What We're Watching: A Test For Peace in Mozambique

What We're Watching: A Test For Peace in Mozambique

Mozambique's democracy test Mozambicans voted yesterday in an election that will test a fragile peace accord between the ruling Frelimo party, led by president Filipe Nyusi, and Renamo, a former rebel group-turned-opposition party. The two factions were on opposite sides of a Cold War-tinged civil war that killed an estimated 1 million people between 1977 and 1992. Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since independence, has been losing popularity due to a corruption scandal, but is likely to hold onto power at the national level. Renamo, which foreswore violence just two months ago in exchange for electoral reforms that will help the party, will be hoping to make regional gains that allow it to win some key governorships. Disputes over the final vote count and even outright fraud or violence are possible in coming days, particularly if Renamo fails to make its hoped-for gains.


Governments vs cryptocurrencies – Last month, we asked whether you'd put more trust in government bureaucrats or Mark Zuckerberg to handle your money, and explained why some governments don't like Facebook's new Libra cryptocurrency. In recent days, several of Facebook's partners on the project have bowed out, evidently because the political heat got too intense. Meanwhile, US security regulators last week took "emergency action" to halt an effort by Telegram, a popular encrypted messaging service, to launch a new digital currency that would have bypassed the traditional dollar-based payment system. We're watching this broader clash between cryptocurrencies and governments because it shows how techno-utopian dreams can often crash up against a simple political reality: governments won't willingly surrender their control over money.

UK pomp and EU circumstance – Queen Elizabeth II opened the UK's new session of Parliament on Monday by laying out Prime Minister Boris Johnson's legislative agenda. Any ceremony involving people in tights with titles like Black Rod and the Rouge Dragon Pursuivant would usually be worth watching on that basis alone. But this year the high drama of Brexit lent extra weight to the pomp. With the clock ticking towards the UK's October 31 EU exit date, Johnson is trying yet again this week to win approval for a Brexit deal at the European Council. But "important matters" are still unresolved, according to one Brussels official. If the UK and EU can't agree on a deal, the prime minister will have to request a three-month extension from Parliament, something he's loath to do. Even if Johnson does get Brussels to endorse a deal outline by the end of October – a big if – he can't be sure that a majority of MPs would approve it; Johnson could then call an early election to try break the deadlock. We're watching to see how this chaos unfolds in the weeks ahead, but we're pretty sure the answer is more Brexit. Sigh.

What We're Ignoring:

LeBron James, China expert – The second-greatest basketball player of all time (I'm from Chicago, don't @ me) waded into the controversy over the NBA and China on Monday, saying Houston Rockets manager Daryl Morey "wasn't educated on the situation" when he made comments on Twitter supporting Hong Kong protestors. Morey's comments earlier this month angered China and dragged the league into a political and human rights brouhaha in one of its most important growth markets. A subsequent NBA apology and James's comments drew rebukes from people who have accused the NBA, and players who refuse to criticize China, of cowardice. We're ignoring the temptation to dunk on LeBron for claiming to be an expert on China-Hong Kong relations, because he later clarified that he wasn't commenting on the substance of Morey's words, only the fact that he tweeted them out. Of course, that opens a whole other can of worms…

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary's far-right populist prime minister, likes to shock people. It's part of his political appeal. Orbán has proudly proclaimed that he is an "illiberal" leader" creating a frenzy in Brussels because Hungary is a member of the European Union.

It's been over a decade since the 58-year old whom some have dubbed "the Trump before Trump" became prime minister. In that time he has, critics say, hollowed out Hungary's governing institutions and eroded the state's democratic characteristics.

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Why do (most) world leaders drink together? It can get them to agree on stuff they wouldn't while sober. Booze "helps people get cooperation off the ground, especially in situations where cooperation is challenging," says University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland. Alcohol, he explains, allows you to "see commonalities rather than just pursuing your own interest," which may put teetotaler politicians — like Donald Trump — at a disadvantage. Watch his interview on the next episode of GZERO World. Check local listings to watch on US public television.

In countries with access to COVID vaccines, the main challenge now is to convince those hesitant about the jab to roll up their sleeves, and this has become even more urgent given the spread of the more contagious delta variant. So, where are there more vaccine skeptics, and how do they compare to total COVID deaths per million in each nation? We take a look at a group of large economies where jabs are available, yet (in some cases) not everyone wants one.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

QR codes are everywhere. Are they also tracking my personal data?

Well, a QR code is like a complex barcode that may be on a printed ad or product package for you to scan and access more information. For example, to look at a menu without health risk or for two-factor verification of a bank payment. And now also as an integral part of covid and vaccine registration. QR codes can lead to tracking metadata or personal data. And when your phone scans and takes you to a website, certainly the tracking starts there. Now, one big trap is that people may not distinguish one kind of use of QR codes from another and that they cannot be aware of the risks of sharing their data.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky bits of color from a Games like no other…

Today we've got— the best freakout celebrations!

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Tanzania reverses course on COVID: Just four months ago, the Tanzanian government was completely denying the existence of the pandemic. Then-President John Magufuli insisted Tanzania was COVID-free thanks to peoples' prayers, and refused to try to get vaccines. But Magufuli died suddenly in March — perhaps of COVID. His successor, current President Samia Suluhu, has acknowledged the presence of the virus in Tanzania, and although she was initially lukewarm on mask-wearing and vaccines, Suluhu has recently changed her tune, first joining the global COVAX facility and now getting vaccinated herself to kick off the country's inoculation drive. Well done Tanzania, because if there's one thing we've all learned over the past 18 months, it's that nowhere — not even North Korea, whatever Pyongyang says — is safe from the coronavirus.

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16: A new study tracking Earth's "vital signs" has found that 16 out of 31 indicators of planetary health are getting worse due to climate change. Last year's pandemic-induced shutdown did little to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, stop the oceans from warming, or slow the shrinking of polar ice caps.

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How booze helps get diplomacy done

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