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What We’re Watching: Hong Kong democrats walk out, Ethiopians flee to Sudan, Modi wins in Bihar

Pro-democracy legislators announce their resignation from the Legislative Council in Hong Kong. Reuters

Hong Kong democrats walk out: The entire bloc of pro-democracy legislators in Hong Kong's parliament resigned on Wednesday, after four fellow lawmakers were removed from office for allegedly violating China's draconian security law for the territory. The move came after Beijing passed a new resolution allowing the city's government to remove politicians deemed a threat to national security. But the walkout carries a cost: now, for the first time since the UK handed the territory back to Chinese control in 1997, there are no voices of dissent against Beijing in the legislature. Does this spell the "death knell" for democracy in Hong Kong? The pro-democracy movement is running out of ways to counter Beijing.


Ethiopians flee to Sudan: A deepening civil war between the national government and local forces in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia is now spreading beyond the country's borders, as thousands flee into neighboring Sudan. The conflict began last week when the national government led by Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed launched military strikes on the Tigray region, accusing local leaders of having attacked an army base. But tensions had been simmering for months, as Tigray leaders — who used to be part of the national governing coalition — ignored Abiy's decision to postpone elections scheduled for earlier this fall and held their own vote anyway. So far several hundred people have been killed and a few thousand refugees have fled to Sudan as Ethiopian forces advance. But some observers say that as many as 200,000 people could stream across the border in the coming days, placing a strain on Sudan's cash-strapped government and threatening to destabilize the region more broadly.

Modi wins in Bihar: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's ruling BJP party has claimed victory in Bihar, the country's third most populous state, and the first to hold a regional election since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. The BJP and its allies have secured a majority of seats to continue in power in Bihar — a huge upset for the opposition, which was widely favored to win back the state. It's a big win for Modi, who many experts predicted would take a hit in Bihar over his handling of the COVID-19 crisis in India, which is second only to the US in total infections and deaths. The election was marred by a bit of controversy after the BJP last month promised it would make vaccines available for free to voters if it won (and was heavily criticized for it). Either way, the results suggest that the pandemic has barely made a dent in Modi's popularity at the ballot box.

Dating and debates, music festivals and dance classes, work and education – an increasing amount of our social interactions now take place online. With this shift to virtual venues, ensuring kindness and respect in everyday interactions and encounters is more important than ever.

The digital space has become a fundamental part of the national and international conversation, and has also, at times, become a breeding ground for bullying, trolling and hate speech. There is a clear need for more "digital good" to ensure that online encounters have a constructive impact on everyone involved. To learn more about digital good and what it means, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

As the global vaccination race heats up, the most populous country in the world is trying to do three very hard things at once.

India, grappling with the second highest confirmed COVID caseload in the world, recently embarked on what it called "the world's largest" coronavirus vaccination campaign, seeking to inoculate a sizable swath of its 1.4 billion people.

That alone would be a herculean challenge, but India is also making hundreds of millions of jabs as part of the global COVAX initiative to inoculate low-income countries. And as if those two things weren't enough, Delhi also wants to win hearts and minds by doling out millions more shots directly to other countries in its neighborhood.

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Millions of people leave their home countries each year, fleeing conflict or violence, seeking better work opportunities, or simply to be closer to family. What proportion of those people are women? In many of the countries that are home to the largest migrant populations, a majority, in fact. While many women leave home for the same reasons as men (social instability or economic opportunity) gender-based violence or persecution often play a special role in women's decisions to pick up stakes and move. Here's a look at the gender breakdown of some of the world's largest migrant populations.

El Salvador's President Nayib Bukele is an unusual politician. The 39-year old political outsider boasts of his political triumphs on TikTok, dons a suave casual uniform (backwards-facing cap; leather jacket; tieless ), and refuses to abide by Supreme Court rulings.

Bukele also enjoys one of the world's highest approval ratings, and that's what helped his New Ideas party clinch a decisive victory in legislative elections on February 28, securing a close to two-third's supermajority (75 percent of the vote had been counted at the time of this writing).

His triumph will resonate far beyond the borders of El Salvador, Central America's smallest country, home to 6.5 million people. Now that Bukele has consolidated power in a big way, here are a few key developments to keep an eye on.

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Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (a little over) 60 Seconds:

The Biden administration announced its first sanctions. How will it affect US-Russia relations?

Not very much. About as bad as they were under the Trump administration, even though Trump personally wanted to be aligned with Putin, the administration was not. This is the same approach on sanctions as we've seen from the European Union, they could go a lot harder. It's not sector level. It's not major state enterprises. It's a few Russian officials that were involved in the chemical program for Russia. And at the end of the day, the Russians are annoyed, but they're not going to hit back. That's that. Okay.

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