GZERO Media logo

Signal v Noise


Elections in Taiwan – President Tsai Ing-wen's Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) suffered a stinging defeat in local elections over the weekend, losing crucial posts to the rival Kuomintang party, which favors closer ties with China. Ms. Tsai, who refuses to accept China's position that Taiwan and the mainland are part of the same country, now faces fresh questions about whether she can win re-election in 2020. No matter how you slice it, losses for the nationalistic DPP are a win for Beijing, which has ramped up pressure on the self-governing island since Ms. Tsai was elected: picking off Taiwan's remaining diplomatic partners and increasing its military drills near the island.

Doctors Back Across Borders Cuba is withdrawing 8,300 doctors from some of Brazil's poorest regions in response to the election of Jair Bolsonaro as Brazil's president. Cuba has dispatched doctors to many countries with sympathetic leftist governments over the years, often in exchange for material support. No surprise that the right-wing Bolsonaro, who has criticized the Cuban government for keeping part of the doctors' salaries and demanded new conditions, would quickly clash with Havana. But beneath the high politics of ideology there is a more important issue here: how will hundreds of thousands of poor Brazilians who depend on those Cuban doctors get the care they need?


Closing the Open Society George Soros's Open Society Foundations (OSF) has announced it will pull out of Turkey. The only surprise here is that the organization, which promotes the expansion of civil society, was still in Turkey at all. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan recently accused Soros of trying to destroy the countries in which the OSF operates, and OSF remains under investigation in Turkey over its involvement in the Gezi Park riots that triggered nationwide anti-government protests in 2013.

Another Indian statue The Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, population more than 200 million, has committed to build the world's tallest statue. This news comes just weeks after a nearly 600-foot tall statue of Indian founding father Sardar Patel went up in Gujarat. There is also a statue of medieval Indian ruler Shivaji under construction off the coast of Mumbai. Does India need the world's three tallest statues? Maybe there are better uses for the country's investment dollars.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

More Show less

Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis:

Should businesses be pessimistic or optimistic about 2021?

It's easy to be gloomy about the year ahead when faced with the realities of a cold, bleak winter in much of the world. Add to that lockdowns across Europe, surging case numbers and hospitalizations, and dreadful events in the Capitol in the US to name a few reasons for pessimism. But I think there is a case for optimism when it comes to this year. After all, it's true to say that it's always darkest before the dawn, and my conversations with business leaders suggest there are reasons to be positive by 2021.

More Show less

Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that many of the country's social media companies need to be held accountable for their negative role in our current national discourse. Swisher calls for "a less friendly relationship with tech" by the Biden administration, an "internet bill of rights" around privacy, and an investigation into antitrust issues.

Swisher, who hosts the New York Times podcast Sway, joins Ian Bremmer for the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television nationwide beginning this Friday, January 22th. Check local listings.

Brexit pettiness lingers: Here we were naively thinking the Brexit shenanigans were over after the EU and UK agreed to an eleventh-hour post-Brexit trade deal last month. We were wrong — the saga continues. Now, a new row has erupted after the Johnson government said it will not give the EU ambassador in London the same diplomatic status awarded to other representatives of nation states. Unsurprisingly, this announcement peeved Brussels, whose delegates enjoy full diplomatic status in at least 142 other countries. The UK says it will give the EU envoy the same privileges as those given to international organizations, which are subject to change and do not include immunity from detention and taxation given to diplomats under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. EU members are furious, with officials accusing London of simply trying to flex its muscles and engaging in "petty" behavior. The two sides will discuss the matter further when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets EU representatives next week, their first face-to-face since the two sides settled the Brexit quagmire on December 31. Alas, the Brexit nightmare continues.

More Show less
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal