3 June 2022
Gun plea | Biden called for a ban on sales of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, pleading with Congress to toughen laws following a spate of mass shootings. Still, he acknowledged that Congress is unlikely to restrict them, with Republican lawmakers, who can block the passage of bills in the Senate, vowing to prevent sweeping gun-control measures.
- The New York state legislature approved raising the legal age to buy semiautomatic rifles to 21 from 18 and tightened rules on purchasing firearms and other military equipment.
Saudi nod | OPEC+ agreed to open its oil taps faster in the summer months, a gesture of reconciliation to the US that nevertheless keeps Russia at the heart of the cartel. The White House welcomed the deal, which came after months of diplomatic pressure on Saudi Arabia to mitigate the surge in energy prices that’s battered the global economy since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Price rival | Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has no clear rival for elections next June, with the opposition yet to agree on a candidate to challenge him. But as Selcan Hacaoglu writes, runaway inflation is the most urgent threat to his nearly 20-year grip on power, and it’s a formidable one: A survey by MetroPoll shows public support for Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party has fallen close to the lowest level since it was established.
Hong Kong Quarantine Backtrack Stokes Fears of Covid Zero Return
A return to harsh Covid Zero measures like quarantine camps risks further damaging confidence in the city and runs counter to the easing of restrictions in recent months, business groups say. The new sub-variants also do not pose a threat of igniting a major outbreak, according to a local public health expert.
- China declared victory over Shanghai’s virus outbreak despite the policy’s economic and social toll.
- For millions still locked down in Shanghai, listening to officials tout the city’s triumph over Covid-19 and its “reopening” is infuriating.
AMLO Train Barrels On Despite Safety, Environmental Concerns
The Maya Train is projected to run for 1,554 kilometers and connect five states in the Yucatán Peninsula, arguably President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s most ambitious infrastructure project and one he’s vowed to have ready by the end of next year. But as Andrea Navarro lays out, the project is running up against construction challenges, cost overruns, environmental lawsuits, street protests, and supply-chain shortages.
Australia’s History-Making Top Diplomat Faces Down Rising China
Penny Wong has already made history as both the first Asian-born and openly gay woman to become Australia’s top diplomat. Ben Westcott explains how she is quickly confronting the nation’s most difficult geopolitical challenge in decades.
- Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will have a record number of female ministers in his new cabinet, which is shaping up to become one of the most diverse governments in the country’s history.
Troubled UK Seeks Comfort of Its Queen in Twilight of Her Reign
A worsening cost-of-living crisis, a messy political scandal and the threat of further repercussions from the war in Ukraine form an unlikely backdrop for a celebration of national stability. As the UK marks Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, Emily Ashton notes the clouds are a reminder that the 96-year-old monarch won’t be around forever, just as the country faces an uncertain future.
- Here is a guide to the Jubilee celebration and all its pageantry.
- From Balconies to Beacons: The Platinum Jubilee in Pictures
Rich Nations’ Toxic Habits Bring African Refugees to Their Doors
The number of Africans trying to make it to the US southern border is on track to hit a potential record this year. Many are escaping livelihood-destroying climate events. As Antony Sguazzin, Katarina Hoije and Maya Averbuch write, the continent they’re fleeing is facing natural disasters at a faster rate than the rest of the planet, and is largely unprepared to deal with them.
Boris Johnson’s chaotic premiership will reach its lowest point tonight as disillusioned Conservative Party lawmakers vote on whether to oust him as UK prime minister.
The trigger for the confidence vote has ostensibly been a government report last month into illegal parties held at his Downing Street residence when the rest of the country was under lockdown during the Covid-19 pandemic. But discontent has been growing in the Tory party over a range of issues.
If he were to step down, it will set off a potentially bruising battle for the leadership where names including Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are likely to be in circulation.
- Johnson Faces Tory Leadership Vote as Partygate Angers MPs
- Johnson Under Threat: How UK Tories Get Rid of Their Leaders
- Johnson Is Taking Tories to Heavy Loss in Special Election: Poll
- UK Food Prices Surging Most In a Decade Signals More Pain Ahead
- Johnson Booed as He Arrives for Queen’s Jubilee Church Service
Johnson has repeatedly sent his members of Parliament out to defend uncomfortable policies before embarrassing them by dropping his plans, most conspicuously in efforts to protect a disgraced MP last year.
He’s upset fiscal conservatives by pushing taxes to the highest level in a generation and caused consternation with threats to breach international law in Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
Above it all, there’s a sense that he is simply lurching from one crisis to another with no overarching strategy for what he wants to achieve.
