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Lunar New Year celebrations start today in China. The year 2021 is the Year of the Ox.
Lunar New Year celebrations start today in China. The year 2021 is the Year of the Ox.

Welcome to Friday, where Brazil's health minister has good and bad news about the local COVID variant, China bans the BBC and another boomer bungles his zoom filters. We also have a closer look at how the pandemic is altering the meaning of freelancing in the world of work around the world.

COVID-19 latest: The Australian state of Victoria orders its third lockdown, even as the Australian Open tennis tournament carries on in Melbourne, without spectators. Players will be cocooned in biosecure bubbles. The U.S. has secured 200 million more vaccine doses. Brazil's health minister says the variant found in the Amazon is three times more contagious.

Myanmar military coup update: Protesters defy the military's plea to "join hands' in the seventh straight day of protests, while the tourism sector and ethnic minorities also join forces in civil disobedience. The U.S. has announced sanctions against military officials including blacklisting the jewel industry and freezing of assets. Amnesty International has released the results from their analysis of social media footage and has found that forces deployed machine guns against peaceful protesters.

Trump's trial: House Democrats wrapped up their case against former President Donald Trump by appealing to the Senate that simple "common sense" is all that's necessary to see that Trump should be convicted of betraying his oath to the Constitution.

China bans BBC News: In an apparent tit-for-tat over coverage of the Uighur concentration camps, China has blocked BBC from broadcasting.

RIP Chick Corea: The beloved Jazz singer with 23 Grammy Awards has died of cancer.

Lunar New Year kicks off: Across China and many parts of Asia are celebrating amidst contact tracing apps, COVID tests, masks, and temperature checks. While some are enjoying treats at markets and others are worshipping in temples, spending habits show that many more have chosen instead to stay home. Soothsayers are predicting the Year of the Ox to be a good and prosperous one.

Congressman floating head: Just days after the Texas attorney appeared as a cat in an important Zoom call, Minnesota GOP Congressman Thomas Earl Emmer appeared as a floating, upside-down head in a Zoom congressional hearing.

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Geopolitics

AMLO Power Grab: Mexico's Electoral Reform Would Make Machiavelli Proud

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, aka AMLO, says his plans to reform the electoral system are a way to save taxpayer money. A closer look tells a different story.

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador of Mexico votes

Luis Rubio

OpEd-

MEXICO CITY — For supporters of Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) the goal is clear: to keep power beyond the 2024 general election, at any price. Finally, the engineers of the much-touted Fourth Transformation, ALMO's 2018 campaign promise to do away with the privileged abuses that have plagued Mexican politics for decades, are showing their colors.

Current electoral laws date back to the 1990s, when unending electoral disputes were a constant of every voting round and impeded effective governance in numerous states and districts. The National Electoral Institute (INE) and its predecessor, the IFE, were created to solve once and for all those endemic disputes.

Their promoters hoped Mexico could expect a more honest future, with the electoral question resolved. The 2006 presidential elections, which included AMLO as a recalcitrant loser, showed this was hoping for too much. That election is also, remotely, at the source of the president's new electoral initiative.

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