GZERO Media logo

What We're Watching &What We're Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

US-China trade talks – Today, US and Chinese negotiators are meeting for a third day to try to hash out a deal to end the trade war. Both sides have been hurt by tit-for-tat tariffs on $360 billion of cross-border trade. China's economy is growing at its slowest clip since the global financial crisis, by some measures, while the US stock market just experienced its worst December in 80 years.


On Tuesday, stocks jumped after President Trump tweeted that "talks with China are going very well!" and the countries agreed to extend negotiations. We'll find out soon whether that was just empty posturing or a sign of real progress.

Succession at the World Bank On Monday, World Bank President Jong Yon Kim resigned unexpectedly. Under a long-standing gentlemen's agreement, in which the US picks the World Bank president while Europe gets first dibs on the head of the International Monetary Fund, Donald Trump will select Kim's successor. The US president is skeptical of multilateral institutions, but recently backed more funding for the Bank to help counter China's growing development influence. Some of Trump supporters are already suggesting that president should use the opportunity appoint a World Bank chief who is more focused on infrastructure and jobs and less focused on climate change. That could rile developing countries, which have long chafed as US dominance of the nomination process and have more to lose from climate shocks.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Kim Jong-un's birthday train trip Beijing Earlier this week, a mystery train was spotted crossing the North Korean border into China. On Tuesday, North Korean president Kim Jong-un appeared in Beijing, just in time for his 36thbirthday. Kim will use the visit to cozy up to China and grumble about US demands that North Korea unilaterally give up its nukes before it gets sanctions relief. Xi Jinping will repeat calls for dialogue, but he'll shy away from any moves that could alienate the US during ongoing trade talks. This looks more like an opportunity for two allies to check in than a sign of an impending breakthrough on denuclearization.

Hacked German politicians – Last week, Germany's political establishment was rocked by revelations that someone had hacked and published the personal details of hundreds of the country's politicians, including Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany's far-right Alternative for Germany party was spared in the data dump, prompting speculation that it might have been the work of Russia or another country intent on destabilizing Merkel's fragile governing coalition. But it turns out the culprit was a 20-year-old German student living with his parents who said he found politicians annoying. In some ways, that's more terrifying than if it was the work of the nation-state, but since it now appears unlikely to spark a major international incident, we're parking this one under ignoring.

Visit Microsoft on The Issues for a front-row seat to see how Microsoft is thinking about the future of sustainability, accessibility, cybersecurity and more. Check back regularly to watch videos, and read blogs and feature stories to see how Microsoft is approaching the issues that matter most. Subscribe for the latest at Microsoft on the Issues.

It's been four days since Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, died in a hail of bullets on a highway near Tehran. Iran has plausibly blamed Israel for the killing, but more than that, not much is known credibly or in detail.

This is hardly the first time that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated in an operation that has a whiff of Mossad about it. But Fakhrizadeh's prominence — he is widely regarded as the father of the Iranian nuclear program — as well as the timing of the killing, just six weeks from the inauguration of a new American president, make it a particularly big deal. Not least because an operation this sensitive would almost certainly have required a US sign-off.

More Show less

Joe Biden has had one of the longest political careers in American history, but his most important act is yet to come. Can decades of experience in Washington prepare him to lead the most divided America since the end of the Civil War?

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe


Ethiopia on the brink: After ethnic tensions between Ethiopia's federal government and separatist forces in the northern Tigray region erupted into a full-blown armed conflict in recent weeks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced his forces had taken control of Tigray's capital on Saturday and declared victory. But the fugitive Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael quickly called Abiy's bluff, saying the fighting is raging on, and demanded Abiy withdraw his forces. Gebremichael accused Abiy of launching "a genocidal campaign" that has displaced 1 million people, with thousands fleeing to neighboring Sudan, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. The Tigray, who make up about five percent of Ethiopia's population, are fighting for self-determination, but Abiy's government has repeatedly rejected invitations to discuss the issue, accusing the coalition led by Gebremichael's Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of "instigating clashes along ethnic and religious lines." As the two sides dig in their heels, Ethiopia faces the risk of a civil war that could threaten the stability of the entire Horn of Africa.

More Show less

110: At least 110 people were killed in Nigeria's conflict-ridden Borno state on Saturday, when armed men attacked agricultural workers as they tended their fields. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the brutal attack, but analysts say the assault was likely the work of Boko Haram or Islamic State-linked groups that have gained a foothold in the Sahel region in recent years.

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

Your move, Iran