What We're Watching &What We're Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

DRC ELECTION DRAMA Opposition leader Martin Fayulu has, with the support of the local Catholic church and several Western governments, appealed to the country's Constitutional Court to nullify the official results of the 30 December election, which authorities say was won by Felix Tshisekedi, another opposition figure. The court could confirm the results, order a recount, or order new elections. Aside from the dangers of further political upheaval in a country long wracked by instability, global health experts are worried that the election uncertainty will complicate efforts to fight a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus.


Canada vs China – Relations between China and Canada took a turn for the worse yesterday after a Chinese court sentenced a Canadian man to death for attempting to smuggle drugs out of China. The verdict hastily handed down on Robert Schellenberg comes against the backdrop of Canada's arrest in December of Meng Wanzhou, a top executive of Chinese technology giant Huawei at the request of the US. With Ms. Meng now out on bail awaiting an extradition hearing, the families of Mr. Schellenberg and two other Canadian citizens detained by China fear that these men could be become pawns in a broader diplomatic fight between China and the West. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has no good options – any hint of clemency to Ms. Meng, who was arrested at the request of the US, risks infuriating Washington. But can he stand by as China executes one of his citizens?

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Questions about whether Donald Trump "worked for Russia" – The New York Times and Washington Post have recently published stories that say, respectively, that the FBI last year looked into whether the US President was doing Moscow's bidding, and that Mr. Trump had sought to conceal the US translator's notes from his one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. In the days since, journalists have been asking Mr. Trump if he "worked for Russia." After initially skirting the question on FOX, he flatly denied the allegation to the White House press corps. We are ignoring this question, as well as Mr. Trump's answers, and waiting for the findings of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation.

Justin Trudeau's Afghan doppelgänger – Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a man of many talents. He explains quantum physics. He boxes. He dances to Bhangra music in India. He runs a country so nice it's almost worthy of parody. But wait, does he also sing in fluent Dari and Pashto on television in Afghanistan? We too were fooled for a second when we saw the lyrical stylings of Afghan wedding singer Salam Maftoon, who bears an uncanny (like, really really crazy) resemblance to Mr. Trudeau. Attention to Mr. Maftoon's Trudeau-likeness has evidently boosted his chances of winning a popular TV singing contest, Afghan Star, by "50 percent." As an increasingly embattled Trudeau heads into elections later this year, he'd presumably be grateful for anything Mr. Maftoon can do to return the favor. But we are ignoring this because there is already a life-sized Justin Trudeau cutout, for whatever reason, in our office so we don't need another doppelgänger to keep track of.

We pay little attention to the waves of the sea, yet they are the greatest unused source of renewable energy in the world. Meet ISWEC and Power Buoy, two interesting new technologies used to harness this energy. Learn more about the extraordinary power of waves in this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series, where we investigate interesting facts and trends about energy.

Ukraine is once again in a tough spot.

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2.8 billion: Chinese regulators fined e-commerce giant Alibaba a record $2.8 billion — about four percent of its 2019 revenue — for abusing its dominant market position and forcing merchants to operate exclusively on its platform. Alibaba founder Jack Ma has fallen out with Beijing in recent months after the billionaire publicly criticized China's regulators for stifling innovation in technology.

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Vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens before the rest of the world, has been effective for rich nations like the United States and Israel. But leaving behind so much of the global population isn't just a humanitarian issue. It could prolong the pandemic, according to the World Health Organization's Chief Scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, who argues that what the global vaccination effort most urgently lacks are doses, not dollars. In a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, she calls for a large increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and suggests we may be seeing alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

Listen: Soumya Swaminathan calls for a massive increase in the global vaccine supply in order to prevent the rise of more dangerous and vaccine-evading super-variants, in a wide-ranging interview with Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast. Dr. Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, argues that vaccine nationalism, where countries prioritize their own citizens ahead of the rest of the world, will only prolong the pandemic because a virus does not stop at any national border. She also weighs in on a controversial new WHO report investigating the origins of COVID-19 and discusses when she thinks the world's children should get vaccinated. In addition, she suggests we may see alternative vaccine forms, like nasal sprays, sooner than we think.

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.

India, the world's third largest emitter of carbon dioxide, is one of the countries worst affected by climate change. But it takes issue with those now asking it to clean up its act. Why, the Indians ask, should we give up our right to get rich by burning fossil fuels like you developed economies have done for generations?

That's precisely the message that India's energy minister had for the US and other wealthy nations at a recent Zoom summit after they pressured Delhi to set a future deadline for net zero emissions. For India, he explained, such targets are "pie in the sky" aspirations that do little to address the climate crisis the country faces right now.

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The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics are nearly a year away, but discussion of a potential boycott is already stoking tensions on both sides of the US-China relationship. Officials in Washington and other Western capitals are coming under mounting pressure from activists to respond to human rights abuses in China. An increasingly assertive Beijing, meanwhile, vigorously rejects any foreign criticism of what it regards as internal issues.

The last time the US boycotted an Olympics was in 1980, when it withdrew from the Summer Olympics in Moscow to protest the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan. Four years later, the Soviet Union repaid in kind by skipping the Games in Los Angeles. Would the US and its allies do something like that again? And how might China respond? Eurasia Group analysts Neil Thomas and Allison Sherlock explain the drivers of the boycott movement and its possible fallout.

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In two weeks, US President Joe Biden will be hosting an online "climate summit" to mark Earth Day. He'll ask China and India to sign up to America's ambitious new plan to slow down climate change. Will they go for it? China is the world's largest polluter, but Beijing is rolling out solar and wind power as fast as it's burning coal. India, meanwhile, is loathe to pick up the slack for rich countries that polluted their way to wealth and now want everyone else to agree to emissions cuts. No matter what happens, any successful plan to reduce global emissions will require buy-in from these three nations which, along with the European Union, account for almost 60 percent of global carbon dioxide emissions nowadays. Here's a look at emissions by the world's top polluters compared to everyone else over the last two decades.

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