China cracks down (again) on Hong Kong democracy: In the largest crackdown since China introduced its Hong Kong security law six months ago, police arrested 53 members of the city's pro-democracy movement. The detainees — who had helped organize an unofficial primary vote for opposition candidates ahead of elections later this year — are accused of trying to overthrow the city's pro-Beijing government. One of those jailed is a US lawyer and American citizen. In the same operation, police also raided the home of Joshua Wong, a prominent activist who is already serving a one-year prison term for standing up to China's takeover of Hong Kong. China says the activists are backed by foreigners who want to use Hong Kong as a base to undermine China's stability and security, while the opposition argues that China is just using the new law to silence legitimate dissent. Now, with most pro-democracy figures behind bars or in exile, the mass street protests that prompted the passage of the security law are unlikely to return, and the future of democracy in the city is bleak.
Watch: Tolu Olubunmi in conversation with Dr. Samira Asma from the World Health Organization on how they are advancing health data innovation in the age of COVID-19.
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What We’re Watching: Brazilian women footballers get equal pay, WHO probes itself, US cuts Ethiopia aid
Equal pay for Brazilian women footballers: In a major step towards greater gender equality in sport, Brazil's football association announced that women playing for the national football team will get paid the same as the members of the men's squad. Brazil — where football is a national religion and whose male team has won the World Cup five times, more than any other nation — follows women's national football team players winning the right to equal pay with their male counterparts in Australia, Norway, New Zealand and the UK. Last May, a federal judge in the US dismissed a lawsuit brought by the women's national soccer team demanding equal pay for their squad, but its members — led by star player and Donald Trump nemesis Megan Rapinoe — have vowed to go all the way to the Supreme Court. The fight continues despite the fact that the US women's team is way more successful than the men's squad, and won the 2019 World Cup.
The EU's Belarus problem: While Belarus' strongman president Alexander Lukashenko vowed on Wednesday to crack down on the thousands of Belarusians still protesting against the country's recently-rigged elections, EU member states were convening for an emergency session on the country's deepening crisis. So far, the European Commission has pledged 53 million euros to support Belarusians, including two-million going towards those wounded in the recent government crackdown, as well as 1 million aimed at bolstering an independent media that has been under assault for decades. Most of the funds will go towards the country's post-pandemic economic recovery. However, to date, the EU has not explicitly called for Lukashenko to step aside and has failed to reach a consensus on whether to hit Minsk with sanctions. That's because some member states, such as Hungary, are friendly with Lukashenko, and have called for more dialogue with Minsk, rather than punitive measures. But power brokers in Brussels, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, have made it clear that swift action must be taken to protect the Belarusian people, and to stave off a potential Russian intervention in the crisis by Lukashenko's longtime frenemy Vladimir Putin (i.e. Ukraine 2.0).
Imagine you're a crew member aboard a space craft. Beyond the safety of the hull lay a hostile wilderness, devoid of oxygen and home to a deadly mix of photons and cosmic rays. That's the thinking behind an old philosophy to which the Covid-19 pandemic has breathed new life. It's called Spaceship Earth. The idea: we're all hurdling through space together with no escape capsule, so planetary problems have to be addressed for everyone's sake.
In commentary for the latest episode of GZERO World, Ian Bremmer is taking a look at the challenges and opportunities of the COVID-19 pandemic. The worst crisis of our lifetime is affecting every country, race, and ethnicity. More than 10 million are infected. More than half a million have died and economies and health systems have been devastated. But it may have also given us a rare opportunity to fix our ship. That is, if politics doesn't stand in the way. Case in point: Arguments over wearing a mask have proliferated across the U.S., even in some of the most heavily impacted states.