What We’re Watching: “No-Deal” Brexit is back!

What We’re Watching: “No-Deal” Brexit is back!

Deal or no deal? If you thought British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's decisive victory in last week's UK election had resolved the anguish over if/when/how UK would leave the EU, think again. The UK will formally exit the EU in a matter of weeks, yes, but London still needs to negotiate a comprehensive EU trade deal during a transition period that lasts until the end of 2020. It would be a miracle if a pact could be negotiated in that time, but Johnson's government said yesterday it would not extend the deadline for such a deal. That means it's possible UK could leave the EU without any trade pact at all: a new variant of the dreaded "no-deal" scenario. The move, which raises pressure on the EU to offer the UK a good bargain on their future relationship, means we could be in for another 12 months of Brexit brinkmanship. And you thought it was over…muahahahaha!


A rupture at the UN over North Korea? It looks like somebody's been paying attention to Kim Jong-Un's recent antics. On Tuesday, Moscow and Beijing introduced a UN Security Council resolution that would loosen some economic sanctions on North Korea as a way to draw Pyongyang into fresh talks about its nuclear program. But the US – which, like Russia, China, France, and the UK, holds veto power at the Security Council -- has already killed the idea. We're watching to see how Kim responds.

A death sentence in Pakistan: Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in 1999 and controversially supported former US President George W. Bush's "Global War on Terror", has been sentenced to death in absentia by a Pakistani court after being convicted of high treason. Musharraf imposed martial law in 2007 but was forced from office a year later. Since 2016 has lived in exile in Dubai, where he is fighting the treason charges from a hospital bed. Back home in Pakistan, the military – which has seized power countless times since independence in 1947 -- was not thrilled with the verdict.

What We're Ignoring

A washed up Estonian singer's jibes at a Finnish "sales girl": Estonia's Interior Minister Mart Helme, a member of the country's rightwing Ekre party, landed in hot water this week after he disparaged Finland's new 34-year-old prime minister Sanna Marin, who worked as a cashier before she entered politics, as a "sales girl." That's big talk coming from a guy who used to front a mediocre 80s Estonian country/rock band. We're ignoring this story, because unlike Mr Helme, we know that retail is hard work -- especially around the holidays.

That's Bank of America's new target in its Environmental Business Initiative in order to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

Here's how it will drive innovation to address climate change.

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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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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More than a dozen COVID-19 vaccines have been fully approved or are currently in early use globally, and COVAX, the global initiative started last year by the World Health Organization and other partners, is pushing for equitable access to vaccines for all. But most of the half billion jabs given so far have gone to citizens of wealthy countries, with half going to the US and China alone. What's the problem with so-called vaccine nationalism? Ian Bremmer explains that besides the clear humanitarian concerns, the continued global spread of COVID increases the risk of new mutations and variants that can threaten the entire world, vaccinated or not.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Should wealthy individuals and nations shoulder more of the burden in addressing climate change? Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert argues that Big Tech leaders like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk should shift more of their focus to fighting for our own planet's survival, instead of space exploration. "We're doing as much as we can to make life difficult on planet Earth for ourselves. But there's virtually nothing we could do to make it as difficult as life on Mars, where there's, among other things, no oxygen." Kolbert, the author of Under a White Sky, discusses why it's so crucial for a few rich countries to bear most of the climate burden, since they're also the biggest emitters. Her conversation with Ian Bremmer is featured in the upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting this Friday, April 16. Check local listings.

In recent days, Northern Ireland has seen some of its worst street violence in over a decade. The anger has subsided a bit this week, but post-Brexit fears leave many uncertain about their future in a deeply divided land with a long history of political violence between Irish republicans and UK unionists.

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Fighting climate change is about making the planet get less hot. The more quickly countries slow down their carbon emissions, the faster that'll happen. All the more important for the nations that pollute the most — but not all of them are on board. Although the majority, including China, are setting future targets to go Net Zero, India doesn't want to commit (yet) to when to stop burning fossil fuels to spur economic growth. We take a look at when the world's top polluting economies intend to go carbon-neutral, compared with their share of global emissions, of renewable energy as a source of electricity, and percentage of global coal consumption.

Peruvian runoff: Perú's presidential election is going to a runoff in June between two surprise and polarizing contenders, each of whom won less than 20 percent of votes in a highly fragmented first round. Pedro Castillo, a far-left union leader and teacher who benefited from a late surge in the polls, will battle rightwing populist Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's imprisoned former strongman. Castillo wants to rewrite the constitution to weaken the political influence of the country's business elite and maybe to allow the state to nationalize parts of the mining sector to pay for social programs for the poor. Fujimori wants to use mining revenues to create jobs by investing in infrastructure and healthcare. The runoff will probably be a national referendum on Fujimori, a divisive figure running for the top job for the third time. No Peruvian president has ever left office without facing corruption charges, but Fujimori already faces several — and she'll avoid jail time if she wins.

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