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.

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Political division, disinformation and, frankly, stupidity are costing lives. It is not authoritarian to mandate vaccines in America. In fact, there is historical precedent. Making vaccine uptake a requirement will save tens of thousands of lives and maybe many more than that. There really aren't two sides to this argument, there is just the science.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi, everybody. Ian Bremmer here. Hope you're having a good week. I wanted to kick it off by talking about vaccines. We all know the recent spike in cases and even hospitalizations that we have experienced in this country over the past couple of weeks. It looks like that's going to continue. It is overwhelmingly because of Delta variant. The hospitalizations and deaths are overwhelmingly because too many people are un-vaccinated.

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Iraqi PM's face-to-face with Biden: Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraq's prime minister, met with President Biden at the White House Monday to discuss the future of US troops in Iraq. The US still has about 2,500 troops stationed in Iraq to engage in "counterterrorism" operations and train Iraqi forces. In an interview published this week, al-Kadhimi called for the withdrawal of all US combat troops, because, he said, Iraqi forces have proven capable of fighting ISIS militants on their own. (Just last week, some 30 Iraqis were killed when ISIS militants attacked a busy Baghdad market.) Al-Kadhimi still wants non-combat US troops to stay on in a training capacity. He became PM in 2020 as a consensus candidate after nationwide protests over corruption and joblessness forced the resignation of the unpopular previous government. At least 500 protesters were killed during a crackdown by Iraqi security forces, fueling demands for fresh elections, which are set to take place this October. The green PM has a tough job: he has to juggle relations with the Biden administration, which just pledged $155 million in aid to Iraq, and ties with Tehran, an influential player in Iraqi politics. (Iraq relies on Iran for energy imports, and Iran-backed militias inside Iraq are a force to be reckoned with.) Local sentiment has soured on the US presence as Iraqis resent being caught in the middle of US-Iran fights inside Iraqi territory.

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7,100: As a third COVID wave ravages Myanmar, the death toll has now risen above 7,100, a gross undercount because that total includes only those who died in hospitals. Myanmar, which has one of the weakest healthcare systems in Asia, is also dealing with a vaccine hesitancy problem: people are rejecting shots because they see vaccination as validation of the military, which overthrew the democratically elected government earlier this year.

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Tunisia, the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring, is now in the middle of its worst political crisis since it got rid of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over a decade ago.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, President Kais Saied responded to widespread protests over the ailing economy and COVID by firing embattled Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending parliament for 30 days. Troops have surrounded the legislature, where rival crowds faced off on Monday, with one side chanting in support of the move and the other denouncing it as a coup.

How did we get here, do we even know who's really in charge, and what might come next?

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This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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"We've been dealing with pandemics from the earliest recorded history. Thucydides writes about a pandemic in the history of the Peloponnesian War. So the last thing 2020 was, was unprecedented," Stanford historian Niall Ferguson told Ian Bremmer on GZERO World. Ferguson, whose new book, "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe," believes that the world should have been better prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic based on the numerous health crises of the 20th century, from the 1918 Spanish flu to influenza and HIV/AIDS. He provides perspective on how the COVID crisis stacks up compared to other pandemics throughout history.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

COVID-19 was a global catastrophe that blindsided the world's wealthiest nations, and it's far from over. But as disasters go, it was hardly unprecedented. Humanity has a long history of failing to prepare for the worst, from volcanic eruptions to earthquakes to famines to shipwrecks to airplane crashes to financial depressions. But how do we get better at preventing such calamities from happening, and how many seemingly unavoidable "natural" disasters are actually caused by humans? On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer talks about all that and more with Stanford historian Niall Ferguson, who is just out with the perfect book for the topic, "Doom: The Politics of Catastrophe." Plus, a look at how one young Ugandan activist was literally cropped out of the global climate fight.

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GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

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GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

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Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal