President and CEO of the National Urban League, Marc Morial, comes to 'That Made All the Difference' podcast to discuss his time as mayor of New Orleans, today's challenges, and what it will take to build a more just, equitable and inclusive society.
September 30, 2020
Though celebrations will surely be more subdued this year, many Germans will still gather (virtually) on October 3 to celebrate thirty years since reunification.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall — and the subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union — Germany reunited in a process whereby the much wealthier West absorbed the East, with the aim of expanding individual freedoms and economic equality to all Germans.
But thirty years later, this project has — to a large extent — been difficult to pull off. The economic and quality of life gap is shrinking, but lingering inequality continues to impact both German society and politics.
<p><strong>Wealth gap. </strong>Though much progress has been made in expanding economic prosperity in the post-unification era, former West Germany generally remains wealthier than the former East. Research shows that Eastern states continue to lag behind on <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/graphic-truth-one-germany-two-realities" target="_self">unemployment </a>and productivity. </p> <p>Indeed, a 2019 government report on the <a href="https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/DE/Publikationen/Neue-Laender/jahresbericht-zum-stand-der-deutschen-einheit-2019.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=22" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">"status of German unity"</a> (2018 report in English can be read <a href="https://www.bmwi.de/Redaktion/EN/Publikationen/jahresbericht-zum-stand-der-deutschen-einheit-2018.pdf?__blob=publicationFile&v=3" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">here</a>) confirms that wage earners in the East generally earn less, while their risk of falling into poverty is about 25 percent higher. (It's worth noting that excluding Berlin, 12.5 million people live in the former East, while more than 66 million Germans live in the former West.)</p> <p><strong>Lack of opportunity breeds resentment.</strong> Inequality and lack of opportunity have created a sentiment of disillusionment among many East Germans who feel less optimistic about their financial prospects and ability to thrive. A recent <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/10/18/how-the-attitudes-of-west-and-east-germans-compare-30-years-after-fall-of-berlin-wall/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Pew poll</a> found that 42 percent of East Germans say that their children will be better off financially than they themselves were, compared to 50 percent of West Germans who said the same. </p> <p>Indeed, in recent years, many East Germans have expressed resentment at having not reaped the rewards of reunification, which, in turn, has given renewed emphasis to identity politics within that part of the country. </p> <p><strong>Far-right support surges in the East. </strong>The unequal state of play has led many East Germans to pin their hopes on far-right political parties — like the populist <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/whats-going-on-with-the-far-right-in-germany" target="_self">Alternative for Germany (AfD</a>), the largest opposition party in the <a href="https://www.bundestag.de/en/parliament/groups/groups-distribution-197644" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Bundestag</a>, — that seek to exploit public disgruntlement over the economic challenges many have endured in recent years to expand their political cause. </p> <p>And it's working. For years, the far right has been gaining steam in the former East. For example, in state elections held last year in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/27/world/europe/germany-election-afd-thuringia.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Thuringia,</a> the AfD won 23 percent of the vote, up 13 points from 2014. The far right's illiberal and anti-immigrant views also resonated with economically disadvantaged voters in places like Saxony and Lusatia, helping the AfD <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/germany-afd-set-for-second-spot-in-eastern-elections/a-50249887" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">secure several victories</a> across the former East. </p> <p><strong>Education: an equalizing force? </strong>While East Germans tend to be <a href="https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/10/18/how-the-attitudes-of-west-and-east-germans-compare-30-years-after-fall-of-berlin-wall/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">less optimistic</a> than West Germans about the education system, analysis shows that schools in most eastern states <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/07/europe/berlin-wall-fall-30th-anniversary-intl-grm/index.html" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">outperform </a>students at West German institutions in areas like math, biology, and chemistry. </p> <p><a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-24159595" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Chancellor Angela Merkel</a>, Germany's long-serving leader and a former scientist is herself a symbol of what has been achieved by reunification: Growing up in the former East — where her family had to dodge the Stasi (secret police) — Merkel rose through the ranks to become one of Germany's — and Europe's —most consequential leaders. </p> <p><strong>Looking ahead.</strong> Chancellor Merkel and her centrist coalition received a <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/is-angela-merkel-staging-a-comeback" target="_self">boost </a>in the polls in recent months, buoyed by widespread approval of her government's handling of the coronavirus pandemic. But if a "second wave" comes in the winter, and unemployment rises, the AfD may get a new opening to exploit that discontent to exacerbate existing East-West divides. </p>
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September 29, 2020
GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.
