What We're Watching: German Politicians vs the Internet

AKK – Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer ("AKK"), the leader of Germany's ruling Christian Democratic Union and Angela Merkel's choice to succeed her as Chancellor, has called for regulation of political opinions on the internet during election campaigns. Her proposal came in response to a German YouTube star's viral video that accused the governing party of failing to address climate change. Her idea has provoked intense criticism, in particular from free speech advocates. Not a good look just after her party took a hit in the European Parliament elections. We're watching to see how much damage she's inflicted on her political future.


Netanyahu on the Clock – Today is the deadline for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a coalition government following last month's elections. If he fails, Israel might face a repeat vote for the first time in its history. The stakes are especially high for Netanyahu, who faces indictment on corruption charges. If he can form a government, he can try to pass laws that would give him immunity from prosecution while in office. For the moment, the ultra-orthodox and ultra-nationalist parties that are Netanyahu's likeliest potential coalition partners are still holding out in hopes of winning policy concessions.

What We're Ignoring: Bad Maps in East Africa

Fatwas on the Greenback – There are many ways to manage a currency crisis. Religious scholars in Pakistan have declared a fatwa against the hoarding of dollars in order to stop people from buying the US currency as fears rise that Prime Minister Imran Khan's cash-strapped government will soon devalue the Pakistani rupee. We're skeptical a fatwa will be enough to solve this problem.

Ethiopia's New Maps – Ethiopia's foreign ministry has said it's sorry for any "confusion and misunderstanding" after publishing a map of Africa on its website that erased neighboring Somalia by incorporating its territory within Ethiopia's borders. It's a touchy subject, given wars between the two countries in the 1960s and 70s and Ethiopian intervention inside Somalia in more recent years. But those who see something sinister at work should consider that the map also shows the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo as a single country, and it doesn't show South Sudan at all. In other words, the Ethiopian foreign ministry may just have really bad mapmakers.

A sector that's rapidly expanding, domotics - domus (home) plus robotics - are smart houses that manage temperature and lighting to minimize wasted electricity. For example, smart thermostats sense your presence and set the temperature according to your needs, saving 20% a year on heating bills. Watch this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series to learn how domotics save money and increase a home's value.

Even if the US, Europe, China, and India reduce carbon emissions at the rate they've promised, much climate damage has already been done. That shouldn't stop these and other countries from doing all they can to meet their net-zero emissions targets, but they also better start preparing for a world of people on the move.

Climate change will displace an unprecedented number of people in coming years, creating not just a series of humanitarian crises in many parts of the world, but lasting political, economic, and social upheaval as those of us who live on higher ground try to find a sustainable place for these climate refugees to live.

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When will it be safe for the world's children to be vaccinated against COVID-19? The World Health Organization's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, says that vaccines are being tested in children down to the age of six or even lower, and promises that data on children will be shared as soon as it's available. She also notes that there are not enough studies on transmission in schools, and the WHO has advised governments to prioritize schools "over other things like shopping malls or cinema halls or pubs." Dr. Swaminathan spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Over the past half century, climate change has had an immense impact on the farmers who produce the food we eat. A new study by Cornell University shows that global warming has knocked 21 percent off of global agriculture productivity growth since 1965, equivalent to seven years of normal growth if humans had not polluted the planet. But not all countries have been affected in the same say. Farmers in warmer parts of the world have been hit hard as conditions grow more arid, but sub-polar regions in Canada or Siberia are now actually better for agriculture because they are not as cold as they used to be. Here we take a look at how climate has affected farming productivity growth around the world.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

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A Castro-less Cuba: Raúl Castro, younger brother of the late Fidel, is expected to retire on Friday as secretary-general of Cuba's ruling communist party. When he does, it'll mark the first time since the 1959 revolution that none of Cuba's leaders is named Castro. The development is largely symbolic since Castro, 89, handed over day-to-day affairs to President Miguel Díaz-Canel in 2018. It's worth noting that US sanctions laws do specify that one of the conditions for normalizing ties with Cuba is that any transitional government there cannot include either of the Castro brothers. So that's one less box to tick in case there is a future rapprochement across the Straits of Florida. But more immediately, we're watching to see whether a new generation of leaders headed by Díaz-Canel will bring any serious reforms to Cuba. COVID has killed the tourism industry, plunging the island into an economic crisis that's brought back food shortages and dollar stores reminiscent of the early 1990s.

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16: Brazil's new plan to save the Amazon promises to curb deforestation, but not too much. Although it would reduce annual forest loss to the average recorded over the past five years, next year's target is still 16 percent higher than the Amazon's total deforestation in 2018, the year before President Jair Bolsonaro — who favors economic development of the rainforest — took office.

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Should the Biden administration "reverse course on China" in the hope of establishing a friendlier relationship, as diplomat Kishore Mahbubani argues in a recent Financial Times op-ed? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Michael Hirson take out the Red Pen to explain why it's not that simple.

And today, we are talking about the United States and China. The relationship between the two most powerful nations in the world is the worst it's been since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Pundits and policymakers alike all around the world are trying to figure out how Washington and Beijing can at least stop the bleeding because a reset is nowhere in the cards.

That's the topic of the op-ed that we are looking at today. It's from the Financial Times, written by Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani, and the title summarizes the key argument: "Biden should summon the courage to reverse course on China." Meaning, he should throw out the Trump era approach and open the door to more cooperation and kinder, gentler relations.

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