O GLOBO
O Globo is a nationwide Brazilian newspaper based in Rio de Janeiro. It was founded in 1925 and is one of the cornerstones of the media conglomerate Organizações Globo, led by businessman Roberto Marinho.
Coronavirus
Alessio Perrone

As COVID Explodes In Brazil, Serrana Becomes World's First Fully Vaccinated City

As part of a medical study, the mid-sized Brazilian city of Serrana is now nearly 100% vaccinated, even as the rest of the country is crumbling under COVID's toll.

As Brazil lost another 3,462 of its citizens to COVID-19 on Wednesday, a little-known city of 45,000 in the center of the country had a very different story to tell: Welcome to Serrana, believed to be the world's first city to be immunized against COVID-19.

Facing a highly contagious variant and poor public management, Brazil is currently the country worst-hit by the pandemic, accounting this month for one of every four COVID-19 deaths and a overall death toll above 360,000. But this town's entire population has been vaccinated against COVID and walks mask-free; its health workers only treating a small number of lingering coronavirus cases.

Located some 300 kilometers north of São Paulo, Serrana has been distributing to all its residents since February two doses of Sinovac, a Coronavirus vaccine developed in China, as part of "Project S," a Brazilian study. Researchers hope the project will help settle pressing questions about COVID-19 vaccines, such as: Can someone who is vaccinated still transmit the virus? Does the vaccine work against variants? What exactly is the efficacy of China's vaccine, given that even Chinese authorities have recently recognized its shortcomings?

More than 97% of the population is vaccinated.

Serrana was chosen for the study because it used to be a hard-hit community, though that would be hard to tell now. Vaccinations ended on April 11, with researchers vaccinating 97.7% of the target population. Infection rates have plummeted. So has the number of people turning up at hospitals with respiratory problems. According to O Globo"s Valor Economico, it has been a week since anyone has been intubated.

The law still requires residents to wear masks and comply with social distancing, at least until the study's initial results are published, presumably in May. Yet impatience seems to spreading fast in Serrana, and many residents already act as if the pandemic is over. Estado de São Paulo reporters who visited the town saw several group gatherings and said many residents had ceased to wear masks.

Hope, too, seems contagious. Business owners who saw revenue drop by an average of 10% during the 2020 lockdown now appear relieved. They are joined by dozens of companies around Brazil who contacted local authorities hoping to set up a branch in Serrana. "The expectation is that businesses will be allowed to reopen this month, even if at 30% capacity," restaurant owner Ricardo Tadeu Lisi told Valor Economico. He said his revenues fell 70% in 2020, and he had to close down, renegotiate salaries and dismiss 14 employees — but now he hoped to reopen soon.

"It takes time to get back to normal, but we hope that 2021 will be a better year than 2020," he said. "There is a light at the end of the tunnel."

Geopolitics
Alessio Perrone

Lula To Sarkozy To Trump: The Toxic Mix Of Justice And Politics

-Analysis-

It was quite a statement about Brazil's justice system: "I have been the victim of the biggest judicial lie in 500 years," Luiz Inácio da Silva declared last week. But the hyperbole from the former president, better known as Lula, was also very much about politics — considered by many to be the opening salvo in his election campaign next year to return to the presidency.

The 75-year-old onetime labor leader, who went on to serve as Brazil"s president between 2003 and 2010, maintains widespread popularity because of his big words and big personality, but also for having introduced far-reaching social programs that are credited with lifting millions of Brazilians out of poverty. After having seen his protégé and successor Dilma Rousseff impeached, Lula tried to run in the 2018 presidential election but was disqualified after being implicated and convicted (and ultimately, jailed) in a corruption scandal.

But last week, Brazil's Supreme Court cleared Lula, setting up a likely run against current president Jair Bolsonaro in 2022. The O Globo daily featured a front-page cartoon of Lula as an angrily impatient Superman, while Folha de S. Paulo headlined its coverage of his speech: "As in the plot of a Greek play, Lula returns to save democracy."

But whether used for Lula or against him, it's already clear that playing the judicial card will be a big part of Brazil's next election. Lula's supporters will blame "politicized" judges who barred him in 2018 from standing in the way of the public will, and clearing the path for four years of Bolsonaro. His detractors will blame other ‘politicized" judges who might now allow him to run despite his alleged implication in corruption scandals.

It's a dynamic seen at play around the world — walking the fine line between respecting democracy's necessary separation of powers and stoking populist anger amid painstaking judicial proceedings.

