What We're Watching & What We're Ignoring

What We're Watching

The stock market It's been a rough month on Wall Street, with US stocks on track for their worst December performance since 1931. Here's why it matters, politically: President Trump is right when he says he has presided over one of the strongest US economies in recent memory.


Even the most committed partisans can't really quibble with the numbers. And yet, the president's party just lost 40 seats in the House. Trump himself remains also fairly unpopular heading into the 2020 campaign season, with fewer than 43 percent of Americans approving of his job performance. What happens if the economy starts to slump?

The rule of law in Poland – Poland's right-wing president, Andrzej Duda, formally reinstated around a third of the country's supreme court judges who had been forced into early retirement after the ruling Law and Justice party passed a law lowering the mandatory retirement age. The move came hours ahead of a deadline to comply with an October order from Europe's high court to scrap the law, which was seen by critics as an attempt to wipe out judicial independence and cement the ruling party's control over the bench. It is an important reversal and suggests Poland's nationalist see a need to ease confrontation with the EU ahead of European parliamentary elections and national elections next year.

What We're Ignoring

Russian internet trolls – A pair of reports published by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on Monday painted a grim picture of foreign trolls run amok on social media during the 2016 US presidential election, including evidence of a sustained campaign to discourage African American voters from showing up at the polls. Documenting misinformation is important. But it's only a first step in addressing the more fundamental challenge facing democracies that are committed to both free speech and an open internet: figuring out how to get voters of all political stripes to think twice before reading, passing along, and acting on the information trolls promote.

America's growing cheese stockpiles – US cheese reserves are hitting new records – with 1.4 billion pounds socked away in cold storage as of the last count. It's partly due to Americans consuming more fancy foreign fromage, but experts say Mexican and Chinese tariffs on US cheddar and American cheese are also to blame. Fortunately, the holidays are here, and quick back-of-the envelope calculation shows that the current surplus amounts to a mere 5 pounds of cheese for every man, woman, and child in the United States. I, for one, will be doing my best to make a dent. Come on, America: you've got this.

Okuafo Pa means good farmer in the Twi language of West Africa. Hence, the naming of the project reflects the value of good farming and the rewards it brings to the people of Ghana. The Okuafo Pa Project will support Ghana's sustainable development by promoting socio-economic growth and sustainable business models.

Watch to learn how Eni is helping youth to develop agricultural knowledge and skills.

Iranians head to the polls on Friday to vote for president, and it appears a foregone conclusion that hardliner Ebrahim Raisi, the nation's top judge, will win.

Outsiders, and many Iranians, roll their eyes at the predictability of this vote. Iran's Guardian Council, a dozen clerics and judges who answer only to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has cleared the field for Raisi by ruling all of his credible challengers ineligible. The fix is in, and Iranians are now preparing for a moment when anti-reform conservatives, those who oppose social change inside Iran and deeper engagement with the West, will for the first time ever control the country's presidency, parliament, courts, and much of the media.

But simmering beneath the cynicism and predictability of this event is a deepening anxiety over Iran's future as it enters a potentially momentous period in the Islamic Republic's 42-year history. The Supreme Leader, in power for 32 years, is now 82 years old. Very few people know the true state of his health. Even if he outlives Raisi's presidency, which could last four or eight years, preparations for a historic, uncertain, and potentially dangerous leadership transition will intensify soon.

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Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

After Biden's first visit, do his European allies feel that America is back?

I think they do. Wasn't particularly surprising, we've heard that message before. But now it was, sort of more concrete issues. I'm not certain there was, sort of major, major, major progress. But there was the beginning of a dialogue on trade and technology issues with Europe, clearly on security issues with NATO, and quite a number of other issues with G7, and general satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting with Putin. So, altogether good.

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Listen: Former US Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder weighs in on US President Joe Biden's first trip abroad, which included a very important first stop at the G7 summit in the United Kingdom, and the way forward for the US and its closest friends. Did he convince allies that "America is back" and ready to resume its leadership role in global affairs? And if so, does it even matter if Americans still need to be convinced that US engagement in the world is vital? Daalder speaks with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent policy developments:

With the Supreme Court's recent decision, is the Affordable Care Act here to stay?

Yes, this was the Court's third ruling on the Affordable Care Act upholding its constitutionality. This challenge was brought by Republican attorneys general who argued that the repeal of the individual mandate tax undermined the court's previous justification for allowing the law to stand. They were unsuccessful, yet again. And the political salience of the Affordable Care Act has really diminished in the last several years, with Republicans moving on to fight other issues and the Court signaling very strongly they don't want to get involved in overturning this piece of legislation. The Affordable Care Act will be here at least until Congress wants to legislate on it again.

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Iranians head to the polls on June 18, in what's widely perceived to be a foregone outcome. Analysts predict that popular disillusionment with Iran's political class will make this one of the lowest turnout elections in Iran's post-revolution history. According to one poll taken by the Iranian Students Polling Agency, as few as 42 percent of the eligible voting population is expected to show up. We take a look at contemporary Iran's demographics, and how this year's vote turnout might compare to previous elections.

Latin America needs vaccines: The World Health Organization has called on the G7 countries that pledged to donate a billion COVID vaccine doses to the developing world to prioritize Latin America, with WHO officials pointing to the fact that out of the top 10 countries with the highest COVID death tolls per capita over the past week, nine are in Latin America, where many health systems are overstretched and vaccines are scarce. This call comes as Latin America's COVID death toll has surpassed 1 million. Cases and deaths are soaring in Argentina and Colombia, for instance, while Brazil has fully vaccinated just 11 percent of its population despite recording the world's second highest death toll. Even Chile, which has carried out Latin America's most successful vaccination campaign to date, has been forced to delay reopening due to a recent surge in infections among unvaccinated younger people. The WHO says prioritizing the region for vaccine donations makes sense in order to stop large sustained outbreaks that may spur potentially more infectious COVID variants that'll cross borders and wreak havoc in populous states. Most of the donated shots will be distributed through the COVAX facility, which is a problem for countries like Venezuela, shut out from COVAX because of payment problems.

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3: China has launched three astronauts into orbit in its first space mission since 2016. The astronauts will spend three months aboard the country's new space station, demonstrating China's resolve to become a space power following successful earlier missions to collect soil samples on the Moon and land a wheeled robot on Mars.

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GZERO World Podcast

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