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What We’re Watching: WhatsApp sues India, US to (re)probe COVID origins, mob boss vs Turkish president

WhatsApp sues India: First it was TikTok. Then Facebook and Twitter. Now WhatsApp is the latest target of India's crackdown on online free speech. The social media messaging app, used by hundreds of millions of Indians daily, has filed a lawsuit against the Indian government to stop a new law that would require WhatsApp to trace users' encrypted messages. The law grants Delhi sweeping powers to block or remove any content that threatens national security, public order, or whatever the Indian government considers to be decency or morality. WhatsApp argues this would violate privacy rights, and is willing to fight it out in court. So far, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been successful in stifling online criticism of his government, especially over its handling of the country's ongoing COVID crisis. But WhatsApp's immense popularity among Indians gives the Facebook-owned tech firm considerable leverage, and at a moment when his approval rating has already hit all-time lows, Modi may fear a backlash if the messaging app suddenly goes offline.

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What is the real origin of the COVID-19 virus?

A controversial new World Health Organization report on the origins of the coronavirus that suggests it likely originated from a bat but transferred to humans via an intermediary animal. Could the virus have emerged from a Chinese lab, as former CDC Director Robert Redfield recently suggested? That's the least likely scenario, says the WHO's chief scientist, Dr. Soumya Swaminathan. "The betacoronaviruses are very, very common in bats and there's a lot of genetic similarity between the SARS-CoV2 and many of the viruses in the...bat species," Dr. Swaminathan told Ian Bremmer in an interview on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 9. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

What We’re Watching: Hong Kong crackdown, Maduro tightens grip in Venezuela, WHO out of Wuhan

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.

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A city of resilience, a city of scars

December 12, 2020 5:00 AM

On a rainy Sunday evening, a line of about 100 cars is at a standstill waiting to enter an upscale mall in the Guanggu district east of Wuhan.

Wuhan: A city of resilience, a city of scars

December 12, 2020 5:00 AM

WUHAN - On a rainy Sunday evening, a line of about 100 cars is at a standstill waiting to enter an upscale mall in the Guanggu district east of Wuhan.

Wuhan market where Covid-19 outbreak started now walled off

December 12, 2020 5:00 AM

WUHAN - Associated with the earliest outbreak of Covid-19 in the world, the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market has been shut since Jan 1.

A year on, markets bustling in Chinese city Wuhan where Covid-19 was first reported

December 08, 2020 2:52 PM

WUHAN (REUTERS) - Hundreds of shoppers pack a wet market on a December weekday morning in the Chinese city of Wuhan, jostling to buy fresh vegetables and live fish, frogs and turtles.

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