Hard Numbers: Japan's same-sex marriage ruling, British Uber drivers, EU-Mercosur trade pact under pressure, Atlanta shooting spree

Plaintiffs' lawyers and supporters show a banner that reads 'Unconstitutional decision' after a district court ruled on the legality of same-sex marriages outside Sapporo district court in Sapporo, Hokkaido, northern Japan March 17, 2021

13: A Japanese court ruled for the first time that the government's failure to recognize same sex marriage is unconstitutional after 13 gay couples filed coordinated lawsuits in February 2019. It's unclear, however, how the government will act: on Wednesday, Tokyo reiterated that its stance did not violate the Constitution. To date, Japan is the only G7 country that does not recognize same-sex marriage.


70,000: After a major legal defeat in Britain's Supreme Court, Uber will now have to provide more legal protections to its 70,000 British drivers. The ruling is a massive blow for Uber, which has long lobbied against greater labor rights for its drivers, and could influence ongoing labor battles with gig economy companies in the EU and the US.

450: More than 450 NGOs have called for the EU to abandon a draft free trade deal with Mercosur countries — a bloc including Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay — which they say would give rise to an increase in deforestation and other livestock trade harmful to the environment. The 2019 deal, which would create a trade bloc spanning roughly 750 million people, has stalled, as France and Germany express concerns over Brazil's lack of protection of the Amazon rainforest.

8: Eight people — six of whom were identified as Asian women — were killed Tuesday in a shooting rampage at several spas in Atlanta, Georgia. Although the police has yet to determine whether race was the motive for the attacks, crimes against Asian Americans in the US have surged since the pandemic began a year ago.

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?

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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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