Lula in Sao Paulo on March 10 — Photo: Vanessa Carvalho/ZUMA

We've seen similar scenes play out in recent years in Italy, where Silvio Berlusconi used his time in office to lash out at judges who prosecuted him and passed laws designed to make him immune from prosecution. More recently in France, former President Nicolas Sarkozy, still the most popular figure among center-right voters, was convicted of trying to bribe a judge. Le Figaro noted that Sarkozy didn't go as far as Lula, prefering not to call his conviction "politicized justice," but rather a "profound injustice." He added that he has "gotten used to facing this kind of harrassment for 10 years."

And the next theater of such political-judicial drama? Keep your eye on the world's most powerful democracy, where Donald Trump is eyeing another run for the White House in four years — and prosecutors are investigating the former president for a variety of alleged misdeeds. If you think Lula didn't hold back in attacking the judicial system, just wait for the Donald.

Geopolitics
Alessio Perrone

As Brazil Hits 250,000 COVID Deaths, Bolsonaro Eases Gun Control

The streets are quiet, the joy is missing, and the guns are out. The eve of Carnival feels different this year in Brazil — and it's not just the pandemic. Even as newspaper headlines report the country's coronavirus death toll nearing 250,000, President Jair Bolsonaro has introduced another element of danger: new looser gun ownership laws.

The move is made of four different presidential decrees signed earlier this month that facilitate purchasing, owning and carrying guns. In short, Bolsonaro relaxed background checks on gun purchases, scrapping rules that required authorization from the Army Command and a psychologist accredited by the Federal Police — now, a report signed by a registered psychologist will be enough. And more importantly, Bolsonaro increased the number of weapons allowed for hunters to 30, for sport shooters to 60, and for ordinary citizens to six, allowing Brazilians to build small private arsenals.

Brazilians already live in one of the most dangerous countries in the world, having recorded 43,892 violent deaths in 2020 — in the middle of a pandemic. The figure is a 5% increase compared to 2019, according to G1"s Monitor of Violence. Many are victims of police shootings, 75% of whom are Black and mixed-race Brazilians, according to a recent study.

People lack oxygen, ICU beds, vaccines and jobs — but now they can buy up to six weapons to ‘protect themselves'.

This is the second time Bolsonaro has relaxed gun laws — in 2019, another set of measures led to the proliferation of guns among civilians, although some of them were suspended later. "In a carnival with an atmosphere of Ash Wednesday, the country is watching a macabre parade caused by the tragedy of the new coronavirus," wrote the O Globo daily in a scathing condemnation of the president. "People lack oxygen, ICU beds, vaccines and jobs — but now they can buy up to six weapons to ‘protect themselves'."

Bolsonaro, whose signature salute is a two-fingered gun sign, responded with characteristic dismissal. "The people are pumped," he said while on a break on the shores of the southern state of Santa Catarina. His son Eduardo added that shooting was a sport, and "demonizing" it was "part of a dictatorial leftist plan."

Even in the country that voted him in, it seemed too much. "Does anyone in their right mind believe that security will improve by arming citizens to the teeth?" O Globo asked. "More weapons and more ammunition means more shots fired. And, as dozens of academic studies have shown, more shots mean more deaths."

Weird
Alidad Vassigh

Dying Indigenous Tribe In Brazil Killed Off For Good By COVID

An 86-year-old identified as the last male member of the Juma, a Brazilian tribe on the verge of extinction, died of the coronavirus last week, Rio-based daily O Globo reported.

Amoin Aruká died in a hospital Feb. 18 in Porto Velho, in the northern Brazilian state of Rondonia, where he was receiving treatment since earlier this month. Aruká"s people, the Juma, have plummeted in numbers from 15,000 several decades ago to four this year, having faced killings at the hands of miners and landowners, and disease brought into the area by outsiders. And now COVID-19 has taken a final toll on the Juma, along with other indigenous people. Madrid-based El Pais reports that COVID has killed 567 from Brazil's shrinking population of indigenous tribes.

Aruká had three daughters who married men of another nation, the Uru-Eu-Wau-Wau, which would make his grandchildren of mixed blood, the website Infobae reported. Yet, it added, they would have the right to live in a land enclave marked in 2004 as Juma territory thanks to efforts made by Aruká. Like other native lands, it observed, the enclave remains vulnerable to incursions by Brazilians, and to infection from the coronavirus.

