Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.
Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.
On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.
If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.
<p>In short, we <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/whos-joe-biden-going-to-visit-first" target="_self">wrote</a> yesterday about what other countries want from America. Today, we look at what they should fear from the US… or at least from its polarized domestic politics. Solutions to many of today's global problems demand long-term commitments. As other governments plan, they want to know what to expect from the United States. They want to know what return they can expect on their own investments. They want to have confidence that Washington will prove a reliable partner.</p><p><strong>Transfers of power in Washington aren't new, but deep fundamental disagreements over US leadership are.</strong> Democrats and Republicans have alternated presidential power in the US for 160 years, but Donald Trump challenged an eight-decade consensus on the basics of America's role in the world on a scale we haven't seen in living memory. Joe Biden is now president, and he's got the pen to prove it, but his need to resort to executive orders reminds us of how little cooperation he can expect from <a href="https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/does-biden-really-think-republicans-will-work-with-him-and-could-he-be-right/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Congress</a>, where his party holds the narrowest of majorities. </p><p>More to the point, remember that Trump won more than 74 million votes in the 2020 election. The best measure of the narrowness of defeat is not the popular vote margin of seven million but the <a href="https://www.npr.org/2020/12/02/940689086/narrow-wins-in-these-key-states-powered-biden-to-the-presidency" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">44,000 votes</a> that separated Biden from Trump in three crucial states. Trump himself may not return to the White House, but the defiant go-it-alone foreign policy he branded as "America First" has inspired tens of millions of Americans and may well return. Perhaps in 2024. </p><p><strong>So, if you lead another government, are you ready to bet on sustainable US commitments</strong> to protect Asian allies from dominance by China, contain Iran's nuclear ambitions, help manage humanitarian emergencies, take consequential action to defend human rights, honor the terms of trade agreements, reduce carbon emissions, lend to COVID-devastated economies, or invest in the future of NATO? </p><p>As former German ambassador to the US <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HMiGZYN__M" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Wolfgang Ischinger</a> recently told GZERO Media, Europeans leaders better be asking themselves this question: "Do we want to make our lives, our future, dependent on what … 50,000, or 60 or 80,000 voters in Georgia or Arizona may wish to do four years from now?" </p><strong>Bottom line:</strong> How, world leaders rightly wonder, can they have confidence that today's US commitments are sound long-term bets? That's a big problem not only for the United States — but for its allies and potential partners.
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Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis:
Should businesses be pessimistic or optimistic about 2021?
It's easy to be gloomy about the year ahead when faced with the realities of a cold, bleak winter in much of the world. Add to that lockdowns across Europe, surging case numbers and hospitalizations, and dreadful events in the Capitol in the US to name a few reasons for pessimism. But I think there is a case for optimism when it comes to this year. After all, it's true to say that it's always darkest before the dawn, and my conversations with business leaders suggest there are reasons to be positive by 2021.
<p>Consider the following, yes, the vaccines are on their way, but so too is the impact of a wave of innovation. Twice the number of new business applications in the US and significant increases in new business starts in Germany, France, the UK and Japan. It's not just the digital economy that is reshaping lives, but science more generally with the impending bio revolution. And new ways of working are being accepted. Manufacturing is reviving and many sectors are seeing signs of confidence returning. </p><p>The great Anglo-Irish explorer Ernest Shackleton when faced with a life-or-death challenge of survival in the Antarctic commented, "optimism is true moral courage." It's time for some of that courage as we tackle 2021 with optimism.</p>
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January 21, 2021
Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that many of the country's social media companies need to be held accountable for their negative role in our current national discourse. Swisher calls for "a less friendly relationship with tech" by the Biden administration, an "internet bill of rights" around privacy, and an investigation into antitrust issues.
Swisher, who hosts the New York Times podcast Sway, joins Ian Bremmer for the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television nationwide beginning this Friday, January 22th. Check local listings.
January 21, 2021
Brexit pettiness lingers: Here we were naively thinking the Brexit shenanigans were over after the EU and UK agreed to an eleventh-hour post-Brexit trade deal last month. We were wrong — the saga continues. Now, a new row has erupted after the Johnson government said it will not give the EU ambassador in London the same diplomatic status awarded to other representatives of nation states. Unsurprisingly, this announcement peeved Brussels, whose delegates enjoy full diplomatic status in at least 142 other countries. The UK says it will give the EU envoy the same privileges as those given to international organizations, which are subject to change and do not include immunity from detention and taxation given to diplomats under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. EU members are furious, with officials accusing London of simply trying to flex its muscles and engaging in "petty" behavior. The two sides will discuss the matter further when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets EU representatives next week, their first face-to-face since the two sides settled the Brexit quagmire on December 31. Alas, the Brexit nightmare continues.
<p><strong>Protests in Russia this weekend: </strong>When Russian dissident Alexey Navalny returned to Russia last weekend for the first time since being poisoned there in August, the police promptly — and unsurprisingly — arrested him. But as he was being taken into custody, Navalny live-streamed from his phone, calling for mass protests on 23 January, this Saturday. Then he dropped a stunning two-hour documentary which alleges that decades of corrupt dealings are what enabled President Vladimir Putin to build himself a 17,000 acre palace on the Black Sea, replete with private casinos, theaters, and even a strip club. The video has already been <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ipAnwilMncI&feature=youtu.be" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">viewed nearly 50 million times</a> on YouTube. But will people heed Navalny's call this weekend? Polls show that nearly <a href="https://www.levada.ru/indikatory/polozhenie-del-v-strane/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">20 percent of Russians say</a> (source in Russian) they'd take part in political protests. As it happens, that's the highest mark since 2011, when Navalny led the largest demonstrations in Russia's post-Soviet history. Still, talking to pollsters is one thing, braving batons is another: we're watching to see how many show up on Saturday. If it's, say, 10,000 or more, things could get interesting fast.</p>
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