EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 22/07/2020

File:Vladimir Putin in Kommunarka hospital1.jpg - Wikipedia

Politico – Vijai Maheshwari / Russia’s corona euphoria

  • It wasn’t that long ago, in early June, that Russia’s capital Moscow was eerily quiet as the Kremlin enforced one of the world’s harshest lockdowns to flatten the rising curve of coronavirus infections.
  • Flash forward nearly two months and the contrast couldn’t be greater: Parks, restaurants, museums, gyms, nightclubs — even strip clubs — are open once again. Moscow is churning at full blast again.
  • Muscovites are well aware that their corona freedom came about in anticipation of a July 1 vote on a new constitution that Putin needed to push through to potentially extend his reign until 2036 — but there hasn’t been much pushback.
  • Russians are mostly just relieved to be free again, even though the country is still recording more than 6,000 new cases daily. International borders may still be closed, but most Russians have thrown caution to the wind and already embraced a post-corona future.
  • The Washington Post – Toluse Olorunnipa / Pandemic likely to ‘get worse before it gets better,’, Trump says in somber return to coronavirus briefing

The Economist / The EU’s €750bn covid-19 plan is historic—but not quite Hamiltonian

  • Some said this week’s European Council beat the record-holder, a mammoth discussion over institutional arrangements in Nice in 2000. Others thought it fell half an hour short. Either way, the summit will be one for the history books.
  • The deal falls some way short of the “Hamiltonian moment” some had hoped for it. Unlike America’s treasury secretary in 1790, no one has proposed mutualising EU countries’ legacy debts; not even the new common debt will enjoy joint-and-several guarantees.
  • Yet from 2028 money must be found to repay the debt the EU will soon incur: if not from own resources, then from larger national contributions. Next year the commission will propose EU-wide taxes on digital firms and climate-unfriendly imports.
  • To preserve the recovery fund’s grants, cuts fell on so-called “future-oriented” areas like research, health-care and climate adjustment. These, critics grumble, are precisely the priorities the frugals claim should take precedence over agricultural and regional subsidies, which remain intact.
  • Financial Times – Michael Peel et al. / EU pandemic recovery package stokes rule-of-law dispute

Foreign Policy – Michael Hirsh / Why fascists fail

  • Indeed, Trump is already working to invalidate the 2020 tally, accusing Democrats of plotting fraud through mail-in voting that might be needed because of the pandemic, and legal challenges are mounting at an unprecedented rate.
  • Alternatively, what if Trump doesn’t seize power illegally but is actually reelected? Surely that would amount to a virtual mandate, in his mind, to ignore the Constitution and the law of the land altogether.
  • Fascism in its various forms has no enduring record of success in the long run; based on the evidence, it is almost always doomed to destroy itself in an orgy of ultranationalism and megalomania.
  • It may be an effective means to gaining power, but fascists typically destroy themselves before long, especially when crises erupt. “We are seeing that with COVID-19 in the United States and Brazil,” Stanley said.
  • The Atlantic – Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes / Nothing can justify the attack on Portland

The Guardian – Damian Carrington / First active leak of sea-bed methane discovered in Antarctica

  • The first active leak of methane from the sea floor in Antarctica has been revealed by scientists. The researchers also found microbes that normally consume the potent greenhouse gas before it reaches the atmosphere had only arrived in small numbers after five years, allowing the gas to escape.
  • Vast quantities of methane are thought to be stored under the sea floor around Antarctica. The gas could start to leak as the climate crisis warms the oceans, a prospect the researchers said was “incredibly concerning”.
  • The reason for the emergence of the new seep remains a mystery, but it is probably not global heating. The research also has significance for climate models, which currently do not account for a delay in the microbial consumption of escaping methane.
  • The release of methane from frozen underwater stores or permafrost regions is one of the key tipping points that scientists are concerned about, which occur when a particular impact of global heating becomes unstoppable.
  • Bloomberg – Leslie Kaufman / Al Gore says the world has crossed a threshold on renewable energy

Today’s perspective:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

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