The World in a Flash
The Round-Up this week shakes its head at the hot, disordered mess that is our world at the moment. It includes two elections with issues, a forum with some global health implications, another candidate for the Conservative leadership race in Canada, some terrifyingly warm weather, and the panic of two British banks as they realize Brexit might suck.
The Trump Era Begins
As trump is sworn in, there is much to unpack and likely more to come. Trump has been throwing week long cash for access parties in his ramp up to inauguration. The price tag to get into ‘fortress Washington’ on the day of the inauguration is at its cheapest a staggering $25,000, even though there is a severe lack of A-list talent. Further, while artists don’t usually get paid to perform at inaugurations the price tag is still the greatest in history at $200 million with the majority of that going to security. Roughly $100 million of that will be paid with public funds. Police estimate that roughly 900,000 people – supporters and protesters – will flood the city. Further, there are protests scheduled around the world. The hard work of governing Trump promised to do on ‘his first day’ will have to wait for Monday as he does not want to confuse the celebration with work.
The Gambia: Updates
The tiny West African country of The Gambia has been through all kinds of drama this week. Though former-but-also-current President Yahya Jammeh has been given another 3 months in power by the National Assembly, ECOWAS, the AU, and the UN have all thrown their weight behind the declared winner of the election, Adama Barrow. The judiciary in The Gambia, which ruled on Jammeh’s electoral challenge, has previously come under fire amid accusations that their independence has been eroded because of politicization and patronization, which isn’t hard to believe, given Jammeh’s habit of going full dictator with it. Jammeh has raised the issue of national sovereignty; his determination that he is still the legitimate President would make his forcible removal by Senegalese troops under the auspices of ECOWAS a violation of international law. He has stated that any military intervention would be regarded as an act of war and has vowed to defend the country. Ignoring his opinion, Barrow was sworn in, in Senegal, early Thursday as the new President of The Gambia. Jammeh has been given until noon on Friday, January 20 to cede power or be forced from office, and there have been conflicting reports of which side of the fence the Gambian military forces stand on, mainly due to the fact that promotion within the armed forces has largely been based on loyalty to the probably-outgoing President. At only 2,500 strong it is unlikely they could pose a legitimate threat to the UNSC-backed regional forces, but the armed forces, or a subset of them, could still do a lot of damage to the institution of democracy on their way out. Kind of like Jammeh is managing to do right now. The President of Guinea, Alpha Conde, is also apparently leading mediation talks which are due on Friday morning, though those haven’t really been going well.
World Economic Forum 2017
This week the ‘glitterati’ assembled at the Davos Congress Center in Switzerland to discuss recent global events and highlight the most important issues in business are moving forward. The top hot-button issues: the looming spectre of the Trump presidency, China’s rise as a proponent of free trade, and Brexit. Among the usual liberal cosmopolitan rhetoric and cocktail parties, a group of governments and charities showed up to ask funders for $500 million (on top of the $460 million they’ve already committed) to start creating experimental vaccines for three diseases they believe will cause the next global health emergency. The candidates for curing? MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), Lassa fever, and Nipah virus. All three targets were first identified in developing countries, and the focus on them stems from the recent outbreaks of the Zika virus and Ebola. Other interesting tidbits about the WEF 2017: the population of Davos rose by 19,000, over 50 world leaders were in attendance, and only 20% of the crowd was female. Also, hardly anyone skis.
One More in Canada’s Tory Leadership Race
The Conservative Party leadership race is heating up as Canadian business magnate and reality television star Kevin O’Leary has entered the leadership race. Currently, there are 13 others in the running for the position left after Stephen Harper resigned following the 2015 election loss. Obviously, many are drawing parallels with businessman/reality star that was elected south of the border. However, his platform does not seem as extreme or alt-right-leaning as Trump’s. In addition to outlining his fiscal plan, he said he considers himself a feminist who supports LGBT rights, access to abortion, the legalization of marijuana and assisted suicide.
2016: Hottest Year On Record
For the third straight year, according to NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA), we have experienced the hottest year on record. It is also the 40th consecutive year with a global average temperature greater than the average of the 20th century. The last time the earth experienced a record cold year was in 1911. This news has only heightened the worry of climate scientists who see the inauguration of Trump as a roadblock to further research and latitude for climate scientists. Some have pointed to this being an El Nino year as contributing to the warming, but scientists are adamant that it has been a fairly weak El Nino and does not negate the warming trend.
UK Banks Considering their (Br)exit Strategy
Following PM May’s speech on Tuesday, many financial institutions with large bases in London have some more clarity regarding Brexit and what they may need to do. May said that the UK cannot possibly remain within the single market and still hope to impose the controls on the movement of people it desires. Two banks have already confirmed that some of its staff will move out of the country following Brexit: HSBC and UBS. The expected amount of positions/staff that will be moved are estimated in the thousands. However, May has claimed that she will work to create a more global Britain, or maybe even create an economy with an enviably low tax rate. Most banks are probably waiting until more details emerge.