What We’re Watching: Salvini's Next Move

What We’re Watching: Salvini's Next Move

Salvini's next move From his post as interior minister, the charismatic Matteo Salvini has cut a dominant figure in Italian politics for the past year. Boosted by the popularity of his hardline approaches toward North African migrants and EU officials, Salvini believed that forcing early elections would make him prime minister. He figured the populist Five Star Movement (5SM) and center left Democratic Party (PD) would never find enough common ground to form a coalition government without Lega, his party. Turns out 5SM and PD do share one thing: they can't stand Matteo Salvini. They've now agreed to form a government. For now, Salvini will settle into the role of opposition leader, a natural fit for his firebrand talents. He's already called for a protest in Rome on October 19. But his quest to eventually become prime minister will continue.


Somalia's climate emergency – Aid agencies warn that two million people in Somalia already face severe hunger, and three million more don't know where their next meal will come from. Following severe droughts in recent years—and evidence that the frequency and duration of droughts has increased—Somalia offers the latest case study in how climate issues can combine with political instability, corruption, and terrorism to create humanitarian emergencies.

Chinese media's Hong Kong spin – Chinese state media have tried just about every approach in covering the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, according to BBC Monitoring. They've tried to ignore them, blamed them on "foreign agents," portrayed protesters as dangerous hooligans, argued that a silent majority of Hong Kongers disapprove of the demonstrations, and highlighted foreigners living in Hong Kong who praise China and pro-China protests led by Chinese nationals living in Western countries. They've even used Chinese celebrities—actresses, models, and members of boy bands–to talk up China and chastise the demonstrators. But none of this has quelled the public anger in Hong Kong, so we're watching to see what Chinese media try next.

"War and Peace" in India – A year ago, five activists were arrested in Mumbai and charged with instigating caste-based violence. This week, a judge in Mumbai made news by demanding to know why a copy of Tolstoy's War and Peace was found in one of the defendant's homes. Why did the defendant have an interest, asked the judge, in learning about "war in another country?" This episode leaves us wondering about Crime and Punishment in India.

What We're Ignoring

Slovenia's Trump Statue – We're ignoring this 25-foot-tall statue of Donald Trump that appeared recently in his wife's home country of Slovenia because it's weird, creepy, and doesn't look that much like him.

Demography is destiny. That ominous-sounding pronouncement, credited to French philosopher Auguste Comte, is today taken to mean that a nation's fate depends on the youthfulness of its population. For a poor country to become rich, it needs lots of young people ready to work, to support those too old or too young to work, and to pay taxes. This is called the "demographic dividend."

That's an important part of China's success story. Over the past 40 years, more than one billion people have emerged from poverty in China. Waves of young people surged from the countryside into cities to work in factories. The state invested in education, and wages helped young workers, and then their children, go to school. The state also began a drive to develop the technologies of the future, by any means necessary. In China, once dirt-poor, hundreds of millions have created a middle class.

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Get insights on the latest news about emerging trends in cyberspace from Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford University's Cyber Policy Center and former European Parliamentarian:

This week we talk about one of my favorite topics, regulation. Laws are often framed as a barrier to innovation and not always recognized as a key enabler of freedoms and the protection of rights. But what's more is that regulation is a process, and one that can have tons of different outcomes. So, being in favor or against regulation doesn't mean anything. Except that those who oppose any changes are apparently benefiting from the status quo.

Is the world at a tipping point when it comes to regulating big tech?

And I would say absolutely. The outsized power of big tech is recognized more broadly because the harms are so blatantly clear. Harms to democracy, public health, but also to fairness in the economy are all related to the outsized power of unaccountable and under-regulated big tech. Now, what's significant is that this debate has finally hit home in the United States after it was already recognized as a problem in many other parts of the world.

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Do we spend too much time thinking about our own carbon footprints and not enough time thinking about bigger factors? Climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert acknowledges it's necessary for individuals to make changes in the way they live, but that isn't the number one priority.

"What would you do to try to move this battleship in a new direction? It requires public policy levers. And it requires … some pretty serious legislation." Ian Bremmer spoke with Kolbert, an award-winning journalist and author and staff writer at The New Yorker, on a new episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

Watch the episode: Can We Fix the Planet the Same Way We Broke It?

Not everyone thinks that President Biden's decision to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan by 9/11/21 is a good idea. Conservative Congressman Mike Waltz (R-FL), a combat-decorated Green Beret with multiple tours in Afghanistan, thinks that the US still needs to maintain a small presence in the country to avoid incurring "massive risks." In a spirited discussion with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, Waltz, who served as counterterrorism advisor in the George W. Bush administration, argues, "The next 9/11, the next Pulse Night Club, which is right on the edge of my congressional district, the next San Bernardino, that's now on Biden's watch. He owns it with this decision." Their conversation is featured in the upcoming episode of GZERO World, which airs on US public television starting Friday, April 23. Check local listings.

Vaccines are the best hope to end the COVID-19 pandemic. But rich countries are hogging most of the doses, with more than 83 percent of shots administered to date having gone to residents in high- and upper-middle-income countries. Most poor countries will have to wait years to achieve widespread vaccination, according to one study.

To address this inequity some stakeholders are pushing hard for waivers to intellectual-property (IP) rights through World Trade Organization trade rules so that manufacturers in poorer countries can make their own vaccines locally. India and South Africa have been leading the charge, which would essentially mean that deep-pocketed pharma companies like New York-based Pfizer, for instance, would have to hand over the keys to the kingdom, allowing local companies in New Delhi and Johannesberg to make generic versions of their vaccines.

Unsurprisingly, the debate has gotten fiery, with passionate arguments emerging both for and against.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective on Europe In 60 Seconds:

What are the Russians up to against Ukraine?

We simply don't know, except the fact that they're concentrating a huge amount of military forces. And you don't do that for nothing or for fun. They are there for a purpose, to have pressure or to undertake limited to larger operations. We simply don't know. And when Putin delivered his State of the Union speech the other day, he didn't say a thing about this. They are now talking about withdrawing the forces. But let's wait and see. They have talked about withdrawing forces from Syria for a long time, but we haven't seen that as of yet.

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Australia rips up Belt & Road deal: Australia cancelled two 2018 deals signed between Victoria, Australia's wealthiest state, and the Chinese government, that committed the two sides to working together on initiatives under China's Belt and Road infrastructure development program. Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that the agreements "were adverse to our foreign relations." Similar deals between Victoria and institutions in Iran and Syria were also abandoned by the Australian government this week, under a 2020 law that allows Canberra to nullify international agreements struck at local and state level. (Australian universities say the "foreign veto bill" amounts to "significant overreach.") Meanwhile, Beijing hit back, calling the move "unreasonable and provocative," and accusing Canberra of further stoking divisions after a series of escalatory moves by both sides that have seen China-Australia relations deteriorate to their worst point in decades. Chinese investment in Australia dropped by 62 percent last year, a massive blow for Australia's export-reliant economy.

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