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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.

Pop quiz: what percentage of plastic currently gets recycled worldwide? Watch this video in Eni's Energy Shot series to find out and learn what needs to be done to prevent plastic from ending up in our oceans. Plastic is a precious resource that should be valued, not wasted.

Ten years ago this week, a powerful earthquake off the coast of eastern Japan triggered a tsunami that destroyed the Fukushima nuclear plant, resulting in the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. A decade and dozens of decommissioned reactors later, nuclear energy still supplies about 10 percent of global electricity, but its future remains uncertain amid post-Fukushima safety concerns.

As more countries pledge to curb emissions to mitigate climate change, nuclear could serve as a clean(ish) and reliable source of energy. But investing more in nuclear comes with tradeoffs.

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This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the czar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Welcome to your week, life looking better every day in the United States, coronavirus land. But I thought I'd talk about, this week, all of this cancel culture that everyone's talking about right now. If you're on the wrong political side, your opponents are trying to shut you down and you take massive umbrage. I see this everywhere, and it's starting to annoy.

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"Apocalyptic" protests in Senegal: At least five people have been killed in clashes with police as protests over poverty, unemployment, and the jailing of a popular politician rock the West African nation of Senegal. Ousmane Sonko, who heads the opposition Movement to Defend Democracy (M2D) and is considered the most viable challenger to current president Mackie Sall, was accused of rape in February and arrested last week. Sonko says the charges are a politically motivated attempt to remove him from politics before the 2024 presidential election. His supporters immediately hit the streets, voicing a range of grievances including joblessness and poverty. Though youth unemployment has fallen over the past decade, it still exceeds eight percent and close to two-thirds of the country's 16 million people are under the age of 25. As Sonko supporters pledge to continue protests this week, Senegal's head of conflict resolution says the country is "on the verge of apocalypse."

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