What We're Watching: Indian students' outrage

Indian students' outrage – At least 40 people were admitted to hospital Sunday after mask-clad attackers descended on the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) in New Delhi, striking students and staff with stones, sticks and iron rods. Many have blamed the attack at JNU – long associated with left-wing student activism – on a Hindu nationalist student body associated with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling BJP. Now, thousands of protesters across the country have flocked to the streets, accusing police of failing to intervene as more than 50 attackers bludgeoned students, and for failing to arrest members of the violent mob. The incident comes at time of enhanced ethnic tensions in India amid the government's controversial citizenship bill, seen by many as anti-Muslim. If the government continues to remain mum on this attack, it will surely only inflame tensions further.


Calamity in Kenya – Kenya is on high alert after a spate of regional attacks by the Somalia-based al-Shabab terror group, an offshoot of al-Qaeda loosely aligned with Iran. Three Americans were killed in an attack on US and Kenyan troops in Manda Bay Sunday, about a week after al-Shabab militants blew up a truck at a busy intersection in Mogadishu, Somalia's capital, killing 80 people. The violent uptick in Kenya is a reminder of the deteriorating situation in neighboring Somalia – one of the world's most fragile countries – and militant groups' knack for taking advantage of the region's porous borders to mobilize fighters and wage attacks. About 300 US army personnel are stationed in Kenya, helping train local forces fighting homegrown terrorist cells. It's worth noting that the Pentagon is reportedly contemplating a major troop reduction in West Africa as part of President Trump's planned military pullback – a move that would allow extremist groups to proliferate throughout Africa, some military officials have warned.

Facebook's bad week – Despite sustained pressure from US lawmakers, Facebook announced Thursday that it will not make any changes to its rules surrounding political advertising, a controversial policy that allows politicians to lie in ads. The tech giant also said it would not put an end to "microtagging," giving political campaigns a green light to continue targeting their ads – and disinformation – at subsections of the public. Facebook executives defended the move on free speech grounds, but this decision will have far-reaching consequences for online advertising campaigns anticipated in this year's election (estimated at over $1 billion). This announcement came a day after the tech behemoth and Teen Vogue magazine were panned for "placing" a lofty online article praising Facebook for fighting misinformation ahead of the 2020 presidential election, failing to disclose that the piece was in fact paid Facebook content. All eyes will now be on the US Congress, but election-related regulation for the tech industry has stalled in the extremely fractious legislature, and that's unlikely to change.

What We're Ignoring

A new US-Iran nuclear deal – The US says it's "ready to engage without preconditions in serious negotiations" with Iran following this week's hostilities. President Donald Trump says he wants a new nuclear deal to replace the existing version negotiated by his predecessor with Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia. If Trump wins re-election in November, Iran will have to consider its options. But we can safely ignore this invitation for now. Iran, which has proven its ability to absorb economic pain many times over the past 40 years, has no interest in offering fundamental concessions to a man who may not be president next year. It took former President Obama many years to force Iran's government to the bargaining table. Iran knows Trump may not have that long.

Scientists, engineers and technologists are turning to nature in search of solutions to climate change. Biomimicry is now being applied in the energy sector, medicine, architecture, communications, transport and agriculture in a bid to make human life on this planet more sustainable and limit the impacts of global warming. New inventions have been inspired by humpback whales, kingfishers and mosquitoes.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

The drumbeat for regulating artificial intelligence (AI) is growing louder. Earlier this week, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet, became the latest high-profile Silicon Valley figure to call for governments to put guardrails around technologies that use huge amounts of (sometimes personal) data to teach computers how to identify faces, make decisions about mortgage applications, and myriad other tasks that previously relied on human brainpower.

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January 27 marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi extermination camp. But even as some 40 heads of state gathered in Jerusalem this week to commemorate the six million Jews who were killed, a recent Pew survey revealed that many American adults don't know basic facts about the ethnic cleansing of Europe's Jews during the Second World War. Fewer than half of those polled knew how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and close to a third didn't know when it actually happened. Here's a look at some of the numbers.

1: The Greek parliament has elected a woman president for the first time since the country's independence some 200 years ago. A political outsider, Katerina Sakellaropoulou is a high court judge with no known party affiliation. "Our country enters the third decade of the 21st century with more optimism," Greece's prime minister said.

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A quarantine in China– Local authorities have locked down the city of Wuhan, the source of the outbreak of a new and potentially deadly respiratory virus that, as of Thursday morning, had infected more than 540 people in at least six countries. Other nearby cities were also hit by travel restrictions. Rail and air traffic out of Wuhan has been halted. Public transportation is shut, and local officials are urging everyone to stay put unless they have a special need to travel. Wuhan is a city of 11 million people, many of whom were about to travel for the Chinese New Year. We're watching to see whether these extraordinary measures help stem the outbreak, but also to see how the people affected respond to the clampdown.

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