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Watching and Ignoring

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

India’s water shortage –​ An Indian government think tank has warned that 600 million people in that country are at risk of extreme water scarcity and that 21 cities are likely to run out of groundwater in the next two years. This is not just about thirst. About 80 percent of India’s water is used for agriculture. Less water means lower crop yields, less food, higher food prices, and, perhaps, future political upheaval.


God’s Wrath on Rodrigo Duterte –​ In a country where more than 80 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, President Rodrigo Duterte responded to recent criticism from religious workers this week with a profanity-heavy speech in which he criticized God for casting Adam and Eve from Eden: “Who is this stupid God? He’s really stupid. You created something perfect, and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work,” Duterte said.

Reindeer Zero Tolerance –​ Jon Georg Dale, Norway’s agriculture minister, says that, without a new bilateral deal to regulate grazing, his country will kill any Swedish reindeer that crosses his country’s border. #FatherChristmasLawyersUp

Ali Beiranvand –​ Your Signal authors are sick of hearing that Ronaldo “missed” that penalty kick in Portugal’s World Cup match with Iran. Alireza Beiranvand, Iran’s superlative goalkeeper, blocked that kick. We admire Beiranvand’s skill. More than that, we salute a once homeless young man, the son of nomads, who slept on the street outside the Tehran football club he hoped would one day give him a spot. Iran did not advance to the World Cup knockout round, but Ali Beiranvand can forever say that, when his moment came, he batted down a challenge from the (arguably) greatest player in the world.

WHAT WE’RE IGNORING

Warnings that immigrants bring crime –​ Multiple studies have shown that immigrants commit crimes at much lower rates than native-born citizens, and some have found that crime rates tend to drop in places where large groups of immigrants are admitted. With a hat tip to Josh Marshall, here are three. Click herehere, and here.

November 4 –​ The Trump administration announced this week that anyone buying Iranian crude oil after November 4, 2018 is subject to sanctions. On November 4, 1979, Iranians stormed the US embassy in Iran and took more than 60 hostages, triggering an historic 444-day standoff. We can ignore this, because it’s surely not intentional. But as coincidences go, that’s a good one.

Boris Johnson –​ Britain’s foreign minister claimed this week that President Trump reversed course on the policy of separating children from their parents because Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May told him to. “No sooner had she spoken than the president signed an executive order repealing the policy,” said Mr. Johnson. #BorisOnCrack

The Hindu Kush Himalayan region, stretching for more than 2,000 miles, is home to the world's highest mountains. The mountain range is also home to the world's third-largest concentration of snow and ice, earning it the moniker the third pole; only the North and South Poles contain more. The glaciers of the Hindu Kush Himalayas are the main source of fresh water for around two billion people living in the region. However, by the end of this century, two-thirds of that snow and ice could be lost because of climate change. A network of data scientists and environmentalists around the world, and on the ground in the Hindu Kush Himalayas, are working to understand the extent of glacial melting in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region, its effects and what can be done to minimize its impact. To read more visit Microsoft on the Issues.

When Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte resigned Tuesday — plunging the country into chaos as it faces once-in-a-generation public health and economic crises — he became the fourteenth Italian to vacate the prime ministership in three decades. (For contrast, Germany has only had three chancellors since 1982, and France has had five presidents.)

But Conte, who had no previous political experience until he was tapped for the top job in 2018, is not so much throwing in the towel as he is taking a massive gamble that President Sergio Mattarella will again appoint him to head Conte's third coalition government in less than three years.

The recent dysfunction is unique even within the context of instability-prone Italian politics. How did Italy get here, and what might come next?

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

What did you think of Xi Jinping's speech at the virtual World Economic Forum?

Well, his last speech at the real World Economic Forum in Davos, I remember being there four years ago, and given that Trump had just been elected, Xi Jinping gives this big, "We want to stand up and be leaders while the Americans are doing America first." And generally speaking, was probably the most important speech of the week. People liked it. This is a pretty different environment, not so much because Trump has gone, but rather because support and belief in Xi Jinping is pretty low. I will say one thing that was generally well responded to was the call not to enter into a new Cold War. Anybody in the business community generally supports that. There's so much integration and interdependence between the US and the Chinese economies that when Xi Jinping says, "We need to find ways to continue to work together," I mean, this is the pro-globalization audience he's speaking to. They generally agree. But otherwise, the message fell pretty flat. So, the idea that China is going to be globally useful on issues of leadership, especially when it comes to anything that might threaten Beijing's sovereignty, they check global norms at the door. And a few examples of that, when Xi called for support for the rules-based international order, that's in obvious contrast with China's violation of the one country, two systems framework in Hong Kong. And they said, "Well, that's a domestic issue." Well, actually that's not what your agreement was with the British handover. And just because you're more powerful doesn't mean that norm doesn't matter anymore.

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Over the weekend, some 40,000 people in Moscow and thousands more across Russia braved subzero temperatures to turn out in the streets in support of imprisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. More than 3,000 protesters were arrested, and Navalny called on his followers to prepare for more action in the coming weeks.

But just who is Alexei Navalny, and how significant is the threat that he may pose to Vladimir Putin's stranglehold on power in Russia?

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Angry farmers take Indian fort: In a major and violent escalation of ongoing protests over new agriculture laws, thousands of Indian farmers broke through police barricades and stormed the historic Red Fort in New Delhi on Tuesday. At least one protester died in the chaos, while the government shut down internet service in parts of the capital. Farmers and the government are still deadlocked over the new laws, which liberalize agriculture markets in ways that farmers fear will undercut their livelihoods. The government has offered to suspend implementation for 18 months, but the farmers unions are pushing for a complete repeal. Given that some 60 percent of India's population works in agriculture, the standoff has become a major political test for the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling BJP party.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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