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What We're Watching: YouTube snuffs Bolsonaro, Israel probes Pegasus, China rejects COVID inquiry (again)

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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US, NATO, & EU condemn China's Microsoft hack; Pegasus spyware leak

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

The US, NATO, and the EU have all condemned China for its hack of Microsoft Exchange servers. What happens next?

Now, the joint statement sends a strong signal, but there are operational steps that need to be clarified. Firstly, why was it possible to hack Microsoft servers at all and how to close the gaps to make software more resilient? Additionally, governments making statements condemning China or others are well-advised to attach consequences to such attributions. Sanctions of the economic, financial or immigration type, as well as restrictions on state-owned enterprises, should all be on the table. Certainly, clear criteria need to be there with regard to responsible behavior and the application of international law in cyberspace.

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Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin space flight & the new space race

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week with a look to outer space, in a special edition of (Out of The) World In 60 Seconds:

Was today's Blue Origin space flight a big deal for humankind, or just a big deal for Jeff Bezos?

I'm not sure the space flight itself was such a big deal for humankind, but I do think the advances in space technology, which are increasingly stepping up, they're much quicker. I mean, reusable rockets that land exactly where they took off. That's very different from the space shuttle a couple of decades ago, and very exciting in terms of the ability to not just engage in space tourism, but explore both what's outside of our Earth and beyond. So yeah, I think the fact that's being driven by the private sector is a big deal for the United States, a big deal for the planet. I, having said that, the planet that we're right now all on, is the one that matters, I think, the most to everybody for the foreseeable future.

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US & allies unite against China's cyberattacks

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here, back in Nantucket for a few days, and a Quick Take to start out the week.Well, I thought I would talk about the finger-pointing happening at China for these cyberattacks. When we've been talking about cyberattacks recently, we mostly talk about Russia. It's been ransomware, it's been espionage, it's been disinformation, and US election intervention and all of these things. But no, this week it is all about China, and specifically the White House had this unusually strong statement, citing concerns about China's, what they call, irresponsible and destabilizing behavior in cyberspace, specifically talking about a hack against the Microsoft Exchange Server that we found out about back in March. That is a big deal.

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Fighting for democracy in Hungary and Hong Kong

Former Obama adviser Ben Rhodes sees parallels between Hungary's politics and what happened in the US under Trump, and believes the EU has been too lenient towards Prime Minister Viktor Orbán's autocratic tendencies. Rhodes, who met with democracy activists in Hungary and Hong Kong when researching his book, "After the Fall: Being American in the World We've Made," observes that Hungary's opposition groups have been strengthened by banding together to form a united front against corrupt politicians. There's less reason for hope in Hong Kong, says Rhodes, and one reason is that the US never made it a priority. "At every stage of the last 30 years, a commercial interest, or a security interest, or a geopolitical interest was always above what our interests were on an issue like Hong Kong," Rhodes tells Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Is American democracy in danger?

Podcast: American democracy is in danger, warns Ben Rhodes

Listen: Ben Rhodes, a former Deputy National Security Adviser to President Barack Obama, joins Ian Bremmer to talk about the state of American democracy in the 21st century. Trump, he says, cannot take all the blame for the US's fall from grace on the global stage. Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the 2008 financial crisis and disinformation on social media have all played a big role too. What will it take to get America back on track and restore the country's place in the world as a beacon of democracy?

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.

Myanmar is a danger to its neighbors — will anyone step in?

Remember Myanmar? It's been over five months since the military — the Tatmadaw — seized power in a coup, sidelining the quasi-democratic civilian government led by former human rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi. Anti-coup demonstrations quickly arose around the country, and the Tatmadaw tried to put them down just as swiftly, responding with brutal violence that killed over 800 civilians.

And although the media has largely moved on, the situation is getting worse in ways that aren't only bad for Myanmar's people, but also for its neighbors.

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Merkel's White House visit will have symbolism and substance

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

Why is the United Kingdom opening up and what's happening in the rest of Europe?

Well, I mean, my personal view is that there's an element of complacency in Europe and elsewhere. The Delta variant is spreading rather fast. We'll see an increase in infections in a number of countries. Remains to be seen how this will be handled.

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