Watching and Ignoring

What We're Watching

Mexico — If Mexico elects Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) president on July 1, it will mark a sharp break from center-right dominance of the country’s politics of the past 30 years. Unless there’s a deal before July, an AMLO win would complicate the effort to renegotiate NAFTA. It would speed the deterioration of US-Mexican relations, already accelerated by President Donald Trump. AMLO is clearly the frontrunner, and his main challengers, Jose Antonio Meade from the ruling PRI and Ricardo Anaya, representing a centrist alliance, are attacking each other rather than forming a unified front to take on Lopez Obrador. The formal campaign begins on March 31.


Egypt’s ridiculous election — How ridiculous is next month’s presidential election in Egypt? The incumbent, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, faces one challenger — a man who has campaigned for Sisi in the past. Other candidates — a former prime minister, a military colonel, a human rights lawyer, and former president Anwar Sadat’s nephew — have all been harassed off the ballot. Fourteen international and Egyptian rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists have issued a statement that accuses Sisi of having “trampled over even the minimum requirements for free and fair elections” and calling on the US and EU to “speak out publicly now to denounce these farcical elections, rather than continue with largely unquestioning support for a government presiding over the country’s worst human rights crisis in decades.”

Atomic lizards — An advisor to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced during a press conference on Tuesday that Western nations were using lizards to spy on Iran’s nuclear program. Because lizards “attract atomic waves.” Is this possible? I really don’t know. I suppose that if the Israelis can use vulturesdolphinsstorks and squirrels, then anything is possible.

What We're Ignoring

Barack Obama’s official portrait — Your Friday author is no art critic, and Kehinde Wiley is a highly respected artist. Still, on behalf of Philistines everywhere, I have to ask: Why is Obama sitting in the bushes?

The Riyadh Ritz Carlton — This five-star hotel has reopened its doors to paying customers after pulling double-duty as a high-class prison. We’re sure it’s a nice hotel, but it was much more interesting when it had 200 princes, government ministers and businessmen camped out in it. #YouCanCheckOutAnyTimeYouLike

The Robot Winter Olympics — Apparently, there is a “Robot Winter Olympics.” We don’t care. We only watch the Games for the human-interest stories. Except for Kevin. Kevin watches the robots so they don’t watch us.

That's Bank of America's new target in its Environmental Business Initiative in order to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

Here's how it will drive innovation to address climate change.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

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Should the Biden administration "reverse course on China" in the hope of establishing a friendlier relationship, as diplomat Kishore Mahbubani argues in a recent Financial Times op-ed? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Michael Hirson take out the Red Pen to explain why it's not that simple.

And today, we are talking about the United States and China. The relationship between the two most powerful nations in the world is the worst it's been since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Pundits and policymakers alike all around the world are trying to figure out how Washington and Beijing can at least stop the bleeding because a reset is nowhere in the cards.

That's the topic of the op-ed that we are looking at today. It's from the Financial Times, written by Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani, and the title summarizes the key argument: "Biden should summon the courage to reverse course on China." Meaning, he should throw out the Trump era approach and open the door to more cooperation and kinder, gentler relations.

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More than a dozen COVID-19 vaccines have been fully approved or are currently in early use globally, and COVAX, the global initiative started last year by the World Health Organization and other partners, is pushing for equitable access to vaccines for all. But most of the half billion jabs given so far have gone to citizens of wealthy countries, with half going to the US and China alone. What's the problem with so-called vaccine nationalism? Ian Bremmer explains that besides the clear humanitarian concerns, the continued global spread of COVID increases the risk of new mutations and variants that can threaten the entire world, vaccinated or not.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Should wealthy individuals and nations shoulder more of the burden in addressing climate change? Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert argues that Big Tech leaders like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk should shift more of their focus to fighting for our own planet's survival, instead of space exploration. "We're doing as much as we can to make life difficult on planet Earth for ourselves. But there's virtually nothing we could do to make it as difficult as life on Mars, where there's, among other things, no oxygen." Kolbert, the author of Under a White Sky, discusses why it's so crucial for a few rich countries to bear most of the climate burden, since they're also the biggest emitters. Her conversation with Ian Bremmer is featured in the upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting this Friday, April 16. Check local listings.

In recent days, Northern Ireland has seen some of its worst street violence in over a decade. The anger has subsided a bit this week, but post-Brexit fears leave many uncertain about their future in a deeply divided land with a long history of political violence between Irish republicans and UK unionists.

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Fighting climate change is about making the planet get less hot. The more quickly countries slow down their carbon emissions, the faster that'll happen. All the more important for the nations that pollute the most — but not all of them are on board. Although the majority, including China, are setting future targets to go Net Zero, India doesn't want to commit (yet) to when to stop burning fossil fuels to spur economic growth. We take a look at when the world's top polluting economies intend to go carbon-neutral, compared with their share of global emissions, of renewable energy as a source of electricity, and percentage of global coal consumption.

Peruvian runoff: Perú's presidential election is going to a runoff in June between two surprise and polarizing contenders, each of whom won less than 20 percent of votes in a highly fragmented first round. Pedro Castillo, a far-left union leader and teacher who benefited from a late surge in the polls, will battle rightwing populist Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's imprisoned former strongman. Castillo wants to rewrite the constitution to weaken the political influence of the country's business elite and maybe to allow the state to nationalize parts of the mining sector to pay for social programs for the poor. Fujimori wants to use mining revenues to create jobs by investing in infrastructure and healthcare. The runoff will probably be a national referendum on Fujimori, a divisive figure running for the top job for the third time. No Peruvian president has ever left office without facing corruption charges, but Fujimori already faces several — and she'll avoid jail time if she wins.

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