What We’re Watching: Hong Kong a year later, Brazilian troops in the Amazon, Mexico’s marijuana moves

What We’re Watching: Hong Kong a year later, Brazilian troops in the Amazon, Mexico’s marijuana moves

RIP Hong Kong as we knew it: Exactly a year ago on Wednesday, China imposed a draconian new national security law on Hong Kong. The measure gives Chinese authorities broad leeway to punish political dissent. It came in response to a massive pro-democracy movement on the semi-autonomous island that was touched off by Beijing's attempt to subject Hong Kongers to the jurisdiction of courts in mainland China, where the judicial system is more politicized. Since the new security law went into effect last summer, almost all vestiges of Hong Kong's once-vibrant civil society and relative political openness have been snuffed out. Opposition leaders have been jailed, pro-democracy lawmakers sidelined, and the free press largely shuttered. Meanwhile the US has revoked preferential trade and investment ties with Hong Kong, a number of European countries have cut extradition agreements, and most (but not all) countries around the world have condemned China's policy. And yet, from the perspective of Chinese President Xi Jinping, this is all arguably a win. He has suppressed one of the biggest popular challenges to China's authority in recent years, and made real the idea that there is only one system of government in China: his.


Brazil sends troops to the Amazon: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has sent soldiers to the Amazon in order to stop illegal deforestation. This is the third time that Bolsonaro, whose enthusiasm for economic development of the rainforest has contributed to a surge in deforestation since he came to power in 2018, has sent soldiers to enforce environmental laws there. But conservationists and climate activists say that these missions have been poorly equipped and ineffective, providing the appearance of action without really reining in deforestation. As climate change returns to the international policy agenda, Bolsonaro has come under intense international pressure in recent months to do more to protect the Amazon, which is one of the world's most effective "carbon sinks" — a resource that removes greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere. Bolsonaro has bristled at what he and his supporters see as high-handed international meddling in Brazil's domestic affairs.

Mexico to legalize weed: The Brazilians may be trying to stop the burning, but Mexico is gearing up for some smoking. The country's Supreme Court on Monday struck down laws that criminalize the recreational use and cultivation of cannabis. It's a big step towards full legalization, which could make Mexico the world's largest legal cannabis market. Supporters say that would create jobs and, at the margin, undercut the power of drug cartels. But there are still legal hurdles, the most important of which is a legalization bill that was passed by the House but languishes in the Senate. That's in part because polls show nearly 60 percent of Mexicans oppose legalization. And with the cartels focused on more lucrative harder drugs like cocaine and opioids now, legalizing weed isn't likely to hurt them much. Even some pro-legalization activists say the bill doesn't do enough to create security and economic opportunity for farmers who could profit from growing cannabis. Will the Supreme Court ruling spark some fresh momentum in the Mexican Congress?

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

A few weeks ago, a Signal reader emailed me to ask why so much of our coverage of the world is so damn dark. Aren't there any good news stories out there?

More Show less

There's a lot of doom and gloom in the world these days, and much cause for pessimism. Still, the advent of new technologies and scientific advancements has lifted millions out of poverty and increased quality of life for many over the last half century. Since 1990, global average life expectancy has increased by eight years to 73, while GDP per capita has also grown exponentially, doubling over the past decade alone. We take a look at how life expectancy and GDP per capita have evolved globally from 1960-2019.

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:

Why can't President Biden order a vaccine mandate for all Americans?

Well, the reason is it's out of his powers. The one of the fundamental challenges in the pandemic is that the federal government has actually been fairly limited in the steps they can take to stop the spread of the virus. So, that's why you've seen President Biden order masks on transit, mass transit, airplanes, and the like. But he can't order masks in workplaces because that's not within his power. That power lies within state governments. State governments and other entities, like employers, can require vaccinations before you come into their buildings, or you come back to school, or you go to work in your office. But the federal government can't do that. What Biden is doing is, allegedly, supposedly going to announce a mandate for federal workers to get vaccinated.

More Show less

American gymnast Sunisa "Suni" Lee, 18, stunned spectators around the world with her breathtaking performance in Tokyo Thursday that earned her the gold.

Here are some interesting facts about Suni Lee, the gymnast queen:

More Show less

"Super Mario" takes his chances: Less than five months after becoming Italy's consensus prime minister, Mario Draghi's coalition government is on shaky ground over Draghi's proposed judicial reforms. "Super Mario" — as he's known for saving the Eurozone as European Central Bank chief during the financial crisis — wants to dramatically speed up Italy's famously slow courts. But his push to reduce judicial backlogs is opposed both by the populist 5-Star Movement, the coalition government's biggest party, and by prosecutors because many cases could be scrapped before reaching a verdict. Draghi, upset that this resistance is stalling his other initiatives to cut Italian red tape, has decided to roll the dice anyway: he'll put his plan to overhaul the courts to a no-confidence vote in parliament. If Draghi wins, he gets the reforms passed without debate; if he loses, the PM technically has to resign, but he'll keep his job because he has enough votes even if the 5-Star Movement bows out of the coalition.

More Show less

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is going on in Bosnia with Bosnian Serbs boycotting all major institutions?

Well, it's a reaction against a decision that was taken by the outgoing high representative during his very last days, after 12 years of having done very little in this respect, to have a law banning any denial of Srebrenica and other genocides. But this issue goes to very many other aspects of the Bosnian situation. So, it has created a political crisis that will be somewhat difficult to resolve.

More Show less

700: Roughly 700 people arrested for joining the unprecedented July 11 anti-government protests in Cuba are still being held by the regime. They may now face mass show trials as Havana continues to crack down on dissent following the biggest challenge to its power in decades.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

The history of disasters

GZERO World Clips

How booze helps get diplomacy done

GZERO World Clips
GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal