What We're Watching

Bolsonaro's Coup Commemoration Day – Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, generated considerable controversy this week by ordering commemoration of the day in March 1964 when Brazil's army moved to seize power from President João Goulart and established a dictatorship that lasted until 1985. Bolsonaro insists the takeover was not a "coup" and has said it's a shame more leftists weren't killed during the period of military rule. We'll be watching to see if "Coup Commemoration Day" is as over-the-top cool as Carnival. And we're betting it's not.

Our Girls Freed – In Burundi, three schoolgirls arrested two weeks ago faced up to five years in prison for insulting President Pierre Nkurunziza by doodling on photos of him printed in their school textbooks. To protest these charges, social media users then created their own extravagantly altered versions of Nkurunziza's photo with the hashtag #FreeOurGirls. Score another victory for political satire, because the girls have reportedly been freed.

What We're Ignoring

The Modi Movie – Critics of Narendra Modi say that a new film, which is billed as the Indian prime minister's life story, is little more than propaganda meant to boost Modi and his party ahead of national elections in April and May. Check out the poster, which depicts a pious Mr. Modi surrounded by adorable smiling children wearing the national colors with the tagline "patriotism is my strength." We don't know whether this film violates India's election laws, as some are insisting, but we're ignoring it, because it looks like a crappy movie.

The Female Spacesuit Shortage – NASA, the US space agency, had to cancel plans this week for the first all-female spacewalk because the agency doesn't have two spacesuits small enough to fit the two women chosen for the big event. The walk will go forward, but one of the women has been replaced by a man. President John Kennedy once said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." Here's hoping it will soon be less hard for NASA to find outfits for two female astronauts at a time.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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