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WHAT WE’RE READING: GLOBAL POLITICS SURF AND TURF

WHAT WE’RE READING: GLOBAL POLITICS SURF AND TURF

This Tuesday, it’s a meat and seafood lovers’ delight – we’ve found two stories that tell us about the state of global politics from the perspective of what’s on your plate.


First, to the northeastern American state of Maine, where Bloomberg’s Shawn Donnan delivers an extraordinary portrait of how the high politics of US-China trade tensions have hit the rough and tumble lobstermen of New England. In recent years, a burgeoning Chinese middle class has developed a taste for imported lobster, fueling a boom in Maine, the largest exporter of lobster in the US.

But amid this summer’s tit-for-tat tariff escalation between Washington and Beijing, China threw a 25 percent levy on live lobsters, imperiling a hundred-million-dollar annual export market. Now Maine lobstermen are scrambling to find new customers in Asia while also clashing with their Canadian rivals, who have better access not only to China, but also to Europe because of a recent EU-Canada trade pact. The story is a lesson in how pulling even the smallest strings in the tapestry of global trade can have far-reaching, and very local, effects. Consider the lobster!

The next course comes from Brazil, where right-wing president-elect Jair Bolsonaro has hit a snag in his plan to assert a more nationalistic foreign policy patterned after Trump’s America First model. Last week, the fiercely pro-Israel Bolsonaro pledged to relocate Brazil’s embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as the US did earlier this year. Egypt, which has firm ties with Israel but still responds to popular support for the Palestinians, abruptly cancelled a scheduled visit from Brazilian diplomats and businesspeople. What’s more, the move provoked an outcry from Brazil’s powerful meat export industry.

What’s the beef? Brazil, as it happens, is the world’s leading exporter of halal meat  that complies with Muslim dietary restrictions, and the Arab world is a critical market for the Brazil’s cattle industry. Egypt alone accounts for some $2 billion in the Brazilian trade, nearly half of Brazil’s total meat exports to the region, and competition from other exporters is stiff.  Bolsonaro has now said that the decision is under review.

The lesson: It’s one thing to call for “[my country] first” when you are a global superpower like the US.  It’s trickier when you are a second-tier power with fewer levers of influence. Nationalists take note: if the world becomes dog eat dog, there could well be a dog bigger than you.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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62: In a referendum over the weekend, nearly 62 percent of Swiss voters said they wanted to preserve freedom of movement between the European Union and Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU. The right-wing Swiss People's Party had proposed imposing migration quotas at the border, saying that the current frontier is basically a... (okay, they didn't actually say it's a "Swiss cheese" but still).

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on the Navalny poisoning on Europe In 60 Seconds:

Can Europe get to the bottom of Russian opposition leader Navalny's poisoning? And if so, would it change anything?

One has got to the bottom of it, to certain extent. The evidence, there was a German laboratory confirming nerve agent, Novichok. They sent it to a French laboratory and the Swedish independent laboratory, they came to the exact same conclusions. I mean, it's dead certain. He was poisoned with an extremely poisonous nerve agent coming from the Russian state laboratories. Now, there is a discussion underway of what to do. I mean, the Russians are refusing any sort of serious discussions about it. Surprise, surprise. And we'll see what actions will be taken. There might be some sort of international investigation within the context of the OPCW, the international organization that is there, to safeguard the integrity of the international treaties to prevent chemical weapons. But we haven't seen the end of this story yet.

Watch as Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, explains what's going on in technology news:

Would Facebook actually leave Europe? What's the deal?

The deal is that Europe has told Facebook it can no longer transfer data back and forth between the United States and Europe, because it's not secure from US Intelligence agencies. Facebook has said, "If we can't transfer data back and forth, we can't operate in Europe." My instinct, this will get resolved. There's too much at stake for both sides and there are all kinds of possible compromises.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

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