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What We’re Watching: Russians in another Stan, Djokovic drama, Mali sanctions, Europe vs anti-vaxxers

Russia in Kazakhstan. Anti-government clashes in Kazakhstan have gotten increasingly violent, with the death toll now reaching 164 after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev issued a controversial “shoot without warning” order on Friday. What started as a demonstration against a fuel price hike has since turned into a movement protesting government corruption and authoritarianism — with regional implications. Enter Russia, which responded to the pro-Russia Tokayev’s request for help with about 2,500 “peacekeeping” troops and future deployments being planned under the aegis of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the former Soviet Union’s version of NATO. This comes as Moscow has recently amassed 100,000 troops on the border with Ukraine. The Russians will on Monday start talks with NATO and the US about the ongoing situation with Ukraine, but also discuss enhancing security plans with Kazakhstan, whose northern territory is claimed by Moscow. Russia has been clear about what it wants in Ukraine — for NATO to stop expanding further eastward into the former Soviet states. But what does Vladimir Putin want exactly in Kazakhstan, one of the region’s most energy-rich countries?

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Hard Numbers: No Aussie tech for China, young Bosnians want out, US fossil fuel auction, EU deforestation import ban

63: Australia will prevent Chinese companies from importing or investing in a group of 63 technologies that Canberra considers critical to its national interest. The off-limits areas include 5G, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, and quantum computing.

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What We're Watching: Australia hearts coal, Egypt emergency lifted, US lobbies for Taiwan

Australia's underwhelming climate pledge: After waffling on whether he'd attend COP26, Prime Minister Scott Morrison now says Australia will achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. But there's a catch: the scheme would not involve overhauling the country's lucrative fossil fuel sector. The PM also stopped short of making ambitious targets by 2030, one of the key objectives of COP26. Australia is one of the world's top coal-producing countries and has one of the biggest carbon footprints per capita, but its government has long dragged its feet on climate change — mainly because fossil fuel exports are a boon for the economy. "We won't be lectured by others who do not understand Australia," Morrison said in response to criticism about his government's weaker-than-hoped-for pledges. While the US has pledged to halve its carbon output by 2030, and the EU says it will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030, Australia is aiming for a mere 26 percent cut on 2005 emissions in that period.

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Can anyone lead the world on climate right now? Nope, says Kevin Rudd

For Kevin Rudd, former Australian PM and now CEO of the Asia Society, the science on climate change is pretty much done, so the only unresolved issues are tech and — more importantly — lack of political leadership. He can't think of a single national political leader who can fill the role, and says the only way to get political action on climate is to mobilize public opinion.

Rudd joined for the first of a two-part Sustainability Leaders Summit livestream conversation sponsored by Suntory. Watch here and register here to watch part two Friday 10/22 at 8 am ET.

What We’re Watching: German coalition talks, India’s power woes, Oz closes PNG migrant facility

German kingmakers make their pick: Despite fears of a drawn-out process that could take months like in 2017, the Greens and the pro-business FDP have taken less than two weeks to decide whom they want to team up with in a three-way coalition government. The two parties are now talking to the left-of-center SPD, which narrowly won the September 26 federal election. Good news for those hoping to have a new government in place before Christmas, since it'll be easier for the SPD to agree on stuff with its two junior partners than for the Greens and the FDP to find common ground themselves. Bad news for the conservative CSU/CDU, which has governed Germany for 16 years under Chancellor Angela Merkel but is likely headed to the opposition after achieving its worst election result ever.

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Ganging up on China

Imagine you're China. How would you feel if the some of the world's richest and most powerful countries, the US and its allies, were constantly joining forces against you, yet officially pretending not to?

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The US-EU honeymoon is over

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Happy Monday. Ian Bremmer here with your Quick Take. Plenty going on between the United States and its allies. You have seen the fallout from the US announcement of this new defense pact with the Australians and the United Kingdom called AUKUS. That's great, always like USMCA, we take the acronyms, and we try to find a way to make it comprehensible. And of course, the Chinese are not enormously happy about this, because it is a military plan to put more American material in their backyard. And the day after the Chinese announced formerly that they wanted to apply to the CPTPP, which is the major trade deal that the Americans initially were the architect of and then under Obama said, "No, we can't get it done." And then Trump pulled out. That's unfortunate and long-standing and not surprising. And China won't be able to get in, in all likelihood, because it's a heavy lift, even though Vietnam did make it, but state capitalism and TPP doesn't really work very well together.

But the more interesting and salient point for the headlines is that the French government was absolutely incensed. So, what's going on here? Why are the allies having such difficulty?

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What We’re Watching: Salvadorans protest Bitcoin, meet Aukus, no COVID pass no job in Italy

Salvadorans protest Bukele, Bitcoin: Thousands of people took to the streets of El Salvador's capital on Wednesday, the 200th anniversary of the country's independence, to protest against President Nayib Bukele's increasingly authoritarian streak and his embrace of risky cryptocurrency. Last May, Bukele ended the Supreme Court's independence; perhaps unsurprisingly, the court then decided to lift the constitutional ban on presidential term limits — presumably so Bukele can run for reelection in 2024. Meanwhile, last week El Salvador became the first country in the world to accept Bitcoin as legal tender, but the rollout was, to put it mildly, messy. The protesters resent Bukele's dictator vibes and warn that Bitcoin could spur inflation and financial instability. The tech-savvy president, for his part, insists that crypto will bring in more cash from remittances and foreign investment, and remains immensely popular among most Salvadorans. Still, Bukele's Bitcoin gamble could erode his support if the experiment fails.

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