What is going on between the WHO, the US and China?

What is going on between the WHO, the US and China?

We need someone to blame for this virus crisis, right? Trump will be elected or not in November on the back of well over 100,000 deaths, horrible economic performance and unemployment. No real bounce seen before November. Probably a second wave just before elections, given the seasonality of the virus. Which means you've got to blame China, the World Health Organization. And that means the Americans threatening to pull out of the organization as a whole, saying that they're doing lifting for China and also demanding investigation, as are other countries, of China for how they handled the initial outbreak of the disease. I am much more sympathetic to calls about Chinese responsibility because it's clear they did mishandle and did cover up the early days of this virus. The Chinese are saying they're only prepared to accept an investigation after the crisis is over. The WHO is saying that's three to five years from now. I agree on the time frame. Don't agree that that would be an appropriate way to handling it. A lot of countries around the world, particularly allies of the United States, are increasingly putting pressure on China. Big trade dust-up between the Chinese and the Australians as a consequence. Not directed by the United States, which is interesting. Australia did that all by themselves.


Secondly, how are lockdown measures affecting Turkey during Ramadan?

Erdogan, the president who was trying to reopen the economy understands if they allow fully people to come to mass prayers and the rest during Ramadan, would lead to much more significant outbreaks. They have gotten their testing regime up significantly. Their economy is in real trouble. They're keeping it locked down while Ramadan is going on. That is a smart move. Certainly, one of the economies out there that I am most concerned about. They're going to need to go someplace for international aid, most likely that the IMF and Erdogan wants no part of it. He said publicly, absolutely not, a horrible organization, they force all sorts of unacceptable reforms, put you under their thumb. But if it's not them, I don't see money for them. The potential for a really messy exit, capital controls, default, seems reasonably high in the coming year in Turkey.

How is Vladimir Putin and Russia handling the pandemic?

Pretty badly. Doctors keep getting thrown out of windows in Russia. We don't like to see that. Doctors that are dealing with the coronavirus, they've been not upfront around how many people were getting this disease in the early days, as well as how many people have been dying from it. Russia now has the second highest number of cases in the world that they're reporting. Though the death toll is still pretty low, quite low, because if people die from other illnesses, even if they have coronavirus, they usually will put the other illness. A lot of doctors are saying this is being mishandled. Putin presently at 59% approval ratings. That's the worst approval rating of his entire presidency. Keep in mind that also, that's on the back of $30 oil. A big fight that was mistimed with the Saudis on that front. And, of course, economic contraction. Putin has no opposition to speak of in the country. He's not under any pressure to leave. It's not under any pressure to go anywhere, even after this term is over. He's changing the constitution, over time. He's going to be president for life. But he's not governing well, and his economy and his country is in severe decline. And that's obvious in the what they can and can't do in other parts of the world.

Finally, another health minister gone. Where is Brazil and its coronavirus response?

Pretty much the worst of any major democracy around the world. Two health ministers, both capable, fired within four weeks. Not something you normally want, but really not during a pandemic. In Brazil, they're saying that everyone should be taking the miracle drug, chloroquine. We now have President Trump saying he's taking hydroxychloroquine himself, even with the FDA saying you shouldn't. But he hasn't gotten rid of Fauci or a second head of the infectious disease response. Bolsonaro, by a strong head and shoulders, deserves the accolade for most incompetent response of a democracy to coronavirus.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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28: The UK and the EU have again failed to agree on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In a 28-page document, the British government had suggested further changes to trade rules that were already negotiated as part of the Brexit settlement, but Brussels was not having any of it.

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