10 Questions That Got Answered in 2017

10 Questions That Got Answered in 2017

1- What sort of president will Donald Trump be?

Trump has approached his role as president just as he played the role of candidate. He has opened nearly every negotiation — with foreign leaders, US lawmakers, reporters, and everyone else — with aggressive accusations and maximalist demands. He has repackaged modest results and several defeats as historic victories. He has shown that he knows what his most loyal supporters want to hear — and that he doesn’t understand how the US government works. Trump doesn’t change.


2- How much longer will China’s leaders follow Deng Xiaoping’s advice to hide the country’s strength and bide their time?

This turned out to be the most significant change in world politics in 2017. President Xi Jinping used October’s Party Congress to make clear that he is entirely in charge and that Beijing will now play a much more forceful role in the world. He used the phrases “great power” or “strong power” 26 times during a speech at the event. As Trump scales back US leadership ambitions, Xi has offered China as a leader on trade, investment, and the fight against climate change. Expect a more assertive Beijing in 2018 and beyond.

3- Do French voters want President Marine Le Pen?

Merci, non.There was a time when it appeared French voters might follow the trail blazed by Brexit and Trump toward an establishment-rattling protest vote. But of course, the French don’t follow the Anglo-Saxon lead on anything. They still dealt the traditional center-right and center-left parties a smack of historic proportions, but they did it with a fresh-faced, pro-European centrist with big aspirations for France and the EU.

4- Can Theresa May deliver a Brexit breakthrough?

Yes, but as public sausage-making goes, this process has been particularly hideous. UK Prime Minister Theresa May still lives at №10, the Europeans are still talking, and negotiations have advanced from “divorce terms” to future UK-EU relations. But nothing is final until everything is final, and the main lesson we learned this year is that May will step on more mines than she manages to avoid. #SausageMakingInaMinefield

5- Will Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) make his move to become king?

No doubt about that. We’d grown use to a young prince willing to start wars to bolster his resume (see Yemen). But 2017 proved that MbS is ready for all kinds of fights, and the length of his list of enemies (and potential enemies) would shock Michael Corleone. Iran? On notice. Qatar? Isolated. Religious conservatives? Overruled. Saudi royals of doubtful reliability? Detained. He’s not yet king, but he’s clearly in charge.

6- Can Erdogan win Putin-like powers in Turkey?

Yes, he can. In April, Turkey’s president won a narrow victory in a constitutional referendum that significantly extends the powers of his office. To get there, he dialed up his natural charisma, conjured fear of internal plots, stoked Turkey-against-the-West defiance, and probably ordered a bit of ballot-stuffing. He won’t get his new powers until he wins the next election, likely in late 2018. But Erdogan has cleared the highest hurdle on his way to the finish line.

7- Can the African National Congress (ANC) move beyond Jacob Zuma?

Yes, but it won’t be easy. Just this week, delegates at the ruling ANC’s party conference chose Cyril Ramaphosa as their new leader. Zuma remains South Africa’s president. He might even stay on the job through 2018. He certainly won’t go down without a fight. The choice of Ramaphosa brings potential for a change within the ruling party that South Africa badly needs, but Zuma loyalists will fight him every step of the way.

8- Can Brazil’s president survive the year with a single-digit approval rating?

Yes, he can. In fact, his approval rating surged from 3 to 6% just this week. Michel Temer doesn’t have much political future, but he has so far avoided both political oblivion and prison. (In today’s Brazil, that’s not nothing.) For millions of Brazilians, next October’s presidential election can’t get here fast enough.

9- Can I pass off Chuck E. Cheese game tokens as Bitcoin?

This question still lacks a clear answer. Earlier this week, your Signal author became very excited over reports that a man had successfully passed off round metal tokens used in the video game section of a popular pizza restaurant as Bitcoin. That report turned out to be a hoax, and I was inconsolable for several minutes. But the fact that it didn’t happen doesn’t mean it couldn’thappen.

10- Can NYC authorities prove the killer squirrel is dead?

Apparently not. The murderous squirrel that captured international attention in July by attacking people in Prospect Park — less than one mile from my apartment — has not reappeared. City officials say he’s dead, but they have not shown me (or anyone else) a corpse. Stay awake, Brooklyn.

People working at computers in a room labeled Malware Lab

Microsoft observed destructive malware in systems belonging to several Ukrainian government agencies and organizations that work closely with the Ukrainian government. The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) published a technical blog post detailing Microsoft’s ongoing investigation and how the security community can detect and defend against this malware. Microsoft shared this information over the weekend to help others in the cybersecurity community look out for and defend against these attacks. To read more visit Microsoft On the Issues.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Happy Tuesday after the long weekend for those of us that had a long weekend. I thought I would kick us off with the first major foreign policy crisis of the Biden administration. And that is of course, Russia-Ukraine. Afghanistan, of course, was a debacle, but not exactly a global crisis. This of course has the potential to really change the way we think about European security and about US relations with the other major nuclear power in the world. So, I would say that the level of concern is even higher and there are a lot of things we can say.
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The Graphic Truth: Deep in the red with China

The pandemic has thrown many already-indebted countries further into the red. The problem is two-pronged for many Asian, African, and Latin American countries. They have taken on huge amounts of debt from the IMF to weather pandemic-related economic uncertainty, while also being caught up in a debt trap set by China, which funds large infrastructure projects in developing states but often with complex or misleading fine print. We take a look at which countries out of a group of 24 surveyed states owe China the most compared to their respective IMF debts.

Ukrainian former President Petro Poroshenko gestures as he walks to address supporters upon arrival at Zhulyany airport in Kyiv, Ukraine January 17, 2022.

Ukraine’s political woes. While Russia maintains tens of thousands of troops on the Ukrainian border, domestic politics in Kyiv are becoming increasingly contentious. This week, former President Petro Poroshenko – who was elected in 2014 after the Maidan Revolution ousted a longtime Putin ally and then defeated for re-election in 2019 – has now returned to Ukraine after a month abroad to face a host of criminal charges. Those charges include treason, an alleged crime related to his decision to sign government contracts to buy coal from mines held by Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014. Poronshenko, a businessman worth $1.6 billion, says the deal was necessary to keep Ukraine from economic collapse and that the charges are an attempt by current President Volodomyr Zelensky to distract from unfavorable perceptions of the country’s (currently lousy) economic outlook. He also calls it a manufactured crisis and a “gift” to the Kremlin, because it distracts from Russia’s ongoing aggression.

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The Taliban’s never-ending crisis

Afghanistan has now become what the UN is labeling the planet’s worst humanitarian disaster. Indeed, last week the world body issued its largest-ever donor appeal for a single country to battle the worsening crisis there, caused by freezing temperatures, frozen assets, and the cold reception the Taliban have received from the international community since they took over last summer.

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A newborn baby is seen being cared for in the ward of the hospital neonatal care center. The results of the seventh national census of China will be released soon, and some institutions predict that the birth rate will be lower than the death rate for the first time.

7.52: Birth rates in China dropped to a record low 7.52 per 1,000 people in 2021, down from 10.41 in 2019. This comes as the Chinese Communist Party is trying very hard to boost birth rates to revive a slowing economy.

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China’s homegrown COVID vaccines were once crucial — but they're not as effective against omicron as mRNA jabs.

What's more, with with local cases near zero for the better part of the pandemic, most Chinese have no natural immunity. That could spell disaster for Beijing as omicron surges.

Yanzhong Huang, senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, warns that the highly transmissible new variant will make zero COVID harder and harder to sustain.

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