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The Last Word From James Mattis

The Last Word From James Mattis

We begin with a word on yesterday's events in Washington. We encourage you to read this resignation letter from US Defense Secretary James Mattis.


It appears intended, at least in part, as a response to President Trump's surprise announcement this week that ISIS has been defeated and that US forces will soon be withdrawn from Syria. (Late last evening came news the president is also considering a plan that would withdraw thousands of US troops from Afghanistan.)

Any informed debate on the continued presence of US troops in Syria will include wise arguments on both sides. Those who believe the troops should remain insist the US has interests and allies to protect in the Middle East and unfinished business with thousands of ISIS fighters still operating in both Syria and Iraq.

Those who say troops should be withdrawn argue that Russia and Iran are already the dominant influences in Syria and that the American public doesn't support an open-ended US commitment of troops and taxpayer dollars to help keep the peace in eternally unstable Middle Eastern countries.

But this much-needed debate isn't happening, because President Trump appears to have made this decision without full consultation with US allies or even with the Pentagon. That's the argument we see in General Mattis' letter.

Mattis will be replaced, and his replacement might well be a remarkably capable person. Hysteria and hyperbole over the resignation are unwarranted. But as we enter what's sure to be a year of bitter political infighting in Washington, it appears President Trump is taking foreign-policy counsel mainly from himself and acting without listening to those he should trust.

Pop quiz: what percentage of plastic currently gets recycled worldwide? Watch this video in Eni's Energy Shot series to find out and learn what needs to be done to prevent plastic from ending up in our oceans. Plastic is a precious resource that should be valued, not wasted.

Ten years ago this week, a powerful earthquake off the coast of eastern Japan triggered a tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant, resulting in the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. A decade and dozens of decommissioned reactors later, nuclear energy still supplies about 10 percent of global electricity, but its future remains uncertain amid post-Fukushima safety concerns.

As more countries pledge to curb emissions to mitigate climate change, nuclear could serve as a clean(ish) and reliable source of energy. But investing more in nuclear comes with tradeoffs.

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This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the czar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week, life looking better every day in the United States, coronavirus land. But I thought I'd talk about, this week, all of this cancel culture that everyone's talking about right now. If you're on the wrong political side, your opponents are trying to shut you down and you take massive umbrage. I see this everywhere, and it's starting to annoy.

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"Apocalyptic" protests in Senegal: At least five people have been killed in clashes with police as protests over poverty, unemployment, and the jailing of a popular politician rock the West African nation of Senegal. Ousmane Sonko, who heads the opposition Movement to Defend Democracy (M2D) and is considered the most viable challenger to current president Mackie Sall, was accused of rape in February and arrested last week. Sonko says the charges are a politically motivated attempt to remove him from politics before the 2024 presidential election. His supporters immediately hit the streets, voicing a range of grievances including joblessness and poverty. Though youth unemployment has fallen over the past decade, it still exceeds eight percent and close to two-thirds of the country's 16 million people are under the age of 25. As Sonko supporters pledge to continue protests this week, Senegal's head of conflict resolution says the country is "on the verge of apocalypse."

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