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What We’re Watching: EU's green subsidies, Vietnam’s leader canned, Bolivia's psychic cat hunter

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen delivers a speech at the 2023 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen delivers a speech at the 2023 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

BENOIT DOPPAGNE/Belga/Sipa USA via Reuters Connect

To push back against IRA, EU plans its own green subsidies

It’s no secret the European Union has been unhappy with what it sees as unfair trade practices coming from Washington and Beijing. US President Joe Biden’s passage of the $369 billion Inflation Reduction Act, for example, offers consumer tax credits as well as incentives to US producers of green tech products that Europeans fear will put the continent’s manufacturers at an unfair advantage — perhaps even pushing them to relocate stateside. No wonder, then, that speculation has been rife over the possibility of the EU introducing its own subsidies in response. On Tuesday, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen told a Davos audience that the 27-member bloc will propose a Net-Zero Industry Act to mobilize EU support for green industries. Details will be hammered out at a summit in early February, but with the US investment so high, the EU’s commitment is expected to be big. The bigger questions are whether all these subsidies will be sustainable in the long term and if they will translate into lower prices that encourage EU consumers to buy more electric vehicles made in the bloc.

Vietnam's president "resigns"

Vietnam's ruling Communist Party turned heads on Tuesday after President Nguyen Xuan Phuc abruptly announced his resignation — in language that suggests he was forced to step down. Phuc was reportedly scapegoated over a series of high-profile corruption scandals tied to the country's pandemic response by senior officials on his watch, but there's more to it. Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong — who, although Vietnam officially has no paramount leader, wields more power than the president — likely wanted to remove Phuc from the race to succeed him when his term expires in 2026. The favorite to replace Phuc — and perhaps Trong later on — is To Lam, the powerful minister of public security. Interestingly, Lam has been spared by Trong’s years-long campaign to root out graft despite a public outcry in late 2021, when Vietnam’s top cop was caught on video being hand-fed a $2,000 gold-encrusted steak by celebrity chef Salt Bae in his upscale London restaurant. Tough on corruption for thee, but not for me.

What We've Hired: A psychic to find a cat

Some governments go to greater lengths than others to rescue their citizens in danger, but only a precious few will enlist the services of a psychic to find ... a cat. In fact, to our knowledge, only one: The Bolivian government has turned to paranormal powers to try to locate Tito, a gray and white tabby who went missing on a domestic flight last month. There's also a political angle: Government critics have chafed at the national airline spending money on searching for a feline instead of on improving its services – the airline gets just 2 out of 5 stars by Skytrax – tagging it as yet another underperforming state-owned corporation under the left-wing MAS coalition that has ruled Bolivia since the early 2000s. Meanwhile, the psychic, who's in touch with the government on WhatsApp, has found no trace of Tito but says she feels the cat is still alive.


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