What We're Watching & What We're Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

US nuclear tech for Saudis? A new report from a congressional oversight committee charges that senior White House officials have pushed a plan to share nuclear technology with Saudi Arabia over the objections of key national security advisors. Any such deal with the Saudis appears to violate US law. On the surface, this is just one more front in the widening and intensifying battle between the White House and Democratic lawmakers, but proliferation experts warn that sharing this tech with the Saudis could create a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

Israeli elections Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu's road to reelection just got a bit tougher. Former army chief Benny Gantz and centrist TV reporter-turned-politician Yair Lapid formed an alliance this week to challenge Bibi's Likud-led alliance in national elections set for April 9. Gantz and Lapid say they'll rotate as prime minister if they win. Netanyahu, meanwhile, has partnered with the far-right Jewish Home party and the extremist Jewish Power party to boost his electoral strength. In the background, the Israeli attorney general is considering whether to accept a police recommendation to indict Netanyahu on fraud and bribery charges.



Gifts fit for a prince – During his visit to Pakistan this week, a group of local lawmakers presented Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with a gold-plated submachine gun and a portrait of himself. #CharmOffensive

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

The Very Latest in Fake News – Meet Xin Xiaomeng, which we believe is the world's first AI news anchor. China's state news outlet Xinhua has announced it has partnered with search engine company Sogou to create this "product." Xin will make its debut early next month. Because the world needs less human accountability in its journalism.

The Oscars – The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be handing out trophies this Sunday. But for the best in film from the past year, skip the red carpet and TV blah blah blah and head straight for a movie theatre near you. Your Friday author humbly submits two films for your consideration: Alfonso Cuarón's Roma (surpasses the considerable hype) and Hirokazu Kore-eda's Shoplifters (a rare gem). Both are films about unconventional families, and both are brilliant and beautiful. Or you can revisit some of the great work of recently departed master actors Albert Finney and Bruno Ganz.

A sector that's rapidly expanding, domotics - domus (home) plus robotics - are smart houses that manage temperature and lighting to minimize wasted electricity. For example, smart thermostats sense your presence and set the temperature according to your needs, saving 20% a year on heating bills. Watch this episode of Eni's Energy Shot series to learn how domotics save money and increase a home's value.

Even if the US, Europe, China, and India reduce carbon emissions at the rate they've promised, much climate damage has already been done. That shouldn't stop these and other countries from doing all they can to meet their net-zero emissions targets, but they also better start preparing for a world of people on the move.

Climate change will displace an unprecedented number of people in coming years, creating not just a series of humanitarian crises in many parts of the world, but lasting political, economic, and social upheaval as those of us who live on higher ground try to find a sustainable place for these climate refugees to live.

More Show less

When will it be safe for the world's children to be vaccinated against COVID-19? The World Health Organization's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, says that vaccines are being tested in children down to the age of six or even lower, and promises that data on children will be shared as soon as it's available. She also notes that there are not enough studies on transmission in schools, and the WHO has advised governments to prioritize schools "over other things like shopping malls or cinema halls or pubs." Dr. Swaminathan spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Over the past half century, climate change has had an immense impact on the farmers who produce the food we eat. A new study by Cornell University shows that global warming has knocked 21 percent off of global agriculture productivity growth since 1965, equivalent to seven years of normal growth if humans had not polluted the planet. But not all countries have been affected in the same say. Farmers in warmer parts of the world have been hit hard as conditions grow more arid, but sub-polar regions in Canada or Siberia are now actually better for agriculture because they are not as cold as they used to be. Here we take a look at how climate has affected farming productivity growth around the world.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

More Show less

A Castro-less Cuba: Raúl Castro, younger brother of the late Fidel, is expected to retire on Friday as secretary-general of Cuba's ruling communist party. When he does, it'll mark the first time since the 1959 revolution that none of Cuba's leaders is named Castro. The development is largely symbolic since Castro, 89, handed over day-to-day affairs to President Miguel Díaz-Canel in 2018. It's worth noting that US sanctions laws do specify that one of the conditions for normalizing ties with Cuba is that any transitional government there cannot include either of the Castro brothers. So that's one less box to tick in case there is a future rapprochement across the Straits of Florida. But more immediately, we're watching to see whether a new generation of leaders headed by Díaz-Canel will bring any serious reforms to Cuba. COVID has killed the tourism industry, plunging the island into an economic crisis that's brought back food shortages and dollar stores reminiscent of the early 1990s.

More Show less

16: Brazil's new plan to save the Amazon promises to curb deforestation, but not too much. Although it would reduce annual forest loss to the average recorded over the past five years, next year's target is still 16 percent higher than the Amazon's total deforestation in 2018, the year before President Jair Bolsonaro — who favors economic development of the rainforest — took office.

More Show less

Should the Biden administration "reverse course on China" in the hope of establishing a friendlier relationship, as diplomat Kishore Mahbubani argues in a recent Financial Times op-ed? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Michael Hirson take out the Red Pen to explain why it's not that simple.

And today, we are talking about the United States and China. The relationship between the two most powerful nations in the world is the worst it's been since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Pundits and policymakers alike all around the world are trying to figure out how Washington and Beijing can at least stop the bleeding because a reset is nowhere in the cards.

That's the topic of the op-ed that we are looking at today. It's from the Financial Times, written by Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani, and the title summarizes the key argument: "Biden should summon the courage to reverse course on China." Meaning, he should throw out the Trump era approach and open the door to more cooperation and kinder, gentler relations.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal