What We're Watching: Migrants flood Polish border, Czech Republic's unwieldy coalition, Kuwait's government steps down

Migrants are seen on the Belarusian-Polish border. Nearly 1,000 refugees were heading towards the Polish border in the morning of November 8, 2021.

Migrant crisis deepens at Belarusian-Polish border. The deteriorating situation on Poland's border with Belarus intensified Monday, with Warsaw deploying 12,000 troops amid fears that an influx of migrants might storm the border from Belarusian territory. Latvia and Lithuania, fearing a migrant wave, have joined Poland in upping border security at their own frontiers. For months, Poland, an EU country, has accused Belarus' strongman President Alexander Lukashenko of opening his country's border to flood Poland with Middle Eastern and Asian migrants desperate to enter the EU. Lukashenko's move is payback for EU sanctions against Minsk. Poland has even accused Belarusian forces of physically pushing some migrants into Polish territory. Dramatic footage on Monday showed the problem has gotten much worse, with thousands of migrants gathering at the border, some using instruments to try to cut into barbed wire barriers. As a brutal winter descends in Eastern Europe, the situation is becoming more dire for the migrants themselves. Scores of them have died of hypothermia after being expelled from Polish territory and denied food and medical treatment. (Unsurprisingly, Belarus was unwilling to take them back.) Poland says that Belarus recently "escorted" some 1,000 migrants to its border, and that it is bracing for a major security breach. Meanwhile, thousands of desperate migrants, stuck in the intra-European crossfire, are in desperate need of help.


Czechmate for outgoing prime minister. It took five parties, arranged in two somewhat unwieldy coalitions, to defeat the Czech Republic's popular populist Prime Minister Andrej Babiš in elections last month, but the deal is now done. The center-right Together coalition and the center-left, Pirate-led coalition on Monday inked an agreement to form a government helmed by Petr Fiala, leader of the Together bloc's ODS party. The move comes after weeks of negotiations and uncertainty about whether the hospitalized President Milos Zeman would flout election results and give his ally Babiš a crack at forming a government first. Fiala's government will face big challenges: digging out of the pandemic, taming rising national debt, and reviewing testy relations with Prague's former imperial masters in Moscow. Relations with the neighbors could get choppier as well — Fiala, in contrast to Babiš, is much more pro-EU than Hungary's Viktor Orban or the PiS government in Poland.

(Ku)Wait for it. For the second time this year, Kuwait's government resigned on Monday in a move that could defuse a political deadlock that has hampered the oil-rich country's ability to sort out its finances. Background: Kuwait has a hybrid political system in which a popularly elected parliament can introduce legislation and exert some oversight over a government still appointed by the Emir, who usually packs it with family members. In recent months, opposition lawmakers have squabbled with Prime Minister Sheikh Sabah al-Khalid al-Sabah about his handling of the pandemic, allegations of corruption, and the fate of political dissidents in exile. His resignation, coupled with a draft proposal on amnesty for those dissidents, could now smooth things over. A bit of harmony can't come quickly enough for Kuwait: although the country has lots of oil, low crude prices in recent years have provoked political conflict over how to balance the budget while continuing to offer expansive cradle-to-grave social benefits. Increased deficit spending is one option, but that requires parliamentary action, something that has been hampered by infighting.

A group of young women looking together at images on a wall.

Research indicates neurodivergent individuals hold key competencies to meet this demand, yet their unemployment rate is estimated to be as high as 80%.

As part of its initiative to build an inclusive workplace for all, Bank of America has improved its hiring and support process to recognize and elevate the unique talents of neurodivergent employees.

Who’s in Joe Biden’s democracy club?

The Biden administration’s much-touted Summit for Democracy kicks off on Thursday. A total of 110 countries are invited, with some puzzling choices and omissions.

Illiberal Poland is attending, but not illiberal Hungary. Seven of the 10 Southeast Asian nations are out, but several quasi-democracies in Africa made the cut. Brazil's authoritarian-minded President Jair Bolsonaro is an acceptable democrat for Joe Biden, but not Bolivia's democratically-elected President Luis Arce.

