What We're Watching: A year since George Floyd, G7 corporate tax, Samoa's political crisis

A man recites spoken word poetry at a makeshift memorial honoring George Floyd, at the spot where he was taken into custody, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., June 1, 2020.

Marking a year since George Floyd's murder: May 25 marks one year since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, which galvanized the biggest anti-racism movement in America in generations – and inspired a global reckoning with racial inequality and policing in dozens of countries around the world. Since then, former police officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with Floyd's murder, a historic development after decades of near-total impunity for police who use excessive force against Black Americans. But many say that Chauvin's' conviction is not enough and are calling for the passage of broad police reform legislation in the US Congress. While the House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Police Reform Act, the bill in its current form doesn't appear to have sufficient support to pass in the Senate. One of the biggest sticking points in the bill is over "qualified immunity," which protects government officials and law enforcement from being held personally liable for constitutional violations. Republicans oppose this structural reform, but even if they come to an agreement in the Senate, progressive House Democrats say they will not accept a watered-down version that does not eliminate this provision in at least some instances. Meanwhile, President Biden will host the Floyd family at the White House on Tuesday.


G7 to finalize global corporate tax: The G7 – a group of large economies including the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan – is close to finalizing global taxation rules for the world's largest companies. For years, big European nations, frustrated with American behemoths like Starbucks, Amazon, and Google that flood their markets with products yet pay almost nothing back to their governments, have been pushing for a similar global corporate tax rate, something the US has long resisted. But as countering domestic tax avoidance has emerged as a Biden administration priority, Washington is now on board with the idea. The US has called for a 15 percent minimum global tax, lower than the 21 percent backed by several European states. While the G7 agreement would not be globally enforceable, it would be a powerful first step in paving the way to formalization of a global minimum tax rate currently being negotiated in Paris at the OECD, an organization made up of 37 advanced economies. However, while the G7 could finalize a deal for taxing big corporations in the next few weeks, it could still take many months before the broader G20, which is running the talks in Paris, seals a deal, given resistance from countries with low corporate tax rates like Ireland, which has greatly benefited from operating as a tax haven for multinationals to protect their profits.

Is a coup happening in Samoa? The Pacific Island nation of Samoa held elections in early April, and things have been a mess since. The results gave a razor thin, one-seat majority to the Faith in the One True God (FAST) party, which would have ended nearly four decades of rule by the governing Human Rights Protection Party (HRPP). But just before FAST leader Fiame Naomi Mata'afa was set to be sworn in on Monday — as Samoa's first female prime minister, no less — the HRPP government cancelled the required parliamentary session, in a move that the Supreme Court swiftly called "unlawful." Undaunted, FAST held its own swearing-in ceremony for Mata'afa, in a tent. But since that was not done in accordance with the constitution, it's not clear who really runs the country now or what consequences the current PM Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi may face for flouting the country's highest court. This is the first major constitutional crisis of its kind since Samoa gained independence from New Zealand in 1962.

Ken Burns discusses Muhammad Ali's background and how the journey of boxing's greatest champion is just as relevant today—in sport, culture and beyond.

"He is speaking to us with a kind of force and clarity...that to me is just so enduring." - Ken Burns

No country in the Western Hemisphere is more closely associated with disaster and misery than the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Its latest upheaval centers on news that the country's top prosecutor wants Haiti's prime minister to answer questions about the murder of the president in July. Haiti is again locked in a power struggle among competing factions within its ruling elite.

Why is Haiti still so poor and disaster-prone?

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For Michael Chertoff, former US secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, the fact that America has not experienced a single attack by foreign terrorists since 9/11 proves that the US was "successful" in its strategy to prevent terrorism. That "was not [an] accident and there was a deterrent effect to be honest — had we been lax, more would have tried." Although he admits the US government wasn't transparent enough about the intelligence it was collecting, Chertoff credits US intelligence agencies with helping to foil the plot to blow up airplanes mid-air from Heathrow to the US in 2006. The US mission in Iraq, or what came after was not clearly thought out, according to Michael Chertoff, who served as the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. The Iraq war made it difficult to focus on the US mission in Afghanistan and absorbed resources that could have been used more effectively elsewhere, he said.

Watch the full episode: Is America safer since 9/11?

Listen: In a frank interview on the GZERO World podcast, António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, speaks with Ian Bremmer at the UN ahead of the annual General Assembly week. Guterres discusses COVID, climate, the US-China rift, and the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, and does not mince words when it comes to the dire state of the world. "We are standing at the edge of an abyss," Guterres warns. COVID is "defeating" the global community and a climate catastrophe is all but assured without drastic action. Amidst this unprecedented peril, there remains a startling lack of trust among nations. And yet, there is still hope.

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.


"Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still." — Harry S. Truman

The former US president's warning feels particularly prescient as world leaders prepare to gather at the 76th United National General Assembly in New York City, the first such in-person event in over 18 months. The importance of apt leadership in determining societies' ability to cope — and survive — has been on full display since COVID-19 enveloped the globe, decimating communities and killing some 4.5 million people.

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As the 76th UN General Assembly gets underway, dealing with the pandemic is still the top priority for world leaders. But for John Frank, vice president of UN Global Affairs at Microsoft, COVID is not the only major challenge the world faces today.

One of them — included in the UN Secretary-General's new Common Agenda for strong, inclusive pandemic recovery — is a different way to measure economic growth beyond the traditional productivity-led GDP model by taking more into account the cost of pollution, one of the main causes of climate change.

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For UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the pandemic has made the world even more divided than it was before COVID. That's especially true on climate, in his view, because rich and poor countries simply don't trust each other anymore. If we want COP26 to succeed, Guterres says we must rebuild that trust — or face the consequences of inaction. "If you are on the verge of an abyss, you must be careful about your next step." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

"Pandemic" was the most used word of 2020. "Delta" looks set to inherit this year's title.

Vaccination rates are ticking up slowly. Governments aren't talking to each other enough. Parts of the world are back to normal, while others are still locked down.

Have we actually made any progress since the COVID-19 outbreak?


Unfinished Business: Is the World Really Building Back Better?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 11am ET/ 8am PT

Our speakers:

Special appearance by António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

Visit gzeromedia.com/globalstage to watch on the day of the event.

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UNGA 76: Vaccines, climate, crises

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UN Chief: Still time to avert climate “abyss”

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