Bank of America joins Net-Zero Banking Alliance
Banks have a vital role to play in supporting the global transition of the real economy to net-zero emissions.
Banks have a vital role to play in supporting the global transition of the real economy to net-zero emissions.
Cyber is a tool, and sometimes a weapon. Whether espionage for commercial gain or indiscriminate attacks on critical infrastructure, actions taken in cyber space affect you directly, potentially upending even the most mundane realities of everyday life.
Join GZERO Media and Microsoft for a live conversation on cyber challenges facing governments, companies, and citizens in a Munich Security Conference "Road to Munich" event today, May 18.
Event link: gzeromedia.com/globalstage
Our guests will discuss privacy, truth, security, and the urgency of improving cyber security and establishing cyber norms globally. Joining the discussion:
This event is being held in collaboration with the Munich Security Conference as part of their "Road to Munich" series.
Beyond SolarWinds: Securing Cyberspace: Tuesday, May 18, 2021, 1pm EDT / 10am PDT
A year and a half after millions poured into the streets of Santiago to protest inequality and the vestiges of the Pinochet dictatorship, Chileans voted this weekend to elect the 155 people who will rewrite the country's constitution.
The question now is not whether the people want change — clearly they do — but rather how much change their representatives can agree on. Overall, the new text is widely expected to beef up the role of the state in a country where a strong private sector made Chile one of Latin America's wealthiest yet also most unequal nations.
Here are a few things to bear in mind as the constitutional rewrite process kicks off.
Voters punished the right — and the broader political establishment. Sunday night was a shock for Chilean conservatives: the ruling center-right coalition got fewer delegates than their traditional leftist rivals, and failed to secure the one-third of the vote necessary to veto any radical changes. Meanwhile, independent candidates, most of them left-leaning, won a surprising majority in a similar rejection of the entire political class.
In theory, this shift to the left should pave the way for bold reforms in Chile's next constitution. But getting so many independents, many of whom are single-issue advocates, to agree on a wide range of reforms with delegates from the establishment leftist parties they no longer support, will be an uphill climb that adds uncertainty to the process. And if no consensus is reached within 12 months, the charter will stay as is, setting up the country for fresh unrest.
So, where can they find common ground? Most delegates want Chile to have a more robust social safety net. That means spending a lot more on education, healthcare and pensions, which until now have been mostly privatized alongside other essential public services like water. They will also push for the new constitution to enshrine equal rights for women, and to recognize the land rights of indigenous Chileans, who make up about 10 percent of the population but are not even mentioned in the current charter.
It may be harder, though, to get the needed two-thirds majority support on more radical proposals such as mandatory royalties on mining — which is a big deal for the world's top copper producer — or imposing minimum spending thresholds on social programs. Allowing the state to nationalize most private corporations is also unlikely to pass.
And more elections are coming... In late November, Chileans will go to the polls for the third time in little over a year, this time to vote for president, with the deeply unpopular incumbent Sebastián Piñera unable to run for another four years because of term limits. So far no major party has yet decided on a candidate, but constitutional reform will probably be a major campaign issue, especially if little progress has been made on the text by then.
Meanwhile, the rest of South America will be paying close attention. The results of Chile's constitutional election show that the pandemic has done little to calm the wave of social unrest that swept the continent months before COVID. There have been protests about socio economic issues across the Andean region, and strikers in Colombia are currently demanding a lot of the same things as the Chileans did.What Chile has done is somewhat unique: the people wanted change, and they were given the opportunity to have their say. Chile's constituent assembly was entirely elected by popular vote, and the first ever in the world with gender parity. If the delegates get the job done on time and the text is ratified in a second referendum sometime next year, it'll send a clear message that change can be pursued through the democratic system without having to resort to permanent upheaval.
A big reason the Chinese leader is pushing harder than ever to annex Taiwan is actually quite small. The self-governing island has an outsize manufacturing capacity for semiconductors – the little chips that bind the electrical circuits we use in our daily lives. Cell phones, laptops, modern cars, and even airplanes all rely on these tiny computer wafers. Taiwanese chip manufacturer TSMC alone makes more than half of the chips outsourced by all foreign companies, which means your iPhone likely runs on Taiwanese-made semiconductors. What would happen to the world's semiconductor chips if China were to take control of Taiwan?
Watch the episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: What could spark a US-China war?
Will there be a ceasefire in Gaza? Fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas/Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants in the Gaza Strip has now entered its second week. Over the weekend, Israel intensified its bombing of the Gaza Strip, which included targeting a building that houses Al-Jazeera and AP, two foreign media outlets, causing their reporters to hastily flee the premises (Israel has so far not substantiated its claim that Hamas intelligence operatives were working in the building.) At least 42 Gazans were killed in a single Israeli strike Sunday, bringing the Palestinian death toll above 200. Meanwhile, Hamas continued to fire rockets at southern and central Israel, resulting in several casualties. On Monday, for the first time since the violent outbreak, US President Joe Biden voiced support for a ceasefire driven by the Egyptians and others. However, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, has said that the operation will "take time," and a truce is off the table until Hamas' military capabilities are significantly degraded. Civilians on both sides continue to suffer.
