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Jess Frampton

What We’re Watching: Taming US inflation, China’s water claims, Boris vs EU

US Fed vs inflation — game on

This week, the US Federal Reserve is set to increase interest rates by as much as 75 basis points or more in a bid to tamp down soaring inflation. Last Friday's inflation report showed prices growing at an annual rate of 8.6%, the highest in over 40 years. That price growth reflects today’s higher fuel and food prices, brought on by Russia’s war in Ukraine, lingering pandemic-related supply chain constraints, and Biden’s own pandemic stimulus spending. It will now fall largely to the Fed to rein things in. The effects of the Fed’s move this week will be watched closely by markets to be sure, but also by political strategists on both sides of the aisle. Just five months out from the US midterm elections, economic issues top US voters’ concerns, and recent polls say they trust Republicans more than Democrats when it comes to taming inflation.

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A man walks past Sinn Fein election posters along the nationalist Falls Road in Belfast.

REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

What We're Watching: Elections in Northern Ireland, South African president in trouble

Northern Ireland’s choice

On Thursday, voters across the UK head to the polls for local elections, but it’s the contest in Northern Ireland that might make history. Sinn Féin is expected to finish with the most seats in Northern Ireland’s assembly. Its victory would be more symbolic than immediately substantive, since power in the assembly must be shared between the two lead parties, and Sinn Féin has focused its campaign on today’s economic hardship, not on a century of Irish partition. But the symbolism matters. A Sinn Féin win would mark the first time in Northern Ireland’s 101-year history that the UK province is led by a party that supports reunification with the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state. It would make Sinn Féin the most popular party on both sides of the Irish border. And it would prove deeply embarrassing for UK PM Boris Johnson, who is fighting for his scandal-plagued political life at the moment and considering another battle with the European Union over Northern Ireland’s place in the EU’s single market.

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Annie Gugliotta

Boris Johnson’s Irish weapon

To keep one’s political allies onside, it helps to have the right enemies. Especially when one is in trouble. And Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in serious trouble. The scandal resulting from his attendance at parties during COVID lockdowns and from the perception that he lied about it has taken a toll on Johnson’s popularity. His aggressive support for Ukraine against Russian invaders hasn’t done enough to boost his support.

For now, says Eurasia Group Europe expert Mujtaba Rahman, “a silent majority within Johnson’s Conservative Party refuse to support him but have not yet decided to try to oust him.” Johnson might survive if he makes it to summer without a leadership challenge. But, “a growing number of critics within his party believe the crunch moment is coming sooner than that,” warns Rahman.

Crunch time may begin next Thursday, May 5, after votes are counted from local elections across the UK. The results will be widely judged as a referendum on Johnson’s government, and poor Conservative Party performance could push him to the edge of a political cliff.

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The great roe row: UK and France fight over fish... and other stuff

Fish are divisive. Their various odors are distinctive, and though some people enjoy them, others find their slimy exteriors off-putting.

They also can drive a wedge between longtime "friends" like France and the UK. In recent weeks, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Emmanuel Macron have been at loggerheads over questions of fishing access in the English Channel. But is this latest row really about roe?

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What We're Watching: Brexit clashes, China stalking Taiwan, strongman's son for Philippine president

Bet you thought Brexit was over… it's not: The EU and UK remain at loggerheads over the future of the Northern Irish border. Brussels says that it won't renegotiate a part of the post-Brexit EU-UK trade deal that includes a symbolic border between the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state, and Northern Ireland, part of the UK, threatening to increase tensions along this decades-long flashpoint. Though British PM Boris Johnson agreed in December to a nominal border that would essentially run through the Irish Sea, he has been dragging his feet ever since, and has even threatened in recent weeks to use a loophole to renege on the Northern Ireland clause altogether, which would only further infuriate the Europeans. Indeed, Johnson is facing extreme pressure from all sides: Northern Irish unionists are furious that the British PM ever agreed to a border in the first place, saying it undermines its place within the UK trade system, while Brussels is refusing to budge, saying that renegotiating Brexit would destabilize the whole continent amid ongoing supply chain disruptions. London's ultimatum expires in 10 days.

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Bosnian Serbs Leaving Institutions in Reaction to Genocide Denial Law | Europe In :60 | GZERO Media

Bosnian Serbs will boycott government over genocide denial law

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is going on in Bosnia with Bosnian Serbs boycotting all major institutions?

Well, it's a reaction against a decision that was taken by the outgoing high representative during his very last days, after 12 years of having done very little in this respect, to have a law banning any denial of Srebrenica and other genocides. But this issue goes to very many other aspects of the Bosnian situation. So, it has created a political crisis that will be somewhat difficult to resolve.

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