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What We're Watching & What We're Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Fresh violence in Kashmir – A suicide attack yesterday on a convoy carrying Indian police officers in Indian-administered northern state of Jammu and Kashmir has killed at least 42 people. The attack by the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed is the deadliest local attack in decades and could spark a fresh cycle of violence between India and Pakistan, who both claim the region is rightfully theirs. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi quickly pledged to retaliate, and the Indian response could include cross-border shelling or even a more daring surgical strike against militants in Pakistan. More broadly, prospects for a lasting peace agreement in Jammu and Kashmir – once believed to be more likely with the election of Imran Khan in Pakistan last year – now seem more distant again.


Donald Trump's veto pen – The House of Representatives voted this week to cut most US funding for Saudi Arabia's military operations in Yemen, setting up a potential showdown with President Trump. The resolution now moves to the Senate, which passed a similar measure last year after the Saudi government's murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi drew attention to the kingdom's destructive involvement in Yemen's civil war and resulting humanitarian crisis. If the Senate gives the green light, President Trump will have to decide whether to use the first veto of his presidency in order to protect Washington's long-standing but controversial relationship with Riyadh.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

The end of "The Philippines" – The famously blunt-spoken Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte wants to scrap his country's current name in favor of "Maharlika," a term that refers to the warrior class that ruled the islands before Spanish King Felipe II's explorers colonized the islands and named them for him (Felipe -> Filipinas = mind blown). The nationalistic name change idea isn't new. In the 1980s, Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whom Duterte admires, pushed the idea. But we are ignoring it because polls in the past have shown little popular interest in the idea. Plus, it takes a lot for a name change to stick. We haven't heard any one calling Czech Republic "Czechia", eSwatiniis still Swaziland to most, and you are definitely a sucker out-of-towner if you refer to New York's Triboro Bridge as "RFK Bridge."

Israeli translation corrections – Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu caused a stir when he told a reporter that the Middle East peace conference he was attending in Poland was actually about forming a coalition to go to war with Iran. While his office quickly softened the official translation afterwards, it appears that Bibi really did say "war." Given that Bibi has always been extremely, and even comically, hawkish on Iran, we are ignoring the revised translation

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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