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World Leaders On Ice

World Leaders On Ice

I’ll confess (at the risk of being called something even worse than whatever was worse than curmudgeon) that I’m not hugely into the Winter Olympics, though I was mesmerized by Alberto “La Bomba” Tomba as a child — his outfits were nuts, particularly the Fila ones. But because I’m a nerd, an Olympics that I’d definitely watch is one in which world leaders represent the events, as follows:


The slalom skier: South Korean President Moon Jae-in — just you imagine trying to navigate a path that keeps Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump, and Xi Jinping happy, while also trying to pull off an ambitious economic reform agenda that involves wresting power away from powerful industrial conglomerates who have dominated your country for decades.

The figure skater: Emmanuel Macron. Doesn’t lack for theatrical inspiration but needs a mind boggling combination of power and grace to pull off the triple-Lutz of an EU reform package that is actually viable.

The ski jumper: Kim Jong-un. A loner with a nutty streak. Kim is trying to fly as far and fast as he can with his nuclear program… can he stick the landing?

The luge: Surely, it’s Nicolas Maduro — how does he manage to stay in control while hurtling downward so fast like that?

Which, of course, leaves one last question: who would represent curling? My fellow Signalista Willis Sparks goes for the win with “Donald Trump: everyone is watching him intently but no one really knows what he’s doing.”

Can you, dear reader, beat that?

A decade ago, Bank of America established the Global Ambassadors Program with Vital Voices, and the results are phenomenal. We've provided 8,000 hours of training and mentoring, engaging 400 women from 85 countries and helping women around the world build their businesses.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has made a lot of foreign governments really mad. Let's call the roll.

Europe. The EU is angry that Turkey is drilling for oil in the eastern Mediterranean, and NATO is furious that member Turkey has defied its protests to purchase S-400 missiles from Russia. Erdogan has repeatedly rejected pushback from EU leaders by calling them fascists and Islamophobes.

Just this week, Erdogan refused to express sympathy with France following the beheading of a French schoolteacher by an Islamist extremist, attacked Macron's own response to the murder, suggested the French president needed "some sort of mental treatment," and countered Macron's vow to crack down on Islamist radicals with calls for a boycott of French products.

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Less than a week before the US election, President Donald Trump is repeatedly questioning the legitimacy of the vote (if he doesn't win) over largely unsubstantiated claims of potential fraud in universal mail-in voting. But with absentee ballots coming in all-time highs in all states due to the coronavirus pandemic, some Americans worry that the system itself may not be able to handle such an influx of ballots, including those already cast by a record number of early voters. Whether or not you agree, Gallup data show that US citizens are now less confident that the election will be conducted accurately — and more concerned about election irregularities and voter suppression — than they were four years ago. We take a look at how Americans' views on these electoral integrity issues have changed from 2016 to 2020.

Belarus on strike: In recent days, the Belarusian streets have turned up the heat on strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, as thousands of state factory workers and students in Belarus heeded a call from opposition leader Svyatlana Tikhanouskaya to join a general strike. Protests have roiled the country since August, when Lukashenko, in power since 1994, won a presidential election widely regarded as rigged. Last Sunday, 100,000 people turned up in Minsk, the capital. Tikhanouskaya — who ran against Lukashenko in that election and is currently exiled in neighboring Lithuania — had demanded the president resign by October 26. When he didn't, the walkout began. In one of the most iconic moments of protest so far, a striking worker at a refrigerator factory climbed the plant's tower to record a dramatic call for Lukashenko to step down. Belarus has been hit with sanctions from the US and EU, both of which are calling on him to hold new elections, but so far he has shown no signs of backing down, deploying his riot police with the usual fury. Something's got to give, soon.

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Who does Vladimir Putin want to win the US election? Given the Kremlin's well-documented efforts to sway the 2016 vote in Donald Trump's favor, it's certainly a fair question. And while there's no solid evidence that Russian interference had any decisive effect on the outcome four years ago, the Trump administration itself says the Kremlin — and others — are now trying to mess with the election again.

So let's put you in Vladimir Putin's size 9 shoes as you weigh up Donald Trump vs Joe Biden while refreshing your own personal PyatTridsatVosem (FiveThirtyEight) up there in the Kremlin.

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