What We’re Watching: Bolsonaro’s COVID crimes, Mali calls al-Qaeda, Facebook gets a facelift

What We’re Watching: Bolsonaro’s COVID crimes, Mali calls al-Qaeda, Facebook gets a facelift

Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A long-running Senate investigation in Brazil has found that by downplaying the severity of COVID, dithering on vaccines, and promoting quack cures, President Jair Bolsonaro directly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. An earlier version of the report went so far as to recommend charges of homicide and genocide as well, but that was pulled back in the final copy to a mere charge of "crimes against humanity", according to the New York Times. The 1,200-page report alleges Bolsonaro's policies led directly to the deaths of at least half of the 600,000 Brazilians who have succumbed to the virus. It's a bombshell charge, but it's unlikely to land Bolsonaro in the dock — for that to happen he'd have to be formally accused by the justice minister, an ally whom he appointed, and the lower house of parliament, which his supporters control. Still, as the deeply unpopular Bolsonaro limps towards next year's presidential election, a rap of this kind isn't going to help.


Sup al-Qaeda — Mali: The West African nation of Mali has long had a problem with jihadist violence, and French soldiers deployed there since 2013 have barely made a dent. Now, the military-civilian transitional government that has run things since last year's coup may try something different: ask local Islamic clerics to talk on their behalf to al-Qaeda's main affiliate in the country. They could find some common ground: the government seem open to sharia law and kicking out all foreign troops in exchange for peace. Former colonial power France, meanwhile, says it won't conduct joint military operations in any country that negotiates with jihadists, but Paris' failure to quell jihadist violence means the French now have little leverage with Bamako. Interestingly, the peace talks are being floated just as Mali is mulling a Russian offer to send 1,000 mercenaries to fight al-Qaeda — which the French are fiercely against, and will likely be scrapped if the government cuts a deal with the jihadists. More broadly, whatever happens in Mali will have ripple effects across the entire Sahel region.

The artist formerly known as "Facebook": Faced with a growing chorus of criticism about his company's unchecked market power, its corrosive impact on political discourse, its harm to kids, and its propensity to both spread dangerous lies and threaten free speech, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is doing the obvious thing: he's changing its name. That's right, in the coming days, the social media giant is set to unveil a new handle of its own, according to a scoop by The Verge. The name change won't affect the core social media app itself, but it will become the primary moniker for the broader conglomerate, which Zuckerberg wants to focus on developing the "metaverse" and other new technologies. This is similar to what Google did in 2015, when it rebranded itself as Alphabet or, if you like, to what Kanye West did two days ago when he rebranded himself as "Ye". Whether Zuck's move will take some of the regulatory heat off of Facebook is anyone's guess, but in the meantime, what do you think he should call the new company?
Two Black women hugging, with one woman pictured smiling

With half of all Black Americans excluded from the financial mainstream and Black-owned small businesses blocked from funding, we're working with city leaders and providing digital access to essential financial tools for immediate impact in Black communities. Learn more.

When Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted on all counts, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones, who created the "1619 Project" tweeted: "In this country, you can even kill white people and get away with it if those white people are fighting for Black lives. This is the legacy of 1619." In an upcoming interview with Ian Bremmer, she explains why she saw the verdict as a consequence of this country's long history of double standards when it comes to racial justice. "The fact that we own more guns in this country than any other country is certainly a legacy of 1619" Hannah-Jones says. "This idea that white Americans can patrol, that they have the right to open carry, this is not something that Black Americans can engage in, in the same way." Watch her full conversation with Ian Bremmer in an upcoming episode of GZERO World.

Demonstrators protest against a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) law that is voted on in a referendum, in front of the Swiss Federal Palace, the Bundeshaus, in Bern, Switzerland, November 28, 2021.

63: Early results of a national referendum found that 63 percent of Swiss voters back legislation mandating residents show proof of vaccination, a negative test result, or recovery from COVID to enter public spaces. Amid a surge in COVID cases, the Swiss government has opted not to impose new restrictions as other European states have done.

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The supply chain mess is hitting all of us. Inflation is now the highest it's been in over 30 years.

The costs of food, gas and housing are going through the roof. What's more, almost everything made outside of America is now in short supply — like semiconductors for our cars.

Why is this happening? A lot of it has to do with the pandemic. Asian factories had to shut down or thought there would be less demand for their stuff. So did shipping companies. But then online shopping surged, and now there's a lot of pent-up demand to spend all the cash we saved during COVID.

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Veteran Korea correspondent and former AP Pyongyang bureau chief Jean Lee discusses the two Koreas with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. From K-Pop supergroup BTS to Oscar-winner Parasite to Netflix global sensation Squid Game, South Korea seems to be churning out one massive cultural hit after another. And North Korea is taking notice.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: The Korean Peninsula from K-Pop to Kim Jong-un

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The economic consequences of high inflation are already bad enough.

But for Larry Summers, sometimes the psychological trauma that comes with it can do even more damage to a society.

"A society where inflation is accelerating is a society that feels out of control."

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Should you believe the hype(rsonic)?

Over the past few months, US officials have become increasingly alarmed about a new type of killing machines called "hypersonic weapons."

The top US General, Mark Milley, said that China's successful test of an advanced hypersonic weapon earlier this year was "very close" to a "Sputnik moment" – referring to the Soviet Union's surprise launch of the world's first artificial satellite in 1957, which raised fears that the US was lagging behind a formidable technological rival.

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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:

What is Facebook planning with the metaverse?

Well, my sense is that Facebook mostly prefers a virtual reality over the actual situation the company is in, with overwhelming criticism about the many harms to people it is causing all over the world. The metaverse at launch would be added to a number of services and experiences online in a more virtual and augmented reality setting. Think about what the gaming sector has done, but now, also, other big tech firms are jumping on the bandwagon. The thing to remember is that the user experience would be more immersive.

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How did we get to today's supply chain mess?

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