State of the World with Ian Bremmer
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Perp walks, plane crashes, and debating the future

On any other day, we might start our GZERO North newsletter with the housing crisis afflicting the US and Canada and what, if anything, the federal governments should do about it (they have to act, and mewling an excuse about this not being federal jurisdiction is the political equivalent of “the dog ate my homework!”).

Or maybe you’re thinking, hey GZERO, what about this ugly dispute between Canada and the big tech giants like Meta, which has already led to the banning of Canadian news on Facebook and will likely lead to a digital services tax of 3% by January. Won’t the Biden folks, in an election year, pump out some retaliatory tariffs to send a signal to other countries that says: “Don’t follow those northern syrup-suckers and Thelma-and-Louise it off the digital trade cliff! Read our lips: No Digital Tax!” So, is this the start of a nasty little US-Canada trade war?

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The fire-ravaged town of Lahaina on the island of Maui in Hawaii.


Fires undermine tourism in B.C., Maui

Tourist operators in both British Columbia and Hawaii are suffering as a result of catastrophic wildfires. Both want and need potential customers to return, though travel restrictions remain in the parts of B.C. that are still on fire.

In Maui, 115 are confirmed dead and hundreds remain missing as a result of the wildfires in Lahaina, which experts blame on climate change. The blazes destroyed the historic town, and more than 8,000 people have been thrown out of work by the sudden collapse of the tourism industry. Still, other parts of Maui remain open for business, and tourism operators in those areas are hoping visitors will return before they go broke.

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A medical worker administers a nasal swab to a patient at a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing center


Hard Numbers: COVID hospitalizations, fiery moves, banking job cuts, traffic jams

21.6 & 7: Data from the CDC and Canada’s government show that, since last week, COVID-19 hospitalization rates have risen in the US and Canada by 21.6% and 7%, respectively. The Canadian number seems low, but it follows an 11% increase the week before, putting hospitalizations 20% percent higher than they were last year. Both countries are seeing increases in positive cases – early signals that a fall COVID wave could be approaching while updated booster shots are still weeks away.

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A view shows wildfires near a highway in Yellowknife, Canada.


Canadian fires cause city-wide evacuation

Around 20,000 residents of Yellowknife, the capital of Canada’s Northwest Territories, have been ordered to evacuate as deadly wildfires engulf the area.

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Paige Fusco

The Graphic Truth: Canada wildfires scorch records

Canada’s 2023 wildfires are burning at a record pace. Blazes have forced thousands to evacuate, burned hundreds of homes, and resulted in four deaths. Smoke from this intense season has brought haze to North American skylines, worsening air quality for Canadians and Americans.

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Smoke rises from the Texas Creek wildfire south of Lillooet, British Columbia.

BC Wildfire Service/Handout via REUTERS

Where there’s fire there’s smoke

Americans living along the Eastern Seaboard can be forgiven this summer for thinking Canada’s number one export to the United States is smoke. Once again this week, wildfires in eastern Canada have sharply reduced visibility in New York City and other cities in the US Northeast. But even residents of southern states like the Carolinas and Georgia are feeling the effects. Now, fires from Canada’s northwest are triggering air quality alerts from Portland, Oregon, to Plano, Texas. Some 44 million people in 28 states and Washington, DC, have been affected.

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Flames reach upwards along the edge of a wildfire as seen from a Canadian military helicopter near Mistissini, Quebec.

Cpl Marc-Andre Leclerc/Canadian Forces/Handout via REUTERS

Cross-border deal for fighting wildfires

Canada’s wildfires are again causing smoke-filled haze to descend, along with air quality alerts, in parts of the United States and beyond, with residents everywhere from Chicago to Europe breathing in some Canadian smoke. And it’s still June – fire season doesn’t end until September.

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Jess Frampton

Climate activists take on … Montana

Helena, Montana, had a big first this week, and it was a long time coming. On Monday, a case got underway there in which 16 youth residents, aged 5 to 22, are suing the Land of Shining Mountains over climate change – the first-ever constitutional challenge of its kind in the country. The plaintiffs claim the state has violated their right to “a clean and healthful environment in Montana for present and future generations,” a provision that’s been in the state constitution since 1972.

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