Kanindé, a Brazilian cultural and environmental group, published a "farewell note" and obituary in pictures that we are sharing here:

Society
Bertrand Hauger

Adios Maradona: 22 World Front Pages On The Death Of Soccer God

El Pibe de Oro, Barrilete, El Dios, Cósmico, D10S, Dieguito, El 10, El Diez ...

The quantity of nicknames is just one more sign that fútbol legend Diego Armando Maradona was in a category of his own. His death Wednesday from a heart attack at the age of 60 was a bonafide global event.

Here are the front pages of 22 newspapers dedicated to the passing of the soccer legend: from dailies in his native Buenos Aires to the cities of his beloved club teams, Naples, Italy and Barcelona, Spain, but also California, France, India and beyond celebrated arguably the greatest artist that the beautiful game has ever seen.

ARGENTINA

Cronica, a daily newspaper in Maradona

Cronica

Portada de Clarín (Argentina)

Clarin

Portada de La Nación (Argentina)

La Nacion

Portada de Página/12 (Argentina)

Pagina/12

Portada de La Prensa (Argentina)

La Prensa

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Economy
Alessio Perrone

COVID In Brazil, Cause And Effects Of Wealth Inequality

Rafaela Dutra was working in Rio de Janeiro's tourism industry and studying to become a nurse when the coronavirus arrived. A resident of the sprawling low-income favelas in the city's Zona Norte, she had worked in one of Copacabana's shiny, high-rise hotels, earning up to twice the region's minimum monthly wage of 1,200 reais ($220). But after six years on the job, Dutra told Brazilian daily O Globo, she was laid off in April after the city had dried up of tourists. The only work she could find was selling clothes on the street at a time when most people started working from home or had also lost their jobs. "Some days I sell less than 50 reais ($8.80) worth of stuff," she said.

Dutra's story is a case in point: poverty and inequality are on the rise in Brazil, a country of 210 million people, where a massive wealth divide has long plagued society. With COVID-19, the economy has begun to unravel and policymakers are warning of a backslide into entrenched poverty of dangerous proportions after temporary government support winds down.

A poorer Rio: Poverty is rising fast in Rio de Janeiro state, around the iconic coastal city, according to a study by Marcelo Neri of the Getulio Vargas Foundation, a research institute:

• In August alone, Neri found that more than 270,000 Rio residents fell into poverty.

• Autonomous and informal workers suffered the most during the country's lockdown and lost their livelihoods from one day to the next.

• Rio de Janeiro is Brazil's second-biggest economy after São Paulo — but more than five million residents are either unemployed or informal workers.

An isolated case? Researchers caution that Rio is performing worse than the rest of Brazil:

• Unemployment is on the rise throughout the country, where more than 14 million people are out of work, reports the Correio Braziliense, as unemployment has risen from 10% to 14.4%.

• But at the same time, many other Brazilians are being lifted out of poverty at a historic rate. Largely due to a government emergency support scheme that hands vulnerable Brazilians 600 reais per month ($106), the number of destitute Brazilians has fallen by more than 20% during the pandemic (from close to 9 million in May to 6.9 million now). This is the best result Brazil has posted in 40 years.

• The policy can help explain Bolsonaro's spike in popularity even though more than 150,000 deaths are blamed on the coronavirus.

Photo: Fabio Teixeira/ZUMA

No reason to be cheerful: "The support scheme shows that social policies are designed badly in Brazil. When the government withdraws the 600-real-scheme, extreme poverty will triple by the beginning of 2021," Daniel Duque of the Brazilian Institute of Economics at the Getulio Vargas Foundation told the Gazeta do Povo. "When you look at income distribution, you can see that inequality has exploded. The rich are making more money during the pandemic, and the poorer have seen money wane in their pockets."

Go deeper: Not long ago, Brazil was hailed as an economic miracle for the rate at which it was lifting its people out of poverty. Now, The pandemic risks jeopardizing the progress the country made.

• Between 2000 and 2015, some 50 million low-income Brazilians were lifted out of poverty, or some one-quarter of the population.

• The results were largely linked with the popular Bolsa Familiascheme introduced by leftist President Inácio Lula da Silva, known as Lula. The policy gives poorer families a monthly stipend in exchange for sending children to school and complying with health checkups.

• But Brazil experienced the worst recession in its history between 2014 and 2016, causing inequality to rise again. Last year's "Global Inequality Report" ranked the country second in the world (behind Qatar) for having the highest concentration of income in the top 1%, Folha de S. Paulo reported.

