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- 🌍 Davos recap
🌍 Davos recap
Plus: Mapping global elections
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Netanyahu rejects calls for a Palestinian state. The Israeli Prime Minister has publicly dismissed US calls to start working towards a Palestinian state, saying “Israel needs security control of all territory west of the Jordan [River]”. The White House later said bluntly that there would be “no reoccupation of Gaza”.
US passes stopgap spending bill. The legislation, passed yesterday (Thursday), averts a partial government shutdown today and will keep the federal government’s lights on until March. With the most pressing financial matters now resolved or deferred, congressional leaders are hoping to resume negotiations over continued aid to Ukraine.
Houthis promise safe passage for Chinese, Russian ships. Talking to Russian media, a senior Houthi has insisted vessels from countries without links to Israel will be safe from Houthi attacks. Several ships that seem to fit that description have still been targeted in recent weeks. Meanwhile, US President Biden told reporters, “are [airstrikes] stopping the Houthis? No. Are they going to continue? Yes.”
NATO to hold biggest drills since Cold War. The exercise - involving 50 ships, 80 aircraft, 1,100 combat vehicles, and 90,000 troops - will focus on rehearsing US reinforcements in case of a Russian attack on Europe. The drill is due to begin next week and will run through May.
We went to Davos, and here’s what happened
Pictures from our co-founder Helen Zhang from L to R: WEF registration, the Swiss mountains, Zelensky’s sniper detail (on the roof), and Helen.
Didn’t have a lazy $25k to attend this year’s World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos? We’ve got you covered, dear Intriguer. Our very own Helen Zhang scored an invite and has spent the last week in the Swiss ski resort surrounded by CEOs, world leaders, hangers-on, and oh, snipers. Lots of snipers.
Here are some of the highlights:
Zelensky shuts the place down
Unsurprisingly, the Ukrainian president doesn’t mess around when it comes to his security, and flooded the town with bodyguards during his first in-person Davos appearance.
He used his keynote speech on Tuesday to pitch his peace plan, push for more sanctions on Russia, and encourage investment in rebuilding Ukraine, urging that by “strengthening our economy… we will strengthen your security.” He made no appeal for weaponry, and ended up receiving a big standing ovation.
Zelensky also met world leaders, but was reportedly snubbed by Chinese Premier Li Qiang.
Inflation is still a worry
While price rises are cooling, ‘caution’ was still the word of the week. IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva summed up the prevailing wisdom: “Central banks should not tighten prematurely because then they may lose the victory that is now in their hands”. We did a deep dive (or at least a snorkel?) on Wednesday.
Iran's foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian also attended this year’s WEF forum and told attendees, “all the fronts will remain active” until Israel ceases its offensive in Gaza. We did a deep dive (or at least a wade?) into Iran yesterday.
Premier Li Qiang captained his country’s largest official Davos delegation in years, putting into practice the Communist Party’s recent exhortation to "sing the praises of the bright prospects of the Chinese economy.”
He recycled many of last year’s talking points (i.e. that China is open for business), seeking to turn the tide after spooked investors saw the country record its first net investment outflow in history last year.
AI and climate change
Almost every panel at WEF centred on artificial intelligence (AI) and climate change. This ranged from using AI to solve stubborn scientific problems (e.g. making nuclear fusion a viable and safe source of energy) to redistributing climate finance where it’s needed most (hot tip - it’s not carbon capture).
Milei dunks on socialism
The newly-elected Argentinian president unleashed his famous rhetorical fervour on Wednesday, telling attendees that the Western world is in danger and that embracing free trade capitalism is the only solution to poverty. He also met IMF Chief Kristalina Georgieva, who described the talks as “very good”. She’s from Bulgaria, where “very good” is as good as it gets.
Oh, and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was briefly stranded in Switzerland after his plane (a Boeing 😧) broke down.
Did we mention all the snipers?
This was my first stint at Davos, and I can definitely understand the criticism around its elitist vibes. There was a ‘billionaires party’ last night, which was exactly what it sounds like. An Intriguer on the guest list told me that heads of state, major CEOs, royals, and A-list celebs were hitting the dance floor, with at least one of them doing the sprinkler.
That being said, there’s something genuinely special about this place. First, I mean… where else does will.i.am perform one night and then roll onto a panel the next morning to chat about his AI edtech start-up, all fresh as a daisy.
But second, where else do you get so many different nodes of influence in one block - world leaders, investors, inventors, reformers, creative types. Sure, it explains why folks pay truckloads of cash to attend each year, and it’s pure rocket fuel for WEF conspiracy theories.
And yet, I’ve also met enough genuinely innovative, decent, and impressive people here to feel that, for all its flaws, Davos can still help make good things happen.
Also worth noting:
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan instructed officials to skip this year’s Davos summit over the WEF’s stance on Israel-Hamas.
🇯🇵 Japan: Japan hopes to become the fifth country to put a spacecraft on the moon this morning (Friday night Tokyo time), as its space agency tries to land a high-precision ‘moon sniper’. If successful, it’ll be a boost for Japan’s space programme, which has been outshone by rival China.
🇪🇪 Estonia: Estonia is kicking out the local head of the Russian Orthodox Church, describing his repeated pro-Kremlin statements as “incompatible with Estonia’s values and legal environment”. There have been reports of Moscow conducting espionage via sympathetic clergy.
🇮🇳 India: Netflix has pulled an Indian-made film from its platform worldwide after a backlash in India. Hard-line Hindu groups objected to the film’s depiction both of a deity, and of a member of a traditionally vegetarian caste cooking and eating meat.
🇬🇹 Guatemala: Washington has barred former president Giammetti from entering the US on allegations of “significant corruption”, just days after he finished his term in office. He was replaced Monday by diplomat turned anti-corruption figure, Bernardo Arévalo.
🇮🇷 Iran: Reuters is reporting that Iran-backed Hezbollah has rejected US ideas to cool border tensions with Israel. The Lebanon-based group, often listed as terrorists in the West, says it’ll fire rockets at Israel until there’s a full ceasefire in Gaza, but it also seems wary of a wider war.
Some weekend recommendations if you find yourself in 🇰🇪 Nairobi
Nature: Visit the Nairobi National Park for a chance to see some wildlife in the world’s only national park within city limits (downtown is just 7km away).
Culture: Wander through the Nairobi National Museum and lose yourself in the country’s remarkable history.
Coffee: Stop by Le Grenier in Nairobi’s Parklands neighbourhood for a spacious bakery experience, popular with the city’s thriving start-up scene.
Have some recommendations for Intriguers visiting your city? Write in with your favourite weekend hangouts!
MAP OF THE DAY
Credits: Anchor Change.
Everybody keeps saying 2024 is the election year, but it doesn’t quite hit home until you see it on a map. At least 24 countries plus the EU will hold elections this year, meaning more than half of the world’s population will be able to vote.
Curious about what’s in store for next year’s election season? You can check out more interactive electoral maps at Anchor Change.
Switzerland is much more than just Davos!
1) How many national languages does Switzerland have?
2) Switzerland has the world's longest...
3) Which of the following do all citizens need to have access to by law?