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What We're Watching: Indian students' outrage

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.

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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"There needs to be a dramatic and deep reduction in the amount of debt on the poorest countries. That's clear." As the world's poorest nations struggle to recover from a devastating pandemic, World Bank President David Malpass argues that freeing them of much of their debt will be key. His conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Listen: Renowned tech journalist Kara Swisher has no qualms about saying that social media companies bear responsibility for the January 6th pro-Trump riots at the Capitol and will likely be complicit in the civil unrest that may continue well into Biden's presidency. It's no surprise, she argues, that the online rage that platforms like Facebook and Twitter intentionally foment translated into real-life violence. But if Silicon Valley's current role in our national discourse is untenable, how can the US government rein it in? That, it turns out, is a bit more complicated. Swisher joins Ian Bremmer on our podcast.

Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Biden's first scheduled call with a world leader will be with Canada's Justin Trudeau. What's going on with the Keystone Pipeline?

Well, Biden said that that's it. Executive order, one of the first is that he will stop any construction or development of the Keystone Pipeline. This is of course an oil pipeline that would allow further oil sands oil to come to the United States. The infrastructure is significantly overstretched, it's led to backlogs, inefficiency, accidents, all the rest, but it also facilitates more energy development and keeps prices comparatively down if you get it done. So, there are lots of reasons why the energy sector in Canada wants it. Having said all of that, Trudeau, even though he's been a supporter of Keystone XL, let's keep in mind that he did not win support in Alberta, which is where the big energy patch in Canada is located. This is a real problem for the government of Alberta, Canada is a very decentralized federal government, even more so than the United States. The premier of Alberta is immensely unhappy with Biden right now, they've taken a $1.5 billion equity stake in the project. I expect there will actually be litigation against the United States by the government of Alberta. But Trudeau is quite happy with Biden, his relationship was Trump was always walking on eggshells. The USMCA in negotiations ultimately successful but were very challenging for the Canadians, so too with the way Trump engaged in relations on China. All of this, the fact that Trump left the nuclear agreement with Iran, the Paris Climate Accords, WHO, all of that is stuff that Trudeau strongly opposed. He's going to be much more comfortable with this relationship. He's delighted that the first call from Biden is to him. And it certainly creates a level of normalcy in the US-Canada relationship that is very much appreciated by our neighbors to the North.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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