Early employment can set a young person on a trajectory for success, providing both a paycheck and a stepping-stone for improving academic performance.
Bank of America is committed to investing in youth employment, funding $160 million since 2018 to connect youth and young adults to jobs and mentoring.
The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.
With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?
Global shipping systems are in complete disarray. Many shipping containers are caught in traffic jams at the entrance to US ports, and even when they unload, truck driver shortages have meant massive delays in transporting goods to stores and warehouses.
The underlying condition is the pandemic, which has upended consumption patterns. Consider that older people, who are usually tech averse, started shopping online, while the laptop cohort has gone crazy gobbling up office supplies. This combined with panic buying – where manufacturers and retailers are now over-ordering across the board – has sent global supply chains into a tizzy. Scarcity of staples like diapers, coffee and toilet paper has also worsened the pandemic-fueled inflation problem.
Supply chains are now the most acute crisis facing the Biden administration. As a result, the White House recently stepped in to help boost capacity at the Port of Los Angeles – the busiest one in the Western Hemisphere, which is now operating 24/7. Backlogs there are crucial to the health of the US economy, but since the entire world is feeling the supply chain crunch, Biden has limited options to fix the multi-layered problem.
Congress: not the family you choose. For weeks, the White House has been embroiled in political wrangling with Congress to ensure the passage of Biden's signature Build Back Better plan – a two-part bill that includes investment in traditional infrastructure like roads, bridges, and yes, ports, as well as funding for child care and climate-change mitigation schemes.
But infighting between progressive and moderate Democrats on the price tag has led to a weeks-long stalemate, and will ultimately result in Biden significantly watering down things like his clean electricity agenda and free community college. While Republicans oppose many of the bill's provisions, recent surveys found that voters blame divisiveness within the Democrats for the legislative impasse, and the president's abrupt popular decline.
COVID: the messy house guest that won't leave. Biden's perceived successes – and failures – were always going to be linked to his ability to get the pandemic in check. While in the spring Biden saw a boost in the polls linked to a speedy vaccine rollout, that honeymoon period is now over, with half the American electorate disapproving of the president's handling of the pandemic.
A big part of the problem comes from the politicization of COVID and polarization in America more broadly, which means that pandemic containment means vastly different things to different people.
For many, pandemic success means having kids back in schools and bodies in offices without further disruption. It also means the power to choose whether to get vaccinated or to mask up. For others, it means minimizing the number of COVID cases nationwide at all costs, and boosting vaccination rates – including through mandates. Reconciling these world-views would be almost impossible for any president, both Republican and Democrat, in the post-Trump era.
Virginia: a sign of what's to come? Democrats and Republicans will be closely watching the November 2 race for governor in Virginia – a purple state where Democrats have an advantage. But the race, broadly seen as a temperature check for President Biden one year into the job, is very close. It's also seen as a bellwether one year out from midterm elections, when Republicans will contend to take control of the US Congress. Though it's still early days for Biden, the outcome in Virginia will illuminate the national mood at a crucial point in time.
Looking ahead: Biden's approval rating has dropped 10 points since June, including among Democratic voters and independents. But he could save face if he manages to save Christmas.
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October 20, 2021
Three years ago, Facebook changed its algorithms to mitigate online rage and misinformation. But it only made Facebook worse by boosting toxic engagement, says Nick Thompson, The Atlantic CEO & former WIRED editor-in-chief. Thompson believes Facebook simply got in over its head, rather than becoming intentionally "evil" like, say, Big Tobacco with cigarettes. "I think they just created something they couldn't control. And I think they didn't grasp what was happening until too late." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.
From overall health and wellness to representation in the global workforce, women and girls have faced serious setbacks over the past 18+ months. They also hold the key to more robust and inclusive growth in the months and years ahead: McKinsey & Company estimates that centering recovery efforts on women could contribute $13 trillion to global GDP by 2030.
On October 28th at 12pm ET, as part of our "Measuring What Matters" series, GZERO Media and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will look beyond traditional indicators of economic recovery to examine COVID-19's impact on girls and women, specifically in the areas of health and employment.
Key questions covered will include:
- How can policymakers take a gender-intentional approach in recovery programs to realize the benefits of an inclusive recovery?
- How should the public and private sectors collaborate?
- What should policy frameworks and support mechanisms look like?
- How can these immediate steps set us on track for robust and long-term growth?
