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An elderly woman walks past a poster encouraging seniors to get vaccinated against COVID in Beijing.

REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

What We’re Watching: Beijing vax mandate, DRC-Rwanda tensions

Beijing gets China's first COVID vax mandate

Somewhat late to the party compared to many parts of the world, China introduced on Wednesday its first COVID vaccine mandate in Beijing. Starting next week, residents of the capital will need to show proof of vax to enter most public spaces as authorities scramble to contain a new outbreak of a more infectious omicron subvariant. Oddly enough for an authoritarian state, China shunned mandates early in the pandemic because most people agreed to get vaxxed on their own, which helped keep the virus under control until late 2021. While nearly 90% of the population is fully vaccinated, inoculation rates among the elderly — those most vulnerable to becoming seriously ill or dying from COVID — are lower because many older Chinese adults are wary of getting jabs. What's more, China's vaccines are not as effective as Western mRNA jabs against new variants, so perhaps the goal of Beijing's mandate is to keep the unvaccinated elderly at home without implementing a citywide lockdown like in Shanghai. How will this affect Xi Jinping's zero-COVID policy? If major outbreaks are reported, expect other big Chinese cities to follow Beijing's lead.

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Boris Johnson Is Going to Be Out, One Way or the Other | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Boris Johnson is going to be out, one way or the other

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

First, will Boris Johnson step down?

I certainly think it is getting likely. He's going to be out, one way or the other. The question is, is it as a result of a second in one month no-confidence vote that he loses this time around, or he reads the writing on the wall, knows he's going to get voted out and so decides to resign himself. If you made me bet, I think he's going to resign, but he might well just force them to do it. He's lost… a majority of conservative voters in the United Kingdom now want Boris Johnson to step down. He's had scandal after scandal after scandal, lied, been caught lying about so many of those scandals, and it's just a disaster, frankly. While the economy's doing badly, while Brexit has not played out the way he said it would, this is a man that has well passed his sell-by date and I don't expect he will be there as prime minister for much longer.

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A truck sits near Parliament Hill as truckers protest COVID vaccine mandates in Ottawa.

REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

Freedom Convoy or disorder fleet?

Canada’s picturesque capital isn’t known for high-stakes political protests and standoffs with police. But for many days, Ottawa has been paralyzed by the Freedom Convoy, a fleet of some 500 trucks whose drivers crossed the country to protest a new federal law requiring all unvaccinated truckers to quarantine when returning from the US.

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Macron & Putin Discuss Ukraine & De-Escalation | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Signs of Russian climbdown following Macron-Putin meeting

How did the Macron-Putin meeting go? What is going on with the Canadian truckers' protest? Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60.

How did the Macron-Putin meeting go?

What was five hours long and it was like a football field away from each other. And of course, Macron is focused on his election coming up. So with all of that, you'd think it would be problematic, but actually engagement between Macron and Biden the day before was pretty strong. And it does look like the ball’s moved a little bit diplomatically. Most importantly, some of the news coming out of the Kremlin overnight that indeed the Russians are planning on taking those troops out of Belarus after the military exercises are over. Now I mean, of course, if they say they are planning on taking them back out of Belarus and putting them into Ukraine, that would be a technicality, but pretty bad. But no, actually that does seem like a bit of a climbdown. Still, Putin is not friendly. He is blustering all over the place and certainly, he wants to be respected. He doesn't feel like he is right now. But on balance we're in a slightly better place because of the Macron meeting than we were the day before.

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A photo illustration of Green Pass and the Christmas Tree, in L'Aquila, Italy, on December 6, 2021. From today, 6 December 2021, the Super Green Pass comes into force throughout Italy.

Andrea Mancini/NurPhoto

Hard Numbers: Italian vax mandate, China ups its space game, Malawi’s food inflation woes, Indian online abuse

50: Italy will make COVID vaccines mandatory for everyone over 50. No penalties have been announced for those who don't comply, but those who refuse jabs — or have not recently recovered from infection — will be denied the "super green pass" necessary to enter a workplace.

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Biden’s Vaccine Mandates Are Becoming a Growing Culture War Issue | US Politics In :60 | GZERO Media

Biden's vaccine mandates caught in a growing culture war

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What is happening with Biden's vaccine mandates?

Well, Biden put in place a mandate for employers to vaccinate or test, on a weekly basis their employees, if they have more than 100 of them. And there's been pushback from a lot of corners of society. Some smaller businesses have objected. Some governors, particularly Texas, Louisiana, have objected.

Texas said the mandate doesn't apply for large employers in its state, even though that puts the employers in a terrible situation of having to choose which level of government they should listen to. And these states have sued in federal courts. The federal courts have stayed the mandate, meaning it won't be implemented until the decision is made probably by the Supreme Court on the grounds that the Labor Department overstepped its authorities in issuing this mandate, claiming that they have the ability to protect workplace safety.

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What We're Watching: Israel finally gets a budget, US expands vax mandate, Portugal elections loom

Israel's political breakthrough. Israel's government has passed a budget for the first time in more than three years. This might sound boring, but it's actually a big deal: for years, former PM Benjamin Netanyahu refused to do it for political reasons, resulting in a lengthy stalemate with four divisive elections in just two years. Getting it done is a big win for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who managed to get his ideologically-diverse coalition of eight parties to agree on the 2021 budget. Failure to pass it by November 14, as per the coalition deal, would have resulted in yet another election, likely a death knell for the current government which only came together this summer at the eleventh hour. The bill includes $10 billion for Arab communities over five years demanded by Mansour Abbas, head of Ra'am, an independent Arab party that serves in the coalition. For now, Bennett and his main partner, the centrist Yair Lapid, are proving wrong the naysayers who warned that the diverse coalition was doomed to collapse. Negotiations now continue over next year's budget ahead of the March 2022 deadline, but passing the 2021 budget has made a fresh vote — and Netanyahu's dream of returning to power — even less likely.

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Congressional spending cuts | US Politics :60 | GZERO Media

From $3.5 trillion to $2 trillion: Cuts to US spending bill mean less money for families

Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What does it actually mean to cut $1 trillion from the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social spending bill?

President Biden has proposed one of the most ambitious expansions of federal spending in recent memory. If he gets everything he wants, it would probably be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society, but he's not going to get everything he wants. Democrats have basically said they cannot do all $3.5 trillion in spending. They're probably going to end up around $2 trillion. So what gets cut? Well, we don't know yet. There's kind of two ways to go about this. They could either cut the number of programs that have been proposed, doing fewer things with more money on a permanent basis, or they could try to do more things, each program getting less money and potentially doing them on a temporary basis. So, a future Congress would have to extend it. What does this mean for you? Well, a lot of the money in here is designed to go directly to families, either in the form of cash payments, through the tax code, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, or subsidies for things like child care, early childhood education, and community college. And if you cut these things back, it means less money is going to go out the door to the American people. It also means less tax increases to finance it. So the implications of what's being proposed could actually end up being a big deal for a lot of Americans who would qualify for benefits under these new programs.

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