WHAT WE'RE WATCHING - WHAT WE'RE IGNORING - WHAT WE'RE SMOKING

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Fake news in Brazil – Oi, Brazilian voters: You know that picture of former President Dilma Rousseff as a young woman rubbing elbows with Fidel Castro? Yeah, the one your mother in law just blasted out on WhatsApp? It’s a fake. So is the pic of right-wing frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro walking into a hospital with a smile on his face – allegedly proof that his recent stabbing at a campaign rally was staged. According tofact checkers, fake news and misinformation are surging across WhatsApp ahead of a deeply polarizing presidential runoff later this month.  After the vote, which Bolsonaro is almost assured to win, expect an extremely polarized debate over effects of disinformation on the election and the legitimacy of the next president.


Fake moon in China – We at Signal have been closely following China’s push to create its own global models for finance, trade, and technology – but now it appears that Beijing’s ambitions rise higher than that still. The southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu has announced plans to launch an “illumination satellite” to light up the night sky better than the moon. This fake moon – because that’s what it is, a fake moon – will be eight times brighter than the real moon and able to cast light over a distance of 10-80 kilometers.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

People going postal over Trump’s mail decision – The White House this week said the US is ditching the 144-year old global agreement under which countries agree to deliver each other’s mail, and has ordered the US Postal Service to charge more for deliveries from China. Some people are dismayed. But since 1969 the Universal Postal Union pact has given favorable shipping rates to poorer countries – one of those countries being… China! American e-commerce companies have rightly complained that this puts them at a disadvantage: according to calculations by The Atlantic, if you’re in Virginia it’s cheaper to have a packet of eyebrow razors shipped from China than from North Carolina. There is plenty to critique in Trump’s habit of busting up international norms, but on this one he’s right. We’d bet that China – and others – will renegotiate over the next year, before the US withdrawal formally takes effect.

Canine views on Brexit – Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun, as the saying goes. Well, earlier this month about a thousand dogs – and their owners – marched on Britain’s parliamentto demand a fresh referendum on whether the UK should still leave the European Union. Granted – as we wrote earlier this week – the process of negotiating  “Brexit” has become more complicated than most Britons seemed to foresee. But rerunning the referendum still seems like a long shot. Unless those dogs know something…

WHAT WE'RE SMOKING

Canadian stuff – On Wednesday, Canada became the first major economy to legalize the recreational use of marijuana (Uruguay has been there since 2013.) The Canucks are already prodigious producers and smokers: Canada’s 36 million residents blazed up an estimated 773 tons of weed last year, worth around $4.2 billion, and (illegally) exported another $765 million. Over time, Canada’s decision will offer a unique look at legalized weed’s impact on the budget (marijuana is taxed) and on social issues (incarceration rates and drug use). We also relish the thought of Justin Trudeau cutting the rug while legally stoned.

For more than 15 years, Walmart has been collaborating with others to drive change across global supply chains. The company's sustainability efforts prioritize people and the planet by aiming to source responsibly, sell sustainable products, protect natural resources and reduce waste and emissions.

  • Walmart powers around 29% of its operations with renewable energy.
  • The company diverts about 80% of waste from its landfills and incineration globally.
  • Walmart is working with suppliers through its Project Gigaton initiative to avoid a gigaton of greenhouse gas emission by 2030.

Iran has vowed to avenge Sunday's attack on its Natanz nuclear facility. Tehran blames Israel, which — as in the past — has neither confirmed nor denied it was responsible. And all this happens just days after indirect talks on US plans to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal resumed in Vienna. What the Iranians do now will determine the immediate future of those negotiations, a Biden administration priority.

More Show less

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week on World In 60: J&J vaccine woes, Blinken warns China, Fukushima water and a large rabbit.

How will the pause of Johnson & Johnson vaccine affect the overall pandemic fight in the United States?

Yeah. Right at it, right? Well, we heard that the FDA has suspended vaccines from J&J because of blood clots. They found six in seven million cases. It's kind of like the suspension of AstraZeneca in Europe. It's likely only going to last for a few days. It's a very small percentage of the total number of vaccines that are being jabbed right now into the arms of Americans. It's not going to really slow America's ability to get everyone vaccinated, but it is going to create more vaccine hesitancy. People at the margins will say, "Is this safe? They said it was fine. Now they're saying it's not okay." I understand why there's enormous caution on the part of the FDA, but I wish, wish, wish the communications had been a little softer around all of this. Also will be a problem in terms of export, as J&J is going to be a piece of that. And again, others around the world will say, "Well, if I don't get Moderna, if I don't get Pfizer, I'm not sure I want to take it at all." So all of this is negative news, though I would still say the United States this year is looking really, really good among major economies in dealing with pandemic.

More Show less

750 million: While struggling with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the world right now, India has approved Russia's Sputnik V COVID vaccine. Moscow has a deal in place to produce 750 million doses of the shot in India.

More Show less

In recent weeks, both Pfizer and Moderna have announced early phases of vaccine trials in children, and Johnson & Johnson also plans to start soon. If you know a kid who wants to learn about vaccines, how they work, why we need them, this story is just what the doctor ordered.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week and I've got your Quick Take and thought I would talk a little bit about where we are with Iran. One of the Biden administration's promises upon election was to get the Americans back into the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal. As of last week, negotiations are formally restarted, and pretty quickly, in Vienna, they're not direct. The Americans and Iranians are both there, but they're being intermediated by the Europeans because they're not yet ready to show that they can talk directly to each other. That's Iran being cautious in the run-up to their presidential election coming this summer. But the movement is there. So far the talk has largely been about sequencing the Iranian government, saying that all of the sanctions need to be removed before they're willing to go back into the deal, because the Americans after all, unilaterally withdrew from a deal that the Iranians were indeed adhering to, and the inspections did confirm that.

More Show less

Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

More Show less

Andean aftermath: Two big weekend elections in South America produced two stunning results. In Ecuador's presidential runoff, the center-right former banker Guillermo Lasso upset early frontrunner Andrés Arauz, a leftist handpicked by former president Rafael Correa. Lasso will take power amid the social and economic devastation of the pandemic and will have to reckon with the rising political power of Ecuador's indigenous population: the Pachakutik party, which focuses on environmental issues and indigenous rights, is now the second-largest party in parliament. Meanwhile, in a big surprise next door in Perú, far-left union leader Pedro Castillo tallied up the most votes in the first round of that country's highly fragmented presidential election. As of Monday evening it's not clear whom he'll face in the June runoff, but three figures are in the running as votes are counted: prominent neoliberal economist Hernando De Soto, rightwing businessman Rafael López Aliaga, and conservative Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's imprisoned former strongman. Meanwhile, in the congressional ballot, at least 10 parties reached the threshold to win seats, but there is no clear majority or obvious coalition in sight.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

A children’s book on vaccination

GZERO World Clips