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Putin’s Secret Weapon  President Trump took a shot at the Federal Reserve chair this week. “I’m not thrilled with his raising of interest rates,” he told Reuters after arguing that China and Europe are manipulating the values of their currencies. To understand the value of an independent central bank, the president should read this excellent profile of Russian central banker Elvira Nabiullina. She’s the primary reason that crisis-prone Russia has a relatively healthy banking sector, strong reserves, and low inflation. President Putin stays out of Nabiullina’s way—and makes sure others do, as well.

Israa al-Ghomgham  It might be another first for Saudi women. Two months after the Saudi government lifted a decades-old ban on women driving automobiles, Israa al-Ghomgham may become the first Saudi woman put to death for a political crime. Her offense? According to Human Rights Watch, an advocacy group, prosecutors have charged her with “participating in protests in the [majority-Shia] Qatif region, incitement to protest, chanting slogans hostile to the regime, attempting to inflame public opinion, filming protests and publishing on social media, and providing moral support to rioters.”


Complaints about Jakarta's traffic — Are the Indonesian capital’s legendary traffic jams as bad as advertised? Not if you’re a superhero like President Joko Widodo. Maybe you saw James Bond and Queen Elizabeth parachute into London’s Wembley Stadium to open the 2012 Olympics. Now check out Joko’s opening of the Asian Games. (He gets down to business at about the 1:30 mark.)

Illegal aliens — This week, the Miami Herald endorsed Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera, who is running for a seat in the US House of Representatives vacated by Florida Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Rodriguez Aguilera said in a 2009 television interview that when she was seven years old, she boarded a spaceship occupied by three tall aliens who spoke to her telepathically. And that’s not weird at all.

Visit Microsoft on The Issues for a front-row seat to see how Microsoft is thinking about the future of sustainability, accessibility, cybersecurity and more. Check back regularly to watch videos, and read blogs and feature stories to see how Microsoft is approaching the issues that matter most. Subscribe for the latest at Microsoft on the Issues.

On Wednesday, Joe Biden will become president because eighty-one million Americans, the highest tally in US history, voted to change course after four years of Donald Trump's leadership. Like all presidents, Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, take office with grand ambitions and high expectations, but rarely has a new administration taken power amid so much domestic upheaval and global uncertainty. And while Biden has pledged repeatedly to restore American "unity" across party lines — at a time of immense suffering, real achievements will matter a lot more than winged words.

Biden has a lot on his agenda, but within his first 100 days as president there are three key issues that we'll be watching closely for clues to how effectively he's able to advance their plans.

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We're only a few weeks into 2021 and that 'fresh new start' that so many had been hoping for at the end of 2020 has not exactly materialized. But what gives World Bank President David Malpass hope for the coming year? "The promise of humanity and of technology, people working together with communication, where they can share ideas. It allows an incredible advance for living standards." His wide-ranging conversation with Ian Bremmer was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

It wasn't pretty, but we made it to Inauguration Day. These last four years have taught the US a lot about itself — so what have we learned?

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and it is the last full day of the Trump administration. Extraordinary four years, unprecedented in so many ways. I guess the most important feature for me is how much more divided the United States is, the world is, as coming out of the Trump administration than it was coming in. Not new. We were in a GZERO world, as I called it well before Trump was elected president. The social contract was seen as fundamentally problematic. Many Americans believed their system was rigged, didn't want to play the kind of international leadership role that the United States had heretofore, but all of those things accelerated under Trump.

So perhaps the most important question to be answered is, once Trump is gone, how much of that persists? It is certainly true that a President Biden is much more oriented towards trying to bring the United States back into existing multilateral architecture, whether that be the Paris Climate Accord, or more normalized immigration discussions with the Mexicans, the World Health Organization, the Iranian Nuclear Deal, some of which will be easy to do, like Paris, some of which will be very challenging, like Iran. But nonetheless, all sounds like business as usual.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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