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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.

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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