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As protests over the police killing of George Floyd raged across the country, there have been more than 125 instances of journalists being shot with rubber bullets by police, arrested, or in some cases assaulted by protesters while covering the unrest.
Foreign news crews from Germany and Australia have been caught up in the crackdown. Australia's Prime Minister has even called for an investigation. Some of these journalists have simply been caught in the crossfire during surges of unrest, but video and photographic evidence reveals cases where police have deliberately targeted reporters doing their jobs.
<p>We are used to talking about the plight of journalists in "unfree" or authoritarian societies. It surprises no one to learn that journalists have a hard time doing their work in Egypt or China, or that they can't do much at all in Turkmenistan and North Korea. </p><p>But the grim reality is that freedom of the press is now under assault not only in authoritarian countries, but in democracies too.</p><p>A report last year by the watchdog Freedom House <a href="https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-and-media/2019/media-freedom-downward-spiral" target="_blank">found</a> that 16 of the world's most free countries – including India, Hungary, Austria, Israel, and the United States — had seen declines in press freedom over the past five years. This trend tracked a broader withering of democratic institutions around the globe. </p><p>There are many reasons that the press is under pressure. The decline of local news has whittled away the connection between people and journalists. The rise of social media provides alternative sources of information that, by design, track and cultivate people's biases. The increasing polarization of cable news in particular has eroded popular trust in the media more broadly. Last year, just 41 percent of Americans trusted the media, <a href="https://news.gallup.com/poll/267047/americans-trust-mass-media-edges-down.aspx" target="_blank">according</a> to Gallup. In 1972, when venerable TV anchorman Walter Cronkite spent a part of every evening in millions of American living rooms, the mark was 68 percent. </p><p>But there has also been a concerted attempt by self-styled populist leaders to demonize established media outlets. Railing against the press, a supposedly corrupt institution controlled by liberal elites, is a hallmark of populist politics raised to the level of art form by leaders like Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro, Turkey's Recep Erdogan, Hungary's Viktor Orban, and Italy's Matteo Salvini. And of course, no pulpit has been more bully on this score than the twitter account of US President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly called journalists "enemies of the people" – a turn of phrase with chilling historical <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/aug/03/trump-enemy-of-the-people-meaning-history" target="_blank">resonances</a>. </p><p>Language like this from powerful political leaders creates a dangerous situation in which some law enforcement officials who share their views feel that they have license to abuse or harass reporters in the middle of protests. After all, isn't it the job of police to protect "the people" from their "enemies?" </p><p>Democracies depend on the free flow of information. Some reporters let their biases distort their work, and all of them are human, but their reporting, however imperfect it may sometimes be, is critical for the health of an open society. No matter how polarized or troubled a society is, police should not shoot, beat, or arrest them for doing their jobs.</p>
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As anti- racism protests rocked US cities in recent days, thousands of people gathered in cities around the world in solidarity. In some instances, demonstrators assembled outside US embassies — in Berlin, London, Paris, and elsewhere — to condemn the police killing of George Floyd. In others, crowds inspired by the Floyd demonstrations gathered to protest systemic racial injustice in their own societies. Here's a look at where demonstrators have taken to the streets in recent days.
This week, Ian Bremmer is joined by analyst Michael Hirson to take the Red Pen to an op-ed by New York Times Opinion columnist Bret Stephens.
Today, we're marking up a recent op-ed by New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, entitled "China and the Rhineland Moment." And the subheading here is that "America and its allies must not simply accept Beijing's aggression." Basically, Bret is arguing that US-China relations are at a tipping point brought on by China's implementation of a new national security law for Hong Kong. And he compares this to Hitler's occupation of the Rhineland in 1936, describes it as the first domino to fall in Beijing's ambitions.
<p>Now, I mean, no question, the United States and China are at a precarious place in our relationship. The worst US-China relationship that we've seen since the collapse of the Soviet Union, maybe even the start of a Cold War. But to imply that this is the brink of an actual war, as the Rhineland moment was with the Germans, is a bit misguided. Let's take a look at some of his key points. </p><p>First, let's start with China's actions mirroring a Nazi Germany's attempt to take over Europe. Stephen writes, "The concept of one country, two systems was supposed to last until 2047 under the terms of the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration ..." (The handover in 1997.) "...Now, China's rulers have been openly violating that treaty, much as Germany openly violated the trees of Locarno and Versailles." Hong Kong is definitely a tragedy and it is a breach, but it's not a domino. And setting aside Taiwan, an ally of the United States, that China does indeed intend to take over, it's hard to make the argument that China has imperial ambitions across Asia the way that the Nazis did in Europe. And I mean, leaving aside the immense pushback that we already see across Asia against Chinese efforts to have more influence, the South China Sea for example, Belt and Road for example, the rise of India for example, it's not as if the Chinese - this is not territorial ambitions, this is economic investment and leverage. Again, not leading to a tipping point into war. </p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://www.gzeromedia.