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Matters of Life and Death: An Undead President and a Lonely Bird

Matters of Life and Death: An Undead President and a Lonely Bird

With an approval rating of 9%, Brazilian President Michel Temer may be politically lifeless, but he is not actually dead. This last detail, however, has been lost on Brazil’s state pension fund, which stopped paying out Temer’s dole late last year, citing lack of proof that he is actually alive. All Brazilians are required to appear yearly, in person, to take a test — Temer didn’t do it.


In a macabre irony, Temer is currently trying to pass tough reforms to precisely the bloated pension system that thinks he is no longer among us, but it doesn’t look like he has the votes to do so. So, to recap: the Brazilian president is alive, but the reform of the pension system that thinks he is dead is probably dead.

Meanwhile a story from New Zealand, where a bird that lived alone on a remote island among concrete replicas of his own species has passed away after years of unrequited courtship. The bird, Nigel, was so enamored of the concrete fakes — which were set up to lure more birds like him to the island — that even when living members of his own species finally showed up, he ignored them.

The winning take here comes from my fellow Signalista Kevin Allison: “I can’t help but think that this is actually a metaphor for social media.”

To pull you out of that abyss of techno-existential despair, here are some….

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

Here are the basic facts:

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For the world's wealthiest nations, including the United States, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine has been rocky, to say the least. And as a result, much of the developing world will have to wait even longer for their turn. Part of the challenge, World Bank President David Malpass says, is that "advanced economies have reserved a lot of the vaccine doses." Malpass sat down with Ian Bremmer recently to talk about what his organization is doing to try to keep millions around the world from slipping deeper into poverty during the pandemic. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

For the first time in twenty years, extreme poverty around the world is growing. How does the developing world recover from a pandemic that has brought even the richest nations to their knees? David Malpass, the President of the World Bank, is tasked with answering that question. He joins Ian Bremmer on GZERO World to talk about how his organization is trying to keep the developing world from slipping further into poverty in the wake of a once-in-a-century pandemic.

Joe Biden wants to move into the White House, but the coast isn't clear. He may need some bleach.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME here.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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