What we're watching: Argentina back to the future?

What we're watching: Argentina back to the future?

Argentina's "Back to the Future" Vote – In 2015, Argentines chose a radically different direction for their country. By electing the pro-business Mauricio Macri as president, they rejected more than a decade of left-wing Peronist populism in favor of an experiment with economic reforms to open the economy. When they head back to the polls this Sunday for the first round of the next presidential election, it looks like they'll render a stark verdict: it hasn't worked. The "dream" that Macri promised has become a nightmare, because his economic reforms inflicted enough pain to provoke popular backlash, but without reassuring investors that the government was committed to long-term change. The Peronist party, led by Alberto Fernandez with former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner as his running mate, is the clear favorite to win, perhaps without a second-round runoff. We're watching to see how Argentines understand their past and how they want to move toward the future.


Kurds Without Guns – Think of the Kurds now retreating from northeast Syria as part of the recent US-Turkey and Turkey-Russia deals, and you'll probably picture men with guns. But more than 176,000 civilians, nearly 80,000 of them children, have been forced from their homes in that region, according to the UN. It's not clear where these people will go. In their place, Turkey's government says it will dispatch large numbers of Syrian Arab refugees who are now living in camps inside Turkey. In short, Turkey is remaking the ethnic balance inside the borders of another country as part of a deal with Washington.

Baby Shark: The Protest Remix – A woman driving through Beirut with her 15 month-old son in the passenger seat finds her vehicle surrounded by dozens of shouting protesters. The child becomes frightened. To reassure the thoroughly befuddled toddler, protesters begin dancing and singing "Baby Shark" a hit children's tune that's been watched close to 4 billion times on YouTube. We're watching (and rewatching) this video of the incident, because we're almost as amused and bewildered as the kid.

What We're Ignoring:

Les Expos sont là! - It took more than half a century, but the Montreal Expos have finally advanced to baseball's biggest stage, the World Series! The pride of Quebec and their mascot Youppi! have taken the first two games in this best-of-seven series from the Houston Astros. It's a....wait, what? Ah...It appears the Expos left Montreal in 2004 to become the Washington Nationals. So, ya know, never mind.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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