What We’re Watching: Bibi defies legal (and political) gravity

What We’re Watching: Bibi defies legal (and political) gravity

Bibi's bid to stay out of court – Israel's embattled Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu has asked parliament to give him immunity from prosecution in not one, not two, but three criminal corruption cases currently open against him. If approved, he'd be protected for as long as he's a member of parliament. But debate over the request could drag on for months, and as Israel heads for elections in March (the country's third in a year), the move is a big gamble. Netanyahu knows the move is unpopular and carries election risks, but he also doesn't want to have to campaign from a courtroom. We're watching to see what parliament does, and how voters respond.


Millionaires fleeing justice – Carlos Ghosn, the former chairman of Nissan Motors who has been out on bail after being arrested in Japan on financial misconduct charges in 2018, staged a dramatic escape from his Tokyo home over the holiday. Rumor has it that the French multi-millionaire – who denies the charges against him – was smuggled out of his apartment in a musician's instrument case by a team of mercenaries before being bundled onto a private jet. He later surfaced in Lebanon, a country that has no extradition treaty with Japan and where he is also a citizen. There are lots of reasons why this story is completely bananas, but for us the sheer brass of an uber-wealthy businessman trying to evade a likely jail term at a time of rising populism and popular outrage over "unaccountable global elites" takes the cake.

John Lewis of Georgia – More than half a century ago, John Lewis suffered many an injury and indignity in defense of civil rights and his country's future. With Martin Luther King Jr, he faced down hatred, threats, guns, clubs, bullwhips, tear gas, spit, and death itself. A native of Alabama, Lewis has served Georgia's 5th district in the US House of Representatives for 32 years. We learned last week that Mr. Lewis has been diagnosed with late-stage pancreatic cancer. We're watching John Lewis because he's been in tough fights before—and because he is not finished.

What We're Ignoring

People who say the new decade doesn't begin until 2021 A debate is raging in some corners of the internet about whether the year 2020 really marks the start of a new decade. Sticklers argue that since the Roman calendar started counting with Year 1 (rather than Year Zero), the next 10-year cycle doesn't really start until New Year's Day 2021. These folks are absolutely correct…and we're ignoring them anyway. Two reasons. One, we feel we're better off bragging that we're bad at math than in trying to hide it. Two, your Signalistas are a forward-looking/impatient people. We're ready to bury the Tens or the 20-teens or whatever that old decade was called and to look ahead to the Twenties.
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The supply chain mess is hitting all of us. Inflation is now the highest it's been in over 30 years.

The costs of food, gas and housing are going through the roof. What's more, almost everything made outside of America is now in short supply — like semiconductors for our cars.

Why is this happening? A lot of it has to do with the pandemic. Asian factories had to shut down or thought there would be less demand for their stuff. So did shipping companies. But then online shopping surged, and now there's a lot of pent-up demand to spend all the cash we saved during COVID.

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The economic consequences of high inflation are already bad enough.

But for Larry Summers, sometimes the psychological trauma that comes with it can do even more damage to a society.

"A society where inflation is accelerating is a society that feels out of control."

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Should you believe the hype(rsonic)?

Over the past few months, US officials have become increasingly alarmed about a new type of killing machines called "hypersonic weapons."

The top US General, Mark Milley, said that China's successful test of an advanced hypersonic weapon earlier this year was "very close" to a "Sputnik moment" – referring to the Soviet Union's surprise launch of the world's first artificial satellite in 1957, which raised fears that the US was lagging behind a formidable technological rival.

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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:

What is Facebook planning with the metaverse?

Well, my sense is that Facebook mostly prefers a virtual reality over the actual situation the company is in, with overwhelming criticism about the many harms to people it is causing all over the world. The metaverse at launch would be added to a number of services and experiences online in a more virtual and augmented reality setting. Think about what the gaming sector has done, but now, also, other big tech firms are jumping on the bandwagon. The thing to remember is that the user experience would be more immersive.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

Why did President Biden renominate Jay Powell to be the chairman of the Fed, and who's his No.2, Lael Brainard?

Well, Powell by all accounts has done a pretty good job of managing the Fed through the coronavirus pandemic. He dusted off the playbook, first pioneered by Chairman Bernanke during the financial crisis, and he's largely continued the relatively easy monetary policy of his predecessor at the Fed, now Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen. With inflation growing the way it has over the last several months, Biden now owns the policies of the Fed and is essentially endorsing what Powell has been doing and giving Powell the political cover to continue to keep rates low for longer, or as many people expect, raise them slightly over the next 12 months in order to fight inflation.

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When Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all counts, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who created the "1619 Project" tweeted: "In this country, you can even kill white people and get away with it if those white people are fighting for Black lives. This is the legacy of 1619." In an upcoming interview with Ian Bremmer, she explains why she saw the verdict as a consequence of this country's long history of double standards when it comes to racial justice. "The fact that we own more guns in this country than any other country is certainly a legacy of 1619" Hannah-Jones says. "This idea that white Americans can patrol, that they have the right to open carry, this is not something that Black Americans can engage in, in the same way." Watch her full conversation with Ian Bremmer in an upcoming episode of GZERO World.

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week with a look at Peng Shuai's public appearance, El Salvador's "Bitcoin City," and Americans' Thanksgiving celebrations.

Why has China silenced its famous tennis player, Peng Shuai?

Well, they haven't completely silenced her in the sense that the head of the IOC, the International Olympic Committee with Beijing Olympics coming up, basically told the Chinese government, "hey, what is the absolute minimum that you can do so that we can get Beijing Olympics back on track?" And they did the absolute minimum, which was a half an hour phone call with her that felt like kind of a hostage phone call. But nonetheless, she says that she is fine and is private and doesn't want to talk about the fact that she had accused the former Vice Premier of sexually assaulting her. That is a fairly heady charge. It was clear, going to get a lot of headlines in the run-up to the Olympics. And she wasn't heard from after that. So big problem for the Chinese in the run-up to the Olympics.

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How did we get to today's supply chain mess?

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