Poverty is a risk factor: In Brazil too, the virus has killed the poor and the marginalized in higher proportions:

• A housekeeper was the first death from COVID-19 reported in Rio de Janeiro in March.

• The evolution of the pandemic in Brazil has killed poor and Afro-Brazilian people more than the rest of the population. They are often essential and informal workers, or simply workers who could not afford to stop working during the pandemic.

• One more reminder that "Social inequality has a direct impact on deaths among the poorest and least educated," as Paula Maçaira, a researcher of Industrial Engineering of the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, told O Globo. "The more unfavorable the patient's socio-economic situation, the more likely he is to die."

Geopolitics

Trump Or Biden: 15 World Leaders, Who They Are Rooting For

Every U.S. election carries consequences beyond America's borders. But Nov. 3 stands out for multiple reasons: a lethal pandemic has killed more than one million people across the world, once thriving economies are in tatters, U.S. isolationism has created an international power vacuum that is allowing right-wing autocrats to thrive across continents. And then, there's Trump.

What's at stake: Having become a de facto leader for many of the world's populists, Trump has recently signalled that after the election on Nov. 3, an eventual transition of power in the case of his defeat might not be peaceful. Yes, democracy itself is on the line. For this and many other reasons, the world's eyes have focused on the U.S. campaign — and that includes presidents and prime ministers everywhere.

Clues and confessions: Of course definitive conclusions about whether a world leader favors Joe Biden or Donald Trump are hard to come by: diplomacy and the sheer fact that they will have to be prepared to work with either man induces many to hide their cards. Still, some have left breadcrumbs (or explicit statements) behind, and others we can quite easily surmise. We followed them to bring you our best bet about whether top world leaders are leaning more to Team Trump or Team Biden.

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Geopolitics
Jeff Israely

Trump And COVID: Will It Be Like Boris Johnson Or Bolsonaro?

Ahead of the Nov. 3 election, this is an October Surprise that has four full weeks to play out.

The "first rough draft of history…" That's what they used to call the news back when most of us got it delivered in daily newspapers and our once-a-night evening broadcast. Now that everything that happens comes flooding at us, all the time, with more and more angles and voices and fewer and fewer agreed upon standards … well, that first draft has gotten much rougher.

The news of President Trump testing positive for COVID-19 pinged across the planet soon after midnight Washington time, just as we were waking up Friday morning here in Europe — and we all (inside and outside the news business) are expected to instantly start making sense of this apparently monumental breaking news story.

It is a tale about Trump and his unimaginable presidency, but also about this unprecedented pandemic. It is the proverbial (early) "October surprise," just a month before the Nov. 3 election, that throws an already tumultuous high-stakes campaign into uncharted territory, in what is still the world's most influential country.

It will be viewed by some as an ironic dose of "just desserts' for a leader who has long downplayed the risks of the virus. Yet anyone seeing this news who claims to know how it will now play out clearly has failed to understand the nature of either this virus, or this president. There are countless possible scenarios, of course. But to begin this first draft before it even happens, it's worth looking at two other world leaders — each with a Trumpian approach to both leadership and COVID — who both happened to contract the virus in the past months. And then, try to factor in the coming election, now just 32 days away:

Boris Johnson: The populist British Prime Minister was one of the first major politicians to announce that he had tested positive. The news in late March came after he had initially downplayed the gravity of the pandemic, and even considered foregoing any lockdowns in the UK in order to achieve so-called "herd immunity." Once stricken himself, Johnson initially claimed his symptoms were relatively mild, but over the coming days his health deteriorated, and he wound up in intensive care.

The Guardian later reported that doctors nearly decided to put the 55-year-old overweight on a ventilator, which has been a sign that a COVID-19's patient condition is grave. Johnson himself later quipped that "it could have gone either way." Though he emerged, and gained a momentary boost of public sympathy (thanks also to Johnson's girlfriend giving birth), the political "optics' were awful vis a vis the pandemic: a brash leader who'd brushed off the gravity of the coronavirus was debilitated for nearly a full month, mostly out of public view, forced to acknowledge (first-hand) what the risks really are.

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in Sao Paulo on Aug. 12 — Photo: Marcelo Chello/ZUMA

Jair Bolsonaro: Trump included, no world leader has been more dismissive of the threat of COVID-19 than Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Many experts in Brazil point to his public rantings against lockdowns and mask-wearing, which contributed to the country's more than 100,000 deaths.