“Under you, the government seems to lack a sense of mission,” Jesse Norman, a veteran MP, wrote today in a letter explaining why he thought the prime minister should step aside. “It has a large majority, but no long-term plan.”
Forced labor | As the US prepares to ban all goods from Xinjiang later this month over allegations of human-rights abuses, President Xi Jinping is moving to rebrand China’s remote western region and better integrate it with the rest of the country. Since workers and goods from Xinjiang flow across China, it’s nearly impossible to determine what Chinese products are made using what the US deems as forced labor.
Migration surge | The US is working with Latin American and Caribbean nations on a pact to reduce and manage undocumented migration that they will announce at a summit this week as arrivals surge. Eric Martin reports the accord may include financial commitments for nations dealing with an influx of migrants, improving cooperation on controlling flows and providing legal jobs.
- President Joe Biden’s administration decided against inviting Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua to the summit, sources say, despite calls from Mexico’s president to include all countries or risk him staying home.
Life in Beijing will take a step closer to returning to normal today as China’s capital rolls back Covid-19 restrictions, having previously declared the latest outbreak of the virus under control.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government reached out to China to raise concerns over what he described as a “dangerous maneuver” between a Chinese fighter jet and an Australian surveillance plane over the South China Sea.
The attack on the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 shocked an audience watching live as supporters of then outgoing-President Donald Trump fought the police and forced the evacuation of the vice president from the Senate. But as Mike Dorning and Billy House explain, with Congress preparing for televised hearings on the crisis starting Thursday, the attack on the seat of US democracy wasn’t enough to shake the political divisions that drove the insurrection.
Seeking attention | Televised hearings that begin Thursday into the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol will need to produce show-stopping moments to grab a divided nation’s attention. In an environment of social media and polarized cable news, similar events held on everything from the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, to Robert Mueller’s 2019 testimony about his Trump-Russia investigation failed to make much of a splash.
Hanging on | Boris Johnson’s missteps and misdeeds have left his governing party split into bickering factions. More than 40% of Conservative members of Parliament voted against the UK prime minister in a confidence vote yesterday that laid bare the bitter rifts. While Johnson sought to draw a line under controversy around his leadership, the scale of the mutiny suggests his days may be numbered.
Developing nations are suffering the biggest knock from this year’s oil shock, with many being hit by a combination of high international prices, weak currencies and competition from rich nations for fuel. That has triggered unrest and protests.
Cold shoulder | China appears to be shifting its strategic focus toward Southeast Asia and Africa, Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said in a Bloomberg interview. He noted that financially strapped South Asian countries that have been some the biggest recipients of Chinese cash in the past decade aren’t getting the same attention as before.
- Rajapaksa vowed to finish the remaining two years of his term despite months-long street protests calling for his ouster, but won’t stand for re-election as he focuses on fixing Sri Lanka’s worst-ever economic crisis.
Best of Bloomberg Opinion
- This Tory Civil War Is Going To Be Bloody: Therese Raphael
- Washington Can Bridge the Global Divide Over Ukraine: Editorial
- Three Key Points as Jan. 6 Hearings Kick Off: Jonathan Bernstein
Marx returns | In China’s boom years when annual growth exceeded 10%, Western-influenced economics helped private entrepreneurs in tech, real estate and other industries amass billions, with more autonomy than ever. Now, as Tom Hancock reports, President Xi Jinping has made clear that Marxism is back, and investors better take note.
- A year-long campaign to control runaway property prices in China has pummeled its biggest developers, obliterating $65 billion in wealth for real estate moguls.
Explainers you can use
- Russia’s Default Tussle With Bondholders Is Only Just Starting
- Musk’s ‘Buyer’s Remorse’ Won’t Get Him Out of Twitter Deal
- Louisiana Probes Source of Methane Cloud Spotted From Space
- The US warned North Korea of strong punishment if it conducts a nuclear test, amid signs Pyongyang may soon set off its first atomic device since 2017.
- Fumio Kishida’s emergence as Japan’s third prime minister in 13 months prompted worry the country was sinking into another period of revolving-door leadership. Now he looks increasingly likely to govern for years.
- Hong Kong won’t tighten Covid-19 curbs before the city’s July 1 handover anniversary, outgoing Chief Executive Carrie Lam said, despite speculation Xi will attend the celebrations.
- The United Arab Emirates is weighing extraditing two members of the Gupta family wanted in South Africa on allegations they looted billions of dollars from the state.
