What We're Watching & What We're Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

US-EU trade talks – Last summer, President Trump committed to slowing escalating trade measures against the EU in return for a deal to lower European subsidies on agricultural goods and protections for the automotive industry. But EU negotiators now want to exclude Europe's massive agricultural subsidies and other farmer-friendly policies in an upcoming round of talks. That jars with the goals of the US, and issues like labelling genetically-modified foods and the free flow of data are also likely to prove contentious. We're watching this, because failed trade negotiations could quickly lead to a renewed fight between the US and EU.



Zimbabwe Deadly protests erupted in Zimbabwe this week as police cracked down on demonstrators who burned tires and blocked roads to vent their fury at a surprise hike in fuel prices. Raising fuel prices is always controversial – just ask French President Emmanuel Macron. But in Zimbabwe, people have additional reasons to be upset. The fuel shortages are indicative of deeper economic woes. Zimbabwe was forced to abandon its currency and adopt the US dollar during the ruinous reign of Robert Mugabe, whom the current president, Emmerson Mnagawa (known as "The Crocodile"), ousted a little over a year ago following a military coup. The change of power did little to fix the things — the unemployment rate is 80 percent, and Zimbabwe isn't producing enough hard currency to pay for its imports. The Crocodile may be in charge, but he hasn't managed to escape Mugabe's poisoned legacy.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

France's airing of grievances – Speaking of Macron, the French president has launched his latest attempt to break the gridlock of the gilets jaunes protests, now entering their tenth week: a three-month long national debate. Macron hopes that an airing of grievances in town halls across the nation will help "transform anger…into solutions." But the gilets jaunes are a leaderless movement venting anger at out-of-touch elites. They're unlikely to find common ground with Macron, a pro-business former investment banker who has already ruled out backtracking on controversial parts of his reform program. French King Louis XVI tried a similar approach in 1789, and it didn't end well for him. Macron was elected by voters who wanted someone – anyone – other than the bums in charge. Now he is the bum in charge.

The Venezuelan opposition – On Sunday, Venezuela's national intelligence service arrested Juan Guaido, president of the opposition-led legislature, and then quickly released him. This strange incident highlights the chaotic decision-making inside the Maduro regime, and it rallied international support behind an important opposition figure. But we're ignoring it simply because we don't see signs that Maduro's grip on power slipping anytime soon. Until the army decides it can no longer afford the economic devastation his government has created, Maduro will remain in power. He's helped by the fact that more than two million people who might otherwise be protesting in the streets have fled the country.

Ken Burns discusses Muhammad Ali's background and how the journey of boxing's greatest champion is just as relevant today—in sport, culture and beyond.

"He is speaking to us with a kind of force and clarity...that to me is just so enduring." - Ken Burns

No country in the Western Hemisphere is more closely associated with disaster and misery than the Caribbean nation of Haiti. Its latest upheaval centers on news that the country's top prosecutor wants Haiti's prime minister to answer questions about the murder of the president in July. Haiti is again locked in a power struggle among competing factions within its ruling elite.

Why is Haiti still so poor and disaster-prone?

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For Michael Chertoff, former US secretary of Homeland Security from 2005 to 2009, the fact that America has not experienced a single attack by foreign terrorists since 9/11 proves that the US was "successful" in its strategy to prevent terrorism. That "was not [an] accident and there was a deterrent effect to be honest — had we been lax, more would have tried." Although he admits the US government wasn't transparent enough about the intelligence it was collecting, Chertoff credits US intelligence agencies with helping to foil the plot to blow up airplanes mid-air from Heathrow to the US in 2006. The US mission in Iraq, or what came after was not clearly thought out, according to Michael Chertoff, who served as the Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security under George W. Bush. The Iraq war made it difficult to focus on the US mission in Afghanistan and absorbed resources that could have been used more effectively elsewhere, he said.

Watch the full episode: Is America safer since 9/11?

Listen: In a frank interview on the GZERO World podcast, António Guterres, the United Nations Secretary-General, speaks with Ian Bremmer at the UN ahead of the annual General Assembly week. Guterres discusses COVID, climate, the US-China rift, and the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, and does not mince words when it comes to the dire state of the world. "We are standing at the edge of an abyss," Guterres warns. COVID is "defeating" the global community and a climate catastrophe is all but assured without drastic action. Amidst this unprecedented peril, there remains a startling lack of trust among nations. And yet, there is still hope.

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.


"Men make history and not the other way around. In periods where there is no leadership, society stands still." — Harry S. Truman

The former US president's warning feels particularly prescient as world leaders prepare to gather at the 76th United National General Assembly in New York City, the first such in-person event in over 18 months. The importance of apt leadership in determining societies' ability to cope — and survive — has been on full display since COVID-19 enveloped the globe, decimating communities and killing some 4.5 million people.

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As the 76th UN General Assembly gets underway, dealing with the pandemic is still the top priority for world leaders. But for John Frank, vice president of UN Global Affairs at Microsoft, COVID is not the only major challenge the world faces today.

One of them — included in the UN Secretary-General's new Common Agenda for strong, inclusive pandemic recovery — is a different way to measure economic growth beyond the traditional productivity-led GDP model by taking more into account the cost of pollution, one of the main causes of climate change.

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For UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the pandemic has made the world even more divided than it was before COVID. That's especially true on climate, in his view, because rich and poor countries simply don't trust each other anymore. If we want COP26 to succeed, Guterres says we must rebuild that trust — or face the consequences of inaction. "If you are on the verge of an abyss, you must be careful about your next step." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

"Pandemic" was the most used word of 2020. "Delta" looks set to inherit this year's title.

Vaccination rates are ticking up slowly. Governments aren't talking to each other enough. Parts of the world are back to normal, while others are still locked down.

Have we actually made any progress since the COVID-19 outbreak?


Unfinished Business: Is the World Really Building Back Better?

Wednesday, September 22nd, 11am ET/ 8am PT

Our speakers:

Special appearance by António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

Visit gzeromedia.com/globalstage to watch on the day of the event.

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UNGA 76: Vaccines, climate, crises

Coronavirus

UN Chief: Still time to avert climate “abyss”

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