Biden and Merkel will talk China strategy; Cuban economic crisis

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week from Washington, DC, with a look at the upcoming Biden/Merkel meeting, Haiti in crisis, and the ongoing protests in Cuba.

Biden is hosting Angela Merkel in Washington this week. What's on the agenda?

Most important is going to be China. That's not what the headlines are right now. They're all talking Nord Stream and cybersecurity and all that. But the reality is Biden wants to coordinate China policy with his top allies. He's had a lot of success with Japan. He's had success with South Korea. Those are the first two leaders to have been invited to Washington. He's probably going to have some success with Angela Merkel as well, because there is increasingly backlash against Xi Jinping and his efforts to consolidate a Chinese model, vaccine nationalism, lack of transparency on origins of the crisis, and all this kind of stuff. Technology hits, not allowing companies to IPO abroad. The Germans are angry too. And I think that is going to be the top issue they discuss.


A week after the assassination of Haiti's president. What's happening there?

Country is in complete disarray. The military basically is running the place by default right now, but they don't have control. Gangs are running all over the country. And the Haitian government, such as it is, is asking for international intervention, peacekeepers from the United States and others. The good news is that if the US were to provide some support, pretty much every other country in the Western Hemisphere would support it and probably many would participate. So it doesn't have to be American intervention by itself. Clearly, they also need humanitarian support and jabs. There have been no vaccinations on Haiti so far. Real problem for that country.

What sparked Cuba's recent protests? The biggest in decades.

Well, it's a combination of the biggest economic and healthcare crisis in decades and the government that's been really badly run under dictatorship, and stepped-up US sanctions. In the last year, there's been no tourism to Cuba. They haven't had money to put into actually developing the sugar crop, which has meant that that's underperformed too. They don't have any money. Venezuela's not providing support like they used to because they've collapsed. The Russians don't really care. So you've got thousands of people demonstrating around the country, and it is possible that the government will fall. They have enough military capacity to shut down these demonstrations, but they want to be careful about not killing a bunch of people in the streets because that could really blow up in their faces. So worth watching carefully.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Listen: A deep dive down the bottle to examine the role alcohol has played in society, politics, and global summitry—from the earliest hunter-gatherer days to that memorable Obama Beer Summit in 2009. Joining Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast is philosopher Edward Slingerland, whose new book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way Into Civilization makes a compelling, if nuanced, case for alcohol's place in the world.

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.

A few weeks ago, a Signal reader emailed me to ask why so much of our coverage of the world is so damn dark. Aren't there any good news stories out there?

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There's a lot of doom and gloom in the world these days, and much cause for pessimism. Still, the advent of new technologies and scientific advancements has lifted billions out of poverty and increased quality of life for many over the last half century. Since 1990, global average life expectancy has increased by eight years to 73, while GDP per capita has also grown exponentially, doubling over the past decade alone. We take a look at how life expectancy and GDP per capita have evolved globally from 1960-2019.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Why can't President Biden order a vaccine mandate for all Americans?

Well, the reason is it's out of his powers. The one of the fundamental challenges in the pandemic is that the federal government has actually been fairly limited in the steps they can take to stop the spread of the virus. So, that's why you've seen President Biden order masks on transit, mass transit, airplanes, and the like. But he can't order masks in workplaces because that's not within his power. That power lies within state governments. State governments and other entities, like employers, can require vaccinations before you come into their buildings, or you come back to school, or you go to work in your office. But the federal government can't do that. What Biden is doing is, allegedly, supposedly going to announce a mandate for federal workers to get vaccinated.

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American gymnast Sunisa "Suni" Lee, 18, stunned spectators around the world with her breathtaking performance in Tokyo Thursday that earned her the gold.

Here are some interesting facts about Suni Lee, the gymnast queen:

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"Super Mario" takes his chances: Less than five months after becoming Italy's consensus prime minister, Mario Draghi's coalition government is on shaky ground over Draghi's proposed judicial reforms. "Super Mario" — as he's known for saving the Eurozone as European Central Bank chief during the financial crisis — wants to dramatically speed up Italy's famously slow courts. But his push to reduce judicial backlogs is opposed both by the populist 5-Star Movement, the coalition government's biggest party, and by prosecutors because many cases could be scrapped before reaching a verdict. Draghi, upset that this resistance is stalling his other initiatives to cut Italian red tape, has decided to roll the dice anyway: he'll put his plan to overhaul the courts to a no-confidence vote in parliament. If Draghi wins, he gets the reforms passed without debate; if he loses, the PM technically has to resign, but he'll keep his job because he has enough votes even if the 5-Star Movement bows out of the coalition.

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700: Roughly 700 people arrested for joining the unprecedented July 11 anti-government protests in Cuba are still being held by the regime. They may now face mass show trials as Havana continues to crack down on dissent following the biggest challenge to its power in decades.

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