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What We’re Watching: Zuma in court, Ebola in the big city, and Italian neo-nazis

What We’re Watching: Zuma in court, Ebola in the big city, and Italian neo-nazis

Jacob Zuma on the witness stand — The 77-year-old former president of South Africa will be in court in Durban throughout the week to answer questions from a judge investigating endemic corruption, influence-peddling, and "state capture" by business interests during his tumultuous nine-year tenure. Zuma has denied any wrongdoing and says he's the victim of a "conspiracy." We're watching to see whether the ex-president uses his time on the stand to undermine his successor, Cyril Ramaphosa, who has been struggling to unite the ruling African National Congress since guiding the party to an election victory in May.

Ebola in the city — The second-worst outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever has reached a dangerous new milestone: On Sunday, the Democratic Republic of Congo's health ministry confirmed the first case of the disease in Goma, a city of 1 million inhabitants on the border with Rwanda that serves as a hub for people traveling throughout central Africa. While local authorities say the situation is under control, the presence of Ebola in a big city increases the risk that the disease could spread further. Nearly 2,500 people have been infected and more than 1,600 people have died in the current outbreak.

Heavily armed Italian neo-Nazis Italian police who launched a series of raids on a neo-Nazi group in the northern city of Turin on Monday seized a substantial arsenal of illicit weapons, including a French-made air-to-air missile that once belonged to the Qatari military. The raids were tied to a broader investigation into Italians who had fought alongside Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine. We are watching this as a grim illustration of the reach and (fire)power of transnational crime groups and non-state actors of all stripes.

What We're Ignoring

Saudi Arabia's allure for dissidents Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is making a fresh push to convince opponents of the Saudi regime to come home. One exile anonymously quoted by the Financial Times said a go-between had promised "there would be no harm or jail time" if they decided to return to the country and stop criticizing the government's human rights violations and lack of accountability. Nine months after dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi was murdered (as part of a plot in which the crown prince was allegedly involved), we doubt many of the young monarch's critics are buying it — and neither are we.

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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