Eni's luminescent solar concentrators can help smart windows and next-generation buildings generate electricity. But even Eni hadn't imagined using this technology to create eyeglasses capable of charging mobile phones and headsets.
We've written recently about how the COVID-19 pandemic will hit poorer countries particularly hard. But the burden of the virus' spread also falls more heavily on working class people even in wealthy countries, particularly in Europe and the United States. This is exacerbating the divide between rich and poor that had already upended the political establishment in countries around the world even before anyone had heard of a "novel coronavirus."
<p><strong>The working class is more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection and less likely to get medical care. </strong></p> <ul class="ee-ul"><li>In both rich countries and poor, working class people often live in densely populated cities where infectious disease can spread more quickly and easily. </li></ul> <ul class="ee-ul"><li>The types of jobs they hold leave them less able to work from home. If they don't work, they don't <a href="https://time.com/5795651/coronavirus-workers-economy-inequality/" target="_blank">get paid</a>. In that case, they can't pay bills and feed their families. </li></ul> <ul class="ee-ul"><li>If they do work, as many are still <a href="https://www.axios.com/axios-ipsos-coronavirus-index-rich-sheltered-poor-shafted-9e592100-b8e6-4dcd-aee0-a6516892874b.html" target="_blank">trying to do</a>, they're more likely to be exposed to COVID-19, both on the way to work and at the job site itself, than people who can work from home. </li></ul> <ul class="ee-ul"><li>Those with the least income, particularly in the United States, are less able to afford medical care, leaving many COVID-19 cases untreated. Lack of treatment <a href="#_msocom_1" target="_blank"></a>helps spread the disease to the people they have contact with. </li></ul> <ul class="ee-ul"><li>An eventual vaccine may be too expensive, at least at first, for the poorest people to afford. </li></ul> <p><strong>The working class will take longest to recover from COVID's economic fallout. </strong></p> <ul class="ee-ul"><li>Poorer people so ill they <em>must</em> be treated may later find themselves burdened with heavy medical debt. </li></ul><ul class="ee-ul"><li>Lost jobs that employ working class people will be slower to return, because people generally will remain reluctant to enter the markets, factories, public transport, restaurants and other public places where they work — possibly for many months. </li></ul><ul class="ee-ul"><li>In the US<a href="#_msocom_3" target="_blank"></a><a href="#_msocom_4" target="_blank"></a>, lost jobs mean lost health care for entire families. </li></ul><ul class="ee-ul"><li>Combine heavy debt with lost jobs, and many working-class people will have little access to cash or credit for years to come. </li></ul> <p><strong>The Political Impact:</strong> <strong></strong>The anti-establishment politics created by inequality in recent years will intensify.<strong> </strong>Over the past five years, public anger at traditional political elites has upended politics in Britain, the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, Ukraine, Ireland, and other countries. </p><p>That anger is driven in part by suspicion that political establishments in these countries aren't willing and/or able to meet the needs of those who've benefited the least from globalization and technological change over the past generation.</p><p>For all the reasons detailed above, the ongoing global pandemic is likely to stoke that anger even further. </p><p>And as we've seen over the past several years, the political consequences can be profound and impossible to predict.</p><a href="#_msoanchor_2" target="_blank"></a><p><a href="#_msoanchor_2" target="_blank"><br></a></p>
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Meet Mark Wetton, a Kentucky-based businessman who owns a dust-collection factory in Wuhan. He has been there since the beginning of the outbreak, and describes the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak there, life in lockdown, and what things are like today as the city finally begins to reopen its borders and come back to life. He also shares some lessons learned that he hopes Americans will heed.
For much of the world, the rapidly expanding coronavirus pandemic is the worst global crisis in generations. Not so for terrorists, traffickers, and militant groups.
Efforts to fight coronavirus are diverting government attention and resources away from militants and gangs, creating huge opportunities, particularly for transnational terrorist groups who thrive in vacuums of security and political power, says Ali Soufan, founder of the Soufan Group, and a leading authority on global terrorist organizations.
