the side of the protesters. They just want calm, but they're not going to undermine this government. They're not going to level sanctions and that level of unwillingness to get involved, undercut the sovereignty of the Myanmar government, is something you'll see with all of the top countries that trade with Myanmar. It's Japan, it's Thailand, I mean across Southeast Asia that's all the same. So as a consequence, I think you could certainly continue to see significant demonstrations, but it's very hard to imagine anything that would upset this coup outcome and that means that the military remains in charge. I mean, even though you can imagine with a redo in elections, that they might try to reingratiate themselves with the West and offer a position, a compromise to Aung San Suu Kyi, as long as they perform better in unfair and unfree elections themselves, it's hard to imagine that she would accept that. So as a consequence, stability goes down, economic trajectory goes down, but the military government, at least for the time being, is here to stay.</p><p><strong>What challenges are ahead for the new US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield?</strong></p><p>She was just confirmed, sworn in by Vice President Kamala Harris and, on the one hand, the Biden administration is vastly more interested in working with the United Nations and multilateral institutions and architecture than the Trump administration was. And that's particularly true on issues of climate, which has been the area of greatest success for the UN. It's the one that the secretary general, António Guterres, is most proud of and in that regard, this is going to be a very easy, very friendly relationship, even though she doesn't bring anywhere near the level of influence, either domestically in the US or globally, that Nikki Haley did when she was ambassador to the UN, or for that matter, Samantha Powers did or Madeline Albright did. </p><p>But having said that, the United Nations Security Council is a pretty broken institution. You've got countries with very different interests with permanent seats that have vetoes that can stop anything useful from happening, unless you have consensus. When you look around the world right now, there are very few issues that have consensus. You can get relatively watered-down statements condemning behaviors from various rogue states around the world and, indeed, most recently you got one on Myanmar, but the actual impact that those statements have is virtually zero. So, it's a useful place for the most powerful countries in the world to engage, to share information, and certainly you want experienced diplomats to be involved and appointed there and I think that Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield is certainly that. But the idea that the United States is suddenly going to have more success in day-to-day workings in that group, that's certainly not the case. We're very, very far from that. There's no reform happening in the Security Council any time soon.</p><p><strong>Are Putin and Lukashenko best friends now?</strong></p><p>Well, they're a lot friendlier, right? I mean, you saw that President Lukashenko of Belarus accepted very happily an invitation from Russian President Putin to Sochi to go skiing, to share some drinks, to act in a convivial fashion in relatively informal clothing and spent hours together at a time when the United States and the Europeans are looking to increase sanctions against Russia because of the SolarWinds attack which hit the US, and NATO, and the UK, and the EU, and has been attributed to Russia, and also because of the jailing of Navalny, Alexei Navalny. Putin is very happy to show that he's continuing business as usual in his backyard and that means standing by Lukashenko, an incredibly repressive leader that continues to stay in power despite having stolen his most recent presidential elections. Demonstrations in Belarus have lost a lot of momentum though they still continue on the weekends. A lot of people have been jailed and, again, it's very clear that hard to keep enthusiasm when you see that the level of repressive control of the government and its security forces is complete, is a hundred percent and there are no defections to speak of. </p><p>We've seen this in Syria, we've seen it in Venezuela, we've seen it in Russia. We are seeing it in Myanmar, we're seeing it in Belarus. I mean, despite that we had the Colored Revolutions in the former Soviet Union with large numbers of people, massive demonstrations on the ground, that led to democratic overthrow of governments when those institutions were really on the way out. We saw a bit of that in the Arab Spring, but only successful in Tunisia. In Egypt successful briefly, but not fully, and then turned back and nowhere else in the region. And now with the exception of little Armenia that had a successful revolution and brought in a democratically supported prime minister, but also just lost a war with Azerbaijan, most of these popular movements are having a really hard time right now. And some of that is technology trends and surveillance and control. Some of that is lack of credibility of big democratic institutions, themselves, like the United States. Some of that is greater power of China and regional rogue states over and in their backyards, all of which means Putin and Lukashenko are looking stronger today than they have been in the past months.</p>
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February 24, 2021
Reducing carbon emissions is good for the planet and good for your lungs, but there's one group of countries that might not be so keen on green: those that rely heavily on oil and gas exports to run their economies. As the rest of the world gets closer to "Net Zero" in the coming decades, these petrostates will be in big trouble unless they diversify their economies — fast. So, how vulnerable are the world's top oil and gas producers to a low-carbon future? We look at how the treasuries of the 20 most hydrocarbon-dependent nations will fare over the next two decades under what the Carbon Tracker Initiative refers to as a scenario in which global demand for oil and gas will be much lower than today.
