10 Questions For 2018

10 Questions For 2018

1- What happens when Mueller calls that news conference?

President Trump and special counsel Robert Mueller are on a collision course. Latest reports indicate the investigation may continue well into next year, but that depends mainly on the willingness of witnesses to cooperate. At some point, Mueller will issue a public statement on what his team has found. That will trigger the most dramatic confrontation in US politics since Richard Nixon waved goodbye in 1974.


2- Will Democrats gain control of Congress?

The Senate remains a longshot for Democrats, despite their shock win last month in Alabama. The Dems need a net gain of just two seats in November, but they must defend 26, including 10 seats in states Trump won in 2016, while Republicans will defend just eight. Dems have a better shot at the House. The bottom line: A big Democratic wave is much more likely in 2020 than in 2018, but the current Republican margin is slim enough, and Trump has antagonized enough Republican senators, that he won’t have a post-tax cut working majority anyway.

3- Has North Korea changed the game?

Pyongyang has now tested a missile that some experts think can reach most of the US. Carrots and sticks, US or Chinese, have made no difference. US warnings of military action aren’t credible. We open 2018 with an uneasy new status quo.

4- How bad will US-Chinese relations get?

President Trump has discovered that China can’t/won’t lift him to victory over North Korea, and his administration will turn up pressure on Beijing in 2018. We got a preview of that this week with the unveiling of Trump’s new National Security Strategy, which asserts that China and Russia want to “challenge American power, influence and interests, [and] to erode American security and prosperity.” A full-on trade war is unlikely, but expect an early frost in US-China relations in 2018.

5-What will next generation fake news look like?

In December 2016, a rifle-toting North Carolina man, tipped off by reports on the Internet, marched into a pizzeria in Washington in search of evidence that the restaurant was hosting an underground pedophile ring run by Hillary Clinton. Advances in video fakery will ensure the fake news problem gets worse in 2018. The most egregious lies will fool only the weakest minds, but the more sophisticated the tech gets, the more likely that even discerning people will mistakenly throw out true stories with the false ones.

6- Will Europe face an East-West divide this year?

Yes, but there’s a limit to how much damage it will inflict on an otherwise (surprisingly) healthy EU. This week, the EU launched unprecedented disciplinary measures against Poland in response to judicial “reforms” that appear designed to pack Poland’s highest courts with judges friendly to the ruling party. Poland’s government has responded with defiance. The EU has limited leverage here, because the toughest punishments, including a suspension of Poland’s EU voting rights, require a unanimous vote of EU members. Hungary’s government, also angry at Brussels, will veto any such move. And there’s little public demand in Poland (or Hungary) for withdrawal from the EU.

7- Is Mexico headed left?

Who will become Mexico’s next president? Leftist populist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO)? Technocrat Jose Antonio Meade? Upstart Ricardo Anaya? NAFTA negotiations will play in the background, but this will be a battle over which candidate can persuade voters that he’s the man to kickstart the economy, fight crime, and clean up government. AMLO looks to have the edge as July 1 approaches.

8- How crazy will Brazil’s election get?

Here’s the country most likely to elect an outsider president. After years of economic pain and political scandal, voters are likely to clear the deck in October. Will courts allow former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to run? That’s the question that will hang over the election.

9- Can Jeremy Corbyn become UK prime minister?

That’s not as improbable as some think. If pro-European Conservatives join with the opposition to defeat whatever Brexit deal Theresa May brings home, there will be an early election, and Jeremy Corbyn will probably win it. It’s not likely, but entirely possible.

10- Can Vladimir Putin beat back a fierce electoral challenge from Ksenia Sobchak to win re-election as Russia’s president?

I like his chances.

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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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.

Two big Andean elections: This Sunday, Ecuadorians go to the polls for the second time this year in a close presidential runoff, while Peruvians will vote in the first round of their own presidential election. In Ecuador, the matchup is between the leftwing-populist frontrunner Andrés Arauz, who has pledged to blow up the country's IMF agreements and boost national oil production, and Guillermo Lasso, a pro-business candidate who is seen as the choice of continuity with the current market-friendly government. Voter abstention is likely to be high, and the final result could very well be close and contested in a polarized country that was struggling with massive social unrest even before the pandemic struck. Meanwhile in Peru — which recently went through three presidents in the space of a week — the candidate field is hugely fragmented. Those with a decent shot to make it to the second round include "change" candidates like the leftist former lawmakers Yohny Lescano and Verónica Mendoza, as well as the prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, who has recently risen in the polls. Former soccer star George Forsyth is also in the mix, as is Keiko Fujimori, daughter of authoritarian former president Alberto Fujimori. Both of this Sunday's elections will serve as a kind of bellwether for the political mood in a region that has been devastated by the public health and economic impact of the pandemic.

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Nasal sprays, oral vaccines, and other new types of COVID-19 vaccines may be ready soon, according to Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization. She previews some of these needle-less vaccines and notes that the possibility of being able to store vaccines at room temperature could be a game-changer for vaccinating poorer nations. The advantage of nasal sprays, she explains, is that they "would generate local mucosal immunity in addition to systemic immunity." Dr. Swaminathan's conversation with Ian Bremmer is featured on the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting this Friday, April 9. Check local listings.

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