ISIS, for example, has recently called on its followers to intensify their jihad against governments in the West and in the Muslim world, particularly in Iraq. (Though they also issued a travel advisory against heading to Europe right now, which we imagined here.) The jihadists of Boko Haram have stepped up strikes againstweak governments in West Africa. And even as Iran grapples with one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in the world, its Shia proxies inside Iraq are continuing to attack US bases there as Washington withdraws troops from the country over coronavirus concerns.
<p><strong>What's more, the economic fallout of the crisis will also create good opportunities for bad actors. </strong>Coronavirus-related lockdowns and trade interruptions could plunge as many as half a billion people into poverty, according to a <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/hard-numbers-us-unemployment-hits-record-high-global-poverty-looms-iraq-has-a-new-pm-again" target="_self">new Oxfam study</a>. That's a godsend for groups that prey upon societies' most vulnerable and desperate people. "This pandemic is worsening factors that lead to trafficking, like lack of education, violence, unemployment, and poverty" says Agnes Odhiambo, who <a href="https://www.google.com/search?client=safari&rls=en&q=agnes+odhiambo&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8" target="_blank">follows</a> human trafficking in Africa for Human Rights Watch. </p><p>A similar dynamic is at play in Italy, according to researchers from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. Quarantines and border closures make it harder for Italian criminal organizations to conduct their usual business of trafficking and smuggling – most of which goes through legal border crossings anyway – but they are <a href="https://www.occrp.org/en/blog/11905-cocaine-corona-how-the-pandemic-is-squeezing-italian-crime-groups" target="_blank">set to make a killing</a> by loan sharking to nearly bankrupt businesses as lockdowns ease. </p><p><strong>Still, some militants are on the public health frontlines themselves. </strong>Groups that control large swathes of territory of their own – say, Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon, or the Houthis in Yemen – are now on the hook for dealing with COVID-19 themselves, if it comes. These groups now face "the same demands and requirements that a state actor would face," Robert Malley, director of International Crisis Group told GZERO. Hezbollah, for example, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-hezbollah/hezbollah-deploys-medics-hospitals-against-coronavirus-in-lebanon-idUSKBN21C3R7" target="_blank">recently mobilized</a> some 25,000 health care workers to tackle the coronavirus outbreak. (No word on how much personal protective equipment it has.) A world away, the powerful drug gangs of Rio de Janeiro have assumed responsibility for quarantines in the city's hilltop favelas, where the Brazilian government has little sway.</p><p><strong>The ceasefire silver lining.</strong> In some cases, the challenge of dealing with coronavirus may open up fresh opportunities for peace. In late March, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres <a href="https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1059972" target="_blank">called for</a> armed groups around the world to lay down their arms so that governments and insurgents alike could focus on stopping the pandemic. Most have ignored that plea, but some have listened. In Colombia, the ELN, the largest remaining leftist guerilla insurgency in the country, declared a unilateral ceasefire for the entire month of April. In the Philippines, the government and communist guerillas <a href="https://time.com/5809477/philippines-new-peoples-army-ceasefire-covid19/" target="_blank">declared</a> a coronavirus ceasefire in a decades-long conflict that has killed more than 40,000 people. One of the smaller Anglophone separatist militias in Cameroon <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-52053738" target="_blank">has done the same</a>. The warring gangs of South Africa's Cape Town have <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-africa-52205158/how-coronavirus-inspired-a-gangland-truce-in-south-africa" target="_blank">declared a truce</a>. And earlier this week, the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthi rebels in Yemen <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/08/world/middleeast/saudi-yemen-ceasefire-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">announced</a> a unilateral two week ceasefire. Tenuous though it may be, it's still the first of its kind in a five-year civil war that has created the world's worst humanitarian catastrophe. In all these cases, it's the threat from coronavirus that has stopped the fighting, at least for now.</p><p><strong>Bottom line: </strong>It will be a long time before governments and international institutions can dial back their focus on COVID-19. In the meantime, the coronavirus will create huge opportunities for groups that exploit vulnerable people and vacuums in state power. </p>
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April 09, 2020
The coronavirus is likely to hit poorer countries particularly hard, but it is also laying a bigger burden on working class people even in wealthy ones. As less affluent people suffer disproportionately not only from the disease, but also from the economic costs of containing it, we can expect a worsening of income inequalities that have already upended global politics over the past few years. Here is a look at inequality in some of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 so far.