What We're Watching

China's National People's Congress – Hours ago, Chinese premier Li Keqiang opened the annual meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's (mostly ceremonial) parliamentary body. Although the rubber stamp NPC has never voted down a proposed law since its creation in 1954, the yearly confab is a chance to take stock of what China's leadership sees, or wishes the country to see, as key challenges. The two big issues at the moment are: an economic slowdown economy amid trade tensions with the US and the prospects for some form of trade deal when Xi meets President Trump in several weeks. Ok, you're not exactly excited to tune in to a meeting of hundreds of communist bureaucrats? Well martial arts film star Jackie Chan and 8-time NBA All Star Yao Ming, both members of the NPC, will also be on hand. Jackie Chan and Yao Ming!

What Modi Makes of Things – Tensions between India and Pakistan have cooled in the days since Pakistan returned an Indian pilot shot down over Kashmir last week, but one question is how the episode will play domestically for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Preliminary data suggests support for Mr. Modi has shot up since his dangerous gamble to strike Pakistan in retaliation for a Pakistan-based terrorist group's killing of Indian paramilitary police officers in Kashmir. But the capture of the Indian pilot was a mild humiliation, as are emerging questions about whether India's jets actually hit anything other than some pine trees. With Modi and his BJP girding themselves for a tougher-than-expected election in several months' time, we are watching to see how this national security crisis plays into the electoral campaign.


India's opium-addicted parrots – While we're on the subject of India, we can't help note that a pandemonium of brainwashed parrots has been making off with the poppy crop in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Frustrated local farmers, who are legally growing the opium-producing flowers for India's pharma industry, have tried beating drums and even lighting firecrackers to keep the addicted parrots away, to no avail. There's probably a good joke in here somewhere, but we're too busy googling other examples of drug use in the animal kingdom to bother with that right now.

Donald Trump Lie Counter – Media fact checkers tallied more than 100 false or misleading statements during President Trump's two-hour speech on Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). It is important to keep politicians honest, or at least document their assaults on basic and observable facts. But from a political perspective, the latest slew of misleading statements, falsehoods, and lies won't change the acrimonious polarization in the US at all. For many Republicans, Trump – who continues to command overwhelming loyalty among GOP voters – is picking the right fights. For many Democrats, after the many thousands of falsehoods and lies already documented, it makes no difference whether Trump tells another 75, 100, or 10,000. The lines are drawn.

We pay little attention to the waves of the sea, yet they are the greatest unused source of renewable energy in the world. Meet ISWEC and Power Buoy, two interesting new technologies used to harness this energy. Learn more about the extraordinary power of waves in this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series, where we investigate interesting facts and trends about energy.

Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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2.8 billion: Chinese regulators fined e-commerce giant Alibaba a record $2.8 billion — about four percent of its 2019 revenue — for abusing its dominant market position and forcing merchants to operate exclusively on its platform. Alibaba founder Jack Ma has fallen out with Beijing in recent months after the billionaire publicly criticized China's regulators for stifling innovation in technology.

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Vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens before the rest of the world, has been effective for rich nations like the United States and Israel. But leaving behind so much of the global population isn't just a humanitarian issue. It could prolong the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization's Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who argues that what the global vaccination effort most urgently lacks are doses, not dollars. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, she calls for a large increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and suggests we may be seeing alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Listen: Soumya Swaminathan calls for a massive increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants, in a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. Dr. Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, argues that vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens ahead of the rest of the world, will only prolong the pandemic because a virus does not stop at any national border. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and discusses when she thinks the world's children should get vaccinated. In addition, she suggests we may see alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

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India, the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change. But it takes issue with those now asking it to clean up its act. Why, the Indians ask, should we give up our right to get rich by burning fossil fuels like you developed economies have done for generations?

That's precisely the message that India's energy minister had for the US and other wealthy nations at a recent Zoom summit after they pressured Delhi to set a future deadline for net zero emissions. For India, he explained, such targets are "pie in the sky" aspirations that do little to address the climate crisis the country faces right now.

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The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are nearly a year away, but discussion of a potential boycott is already stoking tensions on both sides of the US-China relationship. Officials in Washington and other Western capitals are coming under mounting pressure from activists to respond to human rights abuses in China. An increasingly assertive Beijing, meanwhile, vigorously rejects any foreign criticism of what it regards as internal issues.

The last time the US boycotted an Olympics was in 1980, when it withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet Union repaid in kind by skipping the Games in Los Angeles. Would the US and its allies do something like that again? And how might China respond? Eurasia Group analysts Neil Thomas and Allison Sherlock explain the drivers of the boycott movement and its possible fallout.

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In two weeks, US President Joe Biden will be hosting an online "climate summit" to mark Earth Day. He'll ask China and India to sign up to America's ambitious new plan to slow down climate change. Will they go for it? China is the world's largest polluter, but Beijing is rolling out solar and wind power as fast as it's burning coal. India, meanwhile, is loathe to pick up the slack for rich countries that polluted their way to wealth and now want everyone else to agree to emissions cuts. No matter what happens, any successful plan to reduce global emissions will require buy-in from these three nations which, along with the European Union, account for almost 60 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions nowadays. Here's a look at emissions by the world's top polluters compared to everyone else over the last two decades.

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