The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Watch the full video above.
<p><strong><em>Lynda Stuart on the politicization of the vaccine race</em></strong></p><blockquote><strong></strong>It's an absolute tragedy. Vaccine hesitancy at the best of times is a growing issue in the US and around the world, and politicizing it just makes it worse. It's remarkable... to see this happen at such a critical moment in history. That is the last thing that we need. The politicians should probably step out of the way and let the scientists and the public health physicians do the work, and the politicians should be taking a back seat and empowering those who are more technical and who do this for a living to really drive this. It's really a great shame.</blockquote><p><strong><em>Rohitesh Dhawan on what happens if China pioneers an effective vaccine, and gives it first to nations already testing it</em></strong></p><blockquote>Producing and getting the vaccines out is a mammoth task. And even though China is a manufacturing superpower, it has had to go out and seek external partners with which to both test and manufacture the vaccine... And the agreements are, of course, to give those countries some portion of the vaccines that are thus developed, but also for China to have access to the spoils of the work... This is a way for countries to exert soft power, and in a GZERO world where the US and China are essentially fighting for privacy geopolitically, this will be a dynamic that we have to live with. [And] types of vaccines which are simple as a handle will naturally be more attractive to countries that have less well-developed healthcare infrastructures [so] we will see natural geopolitical alliances that in some cases reinforce existing alliances, and other cases will create new ones.</blockquote><p><strong><em>Mark Suzman on equitable and speedy vaccine distribution</em></strong></p><blockquote>We've got to realize that this is an unprecedented challenge globally. We've never actually tried to vaccinate most of the entire planet... So it's an unprecedented challenge in terms of manufacturing and distribution. But what we also need is to make sure it's affordable and equitably distributed. That means not just in rich countries alone, where there's the challenge that many rich countries would be buying up vaccine supply. And that's why we and others have been trying to participate in broader efforts to both have a prioritization of who gets the vaccines first — including high risk groups and healthcare workers — and to put a premium on affordability. We need to be manufacturing now multiple vaccine candidates at the same time, so they're ready to distribute as and when we get regulatory approval.</blockquote><p><strong><em>Gayle E. Smith on what the world will look like if we don't get a vaccine soon</em></strong></p><blockquote>There is a real danger that there will be a set of countries that are in a state of, quite frankly, perpetual crisis. [Without] travel corridors, there are countries whose economies will collapse. There is a real, real danger of that kind of crisis and the instability that comes with it. [But] one of the things I think is very positive is that despite all the politics, the geopolitical intrigue, the fight against facts that we have seen tragically as part of this pandemic, we've seen really consistent, robust cooperation among scientists, across borders, across communities. Regardless of what happens, we will see an escalation and deepening of that. And if we don't have a vaccine, it will grow further.</blockquote>
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Donald Trump's presidency has irked a lot of people around the world. And in fairness, that's no surprise. He was elected in part to blow up long-standing assumptions about how international politics, trade, and diplomatic relations are supposed to work.
But while he has correctly identified some big challenges — adapting NATO to the 21st century, managing a more assertive China, or ending America's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — his impulsive style, along with his restrictions on trade and immigration, have alienated many world leaders. Global polls show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.
