What We’re Watching: Armenians & Azeris won't talk, Indian sectarian violence ruling, US-Taiwan infra plan

Armenian military volunteers gather in Yerevan. Reuters

No peace talks over Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenia and Azerbaijan are resisting pressure from Russia and the United Nations to stop fighting and talk out their dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. Since major clashes erupted over the weekend, killing scores on both sides, the two countries are inching closer to a wider war that could potentially draw in not only Russia — which is treaty-bound to defend Armenia — but also a newly assertive Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan. Vladimir Putin has offered to mediate, but so far has no takers. Meanwhile, Armenia says Turkey has sent Syrian mercenaries to Nagorno-Karabakh and shot down an Armenian fighter jet. As if that weren't enough, the latest outside player to weigh in on the conflict is France, whose support for Armenia has put Paris at odds with NATO ally Turkey. We are watching to see if more countries — for instance the US — will get involved, and if this resurgent conflict becomes an even uglier proxy war.


India exonerates BJP leaders over sectarian violence: An Indian court on Wednesday acquitted 32 people — including the former deputy prime minister and two leaders of the ruling BJP party — over their alleged role in the 1992 demolition of a 16th-century mosque in Ayodhya that sparked a wave of sectarian violence. Seventeen of those exonerated are now dead, among them Atal Behari Vajpayee, the BJP prime minister at the time. The ruling is great news for Hindu nationalist supporters of PM Narendra Modi, who just weeks ago played to his base by setting the first stone of a new Hindu temple that is being built over the razed remains of the mosque. The site has long been disputed by Hindus and Muslims, but a controversial Supreme Court verdict last fall allowed construction of the temple to proceed. On the other hand, the acquittals are seen as a blow to India's 180 million Muslims, many of whom worry that Modi is seeking to replace the country's secular foundations with his more explicitly Hindu vision of Indian identity.

It's infrastructure week with Taiwan! The US and Taiwan have announced that they will team up to develop infrastructure projects across Asia and Latin America. The plan is meant as a direct challenge to China's trillion dollar Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to build new roads, rails, and ports in over 75 countries. For Taiwan in particular, the idea is to decrease its economic dependence on Beijing, which considers the self-governing island to be part of China. Most of the world (including the US) formally agrees with that view, but Washington has long maintained close ties to Taiwan. The Trump administration's recent moves to inch closer to Taipei have raised hackles in Beijing, where Xi Jinping has signaled his intent to eventually re-establish Chinese control over Taiwan. Alas, "infrastructure week" never amounted to much in the US, but with US-China tensions rising, it could get hot fast in East Asia.

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Does the EU really have a foreign policy?

For decades, European leaders have debated the question of whether Europe should have a common foreign policy that’s independent of the United States.

Germany, the UK, and countries situated closest to Russia have traditionally preferred to rely on membership in NATO and US military strength to safeguard European security at a cost affordable for them.

French leaders, by contrast, have argued that, with or without NATO, Europe needs an approach to foreign-policy questions that doesn’t depend on alignment, or even agreement, with Washington.

There are those within many EU countries who agree that Europe must speak with a single clear voice if the EU is to promote European values and protect European interests in a world of US, Chinese, and Russian power.

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The politics of US crime: Perception vs reality

A recent spate of violent crimes in New York City has made national headlines. Since Eric Adams was sworn in four weeks ago as mayor of America’s most populous city, violence on the streets — and the subways — has again become a major political focus. Things got even more heated this week, when two young cops were killed while responding to a domestic dispute in Harlem.

Crime is not only a dominant political issue in New York. It also resonates more broadly with American voters worried over increased lawlessness and unrest. Indeed, crime is already shaping up to be a wedge issue as Republicans vie to win control of the US Congress this November.

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Hard Numbers: South China Sea jet search, US economy surges, Cuban protesters charged, Africa gets vaxxed

FILE PHOTO of a F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the Argonauts of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches off the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Jan. 14, 2022.

U.S Navy/EYEPRESS

100 million: The US Navy is scrambling to find a $100 million F-35 stealth fighter jet that crashed and sank soon after taking off on Monday from an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. One expert described the Cold War-ish race to locate the remains — stocked with classified equipment — before the Chinese do as "basically The Hunt For Red October meets The Abyss."

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The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020.

Nord Stream 2 used as a bargaining chip with Russia. The US now says that if Russia invades Ukraine, it’ll block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to transfer even more natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. This is a big deal, considering that Germany – thirsty for more Russian gas – has long been pushing for the pipeline to start operating despite ongoing objections from Washington. The $11 billion energy project, which would double Russian gas exports to Germany, is seen as (a big) part of the reason why Berlin is reluctant to push back hard against the Kremlin over its troop buildup at the Ukrainian border. Still, German officials admit Nord Stream 2 could face sanctions if the Russians invade, suggesting that the Americans’ threat was likely coordinated with Berlin in advance. This comes amid ongoing diplomatic attempts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, with US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz set to meet at the White House on February 7.

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Putin Has a “Noose” Around Ukraine, Says Russia Analyst Alina Polyakova | GZERO World

What’s going on in Vladimir Putin’s mind? That’s the million-dollar question.

Ukraine and Russia analyst Alina Polyakova doesn’t think it’s anything good.

Russia's president, she says, has put a “noose” around Ukraine with a troop build-up along the border that could spell invasion in the near term. The US has led an effort to deescalate the situation through diplomacy.

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The AI Addiction Cycle | GZERO World

Ever wonder why everything seems to be a major crisis these days? For former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, it's because artificial intelligence has determined that's the only way to get your attention.

What's more, it's driving an addiction cycle among humans that will lead to enormous depression and dissatisfaction.

"Oh my God there's another message. Oh my God, there's another crisis. Oh my God, there's another outrage. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God," he says. "I don't think humans, at least in modern society where [we’ve] evolved to be in an 'Oh my God' situation all day."

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Merkin' It With Angela Merkel | PUPPET REGIME | GZERO Media

Angela Merkel is retired — but only from politics. Still, maybe she's not as good at other jobs as she was as German chancellor.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME!

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