Wales, early 19th century: During breaks from his law studies, William Robert Grove indulges in his passion for science to become an inventor. On his honeymoon in Europe, he learns about the new energy source everyone's talking about: electricity. After learning that electricity allows water to be broken down into its two components, hydrogen and oxygen, his intuition leads him to an idea that ends up making him a pioneer of sustainable energy production.
Watch the story of William Robert Grove in Eni's MINDS series, where we travel through time seeking scientists.
Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:
Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and as we head into the weekend, a Quick Take on, well, the first bombing campaign of the new Biden administration. You kind of knew it was going to happen. Against some Iranian-backed militias in Syria, looks like a couple of dozen, perhaps more killed, and some militia-connected military facilities destroyed. I think there are a few ways to look at this, maybe three different lenses.
<p>The first is from the tactical perspective, it is a response to militias, also Iranian-backed, that had been used in attacks against American troops and American civilians, contractors in neighboring Iraq, and that had also led to casualties. The Iranians made an adversary of the United States in the Middle East, and the US does not want to give them a blank check in escalating against US presence in the region. You don't want to necessarily hit Iraq directly because then you undermine the government the US is trying to work with, and so instead, neighboring Syria, where those militias are an operation, easier thing to do. Pinpoint, fairly limited, seen as tit for tat, doesn't derail the efforts to open, reopen negotiations in the Iranian nuclear deal, the JCPOA, which are on track to proceed. And I have a fair amount of confidence that we will get back into that deal by the end of this year, beginning of next year. US will still be a major adversary of Iran. We will still have sanctions on Iran, but the Iranians will be able to start producing another million plus barrels a day of oil, and the inspectors will be able to constrain in a confirmable way Iran's lack of development towards nuclear weapons, at least for the near to medium term.</p><p>Okay, so that's the tactical piece. You check the box, kind of like you checked the box when Trump engaged in strikes in response for Assad's use of chemical weapons against civilians. Okay. But then take another step back and I want to tell you what the White House press Spokesperson Jen Psaki had to say, and I quote, "What is the legal authority for strikes? Assad is a brutal dictator, but Syria is a sovereign country." And of course, she's pointing out here that without congressional approval, a president engaging in strikes inside a sovereign country has no legal basis. It's a breach of the way law is supposed to work in the US. It undermines separation of powers. Now, what I didn't tell you is that Jen Psaki made that statement, not in the last 24 hours, but actually in 2017, but it doesn't matter. The same rules apply. I understand that consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds and now she's on the side that has the power as opposed to port when she's criticizing Trump, but again, it's the same point. Congress has abdicated its willingness to take responsibility. They won't engage in legislation. They won't raise the question to approve or disapprove the president's ability to continue to use war powers after 9/11. They say everything is a part of the war on terror, because if everything's a part of the war and terror, then of course nothing is and there are no constraints on executive use of military power. That's not the way it was supposed to work, and it undermines the legitimacy of US actions in the eyes of American citizens and more broadly.</p><p>And then to take the more macro and even existential question, what the hell are we doing in the Middle East? It is worth asking to what extent, in 2021, the United States should continue to have a large military presence on the ground as targets, not necessarily promoting stability, costing a lot of money, seen by many in the region is problematic, and in a part of the world that the United States increasingly doesn't consider strategic and doesn't care very much about. Now, I'm not suggesting that means the US should leave in toto, but I think at least worth asking the question. Because the world today doesn't look anything like the world of the oil blockade in the '70s and that great recession, doesn't look anything like the world after 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan, that continues, that persists, the longest war we've ever fought in our lifetimes. Why the persistence of the massive war machine in the United States, the US outspending the next seven countries combined in terms of defense spending? Does that make sense in today's world? Particularly as the us lags behind in R&D spending on new technologies compared to China, soon to be the largest economy in the world with a vastly smaller military capacity than the United States and not even trying to develop nuclear parity with the United States and Russia.</p><p>Now, US laws don't apply outside of our country, but humanity does, we're all people. And when I continue to hear the Biden administration and President Biden himself say, "The US is back," it's perhaps the most consistent thing I've heard in terms of foreign policy. "The US is back." We need ask ourselves, back to what? Do we want to be the world's policemen? Do we want to be seen as the indispensable nation globally? Do we still perceive ourselves as the exceptionalist power? Because most other countries around the world don't. I would say not exactly, and I agree that we want to live in peace, but I also think that by we, we don't just mean Americans.</p><p>Anyway, something to think about, see you all next week, have a great weekend, be safe, avoid people.</p>
More Show less
March 01, 2021
Iran rules out nuclear talks… for now: Iran has reportedly rejected an offer to join direct talks with the US and EU over its nuclear program, saying it won't start the conversation until sanctions on Iran's economy are eased. To be clear, this does NOT mean that prospects for reviving the Iran nuclear deal are dead. Europeans and the Biden administration want a return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, and Iran certainly needs the economic boost that would come from a removal of sanctions. But Tehran is going to try to maximize its leverage before any talks begin, especially since this is a sensitive election year in in the country. Iran's leaders are going to play hard to get for a while longer before edging their way back to the bargaining table. Still, it's high stakes diplomacy here between parties that have almost no mutual trust — and one misstep could throw things off track quickly.
<p><strong>Is China inside India's electrical grid? </strong>A newly published study from intelligence analytics firm <a href="https://www.recordedfuture.com/redecho-targeting-indian-power-sector/" target="_blank">Recorded Future</a> suggests that China may have retaliated against India following border skirmishes in the Himalayas last year by using malware to attack India's power grid, triggering a blackout last October that left 20 million residents of Mumbai in the dark. The study's authors acknowledge that these conclusions are still speculative, but recent <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/28/us/politics/china-india-hacking-electricity.html" target="_blank">comments by Indian officials</a> add to their credibility. The findings are all the more striking because conventional wisdom holds that while governments regularly use cyber-attacks to steal the secrets of other countries, they generally don't tend to <em>sabotage</em> other governments for fear of dangerous retaliation. If there is truth in this story, it's possible that China believes its cyber advantage over India is strong enough to deter retaliation. That's a powerful warning for every government.</p><p><strong>Dominican Republic to "build the wall:" </strong>Ok, they are calling it a fence, but whatever you call it, recently-elected Dominican president Luis Abinader says that a <a href="https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-56227999" target="_blank">new 230 mile hi-tech barrier </a>is meant to stop drug trafficking, illegal immigration, and cross-border crime between his country and Haiti. The two countries, which share the Caribbean Island of Hispañola, have long had testy relations, in particular over the presence in the DR of hundreds of thousands of Haitian migrants who have fled their own country — the poorest in the Western Hemisphere — in search of opportunity next door. About five percent of the DR's population is of Haitian origin, according to government estimates, and many lack formal papers. At the same time, the porousness of the border has facilitated trafficking of human beings and contraband, according to a US State Department <a href="https://www.state.gov/reports/2020-trafficking-in-persons-report/haiti/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">report</a>. The Dominican government <a href="https://www.vox.com/2015/6/18/8802587/dominican-republic-haitian-deportation" target="_blank">has deported Haitians en masse</a> on several occasions over the past several decades, and there is a history of anti-Haitian violence in the country that runs back more than a century. Construction of the new fence is set to begin later this year. </p>
More Show less
Hard Numbers: Myanmar's dead, Cuban rappers vs the state, Ukraine's diplomatic smugglers, Sarkozy's jail time
March 01, 2021
18: A week after threatening protesters with a severe crackdown, Myanmar's ruling junta killed at least 18 people across the country in the bloodiest day of clashes since the generals staged a coup last month.
<p><strong>16:</strong> Smuggling cheap cigarettes out of Ukraine has long been a favored racket for local criminals, but now diplomats are getting in on the action too: Ukrainian border guards on Sunday pinched some of their own envoys trying to bring thousands of packs of smokes into neighboring Poland, along with tens of thousands of dollars, and <a href="https://english.alarabiya.net/News/world/2021/03/01/Poland-arrests-Ukrainian-diplomats-for-cross-border-smuggling-of-gold-cigarettes-#:~:text=Reuters%2C%20Kyiv&text=Ukrainian%20border%20guards%20have%20seized,Poland%2C%20investigators%20said%20on%20Monday" target="_blank">16 kilos </a>of gold.<br/></p><p><strong>3: </strong>Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was <a href="https://apnews.com/article/nicolas-sarkozy-convincted-corruption-france-6ee89cb03ba8f3888ac64447ebf61f28" target="_blank">sentenced</a> to three years in prison for corruption and influence-peddling. Although he'll serve just one year — and under house arrest — he'll still be the first former French president to do time: in 2011 Jacques Chirac was convicted of misusing public funds during his days as Paris mayor, but he got a suspended sentence.</p><p><strong>2.6 million: </strong>A new hip-hop anthem <a href="https://www.wlrn.org/news/2021-02-26/viral-music-video-patria-y-vida-sparks-conversation-for-change-in-cuba" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">starkly denouncing</a> Cuba's dictatorship has gotten 2.6 million YouTube views since its release in mid-February. "It's done," <a href="https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/gentedezona/patriayvida.html" target="_blank">says</a> one line of the song by several Cuban recording artists, "we have no fear, the deception is over, it's been 62 years of damage." Cuba's president denounced the song -- whose title "Homeland and Life" deliberately reworks Castro's slogan of "Homeland or Death!" — as an attempt to erase the legacy of the revolution.</p>
More Show less
The country's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, joins Ian Bremmer to talk vaccines, school re-openings, and when—and how—the pandemic could finally come end. He was last on GZERO World just weeks before the pandemic hit in the fall of 2019 and he described at the time what kept him up at night: a "pandemic-like respiratory illness." This time, he'll talk about how closely that nightmare scenario foreshadowed the COVID-19 pandemic. He'll also offer some guidance about what public health measures vaccinated Americans should continue to take in the coming months (hint: masks stay on).