<p>And yet, there are many world leaders who have gotten a lot out of his presidency — in ideological support or specific policies — and who won't be happy if he loses in November. Let's visit some of Trump's highest-profile fans.</p><p><strong>Brazil. </strong>In 2018, an obscure, far-right lawmaker named Jair Bolsonaro swept to power with a brand of provocative anti-establishment politics so similar to the US president's that he earned the nickname "Trump of the Tropics." What's more, Trump's disdain for environmental regulation has helped Bolsonaro to avoid wider global censure for encouraging Amazon deforestation. But just as Trump's victory helped to legitimize rightwing populism around the globe, says Brazilian commentator Guga Chacra, Trump's <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/a-referendum-for-the-whole-world-global-voices-on-the-us-election" target="_self">loss could hurt Bolsonaro's own re-electio</a>n bid for 2022. </p><p><strong>The illiberal Europeans.</strong> Much of Western Europe is fed up with Trump, but the avowedly "illiberal" rightwing nationalist governments in Poland and Hungary are fervent admirers. When Polish President Andrzej Duda was on the verge of losing re-election this summer, he <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/us-election-seen-from-poland-extremely-lucky-to-have-trump" target="_self">made a beeline</a> for the White House for a photo-op that probably helped him to a narrow win. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, meanwhile, has already <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/9/21/hungarys-pm-orban-endorses-trumps-re-election-bid" target="_blank">openly endorsed</a> Trump for re-election. </p><p><strong>Israel.</strong> Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has bet big on the Trump administration, and it's paid off. No American president in recent memory has been as accommodating to Israel's aims — whether in recognizing its control of the Golan Heights, walking out of the Iran nuclear deal, moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, or brokering the normalization of ties with the UAE and Bahrain. As a result, Trump is hugely popular with Israelis, and he featured prominently in Bibi's own re-election campaign this summer. Netanyahu now faces growing protests — along with lingering graft charges – and he can ill-afford to see Trump fall from power, Tel Aviv-based commentator Neri Zilber recently <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/us-election-seen-from-israel-a-domestic-political-issue-here" target="_self">told</a> us. </p><p><strong>India.</strong> New Delhi has been very, very pleased with one particular aspect of Trump's policy: his hard line on China. India has had testy ties with Beijing over the years, and they are getting worse as the two countries now jockey for 21st century Asian supremacy. So while previous US administrations had talked a big game on China but then gone soft behind closed doors, Trump, <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/us-election-seen-from-india-trump-was-willing-to-break-china" target="_self">says</a> Pramit Pal Chaudhuri of the Hindustan Times, "was willing to break China." </p><p><strong>Russia.</strong> When Trump won in 2016, Russian lawmakers <a href="https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-11-09/russian-leaders-literally-cheer-trumps-victory" target="_blank">popped champagne</a>. Four years later, the bilateral relationship is as toxic as ever — the US has imposed more sanctions while walking out of arms control treaties that Moscow wants to renegotiate. Still, Trump has been great for Vladimir Putin in a more general sense: Trump's view is that international politics is about transactions rather than values and he thinks America has no business playing global policeman. All of that lines up nicely with Putin's vision of a multipolar world in which US power is significantly diminished. If Trump loses, Putin would have to contend with a more traditional internationalist president in Joe Biden. </p><p>But let's be serious: what Putin probably wants<em> most</em>, whoever ultimately wins, is a disputed election that further undermines confidence in American democracy. </p><p><em>Want to know more about how the world sees the US election? Check out our entire project on it — interviews with locals in 24 different countries — </em><a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/a-referendum-for-the-whole-world-global-voices-on-the-us-election" target="_self"><em>here</em></a><em>! </em></p>
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September 30, 2020
Watch: Tolu Olubunmi in conversation with Dr. Samira Asma from the World Health Organization on how they are advancing health data innovation in the age of COVID-19.
This content is brought to you by our 2020 UN General Assembly partner, Microsoft.
Watch UN Innovation Room conversations weekly on Thursdays at 9 am EDT: https://www.gzeromedia.com/unga/livestream/
<p>#gzeroWithMicrosoft #UNGA #UN75</p>
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