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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and French President Emmanuel Macron. February 8, 2022.

Ukrainian Presidential Press Service

Macron in Kyiv, Philippine vote, Haiti assassination probe

Macron does the rounds. French President Emmanuel Macron is on a diplomatic tour to find a solution to the Ukraine crisis. On Monday, he met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The two chatted for five hours, with Macron reporting he had “secured an assurance there would be no deterioration or escalation.” But Russia later said Macron’s version was “not right,” and pushed back against reports that Putin had agreed to withdraw troops from Belarus. Was Putin lashing out because Macron left the Kremlin to fly to Kyiv where he reaffirmed Europe's commitment to Ukraine? Either way, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who’s set to meet with Putin in Moscow on Feb. 15, will be taking note. Tellingly, Macron appeared less sanguine in Kyiv, saying the stalemate could continue for months.

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What We're Watching: Viktor Orbán's rival, Pakistan's Taliban making moves, abducted Americans in Haiti

Can this guy defeat Viktor Orban? Hungary's opposition movement of odd bedfellows has finally settled on the person they think has the best chance of defeating PM Viktor Orbán at the ballot box: Péter Márki-Zay, a politically conservative small-town mayor from southeastern Hungary, who beat out left-leaning European Parliament member Klara Dobrev in a weekend poll. Márki-Zay has a lot going for him: as a devout Catholic and father of seven it will be hard for the ultraconservative Orbán to paint him as a progressive threat, even as Márki-Zay reaches out to reassure left-leaning groups that he will protect LGBTQ rights. What's more, Márki-Zay has little political baggage: until recently he was a marketing executive. But can the relatively inexperienced Márki-Zay keep the various opposition factions happy? The stakes couldn't be higher: since taking power more than a decade ago, Orbán has deliberately made Hungary into an "illiberal" state, cracking down on the press, undermining the rule of law, and clashing with the EU. Bonus: if Márki-Zay stays in the news, you get to say "Hódmezővásárhely" the name of the city he currently runs.

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Jess Frampton

Why is Haiti such a disaster?

No country in the Western Hemisphere is more closely associated with disaster and misery than the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Its latest upheaval centers on news that the country's top prosecutor wants Haiti's prime minister to answer questions about the murder of the president in July. Haiti is again locked in a power struggle among competing factions within its ruling elite.

Why is Haiti still so poor and disaster-prone?

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What We’re Watching: SCOTUS immigration ruling, Barbecue runs Haiti quake relief, Eritreans back in Tigray

SCOTUS brings back "Remain in Mexico" policy: The US Supreme Court has ordered the Biden administration to reinstate a Trump-era immigration rule that requires asylum-seekers who attempt to cross the US southern border to wait in Mexico until their applications get processed. This is bad news for Joe Biden for two reasons. First, he cancelled that policy because it failed to accomplish its stated goal of reducing processing backlogs, while leaving thousands of migrants stranded in Mexico in legal limbo. Second, Biden knows he can't actually implement the policy anew if Mexico doesn't agree to accept migrants whom the US wants to send back. More broadly, the ruling throws yet another wrench into an already testy US-Mexico relationship — with tens of thousands of vulnerable human beings caught in the middle. Biden, who's tied up with the Afghanistan fiasco these days, wants to avoid a tussle with the Mexicans amid record numbers of migrants arriving at the US border so far this year. The Mexicans, for their part, will probably want something in exchange (maybe COVID vaccines) to be helpful.

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Interim Prime Minister Claude Joseph gives a press conference almost a week after the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti July 13, 202

What We're Watching: Haitian PM steps down, German floods get political, Biden and crew call out China hackers, Japan's oyster "plague"

Haiti's PM is stepping down: Claude Joseph, who served as Haiti's foreign minister and interim PM under recently-murdered president Jovenel Moïse, said Monday that he would step down, paving the way for his opponent Ariel Henry to become the new PM. Henry, for his part, was actually tapped by Moïse to form a government just two days before the assassination, but never sworn in. Joseph used that detail to take power after Moïse's death, and initially declared a "state of siege." But with violence surging, and international pressure against him from The Core Group — which includes the US, the Organization of American States, and a number of European countries — Joseph agreed to step down "for the good of the nation." The incoming Henry has a daunting task: amid spiraling social, political, and economic crises, he must cool tensions, form a workable government, and restore some semblance of order to allow for fresh elections this September.

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Ben Rhodes: The US Should Build a Coalition To Help Haiti’s Political Turmoil | GZERO World

Ben Rhodes: the US should build a coalition to help Haiti’s political turmoil

Haiti is not only grappling with political unrest following the president's assassination — the Caribbean nation also needs COVID vaccines, and is eager to curb gang violence. What should the US do? Former National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes wants America to lead a coalition of nations from the Western Hemisphere that'll "address some of the basic needs" in crisis-plagued Haiti. Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the upcoming episode of GZERO World. Check local listings for US public television.

Paige Fusco

Biden’s Caribbean surprises

All elected leaders face two problems: crises that weren't on the agenda will strike from unexpected directions, and all possible responses are less than ideal.

Hey, Joe Biden, Cuba's on line one, and Haiti's holding on line two.

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Biden and Merkel Will Talk China Strategy | Cuban Economic Crisis | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Biden and Merkel will talk China strategy; Cuban economic crisis

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week from Washington, DC, with a look at the upcoming Biden/Merkel meeting, Haiti in crisis, and the ongoing protests in Cuba.

Biden is hosting Angela Merkel in Washington this week. What's on the agenda?

Most important is going to be China. That's not what the headlines are right now. They're all talking Nord Stream and cybersecurity and all that. But the reality is Biden wants to coordinate China policy with his top allies. He's had a lot of success with Japan. He's had success with South Korea. Those are the first two leaders to have been invited to Washington. He's probably going to have some success with Angela Merkel as well, because there is increasingly backlash against Xi Jinping and his efforts to consolidate a Chinese model, vaccine nationalism, lack of transparency on origins of the crisis, and all this kind of stuff. Technology hits, not allowing companies to IPO abroad. The Germans are angry too. And I think that is going to be the top issue they discuss.

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