A world of George Floyds

A world of George Floyds

Nationwide protests in the US over the police killing of George Floyd have inspired solidarity demonstrations around the world. But in some countries, people are also on the streets to protest discriminatory policing and broader racial injustice in their own countries. Here's a look at a few protests in just the past few days, including in a couple of countries where racial tensions don't always make the global news.


Brazil: Protesters in Rio de Janeiro were out in force this weekend to call attention to a long history of police violence and discrimination. Rio, where powerful gangs control large swathes of the city's impoverished favelas, has long been an exceptionally violent place, and the police there are known to treat local residents with a heavy hand. In 2019, cops gunned down a record 1,800 people in Rio (police in the entire United States kill roughly 1,000 people per year.) The overwhelming majority of those killed by the Rio police are black. Of the roughly 9,000 people killed by Rio police over the past decade, three quarters of them were black men, according to Human Rights Watch. Just last month, an unarmed black teenager was shot during a police raid. Hanging over all of this is the still unresolved murder of city councilwoman Marielle Franco, an outspoken police critic, who was assassinated in 2018.

Japan: Non-Japanese minorities make up less than five percent of the population in Japan, where the country's relative ethnic homogeneity has been a source of both pride, controversy, and debate in recent years. This Saturday, several hundred people were out on the streets of Tokyo to express solidarity with the Floyd protests, but also to highlight police discrimination in their own city, spurred on by the case of a 33-year old ethnic Kurd from Turkey who was thrown to the ground and manhandled by police after he refused to let them search his car. A bystander caught the incident on video. Recent police reforms in Japan have sought to address a long history of abusive interrogation practices, but a focus on race and policing is relatively new in the country.

Israel: Solidarity protestors in Israel took aim at racial discrimination in their own society this weekend. A main focus of the demonstrations was systemic discrimination against Israel's black population. Protestors chanted the name of Solomon Tekah, an unarmed Ethiopian Jewish teenager killed last year by an off duty police officer. Tekah's death sparked several days of protests last summer and threw a harsh light on the discrimination suffered by the country's sizable Ethiopian minority, which first arrived in large numbers via a massive airlifts out of Ethiopia in the mid 1980's.

Portugal: Thousands of protesters in Lisbon and other large cities demanded justice in the case of Claudia Simões, a 42-year old black woman originally from the former Portuguese colony of Angola, who said she was severely beaten by police earlier this year after a bus operator accused her of having assaulted him. Racial tensions surrounding the police are not new in Portugal. Last January, protests erupted after a viral video showed police abusing residents of the predominantly black Bairro da Jamaica suburb of Lisbon. Several months later, eight officers were convicted of kidnapping and beating six black youths near the capital city in 2015.

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Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the EU's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

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ASEAN gets tough(ish) with Myanmar: The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet Tuesday for their annual summit with one notable absence: the head of Myanmar's military junta. It's a rare snub from ASEAN, a regional bloc that's gotten a lot of heat in the past for giving tyrants a free pass. The junta says ASEAN violated its traditional principles of deciding by consensus by disinviting its leader, and non-interference in domestic affairs for demanding the bloc's special envoy meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For their part, the other ASEAN members have grown visibly alarmed at Myanmar's rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation since the February coup, and they're worried about the spillover effects of Myanmar becoming a failed state. More importantly, Myanmar is a big thorn in ASEAN's side as it walks a fine line between keeping warm ties with the US — which most members want cash and security from — and getting along with China, one of Myanmar's few remaining friends and viewed with suspicion by most ASEAN members over its South China Sea shenanigans.

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149: The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record-high 413.2 parts per million in 2020, 149 percent above pre-industrial levels. A new report by the UN weather agency released ahead of the COP26 climate summit found that last year's lower emissions due to COVID-related lockdowns had no impact on the overall amount of greenhouse gases causing global warming.

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

Why should all eyes be on the Virginia suburbs?

I'm here in the Washington, D.C. suburb of Arlington, Virginia, where the state will be having a gubernatorial election on November 2nd. The Virginia governor election is held in the year after the US presidential election typically, and is generally seen as a bellwether for how popular the incumbent president of the United States is. In 2009, the Republican candidate won by a commanding 16 points despite the fact that Virginia has been trending more and more Democratic in recent years due to the population growth here in the suburbs, which tend to be more blue than rural areas of the state.

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Can Big Government still rein in Big Tech or has it already lost control? Never before have just a few companies exerted such an outsized influence on humanity. Today's digital space, where we live so much of our daily lives, has increasingly become an area that national governments are unable to control. It may be time to start thinking of these corporations as nation-states in their own rights. On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer speaks with Nicholas Thompson, CEO of the Atlantic and former WIRED editor-in-chief, about how to police the digital world.

16: Rich countries have secured 16 times more COVID vaccine supplies than developing nations that rely on the struggling COVAX facility, according to analysis by the Financial Times. COVAX is steadily losing bargaining power to buy vaccines at low prices due to the combined effects of booster shots being doled out in developed countries, as well as low-income countries deciding to buy jabs on their own.

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Listen: Can Big Government still rein in Big Tech or has it already lost control? Never before have just a few companies exerted such an outsized influence on humanity. Today's digital space, where we live so much of our daily lives, has increasingly become an area that national governments are unable to control. It may be time to start thinking of these corporations as nation-states in their own rights. Ian Bremmer speaks with Nicholas Thompson, CEO of the Atlantic and former WIRED editor-in-chief, about how to police the digital world.

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