- British journalist Dom Phillips and Bruno Araujo Pereira, an expert on indigenous peoples, have gone missing in the Brazilian Amazon after receiving threats, prompting authorities to mount an intensive search.
Another gamble | Fresh from surviving a revolt by his own party, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to press ahead with legislation allowing him to unilaterally override parts of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland, Ellen Milligan reports. The move would please the most fervently anti-European sections of his party, while angering the EU, its member states like France and Ireland, and US President Joe Biden.
- Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said the UK has shown “bad faith” in how it’s approached the part of the Brexit treaty dealing with Northern Ireland.
- This week’s rebellion showed that more than 40% of Johnson’s Conservative lawmakers think he should go. Read who the main contenders to replace him could be.
Few convictions | A year and a half after Donald Trump’s die-hard supporters overran the US Capitol, prosecutors have scored relatively few convictions and face growing pressure to target the former president and his allies. The Justice Department has won about 50 felony guilty pleas for the most serious attack on American democracy in the modern era, but the only charges brought against Trump aides have been for failing to respond to demands for information.
Preemptive strike | Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro cast doubt on the legitimacy of Biden’s 2020 election victory, two days before the leaders were scheduled to meet at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles. In televised remarks, Bolsonaro revived his claim that there was widespread fraud in the US vote that his close ally, Trump, lost to Biden. Bolsonaro himself faces a difficult bid for re-election in October.
Best of Bloomberg Opinion
- Britain’s Conservatives Need to Find a New Leader: Editorial
- In Oil Markets, the Dollar Is the World’s Problem: Javier Blas
- Hard Lessons From 100 Days of the Ukraine War: Leonid Bershidsky
Neighborly threat | Despite a lockdown since the end of April, daily Covid-19 cases have been trending up in Dandong, a Chinese city of about 2.2 million people on the border with North Korea. Officials say they can’t figure out where persistent new infections are coming from — and suspect the wind blowing in from their secretive neighbor.
Explainers you can use
- Meet the Guptas, Symbols of South African Corruption
- What Is Behind Vietnam’s Latest Anti-Corruption Fight
- How a Battery Metals Squeeze Puts EV Future at Risk
Carbon threat | The Democratic Republic of Congo’s plan to auction oil exploration blocks next month threatens to disrupt some of the most important carbon sinks globally and could jeopardize a $500 million forest preservation agreement. Protecting the world’s biggest peatlands and the wider Congo Basin tropical rainforest was a landmark agreement at last year’s COP26 climate conference in Glasgow.
- India is coming under fire in the Middle East for derogatory remarks about Prophet Muhammad made by members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, sparking online calls for boycotts in the region.
- Macron’s party and its allies could lose their outright majority in this month’s French legislative elections as support for a rival left-wing grouping grows, according to latest polls.
- Vietnam’s police detained former Health Minister Nguyen Thanh Long, one of the highest-ranking government officials to be swept up in graft investigations.
- Thousands of truck drivers in South Korea have gone on strike at major ports and container depots, posing the latest threat to strained global-supply chains.
Donald Trump has created a monster he can no longer control.
His Make America Great Again movement inspired millions of red-capped acolytes who elevated the billionaire to the presidency in 2016. Such was his hold on them that when he refused to accept defeat at the hands of Joe Biden, a mob of his fans stormed the US Capitol.
- ‘He’s Not God’: Trump’s MAGA Creation Takes On Life of Its Own
- Thousands Attacked the Capitol. Who Has Answered for It?
- What the Jan. 6 Committee Has Done, and What’s Next
- Watergate Hearings Set High Bar as Jan. 6 Probe Goes Prime Time
- Jan. 6 Panel Promises Surprises in Nationally Televised Hearing
Televised public hearings kick off today at a House committee to try and hold Trump to account for the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection, one of the worst attacks on American democracy. Democrats see them as an opportunity to boost their chances of maintaining control of Congress in the November midterm elections. Trump and his Republican allies call the investigation a witch hunt.
Yet two things are clear: A divided nation has little interest in processing the trauma of that day, and the cult of personality around the former president lives on.
What’s different now is that MAGA has outgrown its maker. The current crop of primaries for the midterms shows it is Trump’s brash brand of politics and his “America First” ideas — anti-immigrant, anti-regulation, anti-establishment — that appeal to Republican voters more than the man himself.
Virus fears | Shanghai will lock down a district on Saturday for a mass Covid-19 testing drive, the first major movement restriction since the Chinese financial hub exited a bruising two-month shutdown at the start of June. While the plan is to seal the Minhang district of nearly 2.7 million people only for the morning, residents face the risk of being confined to their homes for two weeks if infections are discovered.
