GZERO Media logo

What We're Watching: Tick Tock for TikTok, Netanyahu loses support, Guyana's new president

What We're Watching: Tick Tock for TikTok, Netanyahu loses support, Guyana's new president

TikTok, ya don't stop: The wildly popular video app TikTok has been in the crosshairs of American lawmakers for many months now. Why? Because the app is owned by a Chinese company, raising national security concerns that it could funnel personal data on its 100 million American users to the Chinese government. The plot thickened in recent days after President Trump abruptly threatened to ban the app altogether, risking a backlash among its users and imperiling US tech giant Microsoft's efforts to buy the company's operations in the US. Canada, Australia and New Zealand. After a weekend conversation between Microsoft and the White House, the sale negotiations are back on but US lawmakers say any deal must strictly prevent American users' data from winding up in Chinese Communist Party servers. And Trump says that unless a deal is reached by September 15th, he'll go ahead with the ban. The broader fate of TikTok — which has now been banned in India, formerly its largest market, and may be broken up under US pressure — nicely illustrates the new "tech Cold War" that is emerging between China and the United States.


Guyana finally swears in a new leader: After months of political wrangling, an election recount and a series of court challenges, the small South American nation of Guyana has sworn in opposition candidate Mohamed Irfaan Ali as president. Although Ali edged out the incumbent, David Granger, by just 15,000 votes, Granger's governing party says the vote was rigged and that it will continue to challenge the outcome. The new president will now be responsible for guiding this nation through what is set to be one of the of the world's most dramatic increases in national wealth, after large reserves of crude oil were discovered in the country in 2015. Ali will have to figure out how to spend the new oil revenue to combat the country's pandemic-induced economic downturn, as well as try to tamp down rising tensions between his own supporters who are mostly of South Asian origin, and the defeated incumbent's mostly Black voter base.

Anti-Netanyahu movement swells: Ever since Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was indicted in January on a host of corruption charges there have been frequent protests calling for his resignation. But Saturday saw the most massive demonstrations yet, as thousands gathered near the PM's Jerusalem residence. The protesters — hailing from across the political spectrum and including some former Bibi supporters — took aim at the government's poor handling of the twin public health and economic crises. Despite early success in containing the virus, the country's unwieldy unity government has botched its pandemic response in recent months. A hasty reopening has allowed the coronavirus to begin spreading again like wildfire, and a whopping 21 percent of the population is now unemployed. The government has failed to provide economic relief and Israel's GDP is expected to contract by at least 6 percent this year. Netanyahu, for his part, has lashed out at the "North Korean" style media for fueling the "distorted" protests, a sign, observers say, of his growing panic as the leaderless protest movement gains momentum. Particularly ominous for Netanyahu is that security hawks and right wing voters typically aligned with Netanyahu's Likud party are increasingly losing faith in him, and are now joining left-wing activists calling for the PM's resignation. Is "King Bibi's" throne finally creaking?

Meet Ian Martin, an English Professor from Glasgow who is now head of Communications for Eni's International Resources. Approaching his work in the same way he used to hold his lectures, Ian is dedicated to listening and making people around him comfortable. Having working in both Milan and London, Ian utilizes his ability to communicate in different languages and cultures to prepare Eni's global messaging strategy. "Communication is a transfer of humanity," he says, and his job is as much centered around people as it as around language.

Watch Ian's human approach to communications on the most recent episode of Faces of Eni.

How to capture the essence of this incredible, terrible year in a few short words and without using profanity? It's not easy.

Thankfully, the dictionary website Merriam-Webster.com has released its list of most heavily searched words of 2020, and they tell the story of an historic year in US politics and the life of our planet. Here's a sample.

The top word, unsurprisingly, was "Pandemic," a disease outbreak that covers a wide area and afflicts lots of people. In 2020, the coronavirus crisis hit every region of the world, triggering a public health, economic, and political emergency on a geographic scale our planet has never experienced. Differing responses to that problem defined the politics (and geopolitics) of 2020.

More Show less

While recent news from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca on the efficacy of their respective COVID vaccines is encouraging, it has also given rise to bidding wars between wealthy countries trying to secure the largest supply of the new drugs for their citizens. Meanwhile, many governments in emerging market economies, where healthcare infrastructure is generally weaker, are worried they'll be kicked to the back of the line in the global distribution process. Indeed, history bears out their concerns: while a lifesaving HIV treatment hit shelves in the West in the mid-1990s, for example, it took years to become widely in Africa, which saw some of the worst HIV outbreaks in the world. But here's the catch: even if wealthy countries manage to obtain large supplies of vaccines to immunize their populations, the interconnected nature of the global economy means that no one will really be out of the woods until we all are. Here's a snapshot of how many COVID vaccines select countries have already purchased.

Afghanistan's small breakthrough: For months, disagreements over a range of political issues have hamstrung the intra-Afghan peace talks brokered by the Trump administration that aim to bridge the years-long conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But this week, a significant breakthrough was made on the principles and procedures governing the talks, that, experts say, will help push negotiations to the next phase. One key advance is agreement on the official name of the Afghan government, an issue that stalled talks earlier this year. Still, progress is fragile. Taliban violence and efforts to seize territory have only increased since the militants and the US reached a deal in February on a blueprint for an American troop withdrawal. And the Trump administration says it aims to pull out all but 2,500 US troops by mid-January, whether the Taliban have kept their end of the deal or not. What's more, while this week's development puts the parties one step closer to an eventual power-sharing agreement, it's unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will even honor the Trump administration's deal with the Taliban.

More Show less

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?

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

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's Newsletter: Signal