What We Are Watching & What We Are Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Brazil's president-elect vs a jaguar – Just three weeks before he takes office, Jair Bolsonaro is facing a corruption scandal. It seems that while his son Flavio Bolsonaro was a state lawmaker, his personal driver's bank account swelled into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. What's more, the driver evidently made a transfer directly to Jair Bolsonaro's wife.


The senior Bolsonaro says the payments discovered by a local Rio anti-corruption investigation amazingly named "The Jaguar's Cave" – was simply repayment for a loan. Whether there is more to the story remains to be seen, but even a whiff of corruption is a bad vibe for Bolsonaro. Back in October, millions of Brazilians were willing to overlook his (extremely) divisive rhetoric because they saw him as a fitting rebuke to a corrupted political elite. As he prepares to take power, can he and his sons – all of whom are politicians as well – walk the walk?

Migrant crisis in Bosnia – A generation ago, more than half a million people in Bosnia and Herzegovina fled their homes amid the Yugoslav civil wars. Today, the small and politically precarious Balkan country is struggling with its own influx of people in need. More than 20,000 migrants and asylum seekers from the Middle East and South Asia have officially entered Bosnia this year, hoping to make a clandestine crossing into Croatia, an EU member state. Last year the number was below 1,000, but since other routes into Europe – in particular via Serbia into Hungary – have been closed off, migrants have focused on Bosnia. Absorbing refugees can be an economic and political challenge even for the wealthiest countries, but Bosnia is already one of the poorest and most politically precarious countries in Europe. Aid from the EUand Turkey is helping, but as winter approaches, the UN has warned that a full blown humanitarian crisis could soon emerge.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

The Trump/Pelosi/Schumer meeting – Later today, President Trump, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will meet to discuss a potential deal to avert a partial government shutdown before Christmas. In the past, Democrats offered $25 billion for the president's border wall in exchange for protection for 1.7 million young undocumented immigrants who face deportation. Trump agreed, then changed his mind. With Democrats now set to control the House, and Democratic voters who don't want any compromise with Trump, Pelosi and Schumer have much less reason to meet Trump halfway. We'd ignore this meeting and focus on the likelihood of a shutdown – if you want to visit a US national park with the family this holiday season, do it now!

The forced exile of 5,000 Spanish pigeons Officials in the Andalusian port city of Cadiz are preparing to trap and relocate some 5,000 pigeons whose appetites and droppings are, local hoteliers say, scaring off tourists. The great pigeon deportation, which is to take place next year, is a more humane way to deal with the birds than poisoning them, for sure. And the hope is that they'll happily adapt to their new homes somewhere in eastern Spain. We are ignoring this because we think the birds are smart enough to find their way back to their seaside haunts in Cadiz. After all, Spain has a long and illustrious history with homing pigeons.

We pay little attention to the waves of the sea, yet they are the greatest unused source of renewable energy in the world. Meet ISWEC and Power Buoy, two interesting new technologies used to harness this energy. Learn more about the extraordinary power of waves in this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series, where we investigate interesting facts and trends about energy.

Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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A controversial new World Health Organization report on the origins of the coronavirus that suggests it likely originated from a bat but transferred to humans via an intermediary animal. Could the virus have emerged from a Chinese lab, as former CDC Director Robert Redfield recently suggested? That's the least likely scenario, says the WHO's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan. "The betacoronaviruses are very, very common in bats and there's a lot of genetic similarity between the SARS-CoV2 and many of the viruses in the...bat species," Dr. Swaminathan told Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

2.8 billion: Chinese regulators fined e-commerce giant Alibaba a record $2.8 billion — about four percent of its 2019 revenue — for abusing its dominant market position and forcing merchants to operate exclusively on its platform. Alibaba founder Jack Ma has fallen out with Beijing in recent months after the billionaire publicly criticized China's regulators for stifling innovation in technology.

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Vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens before the rest of the world, has been effective for rich nations like the United States and Israel. But leaving behind so much of the global population isn't just a humanitarian issue. It could prolong the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization's Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who argues that what the global vaccination effort most urgently lacks are doses, not dollars. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, she calls for a large increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and suggests we may be seeing alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Listen: Soumya Swaminathan calls for a massive increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants, in a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. Dr. Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, argues that vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens ahead of the rest of the world, will only prolong the pandemic because a virus does not stop at any national border. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and discusses when she thinks the world's children should get vaccinated. In addition, she suggests we may see alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

India, the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change. But it takes issue with those now asking it to clean up its act. Why, the Indians ask, should we give up our right to get rich by burning fossil fuels like you developed economies have done for generations?

That's precisely the message that India's energy minister had for the US and other wealthy nations at a recent Zoom summit after they pressured Delhi to set a future deadline for net zero emissions. For India, he explained, such targets are "pie in the sky" aspirations that do little to address the climate crisis the country faces right now.

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The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are nearly a year away, but discussion of a potential boycott is already stoking tensions on both sides of the US-China relationship. Officials in Washington and other Western capitals are coming under mounting pressure from activists to respond to human rights abuses in China. An increasingly assertive Beijing, meanwhile, vigorously rejects any foreign criticism of what it regards as internal issues.

The last time the US boycotted an Olympics was in 1980, when it withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet Union repaid in kind by skipping the Games in Los Angeles. Would the US and its allies do something like that again? And how might China respond? Eurasia Group analysts Neil Thomas and Allison Sherlock explain the drivers of the boycott movement and its possible fallout.

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