What We’re Watching: Indian women & Dalits push back, EU sues UK over Brexit, Israel & Lebanon maritime talks

Dalits protest against caste-based violence in Mumbai, India. Reuters

India reckons with violence against women, Dalits: The deaths on the same day of two Dalit women after being gang-raped has sparked outrage across India. In New Delhi, scores of protesters were arrested for violating coronavirus restrictions after urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to end the country's "rape culture," while a Dalit party leader called on all members of the lower caste to rally throughout India to demand that the perpetrators be hanged. The tragic deaths have exposed the country's bid problem with rising gender- and caste-based violence. India was one of the most dangerous places to be a woman even before COVID-19, and the pandemic has only made things worse. Dalits — who used to be referred to as "untouchables" under the caste system that the country formally abolished in 1950 — are still victims of severe discrimination by upper-caste Indians. We're watching to see if the anger at these latest deaths turns into a nationwide protest movement that puts pressure on Modi to do more to uphold the rights of both women and Dalits.


EU ups the ante on UK over Brexit: Weeks after Boris Johnson ignited the ire of Brussels by rewriting parts of the UK's exit deal from the European Union, the EU has hit back by launching legal proceedings against the UK for breaching the agreement. The dispute is largely over a proposed new law that would prevent the UK nation of Northern Ireland from following EU trade rules and keeping a "soft" border — a key condition of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement signed by the UK and the Republic of Ireland — while both sides negotiate a final trade deal. European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said that the legislation was in "full contradiction" of Johnson's earlier commitments. Brussels has sent London a "letter of formal notice" — the first phase of the legal process — giving the British government one month to respond before the matter goes to the EU Court of Justice. This all comes as Brussels and London are about to enter the final round of withdrawal talks at the EU Summit on October 15, where they hope to finalize a Brexit deal for EU leaders to approve soon — despite the massive gaps that persist between the two sides. Johnson, for his part, has said that the UK will leave the EU by year's end with or without a deal.

Israel, Lebanon agree to maritime talks: After robust diplomatic efforts conducted by Washington in recent years, Israel and Lebanon, longtime enemies who have fought some of the bloodiest wars in the Middle East, have finally agreed to start talks over an ongoing maritime dispute. The talks, to be brokered by the US in conjunction with the UN, will be the first time Israel and Lebanon — who have no diplomatic ties and often clash over land borders and ideology — have engaged in direct dialogue in thirty years. The conversation will center on a decades-long row over a contested area in the Mediterranean Sea linked to three Lebanese energy fields. Both sides will meet in mid-October in southern Lebanon, abutting the volatile frontier where Israeli forces have clashed with Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants and the Lebanese army for decades. (After two decades of war, Israel ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000).

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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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:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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