Southeast Asia braces for pandemic surge: COVID-19 has hardly finished with India, which is still grappling with the world's largest outbreak, but now many of the country's neighbors in Southeast Asia are bracing for their own wave of infections. Thailand on Monday reported nearly 10,000 new cases, up from about 300 at the beginning of April. The outbreak there is being driven in part by rapid spread in the country's famously cramped prisons. In Malaysia, meanwhile, new daily cases have tripled over the last month, rising to more than 4,500 last week, owing in part to Ramadan and Eid celebrations in the predominantly Muslim country. Vietnam, lauded for acting early to quash the spread last year, is now seeing a sharp increase as well, though the numbers are still small — new cases leapt from 14 daily at the beginning of May to nearly 300 over the weekend. The two big question marks (paywall) are Indonesia, where (reported) cases have so far stayed low, but could rise in the wake of the Islamic religious holidays, and the Philippines which managed to quash a surge in March but is still seeing high positivity rates. Across the region, vaccination rates are low, health care systems are creaky, and vast swathes of the population are not able to simply "work from home." The example of India's recent COVID apocalypse looms large.
Iran's presidential frontrunners: One month from Tuesday, Iranians will head to the polls to choose their next president, the person who oversees their country's economy and domestic policies while Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei attends to foreign policy and negotiations over the country's nuclear program. Nearly 600 candidates have announced their intention to run, but over the next couple of weeks, the Guardian Council, an unelected body of clerics and jurists, will nullify all but a handful of hopefuls. For now, it appears that judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi and former parliament speaker Ali Larijani are probably the frontrunners. Raisi is a so-called hardliner, a religious conservative who vows to fight corruption and who opposes better relations with the West. Larijani, meanwhile, played a significant negotiating role in both the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with the US, UK, France, Germany, China, and Russia, as well as in a "strategic cooperation" deal with China signed earlier this year. No matter who wins the fate of negotiations over a revitalized nuclear agreement will continue to depend on the Supreme Leader, but the vote will tell us something about how Iran's people see the issue.
Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:
Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Happy week to you. I thought we would do a quick take as we often do talk a little bit today about the latest in the fighting between the Israelis and the Palestinians, still going on. Thousands now of Hamas' rockets raining down on Israel, hundreds of Israeli air sorties, also tanks and artillery hitting Gaza, as well as some violence locally in the West Bank and a fair amount across Israel Proper between Arabs and Israeli Jews living in the country.
I'm pretty optimistic at this point, if you can even use that word, that this is not going to escalate further in the near term. In other words, this doesn't become a ground war. A couple of reasons. First, the Israeli defense forces over the weekend put out a statement showing how much they had already done to degrade Hamas' military capabilities. And historically, they don't do that until they're ready to show success and wrap up their military operations in relatively short order. So that implies a quick pivot, at least to opening negotiations with the Palestinians as to a ceasefire.
I'd be really surprised if this goes much more than the end of this week. Certainly not additional weeks or months, and very unlikely to see a ground war. Secondly, there is more international pressure now, more outcry, particularly from the media following the Israeli strike on this building, mixed use building with the Israeli say. Hamas operatives using the building, though proof hasn't yet been provided to the US government on that. Also, headquarters for Al-Jazeera Associated Press and other international media organizations. Almost an hour of warning was given so everyone could evacuate. Nobody died, but clearly the international media response is this is a huge story and helps to shift the narrative against the Israelis to a greater degree.
Having said all of that, the United States continues to provide an awful lot of support to tolerate the Israelis continuing with the military strikes that they're doing. First point because the major proximate escalation did come from Hamas when they started to launch all of these rockets across Israel Proper, something that they hadn't done outside of war historically. And secondly, because the US considers Israel to be by far its strongest ally in the region. And we've now seen the Biden administration in addition to calling out the Palestinians and supporting repeatedly the Israelis to have the right to self-defense. So there's no question that the US isn't trying to act as an honest broker here, but also the fact that the US has singularly blocked three United Nations Security Council resolutions calling for a ceasefire, all of the other Security Council permanent members supporting it, the Americans blocking it. The Americans of course like the other permanent members have a veto.
I think that if you had asked a lot of people, both Democrats and Republicans, ex ante, this is going to happen. This is the kind of explosion of violence we're going to see in Israel-Palestine, will they Biden administration block a cease fire call? I mean, clearly Trump would have, if he was in power. I think the answer for most people would have been no. And indeed, you're seeing the level of alignment and actual policy between the Biden administration and the Trump administration on Israel-Palestine is really very high and that is I think something that isn't well appreciated and doesn't necessarily play well, given just how politically divided the country and the media is right now, but is nonetheless bearing out in the way we're seeing diplomacy work.