What We're Watching: Saudis brace for Khashoggi report, Sri Lanka blasts UN, political unrest in Niger
February 24, 2021
US to release Khashoggi report: The Biden administration's intel chief is expected to release on Thursday a report on the murder of Saudi dissident journalist — and US resident — Jamal Khashoggi. In line with previously reported findings, the assessment will say that Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman was involved in the plot to kill and dismember Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018. Aside from a sprinkling of new details, we don't expect much from the report itself, but we are keen to see how it shapes US-Saudi relations under Joe Biden, who has promised to take a harder line with Riyadh over human rights and security issues than his predecessor did. Part of that new approach is that the US president will no longer speak directly to the Crown Prince himself as Trump did — from now on, only his dad, King Salman, gets calls from the White House.
<p><strong>Sri Lanka slams UN over human rights:</strong> Sri Lanka is demanding the UN Human Rights Council <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/2/24/sri-lanka-calls-un-rights-bodys-resolution-a-political-move" target="_blank">junk</a> a resolution that is expected to blast the country over alleged human rights violations, including those committed during the government's bloody 37-year civil war against the separatist Tamil Tigers. The Sri Lankans say the resolution is a smear campaign led by UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who <a href="https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/un-rights-chief-seeks-sanctions-against-sri-lanka-generals/article33681816.ece" target="_blank">wants</a> the International Criminal Court to indict Sri Lankan generals for war crimes. The UN says the current government — headed by war hero Gotabaya Rajapaksa and <a href="https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/07/17/sri-lanka-junta-gotabay-rajapaksa-military/" target="_blank">packed</a> with former military officials — is blocking an independent investigation and, moreover, has used the COVID emergency to crack down on the predominantly Buddhist country's <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/hard-numbers-sri-lankas-cremation-policy-swedes-admit-covid-failure-eu-halts-aid-to-ethiopia-brazils-covid-milestone" target="_self">Muslim</a> minority. To be fair, UN resolutions don't accomplish much these days, but we're watching to see whether the Human Rights Council — which the US plans to rejoin under President Biden — is able to make any headway with investigations that could bring long-awaited justice to <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/24/world/asia/sri-lanka-missing-UN.html" target="_blank">thousands of victims</a>.<br/></p><p><strong>Post-election trouble in Niger:</strong> Just two months ago one of the world's poorest countries was looking forward to its <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/what-were-watching-eu-vaccination-campaign-indian-farm-bill-talks-two-elections-in-africa" target="_self">first-ever peaceful transition of power</a>, when the sitting president voluntarily agreed to step down after two terms. It would have been a rare feat in Africa, where presidents increasingly seek to stay in power indefinitely through <a href="https://africacenter.org/spotlight/circumvention-of-term-limits-weakens-governance-in-africa/" target="_blank">constitutional changes</a>. But that hope is now fading. Last Sunday, ruling party candidate Mohamed Bazoum and Mahamane Ousmane, a former president deposed by a coup in 1996, went to a runoff vote that was marred by <a href="https://www.npr.org/2021/02/21/969995762/7-poll-workers-killed-by-landmine-amid-historic-niger-vote" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">violence.</a> On Tuesday, after Bazoum was <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-56175439" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">declared the winner</a>, Ousmane refused to accept the result, citing vague claims of fraud, and his supporters are now burning tires on the streets of the capital, Niamey. With no peaceful resolution in sight, any political instability in Niger will likely benefit jihadists, who have been making inroads in the country and the broader <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/failing-the-sahel" target="_self">Sahel region</a> for some time. </p>
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