Should Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin take a drug test? That’s the claim of one member of Parliament in the coalition supporting her. After — shock, horror! — the 36-year-old leader was filmed at a private party drinking and dancing.
Reality checks: What 30-something (or any other subscriber) reading this newsletter wouldn’t sympathize with Marin? Shouldn’t leaders be allowed to dance?
Germany’s double river drama: Not only is the Rhine practically dried up in parts, now firefighters have recovered 100 tons of dead fish from the Oder River that forms the border between much of Germany and Poland, indicating an environmental disaster, with no cause yet identified. Pile that on top of Germany’s first trade deficit in 30 years and its self-inflicted energy crisis and it’s all starting to feel very … Greek. Oh, the irony, of this coming the week Greece leaves its decade of bailout monitoring.
WHAT WASHINGTON THINKS OF LIZ TRUSS
She cultivates the image of a modern Margaret Thatcher, so it’s no wonder Liz Truss’ conservative allies in Washington adore her. But Democrats opposed to Brexit distrust her, and even British diplomats are divided.
The Georgetown set wonders about her intellectual capacity, despite a CV that includes a degree from Oxford and six different Cabinet roles by the age of 46. Global Insider and colleagues spoke to 19 people who’ve worked with or for Truss, and heard many different versions of Britain’s likely next PM. Read the full story here.
— Truss has a branding problem, given that no one can agree on what she’s really going to be like as leader, at a time when she needs bipartisan support in D.C. to achieve progress on a U.S.-U.K. trade deal.
— She isn’t afraid to ruffle feathers. Expect more bombast on Russia and China, but also on Brexit, which pits Truss’ conservative domestic base against the U.K.’s No.1 ally. “I have been very clear with people like Nancy Pelosi exactly what I think about this,” Truss said Wednesday.
— White House and State Department see her as a Boris Johnson loyalist, and symptomatic of a decline in the caliber of British leaders. Ouch.
“Regardless of who is in office in Downing Street, there can only be tensions between London and Washington,” over the Brexit Northern Ireland protocol issue, said Nile Gardiner, head of the Thatcher Center at Heritage Foundation.
Local workaround: The U.K. government signed its first state-level trade agreement with Indiana in May and wants to sign around six additional state agreements by the end of 2022, “and they’re trying to get 19 more,” said Cato Institute trade policy analyst Gabriella Beaumont-Smith.
POLITICO is now on Snapchat — watch my first show here, on the race to replace Boris Johnson.
U.K. ENERGY POVERTY SIDENOTE: If Truss wins the Conservative leadership and the keys to Downing Street, as expected, one of the first problems she will walk into is that two-thirds of U.K. households — 45 million people — will be trapped in fuel poverty (defined as when energy costs exceed 10 percent of household net income) by January. University of York researchers calculated that the fuel poverty figure will rise to 86 percent of pensioner couples.
G-20 — XI AND PUTIN BOTH ATTENDING: Presidents Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin are both planning to attend a G-20 summit in Bali this November,per Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Of course, Joe Biden will be there too.
CANADA — THE UNOFFICIAL GUIDE TO OLAF SCHOLZ’S VISIT: Germany’s Chancellor will be accompanied by Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck and a motley crew of CEOs, including from Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, for a three-day, three-province visit hosted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, also German, is expected to visit Canada in September.
POLITICO’s Zi-Ann Lum tells Global Insider that energy security is the recurring theme of the visit. There will be clean hydrogen and critical minerals stops — and an accord signed at Stephenville, a farming village on the windy west coast of Newfoundland that was home to U.S. Air Force base during World War II. The visit kicks off with drop-ins at artificial intelligence and quantum computing firms in Montreal, before heading to Toronto for pension fund discussions.
A U.N. REPORT CONFIRMS UYGHUR SLAVERY ACCUSATIONS: Minorities in China’s Xinjiang region are forced to work against their will and face physical and sexual violence and “other inhuman or degrading treatment” in what may constitute a modern form of slavery, a report released on Tuesday by Tomoya Obokata, the United Nations special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, said that Uyghur, Kazakh and other ethnic minorities were being used as forced labor in sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing.
Dead link: The U.N. web page that hosted the report wasn’t working at the time of Global Insider’s publication.
U.S. — TAIWAN AGREE TRADE TALKS MANDATE: The U.S. and Taiwan have agreed on terms for negotiating a series of bilateral trade agreements over strong objections from Beijing. See statement from Deputy United States Trade Representative Sarah Bianchi. Taiwan’s trade negotiator John Deng said he intends for talks to begin “in the next few days.”
