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Watching and Ignoring

Something to Watch:

Boats doing U-Turns in the middle of the ocean — If you think the twists and turns of the US-China trade threats/tensions/truces are confusing, try being the captain of a cargo ship plying a route between the two countries. Last month, a vessel carrying sorghum from the US to China did not one, but two U-turns on the high seas in response to shifting signals on agriculture tariffs between Beijing and Washington. You can trace the trails of trade uncertainty on maps monitored by Bloomberg here.


Something to Ignore:

Italy’s new prime minister — Italy’s Five Star Movement and Lega finally agreed on a compromise candidate to lead the first all-populist government in Western Europe: Giuseppe Conte, a law professor with no previous government experience. He’ll be at best a referee and at worst a figurehead in a government where the real decisions (and divergences) lie with Five Star’s leader Luigi Di Maio and Lega’s Matteo Salvini. Remember, both parties made promises — Lega wants tax cuts, Five Star wants universal income — that would blow up Italy’s budget and call into question the country’s ability to remain in the Eurozone.

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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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253: According to the Institute for Development and Peace Studies, 253 former FARC fighters have been killed in Colombia since 2017, when the rebels signed a peace deal with the government. The agreement put an end to five decades of bloody conflict in the country's rural areas, while FARC members agreed to demobilize and reintegrate into Colombian society.

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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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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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