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Keystone XL halt is no threat to US-Canada ties under Biden; Brazil's vaccine shortage

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

Biden has promised 100 million COVID vaccine doses in 100 days. Meanwhile, Brazil is experiencing a shortage. What is happening?

Well, the president of Brazil has not taken coronavirus seriously at all. At least in the United States even though Trump was downplaying coronavirus, Operation Warp Speed was really significant, a major effort to build up and invest and acquire vaccines, the administration did a very significant job around that. In Brazil, the entire Bolsonaro administration basically abdicated on coronavirus. So, they've got well over 200 million people, they've got 6 million vaccines they've acquired so far. That's really been the result primarily of the governor of Sao Paulo not the Bolsonaro administration. This is an enormous problem for Brazil, it's an enormous embarrassment for Bolsonaro. You see calls impeachment that are rising yet again, his approval ratings are now in the low 30s. If they start slipping towards the 20s, he could start peeling off a lot of congressional support and impeachment could become a real issue. Certainly, elections coming up in Brazil, presidential elections in a year are going to be very, very challenging. And I watch that space pretty closely, brazil is going to suffer on the back of this more than a lot of other countries.

A video of Navalny posted after his arrest is going viral. He calls for supporters to "take to the streets" on January 23rd. What is going on?

Well, Alexei Navalny is the most well-known and popular of opposition figures in Russia. The biggest mass demonstrations against Kremlin we've seen in years was the last time Navalny called for mass protests, was mostly Moscow, but you got cities across the country, urban intellectuals, primarily younger people, elites. But Navalny is still quite popular, he still has a significant social media following. Nothing close to a majority, this is not a threat to President Putin, it's nothing close to what you've seen experienced in Belarus for example in the past six months. But nonetheless, it is a significant aggravant for Putin, and that's why Navalny has been detained. I suspect that with the show trials that will go on, he'll probably be given a more significant sentence. I think given he's upped the ante by calling for these demonstrations and by releasing a bunch of videos that are embarrassing to Putin personally, and all of that, the Kremlin has the power. Even though Navalny has a strong international support base, the willingness of Americans or Europeans to significantly and meaningfully increase sanctions against Moscow in a way that would matter to Putin, just isn't there. There just really isn't a stick to hit the Russians that would matter enough. Navalny doesn't matter enough, human rights in Russia don't matter enough to move the needle, especially given the level of economic, trade, and energy dependence that many of the Europeans have with Russia, the East Europeans have with Russia. The ideological orientation of Hungary in the EU, for example, towards Russia, they've just announced that they're getting the Sputnik V vaccine for their people, even though only 11% of Hungarians say that they would take a Russian or Chinese vaccine, over 50% would take Pfizer or Moderna, but they're not that one, and the fact that the United States is focused mostly domestically. So, all of that makes it a lot harder to move the needle on Putin when it comes to Navalny. And very sad for Navalny as a consequence, an incredibly courageous man who has faced, is facing, and will face an extraordinary amount of personal peril.

Pop quiz: what percentage of plastic currently gets recycled worldwide? Watch this video in Eni's Energy Shot series to find out and learn what needs to be done to prevent plastic from ending up in our oceans. Plastic is a precious resource that should be valued, not wasted.

This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the Tsar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on US politics in Washington, DC:

Another stimulus bill is about to pass the Senate. Why won't the minimum wage be going up?

Well, the problem with the minimum wage is it didn't have the 50 votes it needed to overcome the procedural hurdles that prevent the minimum wage when traveling with the stimulus bill. Clearly support for $15 an hour minimum wage in the House of Representatives, but there's probably somewhere between 41 and 45 votes for it in the Senate. There may be a compromise level that emerges later in the year as some Republicans have indicated, they'd be willing to support a lower-level minimum wage increase. But typically, those proposals come along with policies that Democrats find unacceptable, such as an employment verification program for any new hire in the country. Labor unions have been really, really fixated on getting a $15 an hour minimum wage. They may not be up for a compromise. So, we'll see what happens.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shocked the world last year when he recovered from an attempted assassination plot by poisoning — an attempt that bore all the fingerprints of Russian government. Then he shocked the world again by returning to Russia and timing that return with the release of an hours-long documentary that catalogued the Putin regime's extensive history of corruption. Virtually no one, therefore, was shocked when he was immediately sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and expert on authoritarian regimes, believes there was a method to Navalny's madness. "His decision of '….I'm going to do something that harms me personally, but is going to be a lesson for Russians. I'm going teach a generation of Russians how to be brave.' I mean, not very many people would have the guts to do that."

Applebaum's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television stations nationwide starting Friday, March 5. Check local listings.

It's not like things are going well in Mexico.

COVID has killed more people there than in any country except the United States and Brazil. Just 2 percent of Mexicans have gotten a first vaccine jab, compared with nearly 24 in the US. The Biden administration made clear this week that it won't send vaccines to its southern neighbor until many more Americans have been vaccinated. Mexico's government has cut deals for doses from China, Russia, and India.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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