What We’re Watching: Belarusian spooks plot killings abroad, Army enters Ghana’s parliament

Belarusian opposition supporters take part in a protest event demanding freedom for political prisoners in Minsk. Reuters

Did Belarus have plans to kill dissidents abroad? On Monday, the EU Observer, an online newspaper, published a recording of unclear origin that is allegedly an April 2012 conversation between a former Belarusian spy chief and two unidentified men, in which the three discuss a plan to assassinate Belarusian dissidents living under asylum abroad, including in Germany. The men discuss the names of assassination targets, the use of poison and explosives, and refer to a "special account" to fund the plans. Adding to the intrigue, is the resemblance between the methods discussed in the recording and those used to carry out the car bomb assassination in Ukraine of a Belarusian journalist in 2016. None of the targets named in the recording itself has been killed, and the dissident who leaked the recording claims that Western intelligence foiled the plans. German authorities aren't saying much about this story, but the news will again focus Europe's attention on abuses of power by the government of strongman President Alexander Lukashenko.


Ghanian parliament ruckus: The US Capitol building in Washington wasn't the only site of a violent political struggle this week. In Ghana, the army had to enter the chamber right before President Nana Akufo-Addo was to be inaugurated for his second term, after an opposition lawmaker noticed a colleague from the ruling party was snatching ballots for a vote to choose the next Speaker. That sparked a shouting and shoving match between rival MPs that was swiftly resolved by the soldiers, who took minutes to secure the legislature for Akufo-Addo's swearing in. Ghana is one of Africa's most stable democracies, but the last election was marred by violence, and resulted in a hung parliament, equally divided between lawmakers from the two main parties and with a lone independent. To make matters worse, the outcome of the vote was questioned by the opposition party, which lost the presidential race but now controls half of parliament. We're watching to see if after Wednesday's chaotic scene, both sides will learn to compromise so Ghana can move forward on key issues such as pandemic relief and recovery, as well reducing the nation's crippling debt burden.

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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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