Join our host, Tumelo Mothotoane of eNCA, in a live discussion with:
- Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group and GZERO Media
- Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Former Executive Director, UN Women
- Minouche Shafik, Director, LSE
- Mark Suzman, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
- Okito Vanessa Wedi, Snr Policy Advisor for Regional and Domestic Markets, Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases
Please register to attend here.
Thursday, October 28, 2021 | 12 pm ET / 9 am PT
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October 20, 2021
This year, American kids who've asked Santa for L.O.L. Surprise! dolls, Nerf blasters, or classic Legos may be disappointed. The delivery of these and other in-demand toys could be delayed due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions that are still hitting US businesses and consumers hard. Container vessels loaded with precious cargo are waiting days to enter busy US ports, while within the country truck drivers are working flat out to meet soaring demand for goods of all kinds. Products are getting wildly expensive or arriving late. Here's a snapshot of the problem, showing longer delivery times, skyrocketing freight and shipping costs, and trucker employment.
October 20, 2021
Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A long-running Senate investigation in Brazil has found that by downplaying the severity of COVID, dithering on vaccines, and promoting quack cures, President Jair Bolsonaro directly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. An earlier version of the report went so far as to recommend charges of homicide and genocide as well, but that was pulled back in the final copy to a mere charge of "crimes against humanity", according to the New York Times. The 1,200-page report alleges Bolsonaro's policies led directly to the deaths of at least half of the 600,000 Brazilians who have succumbed to the virus. It's a bombshell charge, but it's unlikely to land Bolsonaro in the dock — for that to happen he'd have to be formally accused by the justice minister, an ally whom he appointed, and the lower house of parliament, which his supporters control. Still, as the deeply unpopular Bolsonaro limps towards next year's presidential election, a rap of this kind isn't going to help.
Sup al-Qaeda — Mali: The West African nation of Mali has long had a problem with jihadist violence, and French soldiers deployed there since 2013 have barely made a dent. Now, the military-civilian transitional government that has run things since last year's coup may try something different: ask local Islamic clerics to talk on their behalf to al-Qaeda's main affiliate in the country. They could find some common ground: the government seem open to sharia law and kicking out all foreign troops in exchange for peace. Former colonial power France, meanwhile, says it won't conduct joint military operations in any country that negotiates with jihadists, but Paris' failure to quell jihadist violence means the French now have little leverage with Bamako. Interestingly, the peace talks are being floated just as Mali is mulling a Russian offer to send 1,000 mercenaries to fight al-Qaeda — which the French are fiercely against, and will likely be scrapped if the government cuts a deal with the jihadists. More broadly, whatever happens in Mali will have ripple effects across the entire Sahel region.The artist formerly known as "Facebook": Faced with a growing chorus of criticism about his company's unchecked market power, its corrosive impact on political discourse, its harm to kids, and its propensity to both spread dangerous lies and threaten free speech, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is doing the obvious thing: he's changing its name. That's right, in the coming days, the social media giant is set to unveil a new handle of its own, according to a scoop by The Verge. The name change won't affect the core social media app itself, but it will become the primary moniker for the broader conglomerate, which Zuckerberg wants to focus on developing the "metaverse" and other new technologies. This is similar to what Google did in 2015, when it rebranded itself as Alphabet or, if you like, to what Kanye West did two days ago when he rebranded himself as "Ye". Whether Zuck's move will take some of the regulatory heat off of Facebook is anyone's guess, but in the meantime, what do you think he should call the new company?
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Hard Numbers: Nazi camp secretary on trial, Putin passes on COP26, Afghan refugee crisis, Greek shipping vs EU
October 20, 2021
11,412: Irmgard Furchner, a 92-year-old former typist at a Nazi concentration camp in Germany, is facing trial for contributing to the murder of 11,412 people there. Furchner tried to escape German authorities in late September by sneaking out of her nursing home, but was arrested hours later and slapped with an electronic wrist tag.
0: There will be zero Vladimir Putins at the upcoming COP26 climate summit. The Kremlin said the Russian president will not attend, but didn't explain why — perhaps Putin wants to take the week-long paid holiday that he just approved for all Russians to stay home as COVID deaths there soar again.