I would argue that while we can get to a ceasefire in relatively limited amount of time, you still have a situation where there are no elections for the Palestinians, where Hamas has become only more popular, especially in Gaza. You've got already 40,000 additional Palestinians displaced from their homes, living in an incredibly difficult environment and the level of radicalization will grow.
And you also have, and here's the part that's most challenging, you have growing extremism and radicalization among fringe groups of Jews and Arabs living in Israel itself. And that's something that the Israelis are going to have a hard time putting a lid on. Problems in Gaza as ugly and unfortunate as it is, a couple of things worth mentioning. First of all, the Americans, the Europeans, the West learn so much more about what's happening among the Palestinians than we do in Syria or Yemen or Venezuela, because you just don't have the media there in large presence and you do on the ground in the occupied territories. So I'm not trying to in any way minimize the suffering that the Palestinians are going through, but I do think it's interesting and notable that there is a more balanced discussion going on the pro-Israel side and the pro-Palestinian side than you would normally get.
I mean, look at what's happened in Ethiopia recently and the incredible human rights abuses with the fight going on recently with the Tigray just got virtually no presence at all in the international media. The plight of the Palestinians, even though not much happens as a consequence does get a lot more focus. But in Gaza itself, if you look at the ability of the Israelis to build a wall that you can't actually get across, very unlike US and Mexico, that is massively well defended with defense forces that will shoot on site if someone tries to breach it, you've got sensors underneath the ground preventing member of Palestinians in the occupied territory from digging tunnels to get into Israel proper.
You have Iron Dome, which means that the number of Israeli casualties is so much lower than the Palestinians, despite the fact that all of these rockets get launched, and you have an incredible emergency response system, including Israelis with the infrastructure that's filled well with bomb shelters. So the ability to protect themselves is just so much greater. So an ongoing level of violence and rocket strikes and the rest, if Hamas' military and leadership has been degraded, is something that the Israelis are capable of tolerating to a much greater degree. On the other hand, greater radicalization among Israeli Jews and Arabs leading to more violence inside the country, that's something that could actually create domestic demands for political response.
And let's keep in mind, even though we are farther and farther away from a two-state solution and more land in the occupied territories has been taken by Israeli settlers. And there's no interest in Israel right now to really engage in negotiations even. There's not an effective Palestinian government to have negotiations with Hamas itself, which was elected in the last elections, which from a decade ago in Gaza doesn't even recognize the right of Israel to exist. So clearly, the Israelis aren't going to negotiate with them. But the fact is that there's been a move to the right of the entire Israeli political spectrum so much that there is no longer political support for a party to say we have to have a two-state solution or else there's an existential threat to Israel.
No one believes that in Israel anymore. So the way you get votes among progressives in Israel is to talk about better social safety net for the people in Israel itself. But it's not for treatment of the Palestinians, the occupied territories. And that's been even more true with the normalization of Israel relations of the countries in the region. When it comes to Israeli, Arabs, and Jews living inside the country. If you start seeing a lot more hate crimes and you see much, much more extremism inside the state itself, I think then the potential that that could have more political impact on the Israeli political spectrum is real. And that's probably the thing to watch most carefully as you think about what the longer-term implications of this explosion of violence, the worst we've seen in almost a decade is likely to be.
I don't think it's going to matter much geopolitically. I mean, there'll be people in the US that will say, how can you possibly do a deal with Iran now? Iran has been supporting Hamas. I don't think it's going to stop the US from getting back into the JCPOA, the Iranian nuclear deal. I don't think it breaks the Abraham Accords and the normalization of Israeli relations with a number of countries across the region. But I do think it could have an impact on domestic Israeli politics longer term, and that's what we need to watch in my view most carefully.
So anyway, that's it for me. That's a quick take for today. Everybody be safe, avoid fewer people, and I'll talk to you real soon.
42: At least 42 Colombians have been killed since a now-scrapped controversial tax bill provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades. Social movements have called on the Colombian government to condemn "explicitly and forcefully the abuses of the security forces" as a precondition for negotiations.
745,000: A new World Health Organization report found that 745,000 people died globally in 2016 because of "long working hours." The report revealed that working 55 hours a week or more increased the likelihood of stroke and heart disease-related deaths. The WHO said this trend is likely to worsen because of pandemic-driven "work from home" arrangements.
180: Taiwanese officials enforced new restrictions on movement in Taipei after 180 new COVID-19 infections were recorded in the capital on Saturday, the biggest daily increase since the pandemic began. To date, Taiwan has managed to avoid large scale lockdowns after the government acted swiftly to limit the virus' spread last year.