GZERO Media.

GZERO’s Ian Bremmer has a new book out, and his timing is uncanny in both good ways and bad. It’s called “The Power of Crisis: How Three Threats – and Our Response – Will Change the World.” His central argument is that the world needs a crisis. Why? Because the right kind of threat can help foster the global cooperation we’ll need to manage future existential crises.

Ian originally intended to focus the book on the dangerous direction of US-China relations, climate change, and the ever-increasing injection of disruptive new technologies into the world’s bloodstream. All these subjects still get much of his attention.

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Voting in Australia's federal election.

Annie Gugliotta.

What will voters decide Down Under?

Aussie voters head to the polls on Saturday to decide whether to keep Prime Minister Scott Morrison (ScoMo) of the right-leaning Liberal-National Coalition in power, or to pass the baton to the Labor Party’s Anthony Albanese. Speak to any Aussie, and they’ll tell you that neither bespeckled, middle-aged candidate inspires much excitement. Still, someone has to win! After nearly two years under some of the tightest COVID lockdown restrictions in the world, Aussies appear ready for change: Albanese, a left-leaning centrist, is leading in national polls by 2%. That’s encouraging for ScoMo, who just two weeks ago was trailing by 8 percentage points. The election cycle has been dominated by the cost-of-living crisis currently plaguing many advanced economies. Though unemployment in Australia has hit record lows, inflation is outpacing wage growth. Albanese, a long-time politician with little cabinet experience, has made a series of gaffes recently about the economy that likely contributed to the narrowing margin. According to ABC, some 5-8% of Aussie voters are still undecided. That could be the difference between whether Labor comes out on top after nearly a decade in opposition government. As Signal’s resident Aussie (Gabrielle), I am off to vote!

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A man wears a mask walking through Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

Anthony Behar/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

34: COVID infection rates in New York City have shot up 34% since May 1. Hospitalization rates are ticking up too, but remain far below earlier peaks. With much of the city vaccinated or recovered from previous infection (3/5 of Signal team has had it!), we’re hoping it stays that way. Mayor Eric Adams has vowed not to impose a new mask mandate.

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Shen goes down to the courtyard of her residential complex at dawn to swipe cherries from the trees in the garden to make bread and jams.

Yang Shen

Yang Shen has lived in Shanghai for more than 10 years, but it wasn’t until recently that the 36-year-old writer noticed something very particular about the city: the birds.

While they sing freely outside Shen’s window, Shanghai’s 26 million human residents are still cooped up in their homes, part of the world’s largest COVID lockdown.

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Ari Winkleman

Xi Jinping’s zero-COVID policy has saved many Chinese lives … at a huge economic cost. China’s economy is now back to the early days of the pandemic: the manufacturing index is down almost four points from a year ago and at its lowest level since early 2020, while exports are weak due to zero-COVID restrictions at major ports like Shanghai. We take a look at Chinese manufacturing and exports over the past year.

Supporters of the Christian Lebanese Forces party react as votes are being counted in Lebanon's parliamentary election.

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

What Hezbollah’s loss means for Lebanon

Days after Lebanese voters went to the polls for the first time since the economy imploded three years ago, Hezbollah – Iran-backed militants dubbed a terrorist group by the US – has lost its parliamentary majority. Its coalition, which includes Amal, another Shia party, and the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian bloc, won 61 seats, down from 71. Reformist parties that emerged amid mass protests over economic inequality and corruption in recent years reaped about 10% of seats. The Saudi-allied Lebanese Forces also gained new seats, suggesting that many Lebanese voters support warmer ties with Riyadh in hopes it can help ease their economic woes. Still, only 41% of eligible voters turned up, reflecting widespread apathy and disdain for the political elite, who have enriched themselves for decades while large swaths of the population descended into poverty. The election was notably plagued by allegations of voter fraud. Things will get thorny this fall when President Michael Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, finishes his term. The presidency is a powerful post in Lebanon, charged with appointing the PM and leading the military. Hezbollah will push hard for a replacement who will safeguard their – and Iran’s – regional interests, likely impeding progress on political and economic reforms needed to unlock foreign loans.

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