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What We're Watching: Something Insane Over Paris

What We're Watching: Something Insane Over Paris

Le Flyboard - I could describe the sight of a guy holding a rifle flying around on a hoverboard above France's Bastille Day festivities this weekend, but you should just see the video yourself, courtesy of president Macron. The Flyboard is a drone powerful enough to carry a standing person at speeds up to 118 miles per hour (190 km/h) for short periods of time. We are watching this because it is absolutely next-level awesome, and also because we suspect it won't be long before these things start to change the face of warfare – maybe of crime too?

A Warning in Nigeria – Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo has sent a public letter to current President Muhammadu Buhari warning, among other things, that ongoing violence between farmers and herders could lead to a "Rwanda-type genocide" of ethnic Fulanis. More broadly, unchecked violence could lead to "dismemberment of the country." These two men are political rivals, and Obasanjo has written open letters before. But given ethnic tensions that have led to hundreds of recent murders in the country and continuing attacks from the Boko Haram terrorist group, these are warnings worth watching. Nigeria is home to about 200 million people, and it is Africa's largest economy.

A big vote in Europe – German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has won the backing of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and other EU leaders for her bid to be the next president of the European Commission, the 28 member bloc's executive body. To win that post later today, she'll need an absolute majority among the 746 European members of parliament. The vote – which will occur via secret ballot – is too close to call. She is liked by the center and center-right, but not the left. It's a good early test of EU unity after a hotly contested election for the European Parliament a few weeks ago. We'll soon know whether she'll be setting the agenda in Brussels for the next five years or whether Merkel and other leaders of an increasingly fractious EU will have to go back to the drawing board.

What We're Ignoring

Toxic Paradise in Russia - Limpid turquoise waters shimmer in the summer sun. The beautiful people paddle about and pose for selfies that garner millions of likes on social media. You can practically hear the pulse of Balearic house music emanating from the photos…Welcome to the Maldives….of Siberia. Yes, we're talking about a lake outside the smallish Russian city of Novosibirsk that has become an object of cult obsession this summer. The catch? It's actually a man-made waste site for a nearby electrical plant. The vivid blue isn't the result of pristine shallow waters, white sands, and coral reefs – it's actually an aquamarine stew of toxic salts and oxides flushed into the water by Heating and Electrical Station Number 5. We are ignoring (just barely though) the urge to enjoy a post-apocalyptic dip.

Bank of America's $25 million jobs initiative provides Black and Hispanic-Latino individuals access to skills and training needed for jobs of the future. Learn more about the initiative, which involves partnerships with 21 community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

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Iran's nuclear tug-of-war: Hardliners in Iran's parliament passed a bill Tuesday suspending UN inspections of its nuclear sites and giving the go-ahead to massively increase uranium enrichment unless the US lifts its sanctions by February. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani opposes the measure, saying it would be "harmful" to diplomatic efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the incoming Biden administration in the US. But Iran's parliament doesn't actually need Rouhani's approval to pass the law, and regardless, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will have the final say on policy – as always! If the law is passed, it will immediately raise the stakes for Biden, who takes office on January 20. Both he and Rouhani say they are keen to resume dialogue in hopes of reviving the nuclear deal, which President Trump walked out of in 2018. But just days after the architect of Iran's nuclear program was assassinated (likely by Israel with the US' blessing) the hurdles to even beginning those talks are rising fast.

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"China is angry. If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy." This was the message recently conveyed by a Chinese government official on the intensifying row with its Asia-Pacific neighbor, Australia.

China-Australia relations, steadily deteriorating in recent months over a range of political disputes, reached a new low this week when Beijing posted a doctored image on Twitter of an Australian soldier holding a knife to an Afghan child's throat. Beijing's decision to post the fake image at a hypersensitive time for Australia's military establishment was a deliberate political provocation: beat Canberra while it's down.

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19.4: The Lebanese economy, waylaid by financial and political crises on top of the pandemic, is set to contract by a crippling 19.4 percent this year, according to the World Bank. Next year things hardly get better, with a contraction of 13.2 percent coming in 2021.

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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