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What We're Watching & What We're Ignoring


Theresa May's Next Gambit – After the historic defeat of her Brexit bill almost a month ago, the British prime minister has been scrambling to come up with a new plan. Yesterday, she delivered an update to the House of Commons on her efforts to renegotiate with the European Union, which have, somewhat predictably, proven fruitless. For now, May is playing a high-stakes game of chicken, hoping the EU will make concessions to assuages hardline Brexiteers at home before the March 29 exit date. But she could also quickly pivot toward a much softer stance, opting to maintain close UK-EU trade relations, if it presents the only clear way forward. We're watching to see how the UK prime minister plays her next big move.

Ivan Duque at the White House – Colombia's president will meet Donald Trump in Washington tomorrow, and Venezuela is top of the agenda. No country is more affected by Venezuela's meltdown than neighboring Colombia, which has already absorbed over a million refugees. The US has staged humanitarian aid for Venezuela in Colombia, but National Security adviser John Bolton's recently revealed chicken scratches about "5,000 soldiers to Colombia" has raised the prospect that something more serious is afoot. Duque and Trump will also discuss the contentious case of Jesus Santrich, a prominent FARC militant and drug trafficker whom Washington wants Bogota to extradite. The catch? Extraditing the notorious guerilla leader might violate the terms of Colombia's 2016 peace deal with the FARC.


India's Highly Sped Up Trains – Over the weekend, India's railway minister tweeted out a video showing the country's "first semi-high speed train…zooming past at lightening [sic] speed." The Vande Bharat Express has reportedly exceeded 180 kilometers per hour in tests. That's way below the 250-plus kilometers per hour achieved by the world's most advanced high speed rail lines, but it's a step forward for India's clunky rail service. Still, we're ignoring this attempt to burnish India's industrial development credentials, because the video appears to have been doctored to show the train moving at double the speed of the original footage.

Europe's Weltpolitikfähigkeitsverlustvermeidungsstrategie – For those in the back, that's German for a "strategy to prevent the loss of the capability to shape world affairs." We're ignoring this made up word, coined by the British historian Timothy Garton Ash at a kickoff event for the upcoming Munich Security Conference. Yes, the world order is disintegrating. No, we don't know who will pick up the pieces. Sure, Brexit will diminish the ability of both the UK and the EU to shape world affairs. But you try saying Weltpolitikfähigkeitsverlustvermeidungsstrategie three times fast. Bet you can't.

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.

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 Tsar 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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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shocked the world last year when he recovered from an attempted assassination plot by poisoning — an attempt that bore all the fingerprints of Russian government. Then he shocked the world again by returning to Russia and timing that return with the release of an hours-long documentary that catalogued the Putin regime's extensive history of corruption. Virtually no one, therefore, was shocked when he was immediately sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and expert on authoritarian regimes, believes there was a method to Navalny's madness. "His decision of '….I'm going to do something that harms me personally, but is going to be a lesson for Russians. I'm going teach a generation of Russians how to be brave.' I mean, not very many people would have the guts to do that."

Applebaum's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television stations nationwide starting Friday, March 5. Check local listings.

It's not like things are going well in Mexico.

COVID has killed more people there than in any country except the United States and Brazil. Just 2 percent of Mexicans have gotten a first vaccine jab, compared with nearly 24 in the US. The Biden administration made clear this week that it won't send vaccines to its southern neighbor until many more Americans have been vaccinated. Mexico's government has cut deals for doses from China, Russia, and India.

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A body blow for Pakistan's Prime Minister: Imran Khan suffered an embarrassing defeat this week when members of the National Assembly, the country's lower house, voted to give the opposition bloc a majority in the Senate. (In Pakistan, lower house legislators and provincial assemblies elect senators in a secret ballot.) The big drama of it all is that Khan's own Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party holds a lower house majority, which means that lawmakers supposedly loyal to his party voted in secret for opposition candidates. Khan's allies claim that PTI members were bribed to support the opposition, and the prime minister says he will ask for a lower house vote of confidence in his leadership. That vote will not be secret, but even if he survives, the political damage is done. Without a Senate majority, he has no chance of passing key reform plans, including constitutional amendments meant to centralize financial and administrative control in the federal government. Khan has, however, refused to resign.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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