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REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

What We’re Watching: Contentious SCOTUS decisions, Russia's Snake Island retreat, Israel’s new PM, G7's topless fantasies

SCOTUS hands Biden a win and a loss

The US Supreme Court on Thursday handed down decisions in two closely watched cases. First, the court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency can’t enforce rules limiting carbon emissions at existing power plants. The six conservative justices who backed the majority opinion said only Congress should regulate climate policy. The long-running case – which made its way through the courts during the Obama, Trump, and Biden presidencies – is emblematic of the broader fight between coal-loving Republican states and Democrats pushing for more action on climate change. The decision will also complicate Biden’s pledge to switch the power grid to clean energy by 2035 – and to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. Crucially, the US is the world’s second-largest carbon emitter after China. SCOTUS’s subsequent ruling, however, went in Biden’s favor: two conservative justices joined the court’s progressive wing to scrap the “Remain in Mexico” policy, a Trump-era immigration law requiring some migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed. Still, a federal judge has blocked Biden from lifting another Trump-era immigration restriction, so this ruling is unlikely to have a significant impact on the immigration landscape ahead of November’s midterms.

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GZERO Media

What We're Watching: G7 summit, SCOTUS gun-rights ruling, Ramaphosa's bad optics

G7 meets as global fault lines deepen

Leaders of the world’s leading industrialized democracies — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US — will gather in Bavaria this weekend to discuss ways to shore up support for Ukraine without slipping into a direct conflict between NATO and Russia. China’s “coercive economic practices” will also be on the agenda, according to US officials. With global geopolitical fault lines opening up as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, one key G7 guest to watch is Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will attend just two days after taking part in a pivotal summit of the BRICS, where B(razil), I(India), C(hina) and S(outh Africa) all looked for ways to deepen ties with R(ussia.)

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Afghans Could Face Struggle for Humanitarian Aid After Earthquake | World In :60 | GZERO Media

Afghanistan earthquake adds to woes on economy, hunger & women's rights

Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week on World In :60:

Will the Afghan earthquake worsen the situation there?

It is a pretty substantial earthquake. Looks like hundreds are dead. And of course, this is on the back of the Taliban taking over, the economy falling apart, a lot of food stress and women being knocked back into the Stone Age. So much that had been fought for over 20 years, trillions of dollars spent. The focus of course recently has been all about Ukraine. And of course the global impact there is much bigger, but we should not forget that the reality of life at Afghanistan today for anyone that wants to be a free citizen and particularly for women and young women is absolutely unconscionable. Not a lot of support after the initial outreach for those that are trying to get out to become refugees to be welcomed in other countries. This is a disaster. It deserves humanitarian aid, even though it has to go through the Taliban and certainly deserves allowing more Afghans to get out. That is a big problem.

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The stovetop.

Reuters

The tentacles of a global energy crisis

The global energy market has been volatile for months, but things got particularly dicey this week after Russia slashed natural gas supplies to Europe via the undersea Nord Stream pipeline. Moscow cut gas supplies to Germany by a whopping 60%, to Slovakia by 30%, and to Italy by 15%.

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British PM Boris Johnson looking frazzled.

Reuters

What We're Watching: Johnson faces moment of truth, Russia hits Kyiv, Summit of the Americas kicks off

Will Boris Johnson survive confidence vote?

Conservative lawmakers on Monday dealt a massive blow to British PM Boris Johnson by triggering a no-confidence vote that could remove him from the top job after nearly three years in office. Johnson’s popularity, both among the British electorate and within his own Conservative Party, has been waning for months, in large part because of the ongoing Partygate saga, which saw Downing Street repeatedly host rowdy parties in violation of COVID lockdown rules while Brits were often hit with fines for minor indiscretions. Earlier this year, Johnson became the first-ever British PM to be fined for breaking the law. The growing cost-of-living crisis has also hurt him: Johnson’s approval rating has plunged to a dismal 26% – a remarkable drop from the 66% he enjoyed at the beginning of the pandemic. In a sign of growing public disdain for the PM, he and his wife Carrie were booed at a recent event marking the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. So, what happens now? On Monday evening, Conservative legislators in the House of Commons will vote on whether to remove the PM from office. A simple majority – 180 Tory MPs – will need to back the motion to end his tenure as PM. But even if he prevails, Johnson will emerge a diminished figure in British politics. Will the perennial comeback kid survive again?