When Bolsonaro tested positive on July 7, he went into quarantine but said he felt well and would continue his regular work through video calls. After testing negative two weeks later, he returned in full form: O Globo reported the 65-year-old singing the praises of the untested drug hydroxychloroquine and trivialized the virus saying he just had "a little mould" in his lungs. And days later Bolsonaro was back in crowds, with his approval ratings about to reach a new record-high.

Trump & Nov. 3: Of course, neither Johnson nor Bolsonaro contracted the virus on the eve of a reelection bid. With COVID-19 having become highly politicized in the U.S., and responsible for more than 200,000 deaths, the pandemic was already at the center of the showdown between Trump and Joe Biden, with the former vice president ahead in the polls and hammering away on the issue.

What will happen between now and Nov. 3 depends, it seems, how the body (not just the mouth) of the 74-year-old president reacts to the unpredictable virus. If his condition deteriorates over the next two weeks, à la Johnson, it's hard to imagine any way he can make his case and overtake Biden. But if he bounces back quickly like Bolsonaro, emerging with a storyline of his own personal superpowers and a virus as beatable as he'd always claimed, well then the 2020 election may have its second October surprise.

Geopolitics
Laure Gautherin and Anne-Sophie Goninet

RBGs Of The World: 6 Women Who Pushed Progress Through The Law

From Rosa Parks and Malala Yousafzai to Golda Meir and Corazon Aquino, women activists and political leaders have led the fight for gender equality and human rights around the world over the past century.

But as the tributes keep pouring in for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Sept. 18 at the age of 87, we are reminded of the particular importance of sealing progress in the courts — and the judges and lawyers making it possible.

While a recent OECD study shows that 54% of judges are women in developed countries, it also pointed to a lack of women in top-ranking judicial positions, making profiles like RBG all the more outstanding. From Brazil to France to Malaysia, here are six exceptional women who, like RBG, have made a lasting impact in the courtroom:

Gisèle Halimi (Tunisia/France): Less than 2 months before Ginsburg's passing, women's rights in France mourned one of its fiercest advocates. Tunisian-born Gisèle Halimi, a renowned lawyer, author and Member of French Parliament, dedicated her life to gender equality, changing a male-centric judicial system to protect women and their rights over their own body, as recalls Le Monde in her obituary.

• In 1972, during what is now known as the Bobigny trials, she defended a 17-year-old student accused of having an abortion after being raped, along with her mother and three of her colleagues who helped terminate the pregnancy. Thanks to Halimi, the victim and two of the accused were dismissed. The verdict later played a part in the adoption of the Veil Law, legalizing abortion, in 1975.

• In 1978, she defended in two victims of a gang rape. The case attracted significant media attention, and her defense strategy contributed to a clear legal definition of rape, officially criminalizing it in 1980.

Gisèle Halimi dedicated her life to gender equality — Photo: Licra


Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat (Malaysia): In May 2019, Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat made history when she became the country's first female Chief Justice, reports Malay Mail.

• The 61-year-old mother of four boasts a long legal and judicial career. As a Court of Appeal judge, and then a Federal Court judge, she has presided over multiple high-profile cases.

• Seen as a progressive judge, women's rights groups hope her appointment will help to tackle the issue of lower prosecutions in rape and domestic violence cases and bring "more justice to women."

• Her nomination, according to Free Malaysia Today, came as 2019 marked a milestone for women judges in Malaysia, many of whom were appointed to top positions.


Lady Brenda Hale (UK): Appointed as the first female Law Lord in 2004 (becoming Baroness Hale of Richmond), Lady Brenda Hale was named the Supreme Court's first female president five years later.

• In 1984, she was the first woman to be appointed to the Law Commission, where she took part in the groundbreaking Children Act of 1989. The reform obliges government and public entities to place a child's "best interests' at the center of their decision making.

• In 2011, as the leading judge in Yemshaw v. LB Hounslow, Lady Hale participated in redefining "domestic violence" to include verbal and psychological abuse, no longer limiting it to physical assault, reports Family Law Week.

Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat was appointed Malaysia's first female Chief Justice — Photo: Majlis Keselamatan Negara


Sudha Bharadwaj (India): Law was not this mathematics student's first love, but after seeing the working conditions of certain minorities in India, Sudha Bharadwaj's pursuit of justice, as described by an editor of The Wire, led her to obtain a late law degree.

• Before becoming a lawyer, she joined the People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) as general secretary of the Chhattisgarh branch. She was also a member of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha labor party, where she fought corruption among bureaucrats and pushed for fair wages.

