What We're Watching

Explanations for the Assange arrest – Why did Ecuador's government allow UK police to arrest Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday after providing him asylum in its London embassy for nearly seven years? Was it pressure from the US government, which wants to imprison him for revealing its secrets? Assange's ongoing political activities? His "discourteous and aggressive behavior" toward embassy staff? Threats by Wikileaks against Ecuador? Or did Assange fail to follow embassy rules that he must pay his own medical bills and clean up after his cat? (Those were actual rules.) It probably wasn't the cat, but your Signal authors can smell that litter box from across the Atlantic.

South African violence against migrants – Election season can be a dangerous time. Migrants from other African countries have again become the target of deadly vigilante attacks by South Africans in recent weeks. Guest workers from Malawi, Somalia, DR Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Zimbabwe have all been victimized. Upcoming elections may be feeding the violence as politicians from multiple parties publicly blame African foreigners for many of South Africa's economic, security, and social problems.

The Swiss troll the Brits – For the first time in modern Switzerland's history, a court has overruled the result of a nationwide referendum. In 2016, Swiss voters were asked whether partners who live together should pay tax at the same rate as married couples. By a margin of 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent, voters said no. This week, Switzerland's Supreme Court voided that result on the grounds that the information provided to voters before the referendum was "incomplete." Said the court: "Keeping in mind the close result and the severe nature of the irregularities, it is possible that the outcome of the ballot could have been different." The vote will be re-run. We're watching this story to see the expressions on the faces of Britons when they hear about it.

What We're Ignoring

Cuban Protesters – Hundreds of Cubans marched through Havana this week to protest cruelty to animals. Organizers of the demonstration say it's the first independent march ever authorized by Cuba's Communist government. Your Signal authors love animals, including Julian Assange's cat, but we'll ignore this story until the Cuban state approves a march to protest cruelty to people who disagree with their government.

Polling on Democratic presidential candidates – The men and women running for president, those who've made it official and those who haven't, are already working hard to raise money and their public profiles. But these are early days. First votes in primaries and caucuses won't be cast for nearly 10 months, and we're still 11 weeks away from the first Democratic presidential debates (June 26-27). Current polls tell us little more than that voters are familiar with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, while the rest of the (ever-expanding) field is relatively unknown.

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.

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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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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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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