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WORLD CUPDATE: POLITICS EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE!

WORLD CUPDATE: POLITICS EVERYWHERE, EVERYWHERE!

Look, by this point, you know that we can’t watch anything, let alone the World Cup, without seeing the hints, lessons, and reflections of global politics everywhere. So here are two quick musings from the past few days of play.


Referees, Strongmen, the Rule of Law

One-man rule. Inconsistent and arbitrary application of basic laws. Constant attempts by powerful elites to influence or evade the ruler’s judgment. The basic problems of autocratic governments are captured perfectly by… the referee.

Is Tech Offside?

Will computers replace human judgments or simply augment people’s productivity? Two examples from the Cup. Goal Line Technology determines whether 100% of the ball has crossed into the goal. No human judgment needed. Video Assisted Replay (VAR), meanwhile, permits referees to watch replays of certain kinds of plays in order to confirm or reverse calls on the field. VAR increases referees’ accuracy, but it’s a supplement to human judgements which can still be “wrong” — especially if they go against your team. But hey, no one wants technology to squeeze all the uncertainty out of the game, do they? The fallibility of the refs, and the subtle psychological dramas between them and the players, is part of the poetry of the game. Tell us what you think here.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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You've watched Indian Matchmaking... We bring you the Hindu Nationalist Matchmaker where we help find love for the 70 year old virgin - Narendra Modi!

"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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