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What We’re Watching: Biden’s omicron message, Ukraine invasion rumblings, Haitian migrants sue US, China hearts US natural gas

Biden’s omicron message to America. It’s fair to assume that many Americans were anxious to hear what President Biden had to say at a presser Tuesday about the omicron variant ripping through US cities. So what did the commander-in-chief tell the huddling masses? First, he stuck to the White House script, reiterating that vaccinations, boosters, and masks are crucial to minimizing risk from omicron. Second, he reassured parents that schools will stay open despite the surge. There’s other good stuff in the works too: 1,000 military personnel will be deployed to help strained hospitals, and the government will purchase half a billion COVID tests that Americans will be able to order to their homes for free. That’s great, but this scheme won’t be ramped up until January, several weeks into a surge that many analysts say was highly predictable and that the White House should have prepared for. Current testing failures have been particularly problematic in hard-hit New York City, where cases have risen 80 percent in two weeks. But the Biden administration has still failed to offer guidance for 15 million Americans who received an initial single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot, which scientists say doesn’t offer much protection against omicron. Biden’s message was clear: this isn’t March 2020, go celebrate the holidays with your families. But did he convince millions of very worried Americans?

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Natural gas prices are soaring. Here’s why you care.

The world is hurtling towards a big, chilly, and expensive problem right now. And no, we're not talking about climate change (at least not directly).

Right now a surge in global energy prices — in particular for natural gas — is rattling entire industries and threatening to upend politics in many countries.

In Europe, natural gas prices have just hit all-time highs. The UK alone has seen a price surge of 500 percent over the past year. In the US, prices are as high as they've been since 2014. Asian markets are up, as well — a major gas importer in Pakistan says the current situation is "crazy."

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With its interests in flames, what will China do in Myanmar?

Over the weekend, protesters demanding the return of democracy in Myanmar burned down and looted Chinese-owned businesses in Yangon, the country's main city. China's embassy then asked the junta to restore order. In a few hours, the generals obliged: soldiers killed scores of demonstrators, and martial law was declared.

The anti-China riots add a fresh international dimension to Myanmar's political crisis. The protesters are angry not only at the military rulers, but increasingly at China's thinly veiled support for the junta. This backlash is a big test for Beijing. As a rising global power and regional heavyweight, is China going to simply look the other way as its interests in Myanmar literally go up in flames?

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The Graphic Truth: Petrostates' grim low-carbon future

Reducing carbon emissions is good for the planet and good for your lungs, but there's one group of countries that might not be so keen on green: those that rely heavily on oil and gas exports to run their economies. As the rest of the world gets closer to "Net Zero" in the coming decades, these petrostates will be in big trouble unless they diversify their economies — fast. So, how vulnerable are the world's top oil and gas producers to a low-carbon future? We look at how the treasuries of the 20 most hydrocarbon-dependent nations will fare over the next two decades under what the Carbon Tracker Initiative refers to as a scenario in which global demand for oil and gas will be much lower than today.

GZERO Summit on sustainability: COVID-19’s promise on ESG

The forced slowdown of global economic activity due to the coronavirus pandemic has slashed carbon emissions around the world, opening a unique opportunity to make real progress in the fight against climate change. But there is fear that it won't be enough, and the world will go back to its old ways when we get rid of COVID-19. However, even before the public health crisis, some major emitters had already taken ambitious steps to rethink how to make their own policies more sustainable.

In Canada, the prominence of oil in the economy doesn't mean that it should hide from the existential challenge of climate change. Fossil fuel profits make Canada not only more responsible but gives the nation the resources to commit to a bold climate policy, Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Seamus O'Regan said during a panel discussion on sustainability at the 2020 GZERO Summit in Japan.

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