What We're Watching

Civil war endgame in Libya? – General Khalifa Haftar – a warlord who controls parts of Libya – has launched a military assault on Tripoli to seize the capital city from a UN-backed government there. The background is that after Muammar Qaddafi was killed in 2011 and Libya fell into civil war, Haftar, a former Qaddafi general who turned against his former boss, became a powerful warlord. Earlier this year, he seized oil-rich territory in the country's south, and he's now making a play to reunify Libya on his own terms. The UN and US have condemned his move on the capital, but both have evacuated personnel.

Your score on the Xi Jinping app – At the urging of the government, tens of millions of Chinese citizens have downloaded a new multimedia app from the propaganda ministry that teaches people to think like President Xi Jinping. The app awards points for study and knowledge of the material. High scorers are praised by state media, low scorers are stigmatized at work and school. It's part of Xi's bid to bolster the power and appeal of the Communist Party. We're watching because it's another fascinating example of how authoritarian governments are appropriating the kinds of social media technologies that people once assumed would be forces for democratization and openness. The app is even used as a dating platform!

What We're Ignoring

"Black" Hungarians – Hungary's national opera house is currently staging American composer George Gershwin's 1935 work Porgy and Bess, a story of love, poverty, and violence set in a black community in the American South. But here's the problem: the performers are white, violating Gershwin estate rules that only black casts can perform the opera. Undaunted, the opera has gotten its performers to sign letters saying they "self-identify" as "African-American." A nice bit of cross-cultural trolling (and a swipe at "identity politics"), but we're ignoring this for two reasons: Hungarians are more Siberian than they are African or American, and because this production of Porgy and Bess really just sounds horrendous.

US sanctions against Iran's Republican Guard – On Monday, the Trump administration formally designated Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a "foreign terrorist organization" alongside other regional menaces like al-Qaeda and ISIS. This is the first time the US has added a branch of another country's military to this terrorist list, but beyond that, there's not much to see here. The IRGC already faces a huge number of sanctions, including American ones -- this symbolic move won't register as a significant new provocation of the IRGC. Blood between Washington and Tehran is already about as bad as it can be.

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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A controversial new World Health Organization report on the origins of the coronavirus that suggests it likely originated from a bat but transferred to humans via an intermediary animal. Could the virus have emerged from a Chinese lab, as former CDC Director Robert Redfield recently suggested? That's the least likely scenario, says the WHO's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan. "The betacoronaviruses are very, very common in bats and there's a lot of genetic similarity between the SARS-CoV2 and many of the viruses in the...bat species," Dr. Swaminathan told Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

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.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

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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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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