WATCHING AND IGNORING

​​​​​​WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

The North Korean Coast – While flipping through his latest copy of Casino World Daily, your Friday author noted that casino magnate and conservative donor Sheldon Adelson wants to open casinos along the North Korean coast, perhaps on the “great beaches” near the hotels and condos President Trump would like to see built. Though some have mocked Trump’s suggestion, Kim Jong-un has expressed interest in exactly these sorts of tourism cash-cows. Sadly, he was too busy pointing at potatoes last week to build investor confidence by meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.


Leaders facing justice – El Salvador’s Supreme Court ordered President Sánchez Cerén to testify in a case involving the disappearance and likely murder of South Africa’s ambassador to the country in 1979. Sánchez Cerén is accused of serving as second in command of the left-wing rebel group that claimed to have killed the ambassador. The president denies involvement and refuses to testify. Also this week, a judge in Ecuador ordered the arrest of former President Rafael Correa on charges of kidnapping a political rival. Like Sánchez Cerén, Correa blames political enemies for these accusations. The difference? Correa now lives in Belgium.

WHAT WE’RE IGNORING

The Trump Baby Balloon’s Spokesperson – Apparently, the controversial Trump Baby balloon has its own spokesperson. That’s not necessary. Love it or hate it, the Trump Baby balloon speaks for itself.

Criticism of the giant Kazakh squirrel – Not a day goes by without someone asking your Friday author why he so rarely writes about giant squirrels. Well, Kazakhstan now has one, and this 40-foot-tall, bushy-tailed rodent needs both a talented spokesperson and a good lawyer. This creation has apparently delighted many Kazakh children, but some insist that $67,000 in public funds might have been better spent and warn that its straw and wood guts make it a fire hazard. Its creators say it represents nature's evolution from rural to urban life. #WorksForMe

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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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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900 million: Egypt has impounded the Ever Given, the ship that recently blocked the Suez Canal for almost a week, until its owners pay some $900 million in compensation for losses and the cost of the rescue operation. The blockage of this major naval chokepoint caused severe disruption to the global maritime shipping industry.

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