Atomic censure | The International Atomic Energy Agency rebuked Iran yesterday for failing to cooperate with nuclear investigators in a diplomatic move that could escalate the Persian Gulf nation’s conflict with Western powers. It’s the first censure against Iran under the Biden administration and comes as prospects dim for a return to the 2015 agreement that reined in Tehran’s atomic work in exchange for sanctions relief.
Explainers you can use
- How Putin’s Spooking Japan Further Away From Pacifism
- All About the Prince at the Center of US-Saudi Reset
- Fire at Key US Gas Export Terminal a Blow for Fuel-Starved World
- Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized what he described as an increasing US military presence in neighboring Greece and said Ankara doesn’t believe the buildup is just about countering Russia.
- Outgoing Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam ruled out the possibility of opening the border with mainland China in the foreseeable future, as Beijing doggedly pursues its Covid Zero pandemic strategy.
- President Jair Bolsonaro will seek US support to finance programs to protect Brazil’s Amazon rainforest during a meeting with Biden today, searching for rare agreement between the two leaders.
- China reassured Sri Lanka that it remains committed to helping the country resolve its financial difficulties, after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa said that Beijing appeared to be shifting its strategic focus elsewhere.
Governments around the world are finding out just how hard it is to change a narrative.
Inflation is indeed running rampant in many places, but inflation expectations — or the worry that prices may climb ever higher — even more so.
Those perceptions are perhaps fanned by central banks racing to raise interest rates: The European Central Bank has committed to a quarter-point increase next month, while Australia hiked rates 50 basis points — the biggest increase in 22 years.
- Stagflation Danger Spurs World Bank to Cut Global Growth Outlook
- Biden Says Inflation Is ‘Bane of Our Existence’ on Kimmel Show
- Draghi’s ECB Consigned to History as Hawks Seize Policy Controls
- Already at Record, UK Petrol Price Soars by Most in 17 Years
- Charting the Global Economy: Inflation Hits a Record in Europe
US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is warning that inflation is likely to stay high, having admitted she was wrong last year to describe big price increases as “transitory.” The next round of US data is due out today.
Newspapers are splashed with dire warnings. The cost of filling up a standard car in the UK surged by the most in 17 years, adding to the woes facing UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The owner of British discount retailer Poundland warned that consumers are cutting back on essential items.
Government messaging that economies are actually in decent shape carries little weight in the face of such headlines. Subsidizing food and energy barely makes a dent when people are convinced that prices are spiraling out of control.
Airport chaos | Europe’s aviation industry is struggling to overcome crippling staff shortages and labor strife, forcing airlines to cancel hundreds of flights ahead of the peak summer period. Disruptions have been particularly bad in the UK, though European hubs such as Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris have also been plagued by delays and the fallout from strikes.
Explainers you can use
- Insurrection? Sedition? Incitement? A D.C. Riot Guide
- Where Are We in Hunting for the Coronavirus’s Origin?
- Why the Yen Is So Weak and What That Means for Japan
A bad look | South African President Cyril Ramaphosa suspended the nation’s graft ombudsman a day after she started probing his alleged concealment of a robbery of more than $4 million at his game farm. While he has denied wrongdoing and Public Protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane has been accused by lawmakers of misconduct, analysts say the timing of the move against her reflects poorly on the government.
News to Note
- Senators negotiating new gun legislation are proposing billions in federal programs for mental health services and school security, as well as grants to states to enact so-called red flag laws.
- The UK is making last-minute tweaks to planned legislation to override a portion of its Brexit deal, as the EU prepares to relaunch legal proceedings as part of the bloc’s response to the move.
- Chinese President Xi Jinping underscored the need to maintain social stability while balancing the twin goals of snuffing out cases of Covid-19 and bolstering the economy, as strict lockdowns spark sporadic unrest and online outrage.
- Prime Minister Fumio Kishida came under pressure to further open Japan’s borders, as the relaxation of measures against Covid-19 appeared to fall short of a pledge made in London last month.
And finally … Chilean President Gabriel Boric marked his first international summit with an embarrassing gaffe, wrongly accusing the US government of being absent at the signing of an agreement on ocean protections. Boric made the mistake at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles yesterday, as US climate envoy John Kerry looked on from a few chairs away. “I just have one question,” Kerry joked in response. “Where’s the beer?” Read our summit coverage here.