900 million: The IMF has warned that Afghanistan's Taliban-run economy may contract by up to 30 percent this year, forcing an exodus of Afghans to neighboring countries. The Fund says Iran, Pakistan, and Tajikistan will need a combined $900 million to host at least one million Afghan refugees.58: Greece is objecting to new EU emissions reduction targets that, Athen says, the mighty Greek shipping industry can't possibly hit in time. Greek-owned vessels account for 58 percent of the EU's entire maritime shipping fleet.
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If you had to guess which current world leader has made the most trips to Africa, who would you say? China's Xi Jinping? Nope, hardly — he's been there just four times. France's Emmanuel Macron? Pas de tout.
The answer may surprise you: it's Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who's been to the continent more times than the leader(s) of any other non-African state. Just this week he notched his 28th visit, with stops in Angola, Nigeria, and Togo. Sure, being in power for two decades creates a lot of opportunities for exotic travel, but even Russia's Vladimir Putin isn't close: he's been to Africa just five times, all to visit South Africa or Egypt.
Erdogan's Africa travel obsession is part of a broader policy. Since first coming to power as prime minister way back in 2003, Erdogan has massively increased his country's presence in Africa. The number of Turkish embassies there has soared from barely a dozen in 2009 to more than 40 today. Turkish Airlines jets crisscross African skies, flying more than 50 routes that link the continent's cities to Europe and the Middle East.
Across Africa, Turkish companies have built splashy and popular infrastructure projects: massive sports complexes in Senegal and Rwanda, the new national mosque in Ghana, a gleaming international airport in Niger, and critical rail lines in Ethiopia. And on the softer power front, Turkish schools dot the continent, while the country's soap operas are a pop-culture hit, particularly in East Africa. Turkey now even refers to itself as an "Afro-Eurasian" country.
At the same time, Turkey has waded into the continent's geopolitics, building its largest overseas military base in Somalia, taking sides in the Libyan civil war, and stepping into the Sahel by training local troops and inking a defense pact with Niger. Turkish arms sales to the continent are growing as well.
Why is Turkey so interested in Africa? For one thing, there's an economic rationale. Erdogan is keen to unlock opportunities for Turkey's powerful infrastructure, mining, and consumer companies. Finding new foreign markets is part of Erdogan's vision of Turkey as an export powerhouse, says Emre Peker, Eurasia Group Turkey analyst.
But there's something bigger going on as well. Ever since coming to power, Peker says, Erdogan has seen Turkey as a kind of geopolitical heir to the old Ottoman empire — a powerful player in the Middle East and beyond, willing to act independently of its Cold War-era partners in Europe and the US. While much of that has meant being more assertive in the Middle East, expanding Ankara's influence into Africa is a part of that broader vision.
Why are African governments interested in Turkey? For the same reason they are interested in partnering with other outside players: they want to secure quality direct investment and new infrastructure.
But while Ankara hasn't anywhere near the resources that, say, China can bring to the table, one big thing that Turkey has going for it is what it's not. "Turkey has a lot of advantages," says Tochi Eni-Kalu, an Africa analyst at Eurasia Group, "but number one is that it's not France or the UK or Belgium or any of the other post-colonial powers." At the same time, Erdogan presents Turkey as a smaller and more sympathetic alternative to great powers like the US and China.
Who's not so happy about this? While there hasn't been much backlash against Turkey among African populations, Eni-Kalu says, Ankara's inroads have raised hackles in other world capitals. France is extremely unhappy about Turkey's presence in West Africa, with President Macron openly accusing Turkey of inflaming anti-French sentiment there.
Meanwhile, Turkey's bitter regional rivalry with the UAE is also playing out in Africa. The two powers back opposing sides in Libya's civil war, and are locked in a contest for greater influence in East Africa as well. Ankara reportedly viewed the April 2019 coup against longtime Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir, a partner of Ankara's, as a Gulf-backed swipe at Turkish influence in the region.
Still, let's put this all in perspective. As much as Turkey's ties with Africa have grown, the continent remains far less important economically for the Turks than Europe or the Middle East. Consider that while in recent years Turkish trade with Africa has quintupled to about $25 billion annually, that's still ten times less than its trade with Europe, and three times less than with Asia. China's trade and investment in the continent, which runs to the hundreds of billions of dollars annually, dwarfs anything that Turkey can reasonably achieve.Upshot: While Turkey will never compete directly with the military resources of the US and France, nor the economic resources of China, Ankara has found ways to pick its spots in Africa in ways that interest local governments, but which also stoke Turkey's other regional and global rivalries.
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