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Supporters of the Christian Lebanese Forces party react as votes are being counted in Lebanon's parliamentary election.

REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

What We're Watching: Lebanon's future, Russian dissent, Latin Americans ditch US summit

What Hezbollah’s loss means for Lebanon

Days after Lebanese voters went to the polls for the first time since the economy imploded three years ago, Hezbollah – Iran-backed militants dubbed a terrorist group by the US – has lost its parliamentary majority. Its coalition, which includes Amal, another Shia party, and the Free Patriotic Movement, a Christian bloc, won 61 seats, down from 71. Reformist parties that emerged amid mass protests over economic inequality and corruption in recent years reaped about 10% of seats. The Saudi-allied Lebanese Forces also gained new seats, suggesting that many Lebanese voters support warmer ties with Riyadh in hopes it can help ease their economic woes. Still, only 41% of eligible voters turned up, reflecting widespread apathy and disdain for the political elite, who have enriched themselves for decades while large swaths of the population descended into poverty. The election was notably plagued by allegations of voter fraud. Things will get thorny this fall when President Michael Aoun, a Hezbollah ally, finishes his term. The presidency is a powerful post in Lebanon, charged with appointing the PM and leading the military. Hezbollah will push hard for a replacement who will safeguard their – and Iran’s – regional interests, likely impeding progress on political and economic reforms needed to unlock foreign loans.

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A service member of pro-Russian troops stands guard next to a combat vehicle, with the symbol "Z" seen on its side, in Mariupol, Ukraine.

REUTERS/Alexander Ermochenko

What We're Watching: A rare win for Putin, Chile drafts constitution, North Korea's COVID catastrophe

Putin enjoys rare win in Ukraine

This week brought more bad news for Vladimir Putin and his invasion. Ukrainian fighters have pushed Russians back from the city of Kharkiv, the fight for the Donbas appears to have stalled, and Russian commentators are becoming more open about their country’s military failures on the internet and even on state-controlled TV. But the surrender of hundreds of Ukrainian fighters from a Mariupol steel plant gives Russia a genuinely important win. First, it clears away the final obstacle to establishing a land bridge that connects Russian-occupied Crimea with the Russian border. Second, it’s a big propaganda win for Putin, who insists the war is aimed partly at “de-Nazifying” Ukraine. Many of those who surrendered belong to the Azov Battalion, a group with a history of ultra-nationalist, white-supremacist politics. Ukraine’s government says it hopes the now-captive troops can be traded for captive Russians, but Russia’s parliament may ban any release of Azov prisoners. Ultimately, Putin will decide their fate. Are they most valuable to him as trophies, or as pawns who provide him with an opportunity to appear magnanimous?

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Plumes of smoke rise after a fire erupts at an oil depot in Bryansk, Russia.

REUTERS

What We're Watching: Flames go up in Russia, UN-Russia summit, Kim Jong-un's parade

Flaming coincidences in Russia

Fires, explosions, train derailments, dead executives — there’s a lot of weird stuff happening in Russia lately. Earlier this week, two major oil depots went up in flames in the city of Bryansk, a major support hub for Russian forces just a few hours north of the Ukrainian border by car. Russia says it’s investigating, but top military analysts say the blaze looks like the result of sabotage or an attack by Ukraine. Just three days earlier, a locomotive derailed while traveling along a nearby stretch of rail used to supply the Russian army. That, meanwhile, happened on the same day that fires erupted at a major defense research institute and a chemical plant, both within 100 miles of Moscow. The research institute blaze, which was blamed on faulty wiring, claimed half a dozen lives. Fires in Russia’s poorly maintained Soviet-era buildings aren’t uncommon, but the chattering has begun: were these Ukrainian operations? Sabotage by disgruntled employees? False flag “attacks” staged to rally opinion against Ukraine? We’re watching to see if the trend continues. Meanwhile, another oddity: Russian executives turning up dead in apparent murder-suicides with their families. That fate recently befell former executives from energy giant Gazprombank and Novatek, Russia’s largest independent gas producer. Their deaths are among a number of high-profile oligarch deaths in recent weeks.

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