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Uncoordinated Global Coronavirus Response; Kim Jong-un; US Immigration

What's the coronavirus update? Is there global coordination yet fighting this pandemic?

Global coordination is completely absent. There is a level of harmonization from the central bank governors because they are mostly technocratic and independent. And because they all basically hail from Western advanced industrial countries. The Chinese don't have a convertible currency. So, it's a wholly different story, monetary policy.


Otherwise, fiscal policy is not oriented in coordination. It is certainly not what the emerging markets, the developing world, is going to need soon. The G20 and G-7 meetings so far have accomplished very little, on that front. But most importantly, a complete lack of coordination on the medical side, in terms of testing, metrics, even things like the contact tracing, really needed across the West. France says they want to start their own, but they've got privacy issues with Apple right now. Need the private sector and the public sector, at the very least, coming together on the tech fixes. That should be the easiest thing to do. You want one system. We've got every country at best, coming up with one for their own.

Even inside the United States, there's a lack of coordination. President Trump comes up with, "here is what phase one, phase two, phase three looks like." Then you've got a bunch of states around the United States saying, "we're going to open up even before phase one is in place." Not what you would have expected, but that's where we are.

What do you make of reports that Kim Jong-un is extremely unwell?

He's not that old. If he dies, there's probably not a good succession plan in place. I want to assume, his younger sister would take over since she's the one that has been given much more significant authority, big roles across the North Korean state government. But, might there be an internal military coup? One doesn't know. Danger in a country like this is, whenever the leader is sort of not there, whether it's out of the country or under surgery, the potential for a, you know, a hostile response internally is real. It's clearly very dangerous when the world's most totalitarian state, one of the only ones that still exists now, with virtually no intel, even from the Chinese on what's going on inside, and suddenly the leader might be gone. The people that will suffer the most on the back of this will be the North Koreans themselves. Hard to imagine that that would lead to military activities that would threaten stability in South Korea or Japan. But that doesn't mean that you would have, if he were to die, the question of the disposition of their nuclear weapons and material, whether the military would all act in coordinated fashion. Those are real concerns and one of the reasons nobody wanted them to have nukes to begin with.

And then finally, how will the US suspending immigration change the status quo?

Not very much. Trump makes announcements like this and then there are all sorts of exceptions. There are lots of immigrants you need. The State Department just a few days ago said they want more immigrants and they're going to make it easier for them to apply, if they can be a part of the health care response to coronavirus. We desperately need more people doing contact tracing. People involved in that I suspect we'll also be welcome in terms of immigrants. I suspect that there will be exceptions made for people that are able to pay large sums of money to get visas that way. So, first, not many people traveling right now. Generally, all sorts of quarantine, about 60% of the global population under lockdown.

Secondly, not going to have much real impact. There'll be exceptions. But of course, what Trump wants to do is give something that his base really loves and at the same time, if he agitates international alliances, he doesn't really care. That's a longer-term problem and it's one he doesn't think matters very much. So, unfortunate from my perspective, because you don't need to undermine alliances that have already gotten weaker over the past years. But Trump's view is those relationships don't add to very much in terms of American influence and power. And he's been consistent in the way he's acting, the way he's felt, and policy on that.

Microsoft released a new annual report, called the Digital Defense Report, covering cybersecurity trends from the past year. This report makes it clear that threat actors have rapidly increased in sophistication over the past year, using techniques that make them harder to spot and that threaten even the savviest targets. For example, nation-state actors are engaging in new reconnaissance techniques that increase their chances of compromising high-value targets, criminal groups targeting businesses have moved their infrastructure to the cloud to hide among legitimate services, and attackers have developed new ways to scour the internet for systems vulnerable to ransomware. Given the leap in attack sophistication in the past year, it is more important than ever that steps are taken to establish new rules of the road for cyberspace: that all organizations, whether government agencies or businesses, invest in people and technology to help stop attacks; and that people focus on the basics, including regular application of security updates, comprehensive backup policies, and, especially, enabling multi-factor authentication. Microsoft summarized some of the most important insights in this year's report, including related suggestions for people and businesses.

Read the whole post and report at Microsoft On The Issues.

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.

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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.

The enormous scale of the coronavirus pandemic was captured earlier this week as the global death toll surpassed 1 million people. As the weight of the grim milestone sunk in, the New York Times noted that COVID-19 has now killed more people this year than the scourges of HIV, malaria, influenza, and cholera — combined. While some countries like Germany and South Korea are models in how to curb the virus' spread through social distancing and mask wearing, other countries around the world have recently seen caseloads surge again, raising fears of a dreaded "second wave" of infections. Here's a look at countries where the per-capita caseload has spiked in recent days.

"The jury is out" European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde says when asked if things in Europe will get economically worse before they get better. "All I know is that it's going to be a journey, and probably a long journey." Her conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of a new GZERO World episode.

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