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What We're Watching: Haiti & Greece protests, Venezuela on film, Afghan women's prisons

What We're Watching: Haiti & Greece protests, Venezuela on film, Afghan women's prisons

Haiti's protests – After decades of dictatorship and then chaotic democracy, about 60 percent of Haiti's 11 million people still live in poverty today. Why? For the thousands of protesters who've raised their voices for the past several months, President Jovenal Moise and those around him have stolen billions of dollars that should have been spent on Haiti's economic development. Moise, who maintains he's stolen nothing, blames government dysfunction and says the opposition has made it impossible to hold elections that would seat a new parliament. In response, he proposes a new constitution, to be ratified by popular referendum, that would give the president expanded powers to sweep aside gridlock. Protests have become violent, more than 40 people have been killed, and Amnesty International accuses security forces of "excessive force." Something's got to give, but as Haiti has proven again and again over the decades, that's not the same as saying that progress will be made.


Greek Island clashes intensify – More than 60 people on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios have been injured in violent clashes over the Greek government's plan to build new migration centers there. The Greek islands have long been the gateway to Europe for migrants fleeing Africa and the Middle East via the nearby Turkish coast. But many residents there argue that their communities are already under-resourced and overcrowded as a result of the influx. In Lesbos, for example, 19,000 migrants are currently housed in squalid conditions in a camp originally designated to hold fewer than 3,000. Locals say asylum seekers should be sent to mainland Greece. Despite ongoing talks, Athens says it's moving ahead with the plan, even as the violence extends into a third day.

A stunning short film about the Venezuela protests – In the spring of 2017, Venezuelan cinematographer Braulio Jatar was studying film in New York City when massive anti-government protests erupted in his home country. He took his camera and went to Caracas to document the unrest, embedding himself with a team of medics who treated the wounded on all sides. His award-winning 9-minute film, Where Chaos Reigns, takes an unflinching, beautifully shot – and decidedly apolitical – look at the protests from right on the frontlines.

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Afghan women in prison – Afghanistan has long been one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a woman. Perpetrators of violence against women enjoy a culture of impunity, and police are notorious for forcing women – who have no financial autonomy – to return home to their abusive husbands. And so for some Afghan women the only way they could escape these marriages and protect their children was to murder their husbands. In this compelling photo essay, the New York Times chronicles the experiences of women who killed their spouses and found sanctuary at Herat Women's Prison in western Afghanistan. The photos, and the women's stories, are mesmerizing.

Khant Thaw Htoo is a young engineer who works in Eni's Sakura Tower office in the heart of Yangon. As an HSE engineer, he monitors the safety and environmental impact of onshore and offshore operations. He also looks out for his parents' well-being, in keeping with Myanmar's traditions.

Learn more about Khant in the final episode of the Faces of Eni series, which focuses on Eni's employees around the world.

On his first day as president, Joe Biden signed a remarkable series of executive orders. Boom! The US rejoins the Paris Climate Accord. Bang! The United States rejoins the World Health Organization. Pow! No more ban on immigration from many Muslim-majority countries. Biden's press secretary reminded reporters later in the day that all these orders merely begin complex processes that take time, but the impact is still dramatic.

If you lead a country allied with the US, or you're simply hoping for some specific commitment or clear and credible statement of purpose from the US government, you might feel a little dizzy today. The sight of an American president (Barack Obama) signing his name, of the next president (Donald Trump) erasing that name from the same legislation/bill, and then the following president (Biden) signing it back into law again will raise deep concerns over the long-term reliability of the world's still-most-powerful nation.

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Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis:

Should businesses be pessimistic or optimistic about 2021?

It's easy to be gloomy about the year ahead when faced with the realities of a cold, bleak winter in much of the world. Add to that lockdowns across Europe, surging case numbers and hospitalizations, and dreadful events in the Capitol in the US to name a few reasons for pessimism. But I think there is a case for optimism when it comes to this year. After all, it's true to say that it's always darkest before the dawn, and my conversations with business leaders suggest there are reasons to be positive by 2021.

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Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that many of the country's social media companies need to be held accountable for their negative role in our current national discourse. Swisher calls for "a less friendly relationship with tech" by the Biden administration, an "internet bill of rights" around privacy, and an investigation into antitrust issues.

Swisher, who hosts the New York Times podcast Sway, joins Ian Bremmer for the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television nationwide beginning this Friday, January 22th. Check local listings.

Brexit pettiness lingers: Here we were naively thinking the Brexit shenanigans were over after the EU and UK agreed to an eleventh-hour post-Brexit trade deal last month. We were wrong — the saga continues. Now, a new row has erupted after the Johnson government said it will not give the EU ambassador in London the same diplomatic status awarded to other representatives of nation states. Unsurprisingly, this announcement peeved Brussels, whose delegates enjoy full diplomatic status in at least 142 other countries. The UK says it will give the EU envoy the same privileges as those given to international organizations, which are subject to change and do not include immunity from detention and taxation given to diplomats under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations. EU members are furious, with officials accusing London of simply trying to flex its muscles and engaging in "petty" behavior. The two sides will discuss the matter further when UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets EU representatives next week, their first face-to-face since the two sides settled the Brexit quagmire on December 31. Alas, the Brexit nightmare continues.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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