• In 2005, Bharadwaj started working in the High Court of Chhattisgarh. Her cases mainly targeted big corporate groups exploiting the Adivasis, an indigenous people, and ruining the environment. She talks more about this particular commitment in an interview on the Socialist Project.

• In 2018, Bharadwaj was arrested along with four other Human Rights Defenders following a TV program claiming they had a link to Maoists. Her arrest was highly criticized as a government move to silence her, and she has been denied bail multiple times by several courts (including the Supreme Court).


Joênia Wapixana (Brazil): Joênia Wapixana became Brazil's first indigenous female lawyer in 1997 and the country's first indigenous congresswoman in 2018, reports O Globo.

• A member of the Wapixana tribe in northern Brazil, she was the first indigenous lawyer to win a case before the country's Supreme Court. The case defined the boundaries of the indigenous territory Raposa Serra do Sol and ended violence against indigenous people who refused to cede their lands to agribusinesses.

• Her role as an activist defending the rights of indigenous people led her to win the 2018 United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights.

• Following the dam disaster in Brumadinho, she presented her first bill proposal as a congresswoman, which aimed at legally designating environmental crimes as "heinous crimes," which would subject them to more severe penalties.

Joênia Wapixana was the first indigenous lawyer to win a case before the country's Supreme Court — Photo: Mariachiara Pisapia

Arwa Al-Hujaili (Saudia Arabia): There are, of course, some countries that have a particularly long way to go in terms of gender parity. But even women continue to hold court, wherever they may be — like Arwa Al-Hujaili, who became Saudi Arabia's first woman trainee lawyer in 2013.

• Al-Hujaili was only 22 when she graduated from King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah in 2010. Yet she would have to wait another three years to be able to practice as a lawyer, which is certainly not the case for men who follow the same educational path. She spent those years working as a "legal consultant", receiving no recognition as a lawyer.

• But Al-Hujaili did not take no for an answer, tirelessly petitioning the Ministry of Justice. On April 8, 2013, The ministry licensed Al-Hujaili as a legal trainee, allowing her to finally practice law. After a three-year apprenticeship, she became a fully licensed lawyer.

Geopolitics

Bad To Worse: The Homeless And COVID-19

Like so many before him, João took a bus to Rio de Janeiro in search of the kind of hope and economic opportunity that only big cities promise. "I came looking for something better, then the worst happened," he told a Globo TV crew. The worst was COVID-19.

As deaths skyrocketed in the city and around Brazil, freedom of movement was limited, leaving João (who spoke anonymously with a reporter) stuck, unemployed — and eventually homeless. He spends his days scavenging landfills in search of metal, copper and aluminum to resell. Another recently homeless person told Globo : "We are dumped here, discarded and abandoned."

Such stories are being echoed all over the world.

• Though most evidence is anecdotal, coronavirus has appeared to cause a notable uptick in homelessness in many cities and countries. And the homeless are particularly exposed to the health risks of the pandemic.

• Now, in the face of what appears to be an impending economic depression, finding a solution for the most vulnerable has become more urgent than ever.

Networks collapsing: Speaking to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, anthropologist Luisa Schneider described one homeless girl she's followed. "Before the crisis, she was able to study and wash in cafes or libraries. Neither is possible now." Schneider expects more Germans to sleep on the streets in the coming months. "Many networks have now collapsed. Even homeless people who used to support each other are now losing sight of each other."

Numbers rising: A recent study from Columbia University projects that, unless unemployment levels somehow decline, the rise in the rate homelessness in the U.S. will reach between 40% and 45% by the end of 2020. In Italy, another country particularly hard-hit by the virus, news wire AdnKronos reports that 62% of Italians fear losing their job (often the precursor to homelessness) because of the predicted economic crisis — eight percentage points higher than the worldwide average.

French aid: In France, government authorities and NGOs were able to accommodate 177,600 people with shelter during the lockdown period, reports Le Monde. The government has invested more than 2 billion euros helping those without homes, including requisitioning 13,300 hotel rooms. Yet while this may seem like a bright spot compared to the aforementioned struggling countries, France's emergency phone number for homeless assistance remains overwhelmed, with over 200 calls on average daily and many unable to secure a temporary housing situation. And as the country continues opening up, it is unclear how long the special accommodation period will last.

Busking in Paris — Photo: Ev

British aid: The UK recently allotted an extra 105 million pounds (115,000 euros) to municipal governments to shelter rough sleepers. Dame Louise Casey, chair of the COVID-19 rough sleeping taskforce, called the move an "extraordinary opportunity" to decline homelessness rates in the long term. The money will not only go to adding more temporary accommodation, but providing long-term housing.

