What We're Watching: India's citizenship law challenged

What We're Watching: India's citizenship law challenged

India's supreme court to weigh in on citizenship law – India's southern state of Kerala filed a lawsuit in India's Supreme Court, claiming that a contentious new citizenship law that's caused nationwide protests is discriminatory and violates India's secular constitution. Kerala is the first state to legally challenge the new law backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party, which opens a path to Indian citizenship for migrants from neighboring countries— provided that they are not Muslims. In addition to the Kerala action, at least some of the 60 petitions filed by individuals and political parties are also likely to be heard by the court next week. Amid a climate of deepening uncertainty for India's 200 million Muslims, we're watching closely to see how the court rules.


Human rights leaders killed in Colombia – Almost four years ago, the Colombian government signed an historic peace accord with the FARC, the largest of the guerilla-narcotrafficking groups that had waged war on the state for half a century. But since then, the government hasn't been able to re-establish a strong presence in many of the remote, rural areas surrendered by the rebels. As a result, other, smaller armed groups have swept into the vacuum, putting local human rights leaders at extreme risk. According to the United Nations, as many as 120 such activists were murdered in 2019, after 115 were killed the previous year. We are watching to see how the government of President Ivan Duque, who was elected on a platform that was critical of the peace accords, plans to address the problem. Signing the accords was one thing, securing the peace remains quite another.

Impeachment politics – The Senate begins the impeachment trial of President Trump next week, and though the Republican Party's Senate majority assures a verdict in Trump's favor, the proceedings might matter for the November presidential election. First, new evidence that Trump played a direct role in trying to coerce Ukraine's government to help him discredit Joe Biden, the Democratic Party presidential frontrunner, creates trouble for Trump backers who want a quick trial without the testimony of fresh witnesses who could embarrass the president. On the other hand, during the trial, three Democratic presidential contenders—Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar—must be present for the trial while Biden, Pete Buttigieg and other candidates are free to campaign in early primary states.

What We're Ignoring

Bazooka doubters – A five-year-old cat named Bazooka began an "epic weight loss" journey in the US state of North Carolina this week. Bazooka currently weighs 35 lbs. (That's nearly 16 kilos for you kilo fans.) Catch a glimpse of Bazooka now before his medical care, prescription diet, and workout plan render him unrecognizable—and much healthier. We'll be watching Bazooka closely—but ignoring those who doubt his power to embrace change.

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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Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

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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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