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.
Brazil's Senate committee accused President Bolsonaro of crimes against humanity for COVID-19 negligence. What's happening there?
Well, they did actually consider accusing him of genocide. They chose not to do that, probably because someone looked into the definition of genocide and realized that that was really stupid. Certainly this is going to make a lot of headlines in Brazil. It's embarrassing for Bolsonaro. None of it's going to pass into law. None of it's going to lead to him being incarcerated or sent to The Hague, but it is one more thing, along with energy price spikes because of drought and their reliance on hydro, because of the economy not doing very well. His popularity right now is in the toilet. It's around 30% and they've got elections next year. Very unlikely that Bolsonaro is able to win. That's the real importance here, is his days are numbered.
FDA is set to approve the "mix and match" approach for COVID booster shots in the US. Will this deepen global vaccine inequality?
I don't know if it would deepen it, but it's going to extend it in the sense that we in the United States have been saying publicly that the vaccine..., this pandemic is not over anywhere until it's over everywhere, which is a great thing to say. But of course it's not in any way true in terms of the way we act. The way we act is as long as we've got our Moderna, we've got our Pfizer and we've got our boosters, we get to live like normal again. While around the world, most of the lower-developed countries haven't even gotten their first shot yet. That's the reality around the world. And that's driving much greater mistrust between wealthy countries and poor countries. At the same time, we have our own political differences that are growing inside the United States.
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