Upside down: In Chile, homelessness is being exacerbated by as winter approaches in the Southern Hemisphere, bringing bad weather and the cold and flu season.

• With 250,000 confirmed cases and 4,900 deaths, Chile was already one of Latin America's most COVID-affected countries. It's overburdened healthcare system will be put under further strain as doctors struggle to differentiate diagnoses between the flu, colds and COVID.

• To make matters worse, 35% of Chile's homeless population suffer from chronic diseases, and 43% are over 50 years old — circumstances that increase the danger to their health due to a possible spread of coronavirus.

Society
Alessio Perrone

Black Lives Matter In Brazil, Where Racial Tensions Simmer

João Pedro Matos was in his uncle's garden on May 18 in São Gonçalo, near Rio de Janeiro, when Brazil's Federal Police stormed in. Police claim officers traded shots with armed drug traffickers, though the Matos family denies this. A bullet fired by an officer hit João Pedro, who was taken away in a helicopter and reported as missing. His parents were only told the next day that he had died. João Pedro was 14 years old.

The victim's father, Neilton Pinto, addressed Rio de Janeiro state governor Wilson Witzel on television. "I want to say, mister governor, that your police force didn't just murder a 14-year-old boy with a dream and plans," the UOL newssite reports. "Your police force killed an entire family, it killed a father, it killed a mother and João Pedro. This is what your police force did to my life."

João Pedro's death is just one reason why the protests against police brutality aimed at people of color — which began last week in the U.S. after officers killed George Floyd in Minneapolis — have also flared up in Brazil. The anger has found particularly fertile ground in Brazil, a country with several historical and political parallels with its North American neighbor.

People gathered outside the headquarters of the Rio de Janeiro government on Sunday, May 31 to protest against police operations in Rio de Janeiro's low-income neighbourhoods, known as favelas. Protesters marched with banners chanting Vidas negras importam, the Portuguese for "Black lives matter", and Parem de nos matar, ("Stop killing us'). Later, as some protesters lingered after the end of the demonstration, police fired stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse them, causing a stampede, O Globo reports. Dramatic footage showed an officer holding a protester at gunpoint with an assault rifle. Similar scenes were seen in São Paulo and other major Brazilian cities.

Bolsonaro was elected promising a ‘licence to kill" to police officers

Police violence against people of color in favelas has been a problem for years in Brazil, a country that shares with the U.S. a tragic history of slavery of African populations. Just over half of the country's population identifies as black, but black Brazilians represent more than 75% of the victims of police operations. According to BBC Mundo, Brazilian police forces kill up to 21 times more black citizens than their U.S. counterparts.

But many believe that the election of Jair Bolsonaro, a former military officer, has exacerbated the problem. "Bolsonaro was elected promising a ‘licence to kill" to police officers," writes Folha de São Paulo columnist Ilona Szabo. Since Bolsonaro's election, police killings have reached new record highs. Police killed 1,810 people in Rio in 2019 – the highest number since records began in 1998. In the first four months of 2020, Rio de Janeiro police have killed 606 people, by their own count.

Like Donald Trump in the U.S., Bolsonaro has appeared to fan the flames after the first protests, calling black rights protesters "terrorists, idiots and drug addicts', Folha reported. A high official appointed during Bolsonaro's time in power was recorded calling the black rights' movement "scum", months after claiming that slavery had benefited black Brazilians. Bolsonaro's sons Carlos and Eduardo, both politicians, publicly endorsed Trump's promise of a hard line stance against protests.

Also like in the U.S., the racial tensions in Brazil have been mixing with a rising death toll from a very poorly managed coronavirus outbreak. This week, Brazil overtook Italy as the world's third worst hit country in the world. On Friday, Brazil's Supreme Court temporarily halted police raids in favelas during the pandemic, though critics of the government cited the ruling as a response to the recent killings of blacks Reuters reports.

Popular protests in Brazil against the police have thus far not escalated, though new demonstrations are expected on Sunday.

Economy
Laure Gautherin

UBI, One-Off Crisis Relief Or An Economic Revolution?

Known as UBI, Universal Basic Income has been a dream of progressive economists. Now it is effectively written into many COVID-19 relief packages. But it may turn out to have staying power well beyond.

