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WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Macron’s Next Challenge– All French leaders seem eventually to face the same problem: Reform plans provoke resistance from workers and students. The protesters win public support. The president or prime minister is forced to back down—and then pilloried for his weakness. Tomorrow, Emmanuel Macron faces “Blocage du Novembre 17,” a protest in which people wearing yellow sweaters plan to block more than 1500 roads all over France to protest his diesel tax. A new poll says 65 percent of the public supports the protest and 42 percent intend to participate.


The Rise of China – Not sure we’re right about the power of the moving image? Check out this motion graphic on the rise of China.

Cuban officials in American hotels –A Hilton hotel in southwestern Japan turned away the Cuban Ambassador to Japan this week, citing US sanctions on the island nation. Japanese officials are furious. The US government should have learned decades ago that no good can come from pushing Cuban officials out of American hotels.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Rubber Lenin –Speaking of being forced from one’s lodgings, Vladimir Petrov, a Russian lawmaker, says it’s too expensive to keep former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin on display in the Red Square Mausoleum, where his body has been exhibited since his death in 1924. He proposes burying Lenin in 2024 on the 100th anniversary of his demise. He does believe the Mausoleum should remain open, perhaps with a rubber version of Lenin instead. This is not fake news. Your Friday author knows the story of Rubber Lenin is true, because he saw it in Pravda.

Duterte power naps – On Wednesday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a man who has cultivated an image as a virile, no-nonsense problem-solver, missed four scheduled meetings at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Singapore. Apparently, he was sleeping. Don’t worry, said a presidential spokesman. Duterte doesn’t sleep as we do. These were “power naps.”

Gait recognition – What good is facial recognition surveillance software if the camera can’t see your face? In China, authorities have begun using software that can identify a person by body shape and how they walk. This will never work, in our opinion, because clever people can easily adjust their gait.

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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The Democrats shocked the country by eking out a 50-50 majority in the US Senate earlier this month, securing control of the House, Senate and Executive. But do they have enough power to impose the kinds of restrictions to Big Tech that many believe are sorely needed? Renowned tech columnist Kara Swisher is not so sure. But there is one easy legislative win they could pursue early on. "I think it's very important to have privacy legislation, which we currently do not have: a 'national privacy bill.' Every other country does." Swisher's wide-ranging conversation with Ian Bremmer was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

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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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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