CHINA’S ZERO COVID COSTS MOUNT: Every week it’s a new lockdown, as unemployment grows and growth slows. That leaves uncertainty as the key ingredient in China’s economic atmosphere, which undercuts investment and accelerates China’s gradual decoupling from the rest of the global economy it’s worked so hard to integrate with.
Also fueling that decoupling is protectionist U.S. policy that blocks exports of vital tools for advanced chipmaking. The idea is to choke off China’s chip-making capabilities (note the juxtaposition of U.S. trade talks with Taiwan, the other big chipmaker in Asia).
Reality check: China might have self-inflicted economic wounds, and the U.S. is certainly ramping up pressure, but Europe’s companies are showing they’re far less alarmed about China. Figures from Rhodium Group show EU investments in China were up 15 percent in the first half of 2022 compared with a year ago. More from Bloomberg New Economy.
MIDDLE EAST — TURKEY AND ISRAEL MAKE NICE: Turkey and Israel will normalize relations after a four-year freeze. Turkey was dismayed at Israel’s harsh treatment of Palestinians. The driver of the new attitude: a shared fear of a nuclear Iran and well, everyone’s playing nice with Israel these days.
Derek Robertson writes that the decision by regulators as to whether to classify cryptocurrencies as securities, commodities, or something entirely different matters a lot for this trillion-dollar industry that is helping define the next wave of technology. And for assets traded 24/7, unlike traditional stock markets, there may need to be a 24/7 regulator staffed by people with entirely new skill sets.
Agostino Capponi, the founding director of the Columbia Center for Digital Finance and Technologies, says Washington needs to take a completely newapproach to crypto regulation, including regulating the flow of transactions on the blockchain, not only the entities handling the transactions.
“We have to think about how to regulate a large class of assets, not a single asset,” Capponi said. “Another example is stablecoins versus non-stablecoins. With a stablecoin the value of the currency depends on the collateral that is being used to back the assets. You have to think of completely different regulatory regimes,” he added.
Then there’s the distributed ledger technology — regulators should be looking at who is launching new blockchain projects and verifying that the underlying technology is solid. “We never thought of the technology risk in thinking about regulating stocks or bonds because the risk of hacking is quite low, but with crypto assets that’s changed,” Capponi said.
UNITED NATIONS MEETS AMERICA
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the U.S. Representative to the United Nations, is headed to Chicago next week to highlight “how U.S. priorities at the United Nations, including food security and humanitarian issues, connect to the lives and livelihoods of people in the Midwest,” per a statement.
On the itinerary is a visit to an urban farm, meetings with leaders of refugee resettlement agencies, and an event with the Ivo Daalder-led Chicago Council on Global Affairs (Aug. 25). If you’re a Chicago State University student considering a career in foreign policy or public service: LTG will be on hand to offer you some free tips.
NEW YORK TO D.C. … BY SEAPLANE: Starting Sept. 13 Tailwind Air says total travel time is cut by “up to 60 percent” compared to commercial airport and Amtrak options, with the check-in cutoff 10 minutes before departure.
Flights will operate twice daily from September 13, and fares start from $395 one way: more than even the most expensive Acela tickets, though there’s a 2-for-1 launch offer.
The flights are on an eight-seater Cessna Grand Caravan, and will operate from Manhattan’s Skyport Marina at East 23rd Street and land at College Park Airport (on land) in Maryland. Flight time is 80 minutes.
CITIES SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS: The first edition of this new summit will be held April 26-28, 2023 in Denver, per the State Department.
Nate Evans joins the U.S. Mission to the U.N. as spokesperson, replacing Olivia Dalton. Evans previously worked for Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Melanie Nakagawa, the National Security Council’s senior director for climate and energy, will depart the White House next week, a White House official told our own Daniel Lippman. Stephanie Epner is joining the National Security Council as special adviser for climate and acting senior director for climate and energy, joining from the State Department
Helene D. Gayle, president of Spelman College, and Ashish Dhawan, founder and CEO of the Convergence Foundation, are joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation board of trustees.
WHAT HANDING $350 MILLION TO ADAM NEUMANN SAYS ABOUT SILICON VALLEY: One of the defining features of America’s tech investment and innovation culture is the space that it allows for failure. A badly executed idea or a wrongly-timed market entry are not nails in a business reputation coffin in America. But there’s failure, and then there’s Adam Neumann, “the guy who flew WeWork into a $43 billion mountain,” writes Linette Lopez. And that might eventually be a problem for the entire Silicon Valley venture capital industry.
Thanks to editor Ben Pauker and producer Kaitlyn Olvera.
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