What We're Watching: Haiti's investigation, Iran watching Afghanistan, pro-EU party leads in Moldova, Seoul battles the COVID beat

Haiti's Head of Haitian National Police, Leon Charles speaks during a news conference following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti July 11, 2021

Who killed Haiti's president? It's the stuff of heist movies: A presidential assassination. Foreign mercenaries. Sabotage. A chaotic struggle for control. The story of what happened to Haiti's president Jovenel Moïse, shot at his residence last week, is still extremely unclear. Haitian police and military say that a handful of mercenaries from Colombia were hired by military contractors (possibly at the behest of Haitian oligarchs) to kill Moïse, who was trying to break a corrupt elite's grip on the country's affairs. At least two of those Colombians were killed in a shootout with police in Port-au-Prince over the weekend. (The plot thickens: their families say that the men were actually brought into Haiti to protect the president and other high-ranking officials.) At least two dozen people have now been arrested in connection with the hit, including a Florida-based doctor with Haitian roots who reportedly had ambitions to return to Haiti and assume the presidency. The US has sent a team to help with the investigation, though the Biden administration hasn't agreed to the Haitian PM's request to send US troops to help keep order. Haiti is now on the brink of full blown implosion in the absence of a functioning government, supreme court, or economy.


Watching Iran watch Afghanistan: Many countries are closely watching Afghanistan as the US withdraws and the Taliban gains ground. Chief among them is Iran, which shares a 920 kilometer border with the conflict-ridden country. Iran, dominated by Shiite clerics, is ideologically opposed to the Taliban, which follows an extreme Sunni interpretation of Islam. The last thing Tehran wants is more Sunni militancy in the region — but that's precisely the way things are headed. On Friday, the Taliban seized control of the lucrative land border between the two countries, a massive feat for the terror group. As the Taliban has swept across the country in recent months, the Iranians have tried to make diplomatic overtures to them, a sign of the perceived inevitability of a full Taliban takeover. But critics say that supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and newly elected President Ebrahim Raisi, should hold the Taliban responsible for crimes against Shiite minorities in Afghanistan in recent decades. At least 53 percent of all Afghan districts are already under Taliban control, and Iran fears a mass spillover of Afghan refugees in the near-term.

Pro-Europe party leads in Moldovan snaps: The party of pro-EU President Maia Sandu is on track to win Sunday's snap election in the small, impoverished former Soviet republic of Moldova, which lies between Ukraine and Romania. As of late Monday, Sandu's center-right Action and Solidarity party had taken almost half of the vote, against about a third for a pro-Russian coalition led by two former presidents with close Kremlin ties. Several hundred thousand outstanding diaspora ballots could open up an even bigger lead for Sandu. The 49-year old former World Bank economist won the presidency in November 2020, promising to root out corruption and bring the country of 2.6 million closer to the European Union. That rankled Russia, which sees the country as part of its sphere of influence and has supported a separatist enclave there called Transnistria since 1991. Sandu called the snap election to shore up her position — looks like it paid off, but keep an eye on Russia's response…

Seoul battles the beat to stop COVID: If throbbing, fast-paced techno bangers get you into the ZONE at the gym, you're going to have to skip that spinning class in South Korea now. In a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19, the government has prohibited gyms from playing any songs that are faster than 120 beats per minute in group fitness sessions. Authorities say that this is the only way to keep gyms open safely: the faster tempos get people too hyped up, causing them to sweat and breath on each other more, they say. The new ruling means that the most famous song ever to come out of Korea — PSY's Gangnam Style — is ruled out (132 bpm), but K-pop sensation BTS' current chart-topping single Butter is in the clear at a sluggishly "safe" 110 bpm.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

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:

QR codes are everywhere. Are they also tracking my personal data?

Well, a QR code is like a complex barcode that may be on a printed ad or product package for you to scan and access more information. For example, to look at a menu without health risk or for two-factor verification of a bank payment. And now also as an integral part of covid and vaccine registration. QR codes can lead to tracking metadata or personal data. And when your phone scans and takes you to a website, certainly the tracking starts there. Now, one big trap is that people may not distinguish one kind of use of QR codes from another and that they cannot be aware of the risks of sharing their data.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky bits of color from a Games like no other..

Today we've got— the best freakout celebrations!

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Tanzania reverses course on COVID: Just four months ago, the Tanzanian government was completely denying the existence of the pandemic. Then-President John Magufuli insisted Tanzania was COVID-free thanks to peoples' prayers, and refused to try to get vaccines. But Magufuli died suddenly in March — perhaps of COVID. His successor, current President Samia Suluhu, has acknowledged the presence of the virus in Tanzania, and although she was initially lukewarm on mask-wearing and vaccines, Suluhu has recently changed her tune, first joining the global COVAX facility and now getting vaccinated herself to kick off the country's inoculation drive. Well done Tanzania, because if there's one thing we've all learned over the past 18 months, it's that nowhere — not even North Korea, whatever Pyongyang says — is safe from the coronavirus.

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16: A new study tracking Earth's "vital signs" has found that 16 out of 31 indicators of planetary health are getting worse due to climate change. Last year's pandemic-induced shutdown did little to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, stop the oceans from warming, or slow the shrinking of polar ice caps.

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Next week, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner who is ideologically and personally close to Iran's 82 year-old supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will be inaugurated as Iran's president. This power transition comes as the country experiences a fresh wave of protests that started in Iran's southwest over water shortages earlier this month and has since spilled over into dozens of provinces.

Some close observers of Iranian society and politics say that popular discontent there is now more widespread than it has been in years, making the Iranian regime more vulnerable than ever.

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Was the world so focused on climate change that warning signs about the COVID-19 pandemic were missed? Historian and author Niall Ferguson argues that, while the climate crisis poses a long-term threat to humanity, other potential catastrophes are much more dangerous in the near future. "We took our eye off that ball," Ferguson says about COVID, "despite numerous warnings, because global climate change has become the issue that Greta Thunberg said, would bring the end of the world. But the point I'm making in DOOM [his new book] is that we can end the world and a lot of other ways, much faster." Ferguson spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview for GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

Tunisia, the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring, is now in the middle of its worst political crisis since it got rid of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over a decade ago.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, President Kais Saied responded to widespread protests over the ailing economy and COVID by firing embattled Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending parliament for 30 days. Troops have surrounded the legislature, where rival crowds faced off on Monday, with one side chanting in support of the move and the other denouncing it as a coup.

How did we get here, do we even know who's really in charge, and what might come next?

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