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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kyiv.

REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko

What We're Watching: Ukraine won't negotiate, AMLO busted spying, North Korean missile diplomacy

Ukraine on offense

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a decree on Tuesday asserting that all the lands that Russia’s Vladimir Putin claimed to annex last week — and Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014 — remain part of Ukraine. Zelensky and his generals appear to believe that Ukraine is winning the war with Russia, and they have battlefield advances to back up their case. The Institute for the Study of War, a Washington-based military think tank, has reported that Ukraine has made “substantial gains” on both the eastern and southern fronts over the past few days and that the units they’re defeating are “some of Russia’s most elite forces.” No wonder Zelensky and many others would swat away suggestions from billionaire eccentric Elon Musk that Ukraine might trade land for peace. Russia has acknowledged recent losses, and blame continues to land on the country’s military brass. It’s not clear how far Ukraine can extend its current gains, but the recapture of Crimea, in particular, will be even more difficult than the more immediate tasks ahead for Ukrainian forces. But for now, Ukraine has pushed the Russian military, and the Kremlin, onto its heels.

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A child takes bath in a bucket to cool off amid a heatwave warning in Hunan province, China.

Reuters

What We're Watching: Dry China, UK inflation forecast, Pegasus spyware shakeup

Feeling the heat in China

Severe drought coupled with record-high temperatures in central and western China have hampered hydropower generation, prompting the shutdown of factories and sparking rolling blackouts in Sichuan province. (China is the world’s largest producer of hydroelectricity, which accounts for at least 18% of its total electricity generation.) The impact of the scorcher is being felt as far away as Shanghai, which relies heavily on hydropower from Sichuan, a province that usually gets a big summer downpour. Meanwhile, the property sector is drowning in debt, prompting China’s central bank on Monday to cut its five-year interest rate to help the construction and real estate sectors. What’s more, Shanghai announced that it would temporarily turn off lights lining the historic Bund waterfront to conserve energy. The energy crunch will further hurt China’s stagnant economy, which continues to contract as a result of President Xi Jinping’s zero-Covid policy. President Xi is desperate to get the situation under control ahead of the 20th Party Congress later this year, when he is expected to secure a norm-defying third term as CCP secretary-general.

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Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his corruption trial at Jerusalem's District Court

Abir Sultan/via REUTERS

Will Pegasus set Bibi free?

Israel’s spy agencies are notoriously sly operators. They have been known to take out high-profile targets in far-flung places around the world. Most famously, the Mossad tracked down and killed those involved in the massacre of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

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Truckers and their supporters protest coronavirus disease vaccine mandates, in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

REUTERS/Patrick Doyle

What We’re Watching: Truckers take Ottawa, Iran nuclear deal 'final stage,' Israeli spying scandal, Turkey-Greece disco row

Ottawa “out of control.” Is Washington next? Hundreds of Canadian truckers angry about vaccine mandates have paralyzed the country’s capital for more than a week, blocking roads, blaring horns, and demanding an end to pandemic restrictions. City officials have now declared a state of emergency, with the mayor admitting the situation is “out of control.” While the provincial government in Alberta has pledged to lift all restrictions in response to local sympathy protests, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has refused to meet with the truckers. Meanwhile, his Conservative opponents are split on whether to support the truckers. Recent polls show that only about 30% of Canadians sympathize with the protests, but the cause has attracted global attention and lots of cash: a GoFundMe campaign raised some $8 million before being shut down. Meanwhile, US truckers are planning to descend on Washington, DC, with a similar convoy next month. Given the shortage of truckers and rising consumer prices, will protesting truckers be seen as freedom fighters or be blamed for shortages of vegetables?

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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 | Cyber In :60s | GZERO Media

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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