Will the coronavirus usher in a whole new economic era? The Universal Basic Income (UBI), which gives all citizens a guaranteed minimal monthly stipend, has been touted in recent years by progressive policymakers as a much-needed way to redistribute wealth. Now, with the coronavirus crisis beginning to cripple national economies and send millions into unemployment, UBI's moment to show its worth has arrived.

In an interview last week with MSNBC, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said UBI should be considered: "Let's see what works, what is operational and what needs attention. Others have suggested a minimum income, a guaranteed income for people. Is that worthy of attention now? Perhaps so. Because there are many more people than just in small business and hired by small business ... that may need some assistance as well."

But as John Harris noted recently in The Guardian, UBI's appeal may last well beyond the current crisis. "Right now we need to think hard about a set of realities that the 20th century did not prepare us for. This crisis is likely be repeated. Covid-19, after all, is just the latest sign of the horrors let loose by human incursion into parts of the natural world. Even once the current disaster is somehow dealt with, the catastrophe of climate change – which itself increases the danger of disease, as tropical illnesses start to threaten new places – will speed on. This latest economic crash arrives only 12 years after the last one. We live, in short, in an age of ongoing shocks, and it is time we began to prepare."

Whether UBI is simply a stop-gap emergency measure or will stick, and be integrated into the global economy remains to be seen. But looking around the world, from South Korea to Spain to the U.S. and beyond, the radical rethinking of a citizen's relationship with national treasuries and the labor market is starting to look — at least a bit — more mainstream:

SOUTH KOREA: As early as March, several provinces in South Korea pledged to provide their residents an "anti-disaster basic income" to help cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Korea Times reports that the province of Gyeonggi is leading the way after announcing this Tuesday it will pay 100,000 won ($79.85) per person to all its residents in April. Later, the central government announced the anti-disaster emergency package would be extended to the whole territory but target the most fragile citizens. A first in the country. According to Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, about 14 million households will be eligible to receive the relief payments of up to 1 million wons ($820) for families with four or more members in the bottom 70% of the gross income index.

UNITED STATES: Several U.S. states had already tested a UBI prior to COVID-19, while former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang had included in his program a $1,000 monthly basic income for all citizens, without conditions. It's a vision shared by such high-profile progressives as Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who has has been pressing the issue since the COVID-19 outbreak. She tweeted mid-March: "We need to take dramatic action now to stave off the worst public health & economic affects. That includes making moves on paid leave, debt relief, waiving work req's, guaranteeing healthcare, UBI, detention relief (pretrial, elderly, imm)."" The subsequent $2-trillion stimulus package included $1,200 in direct payment to workers with annual incomes below $75,000. But with 30 million unemployed Americans by the end of April, it's looking increasingly insufficient.

We need to take dramatic action now.

SPAIN: UBI was an electoral promise from coalition party Podemos, proposing a monthly payment of 600€ for the country's 10 million most financially vulnerable citizens. But the pandemic eventually pushed the coalition government to a one-off priority aid of 440€ to all workers who had lost their jobs because of the pandemic. A few days later, Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said in an interview with La Sexta broadcaster that a wider basic income was still on the agenda, not only as a reply to the coronavirus but as an economic model to "stay forever," and become a "permanent tool."

UK: There have been calls from a wide range of political parties to approve a basic income as a response to the breakout. As The Guardian reports, former Conservative business secretary Greg Clark urged the government to act immediately to subsidize wages, while Citizens Advice proposed a "crisis minimum income" of at least £180 a week (around $210) so everyone has enough money "to protect their own health and the health of others."

Photo: CC0

In an April 22 letter in the The Financial Times, more than 100 opposition MPs have called on the government for a "recovery universal basic income" to all adults in the country after the end of the lockdown. Such proposals so far have however been turned down by Downing Street.

BRAZIL: Despite President Jair Bolsonaro minimizing the health risks, the Brazilian Parliament has agreed on an emergency relief package including a monthly payment of about $115, for a period of three months, for which 60 million citizens are eligible. This measure is the direct result of an intensive grassroots campaign launched in March that got the backing of more than 500,000 citizens, thousands of media influencers and key business and socioeconomic organizations.

A universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out.

POPE FRANCIS: In an Easter letter addressed to world leaders, Pope Francis officially endorsed the principle of UBI in the time of pandemic. "This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out. It would ensure and concretely achieve the ideal, at once so human and so Christian, of no worker without rights," he wrote. He particularly emphasized the situation of "street vendors, recyclers, carnies, small farmers, construction workers, dressmakers, the different kinds of caregivers' who were being "excluded from the benefits of globalization."

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