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2Nzg5NC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYwMTE0NDkzNX0.s5tjlDX6JMYJQXKqWqTNtWiGX5A42HTmOF-s6Q5M4ew/image.png?width=980" id="a925a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="b005ee84be2992152586033c61e7e4d4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /> </p><p>Second point: On Taiwan, Bret Stephens writes, "The United States should upgrade relations with Taiwan and increase arms sales, including top shelf weapons' systems such as the F-35 and the Navy's future frigate." And actually, I mean, if you wanted to tip into war, this is where you actually need to be the most careful. The fact is that the United States should clearly continue to support Taiwan, including militarily. But you want to do so without backing Beijing into a corner. And it's been very clear they've been red lines on both sides in this relationship. Consistently, the one for Beijing that they have maximally escalated over has been Taiwan. The Americans have every capacity to maintain status quo and there is very strong nationalism against Beijing. In Taiwan, a new nationalist elected government, stronger support for the United States, technology integration with the United States. There is no need to actively wave a red rag to the bull by trying to sell your most advanced military equipment to the Taiwanese, in addition to that.</p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://www.gzeromedia.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NzkxOC9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNTcwNjIzN30.cWAt5qhvta5uH53_h3jKUZERUShgQ-ui1wi0HkvrZ0A/image.png?width=980" id="d3b85" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="61966567dd00c32036c6f034397852a4" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /> </p><p>Finally, Stephens argues that the world is waking up to the fact that the Chinese are not a "responsible stakeholder" in a "rules-based order." And it is certainly true that China is not, has not been a "responsible stakeholder." But of course, keep in mind that "responsible stakeholder" for the Chinese means living by American rules in American institutions that the Chinese don't get a say over. Now, the United States is actively ripping up that script right now in terms of not being interested to follow the rules of a lot of those institutions. Whether it's the World Trade Organization or the World Health Organization. Of course, the withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. So, I mean, if the question is, do we expect the Chinese to align more with the Americans? The answer is no. Do we expect the Americans to align more with the Americans and bring the Europeans and others along? The answer is we could be doing an awful lot more by trying to lead by example.</p><p class="shortcode-media shortcode-media-rebelmouse-image"> <img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://www.gzeromedia.com/media-library/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yMzM2NzkyNS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNzY1Mjk1N30.erX0QGu5tH93CfmXHPj-rgvI1Mf2a6tGwVHcxM2Raxk/image.png?width=980" id="3c84a" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="af6a1ed9521823a51a0f13079b74eb71" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" /> </p><p>So, in conclusion, we are not at the precipice of war. This is not the Rhineland moment. But it is indeed a very dangerous period of time between the Americans and Chinese. And ones that if we did a better job, we could have a lot more allies playing in our favor. <br/></p>
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June 02, 2020
DRC's new Ebola wave: On the verge of eradicating an Ebola outbreak in the country's east which began back in 2018, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has now identified a fresh wave of cases in the northwestern city of Mbandaka. The disease, which has a fatality rate of 25 – 90 percent depending on the outbreak's character, has already killed five people in recent weeks, prompting the World Health Organization to issue a grim warning that a surge of new cases could occur there in the coming months. (Ebola has an incubation period of about 21 days.) This comes as the central African country of 89 million also grapples with COVID-19 and the world's largest measles outbreak, which has killed 6,779 people there since 2019. In recent weeks, officials from the World Health Organization predicted that the DRC's deadly Ebola crisis, which has killed 2,275 people since 2018, would soon be completely vanquished.
<p><span style=""></span></p><p><strong>Russia's referendum is on again</strong><strong>: </strong>Coronavirus postponed, but couldn't cancel, Vladimir Putin's latest grand plan. Back in April, Russians were supposed to vote on constitutional amendments that would allow Putin to reset the clock on term limits and potentially serve as president until 2036. That vote <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/01/world/europe/russia-putin-coronavirus.html" target="_blank">has now been re-scheduled</a> for July 1, and Putin has good reason to want to hold it ASAP. True, his approval rating remains at 59%, and a credible poll conducted on May 20 found that 44% intended to support the new plan with just 32% opposed. (Others were undecided.) But the health and economic damage inflicted by coronavirus has cut into his popularity enough in recent months to persuade him to act now before his margin becomes embarrassingly narrow. In the end, it's virtually assured that Putin will get the results he wants – state media will see to that. Then all he has to do is keep Russians happy with his leadership for another 16 years. </p><p><strong>Netanyahu's annexation push:</strong> After staging an unlikely political victory in April, Israel's newly emboldened Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he <a href="https://www.timesofisrael.com/netanyahu-talks-annexation-with-kushner-us-said-to-want-to-slow-the-process/?utm_source=The+Daily+Edition&utm_campaign=daily-edition-2020-06-02&utm_medium=email" target="_blank">plans</a> to move ahead with contentious plans to annex part of the West Bank starting on July 1. The unilateral move, deemed illegal by most of the international community, has not been coordinated with the Palestinian Authority, who preemptively rebuffed the move and threatened to tear up all agreements with Israeli military forces, crucial to the security of both. But it's not Palestinian misgivings that are holding Netanyahu back from going full steam ahead now – it's the Trump administration. While the US initially showed enthusiasm for the annexation plan, which involves Israel folding 30 percent of the West Bank into its territory, including the Jordan Valley and settlements, <a href="https://www.axios.com/netanyahu-annexation-west-bank-plans-kushner-trump-b4bb45e3-34ae-4162-b2b5-05092cee2217.html" target="_blank">American delegates</a>, including Jared Kushner who pioneered President Trump's Mideast peace plan, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have since waffled on the annexation issue. The political fallout is reverberating throughout the region. Jordan, for example, which has enjoyed a cold peace with Israel for decades, threatened to reassess the peace accord if Netanyahu pushes ahead with the annexation issue. </p><p><span style=""></span></p><p><br/><span></span></p>
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