The criteria to get a ticket is as unclear as what Biden’s democratic virtual get-together wants to achieve.

More Show less

Australia's former PM and current CEO of the Asia Society knows China quite well. He's fluent in Mandarin, and — for a foreigner — has a pretty good idea of what's cooking in Chinese politics.

More Show less
The French election is getting hot

Germany has been the European center of political attention in recent months, as punk-rock god Angela Merkel exits the stage after almost two decades at the helm. But there’s another big election heating up in Europe. The French will head to the polls in just twelve weeks, and the race has started to get very interesting.

More Show less
The Graphic Truth: Are you democratic enough for Joe Biden?

The Summit for Democracy, which the Biden administration has been playing up for months, kicks off Thursday. The invite-only event with representatives from 110 countries is Biden’s baby: it’s a chance for the US president to “rescue” democracy, which is in global decline. What’s less clear, however, is why some states with poor democratic records have a seat at the table, while others with better democratic bona fides don’t. Is this a real stab at strengthening democracy, or rather a naked attempt to alienate those who cozy up to foes like China and Russia? We take a look at a selection of invitees, as well as some who didn’t make the cut, and their respective democracy ratings based on the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index.

Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones has often had to defend her work as the creator of the 1619 Project, a piece of modern journalism that has gained as much praise on one end of the US political spectrum as it has sparked outrage on the other.

Hannah-Jones admits some of the criticism was fair game — and that's one reason she’s just published an extended version of the project in book form, entitled The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story. But she rejects those who’ve tried to disqualify her and the project.

"People were saying these facts are wrong... [and] that this journalism needed to be discredited, and that's not normal," she explains. "And I don't agree with that type of criticism because... it's not true.”

According to Hannah-Jones, part of the problem is the mistaken perception that the 1619 Project claimed that slavery was uniquely American. It did not, she says, but did argue that the history of US slavery is quite exceptional in another way.

"There is something clearly unique about a country engaging in chattel slavery that says it was founded on ideas of individual rights and liberty. And that was not Brazil. That was not Jamaica. That was not any of the islands in the Caribbean. They didn't pretend to be a nation founded on God-given rights. We did."

Watch all of Hannah-Jones' interview with Ian Bremmer on the upcoming episode of GZERO World.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson observes an early morning Merseyside police raid on a home in Liverpool as part of 'Operation Toxic' to infiltrate County Lines drug dealings in Liverpool, Britain December 6, 2021.

Boris’ horrible, no good, very bad day. Boris Johnson is no stranger to controversy. In fact, sometimes he appears to relish it. But not this time. As British authorities weigh whether to impose unpopular restrictions amid a surge in omicron cases, a video has surfaced of top Downing Street aides tastelessly joking about flouting lockdown rules last Christmas by gathering for a holiday party. At the time, Britons were forbidden to gather with friends and family during the holiday season, let alone say goodbye to dying relatives. What’s more, Downing Street has been accused of trying to cover up the shindig – a “wine and cheese” night, according to the video – until this damning footage materialized. Johnson says he is “sickened and furious” about it, and a top aide has since resigned. (Johnson himself has not been accused of attending the party.) Meanwhile, London police say they are looking into the case. The timing is pretty awful for Johnson, who is already facing party backlash over a series of blunders in recent months, as well as his perceived failure to address Brexit-related shortages of gasoline and goods. Currently, 55 percent of Britons disapprove of his leadership.

More Show less
A person waves flags as people gather after the Senate approved a same-sex marriage bill, in Santiago, Chile December 7, 2021

8: Chile’s Congress approved same-sex marriage Wednesday, becoming the eighth Latin American country to do so. Conservative President Sebastián Piñera for years opposed the measure, which would give full parental rights to same-sex couples, but six months ago changed his position, paving the way for the bill’s passage.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal