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What We're Watching: VP Harris in Southeast Asia, FDA approves Pfizer jab, Qatar's first legislative election

Harris' Southeast Asia tour overshadowed by... Afghanistan: It's been a bad week and a half for the Biden administration, which has gotten terrible PR over its disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan. But Vice President Kamala Harris is trying to flip the script a bit on a current, week-long tour of Southeast Asia. The main aim of the Veep's visit to Singapore and Vietnam is to shore up relations with Asian partners as a bulwark against an increasingly aggressive China, and to emphasize the Biden administration's "pivot" to the Indo-Pacific region more broadly. That's particularly true in Vietnam, which is extremely concerned about China's behavior in the disputed South China Sea. But when Harris held a press conference with Singapore's PM Lee Hsien Loong Monday, hoping to highlight new cooperation on climate change, cyber security, and COVID tracking, she was instead peppered with questions about violence at Kabul's airport and the administration's so-far botched evacuation plans for Americans there.

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Why election reform laws are deadlocked on Capitol Hill

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:

With the For the People Act not passed in the Senate, what's the outlook on Democrats' election reform?

Well, the thing about election laws is that they're really all about power, how to get it, how to maintain it once you have it. And the Republicans and the Democrats are unlikely to agree on even the basics of what's wrong with our election system today, and they were definitely unlikely to agree on how to reform those things. So there's really no consensus on Capitol Hill on what's broken about the current election law. You've got Republicans at the state level who are pushing, rolling back some of the more generous rules that were laid out during coronavirus. You also have some that are trying to combat President Trump's allegations of widespread fraud during the 2020 election cycle. Democrats, on the other hand, are doing everything they can to make it easier to vote, to expand access to the vote. And that's part of what was in the federal legislation that Republicans voted down.

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What We're Watching: VP Harris on Central America trip, FBI dupes crooks, India reverses course on vaccines

VP Harris tours Central America: US Vice President Kamala Harris this week embarked on her first official foreign trip since assuming that role, making stops in both Mexico and Guatemala. After immigration became a major political headache for the Biden administration, with Central American migrants arriving at the US-Mexico border in historic numbers in recent months, Biden tapped Harris to oversee issues related to the root causes of mass migration from Central America (which he distinguishes from the so-called "border crisis''). Harris, for her part, has been pushing the US private sector to invest more in the Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — that are plagued by corruption and crime, and account for the bulk of migrants arriving at the US' southern border. Harris has also engaged in vaccine diplomacy to shore up support, announcing that the US will ship COVID vaccines to both Guatemala and Mexico. Immigration is a massive electoral problem for President Biden, with polls suggesting that 48 percent of Americans disapprove of his handling of the issue. Harris is trying to fix that. But analysts say that this trip is also an opportunity for the VP to bolster her own foreign policy bonafides as she looks at a future presidential run.

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Biden's first press conference reaffirms his working man approach

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:

Joe Biden gave the first press conference of his presidency today, a much-anticipated event that a lot of political reporters were pretty excited about, that didn't really move the needle on any messaging aspects of the administration.

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EXCLUSIVE: Biden administration to officially acknowledge Armenian genocide

EXCLUSIVE: White House sources tell Ian Bremmer the Biden administration will recognize Armenian genocide - the first US president to recognize genocide by the Ottoman Empire during World War 1. Ian explains in this Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here, kicking off the week. Gorgeous outside, it is spring, and I thought we'd focus today on some breaking news out of the United States on Turkey. Those of you following Turkey, know it's been a tough couple of weeks, couple of months, year for President Erdogan. A lot of things going wrong for Turkey right now. They just pulled their country out of the Istanbul Conventions, European agreement that meant to protect women. And he also just sacked his new central bank governor. That's four central bank governors in two years. The economy is not doing well. The Turkish lira is getting crushed, his domestic popularity not going well. And as a consequence, he's cracking down on the pro-Kurdish People's Democratic Party, the HDP. In fact, they're making a legal effort to just close it down right now, the second biggest opposition party in the country and a bunch of other stuff.

But the big news, is that Erdogan is about to face another diplomatic challenge, which is from the United States. As I've heard from the White House, that President Biden is going to recognize the 1915 killing of Armenians under the Ottomans' rule as a genocide.

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Podcast: Kara Swisher on Big Tech's Big Problem

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

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.

How can the Biden administration rein in Big Tech?

Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that many of the country's social media companies need to be held accountable for their negative role in our current national discourse. Swisher calls for "a less friendly relationship with tech" by the Biden administration, an "internet bill of rights" around privacy, and an investigation into antitrust issues.

Swisher, who hosts the New York Times podcast Sway, joins Ian Bremmer for the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television nationwide beginning this Friday, January 22th. Check local listings.

The importance of Kamala Harris

John Nance Garner gave up the powerful position of Speaker of the House to serve two terms as Franklin Roosevelt's vice president (1933-1941), but he's best remembered today for a comment (he may never actually have made) that the job of VP "is not worth a bucket of warm spit."

In reality, the role of US vice president is determined almost entirely by the president. With that in mind, how might Kamala Harris advance President Biden's agenda? A few thoughts.

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