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A woman in a protective suit walks past a shop as COVID outbreaks continue in Shanghai, China.

REUTERS/Aly Song

What We're Watching: China's COVID shenanigans, Oz olive branch, Peru vs. Mexico, Twitter succession

Counting China’s COVID deaths

In recent weeks, China has announced an abrupt about-face on its zero-COVID policy, which imposed tough (and economically costly) restrictions on freedom of movement inside China for the past three years. Despite predictions that a sudden end to existing COVID rules could contribute to one million deaths, the state has lifted lockdowns, ended many testing and quarantine requirements, and halted contact-tracing systems. For a government that works hard to persuade its people that it protected them from the COVID carnage in Western democracies, it’s a big risk. How to keep the number of COVID deaths down? Just redefine what counts as a COVID death. Going forward, only those with COVID who die of pneumonia or respiratory failure will be counted as COVID fatalities. (The US counts any death to which the virus contributed as a COVID death.) China’s change will make it much harder for Chinese health officials to properly allocate resources to respond to COVID spikes, and more infections will create mutations that generate new variants that cross borders. Officials in many countries, including the US, have argued over how to define a COVID death, but the question is especially sensitive in an under-vaccinated country of 1.4 billion people.

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Elon Musks Wants A Way Out of Twitter | Quick Take | GZERO Media

Elon Musk wants a way out of Twitter

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here. A Merry Christmas to you all. A happy Hanukkah, just kicked off. Happy holidays to everybody. I'm delighted to close out the year with a Quick Take, getting us kicked off this rather cold, blustery, very bright sunny day in New York. Hence the sweater, it feels like a layered kind of day. And with everyone talking about the meltdown that is occurring every day on Twitter, I might as well weigh in.

Most recently, Elon Musk, the owner, the CEO, not the founder of Twitter, asking everyone online should I step down as CEO saying, "I will abide by the results of this poll." The answer 57.5% saying yes, 42.5% say no. They want him to step down. Probably a lot of Tesla shareholders weighing in on that. Let's not pretend that this is in any way a real or useful poll. You can of course, vote all you want with your burner and your fake accounts. What happens if the 12 hours of the poll happen to be 12 hours when you are mostly sleeping, depending on what your time zone is around the world? Well, you are kind of out of luck. I mean, you snooze, you lose. That's what they say. Not to mention the bot problem, and all of the people on Twitter that aren't really Twitter, they aren't really people. Of course, they get to vote too. It's all performative. Of course, Rasmussen had Elon ahead by four, and they turned out to be a little bit wrong, but that happens frequently.

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- YouTube

New boss at the North Pole

Big changes at Santa’s workshop, and not everyone’s happy about it.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME!

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Annie Gugliotta

World leaders: Thanks for nothing!

This Thursday, many of our readers — particularly in the US — will celebrate Thanksgiving.

At worst, it’s a day to argue with your relatives about super-chill topics like climate change, racism, abortion, or cancel culture (here’s a useful guide for that.)

But at best, it’s an opportunity to take a moment, look around, and recognize the things you’re grateful for in this life.

And it’s not just you — our world leaders have much to be thankful for as well. Here, then, is a partial list of global gratitude:

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How Social Media Harms Democracy | Asia Society | GZERO Media

How social media harms democracy

Yes, foreign powers have tried to meddle in US elections. But for Ian Bremmer, external disinformation efforts pale in comparison to the internal damage Americans can do.

What's more, under its new ownership Twitter is so far unleashing more anger, hatred, and violence on social media, Bremmer says during a conversation with former Australian PM and Asia Society President and CEO Kevin Rudd at the Asia Society's headquarters in New York.

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An image of Elon Musk is seen on a smartphone placed on printed Twitter logos.

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

What We're Watching: The end of Twitter (as we know it), climate reparations at COP27

Quo vadis, Elon?

Elon Musk is taking disruption to a whole new level as the CEO of Twitter. After firing half of his staff on Friday, the world's richest man has lit another fire with plans for an $8 subscription service to get verified on the social media platform. Before Musk took over, the coveted blue check was free for public figures, companies, and journalists, but now technically anybody can get it. That raises the stakes for all sorts of misinformation mayhem, though the rollout has now been delayed until after Tuesday's US midterm elections. Major corporate advertisers responded to the brouhaha by pausing their ads, with Musk admitting a big drop in revenue, which he blamed on firms caving to activists' demands. So, what’s next? Ian Bremmer — who tussled with Musk over Russia-Ukraine just weeks before the gazillionaire bought Twitter — hinted that the platform's new boss might have a shorter tenure than disgraced former British PM Liz Truss, who famously lasted less time than a head of lettuce in her last days in office. For Russia, Bremmer noted, "buying a few thousand verified Twitter accounts at $8/pop to promote disinfo feels like a no-brainer."

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Political Violence Getting Normalized in the US | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Who cares if Elon Musk bought Twitter?

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

Might Congress take actions against members of Congress who play down threats for political reasons?

I suspect not. Obviously very disturbing that we are so tribal, we are so polarized that when you see political violence against people like Nancy Pelosi, the Paul Pelosi thing, knocked unconscious by a hammer, a guy goes into his house... And Gabby Giffords and Steve Scalise. This is getting normalized in the United States, and it should never be normalized. And in part it is because if it doesn't happen to your side, you don't pay attention to it. It's not such a big deal. That's not where the country needs to be, but it is where we are presently given just how dysfunctional this feeling of, "If you're not with me, you're my enemy," politically inside the United States. This is a natural impact of that occurring.

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A woman looks out of a window displaying a campaign banner of Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Ramla, Israel.

Reuters

What We’re Watching: Elections loom in Israel & Northern Ireland, Elon Musk rules Twitterverse

Round 5 in Israel: Can Bibi make a comeback?

Israelis are doing the voting thing all over again on Nov. 1 in the country’s fifth general election since 2019. To recap, the current government crumbled in June, a year after PM Yair Lapid successfully brought together an ideologically diverse coalition to oust former longtime leader Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu. Still, current polls suggest that Israel’s melting pot – which includes Jews (secular to ultra-Orthodox), Muslims, Christians, and Druze – remains as divided as ever. Importantly, Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party is slated to win the most seats (as it did in the previous four elections) but (for now) is just shy of mustering enough support to cross the 61-seat threshold needed to form a government. One big change in this cycle is the momentum of three far-right parties that Bibi has courted to serve in his government. Together, the three could win up to 14 seats, suggesting that their extremist anti-Arab, anti-LGBTQ brand could become a more potent force within Israeli politics. Meanwhile, Lapid on Thursday signed a historic maritime deal with Lebanon, but Bibi says he might ditch it if he takes over, though many say this is just pre-election posturing.

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