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What We're Watching: Algeria's "sham" election

What We're Watching: Algeria's "sham" election

Algeria's election: Some Algerians went to the polls today to elect a new president. Others hit the streets of major cities to denounce the vote as a sham, one designed to hide the reality that nothing will change following the ouster in April of doddering former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika after two decades on the job. All five presidential candidates have promised "change" in some form, but all five have also worked for Bouteflika at some time in the past. The military, led by General Ahmed Gaid Salah, remains the true power behind the throne. Protests are likely to continue, and we'll be watching the army, which will be watching the crowds.

Trump gets a trade deal with China: After months of wrangling and rollercoaster hype, the US and China agreed today on the terms of a so-called "phase one" trade deal. The US will roll back some existing tariffs on Chinese imports and postpone any new ones, in exchange for Beijing's promise to buy more US agriculture goods. The legal text of the agreement hasn't yet been finalized, though, so there's still a possibility that either side could ditch it (which has already happened once before.) If a deal is finalized it would be a welcome reprieve from steadily growing tensions between the world's two largest economies, but it still wouldn't address the core issues on which Washington and Beijing are at odds: China's unwavering support for state companies and its ambitions to become a rival technology superpower.

What we're listening to: The New Yorker's Moscow correspondent Joshua Yaffa on The New Yorker Radio Hour, explaining how today's Russian propaganda differs from the Soviet variety in the way that it actively undermines the idea of truth itself. Yaffa's excellent new profile of Konstantin Ernst, the Kremlin's arty and sophisticated propaganda chief, is worth a read too.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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