Fareed: Despite Liberal Victories in Israel and the US, the Populist Right Endures
Israel’s disparate new governing coalition may not agree on much, Fareed writes in his latest Washington Post column, but it does stand a chance of holding together, as its parties have been united “by more than just a personal dislike of [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu. They appear to have been genuinely concerned about his abuses of power and the degradation of Israeli democracy on his watch.” Netanyahu’s ouster would seem to mark a victory for liberal democracy over creeping authoritarianism, Fareed writes. But the center left is still figuring out how to approach authoritarian populism worldwide, including in the US, where Trumpism endures. “The left is basking in its recent victories, from the United States to Israel,” Fareed writes. “But if it doesn’t learn the correct lessons and overplays its hand, that success could prove very temporary.”
The World Still Needs Vaccinating
As scientists predict that Covid-19 will become endemic, simmering at low levels but never going away completely, commentators have largely stopped asking which countries’ lockdown measures worked best. Rather, the new problem seems to be how governments and societies can best manage Covid-19’s continued presence over the long haul. But at The New Yorker, Sue Halpern offers the counterpoint: that we may have a chance to truly beat Covid-19—and that if we don’t, the virus could morph dangerously. “Wherever vaccine coverage is patchy, there is selective pressure for the virus to evolve” in ways that allow it to overcome immunity, Halpern writes. “We’ve already seen robust virus variants from South Africa, Brazil, the U.K., and India spread around the world. So far, the first generation of COVID vaccines is holding the line against them, but that protection is not guaranteed. … [S]ome epidemiologists think that we have a year or less before the virus breaks through and renders them less effective.” To Halpern, the main quandary is how to produce and deliver vaccines, to as much of the world as possible, in that timeframe. Lifting vaccine-patent restrictions might help, but making the shots is a different story. (While he welcomed a US-supported plan to lift patent restrictions via the World Trade Organization, Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel stressed to a group of analysts what the real problem will be: “There is no mRNA in manufacturing capacity in the world,” Halpern quotes him as saying. “You cannot go hire people who know how to make the mRNA. Those people don’t exist.”) Looking at various strategies, Science’s Jon Cohen and Kai Kupferschmidt lay out four that could help over different time horizons: sharing more doses internationally through the COVAX vaccine-distribution initiative (which would help over the next weeks and months), expanding production (a strategy for the coming months), sharing intellectual property and production know-how (months to years), and “[b]uilding plants worldwide” (years).
Will the Sun Set on the BBC?
Tracing the BBC’s history as a staunchly British, yet statedly neutral news organization known largely for hewing to (and even setting standards in) editorial best practices, Jörg Schindler writes for Der Spiegel that the network has always endured complaints of being too far to the left or right, politically—but it has never before faced the sustained attacks and charged environment it is now finding in the era of Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Citing the past work of a think tank affiliated with former Johnson aide Dominic Cummings, Schindler suggests some in Britain’s contemporary right seem to think the BBC “should be replaced by media outlets modeled on the U.S. agitprop channel Fox News.” There are questions over whether BBC leadership “is bowing to the pressure exuded by powerful adversaries” in the political establishment, Schindler writes, and over the expected appointment of a former Daily Mail publisher to the helm of the UK’s communications ministry. The BBC, Schindler writes, will have to figure out how to weather the storm.
An Era of Inflation?
Is the world entering a new era of inflation? At the Financial Times, Chris Giles examines fears that price increases will become the norm, as fiscal expansionism comes into vogue among politicians and governments. Economists used to worry about low inflation, but 2021 has upended that view, as governments—America’s especially—glut their national economies with cash in response to the pandemic. “[F]or the first time in many decades, there is the possibility that a significant turning point has arrived, that price rises will be more than a flash in the pan and something more difficult to control,” Giles writes. At the same paper, Giles, James Politi, Martin Arnold, Robin Harding write that central bankers, who have not experienced problematic inflation during their careers, may not know how to handle it and that their inflation-taming tools (raising interest rates and cutting back on the money supply) are inadequate in the new age of fiscal bonanza.