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NBA player sparks backlash from China; Bolsonaro's COVID negligence

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at the NBA's latest rift with China, Brazil's Senate investigation, and COVID booster shots.

China wipes Boston Celtics from NBA broadcast after the "Free Tibet" speech from Enes Kanter. Is NBA boxing itself into a corner?

Nice mixed sports metaphor there. NBA has some challenges because they are of course the most progressive on political and social issues in the United States among sports leagues, but not when it comes to China, their most important international market. And you've seen that with LeBron James telling everyone about we need to learn better from the Communist Party on issues like Hong Kong and how Daryl Morey got hammered for taking his stance in favor of Hong Kong democracy. Well, Enes Kanter's doing the same thing and he's a second-string center. Didn't even play yesterday and still the Chinese said that they were not going to air any Boston Celtics games. Why? Because he criticized the Chinese government and had some "Free Tibet" sneakers. This is a real problem for a lot of corporations out there, but particularly publicly, the NBA. Watch for a bunch of American politicians to make it harder for the NBA going forward, saying how dare you kowtow to the Chinese when you're all about "Black Lives Matter" inside the United States. No fun.

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What We’re Watching: Bolsonaro’s COVID crimes, Mali calls al-Qaeda, Facebook gets a facelift

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.

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The war on (period) poverty

Brazil's bold President Jair Bolsonaro did a bad thing this week. He blocked legislation that would have provided free sanitary pads and tampons to disadvantaged Brazilian women and girls. In a country where 25 percent of girls miss school because they don't have access to sanitary products or bathrooms when they're menstruating, this is a pretty big deal.

Laws aimed at addressing period poverty — lack of financial access to basic hygiene products like pads, tampons, and soap – are often framed by male-dominated governments as excessive and inessential. They are so wrong.

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Latin America faces post-pandemic "lost decade," says economic historian Adam Tooze

As the US economy powers ahead to recover from COVID, many developing economies are getting further left behind — especially those in Latin America. Economic historian Adam Tooze says the region, which did relatively well during the global recession, is now "looking at a lost decade." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: How the COVID-damaged economy surprised Adam Tooze

Clashes in Brazil as Bolsonaro's support plummets

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here with the Quick Take. Back in the office, we are functioning and open after a year and a half which is absolutely insane. 80 new employees since the pandemic who haven't met each other in person, most of the time. So God, we're happy to be back here. And wanted to kick it off by talking about Brazil.

Haven't talked about Brazil in a while, but it is their Independence Day. And wow, what an Independence Day it is. President Bolsonaro, who is in the cellar, popularity wise, the lowest popularity he's had since he's been president. And for lots of reasons, mishandling of COVID, economic problems, energy shortages, even a little bit of corruption scandals. Seen as not an effective president of the country and presidential elections next year. So, a combination of things that are setting him off individually. And has said quite famously in the past few days, that in upcoming elections, he's either going to win, or be arrested, or be killed. That those are the only three options.

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Is a Huawei ban possible in Brazil? Poly Network cryptocurrency heist

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

The US warned Brazil about China's Huawei equipment in its 5G telecoms network. Would it be possible to ban Huawei in Brazil?

Now in theory, yes, but in practice, that will be very difficult. If not Huawei, the Brazilian mobile network infrastructure is largely sourced from China, and China is the country's most important trade partner overall. But as always, much depends on political leadership. President Bolsonaro, after all, did go along with President Trump in opposing Huawei while he was facing pushback for that decision at home. So the lesson to learn is that it is easier to prevent risky 5G telecoms equipment to come into the country than to cure when it's already there.

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Is the US forcing Brazil to go against China or not?

We don't get it: Does the US expect its allies to choose between the US and China or not?

Just a few months ago, US Secretary of State Tony Blinken promised that, although the two countries are in a deepening rivalry over trade, technology and values, Washington "won't force allies into an 'us-or-them' choice with China."

But as we noted yesterday, it seems that during a recent trip to Brasilia, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan gave the impression that if Brazil were to ban Huawei from its national 5G auctions later this year, there could be a NATO partnership in it for Brasilia.

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The Graphic Truth: Who partners with NATO?

The US has reportedly offered Brazil a NATO partnership in exchange for banning Chinese tech giant Huawei from its 5G networks. NATO helps those non-members designated as "partners" build their defense capacity, better manage crises, and benefit from NATO's expertise on counter-terrorism and non-traditional security threats like cyber warfare and piracy. In exchange, partners might be expected to join NATO-led military missions and exchange intelligence. Still, only NATO member countries are entitled to mutual defense by the alliance. We take a look at NATO's partnership tentacles with 40 non-member nations around the world.

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