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What We’re Watching: Kim Jong-un is messing with our emotions!

What We’re Watching: Kim Jong-un is messing with our emotions!

Kim Jong-un keeps everybody waiting – Christmas has come and gone without the promised "gift" from the North Korean dictator, but we're still watching to figure out what he's up to. Maybe Kim chickened out and decided not to test a new ICBM as some experts feared. Or maybe he's just waiting until his year-end deadline for progress in talks with the US lapses before lashing out. Maybe he really meant Orthodox Christmas, which falls on January 6th. Or perhaps Chinese and Russian efforts to convince the UN to roll back some sanctions have changed his thinking. Whatever the case, we expect that North Korea will continue to make headlines in the new year – and not in a good way.


Iran's reaction to US airstrikes – US warplanes struck at Iranian proxy militias in Iraq and Syria over the weekend, killing 25 fighters allegedly in response to the death on Friday of a US civilian contractor in a rocket attack in Iraq. Iran, which uses its proxies to maintain military and political influence in Iraq and Syria, has warned of a tough response. We'd note that neither side has killed members of the other's military, but we are watching closely to see if and how this may escalate.

Strange political bedfellows in Austria, a trend? – The center-right Austrian People's Party is reportedly on the verge of agreeing to form a government with the left-wing Greens. A deal would return People's Party leader Sebastian Kurz to the prime ministership just months after a corruption scandal brought down the party's coalition with the far-right Freedom Party. We're watching this story because it shows how ideologically flexible European mainstream parties may need to be in order to stay in power.. For example, could this merger of odd political bedfellows persuade Germany's center-right CDU to turn to Germany's Greens if Chancellor Merkel's grand coalition with the center-left SPD falls apart next year?

What We're Ignoring

The Pope's call for communication – Pope Francis called on the faithful last week to put away their mobile phones while at the dinner table. His Holiness is making an undeniably laudable point: spending less time hunched over our phones would almost certainly mean better conversations, more meaningful relationships, and possibly a better world. But we do wonder where the Pope's 18 million Twitter followers got this news.

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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