What We're Watching: John Bolton's long-awaited book

What We're Watching: John Bolton's long-awaited book

John Bolton's book: Details of former US National Security Advisor John Bolton's hotly-anticipated White House memoir, "The Room Where it Happened" have started to leak, including an allegation that President Trump was explicit about holding up security aid unless Ukraine investigated his Democratic rivals. This will intensify pressure on moderate Senate Republicans to join Democrats in calling for Bolton and other direct witnesses to the President's conduct to testify under oath in the impeachment trial. This may also provide an opening for Democrats to lobby Chief Justice John Roberts – who is presiding over the Senate trial – to subpoena Bolton himself. We're watching to see how Republicans in the Senate respond to this new pressure.


The rising and falling stars of Italy: Italy's far-right Lega party came up short in its bid to take power in the historically left-leaning region of Emilia Romagna in local elections this weekend, but party boss Matteo Salvini still has much to be happy about. Although the center-left Democratic Party (PD) held the region, Salvini's party has still managed to increase its share of the vote there by more than ten points (to around 30 percent) since 2018. What's more, the PD's coalition partners in the national government, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, got clobbered in a number of regions, just days after party chief Luigi Di Maio quit. Salvini still wants fresh elections that he thinks he could win, and while failing to win Emilia Romagna is a setback, it's clear that his star is still rising while the (five) stars of his main opponents continue to fall.

Rockets flying in Iraq: The US embassy complex in Baghdad was hit by rocket fire on Monday, the second time in a week that US diplomatic facilities have been targeted with a fair degree of accuracy. No one was killed, but with tensions in the region still high after the US assassination of a senior Iranian military leader earlier this month – itself framed as a response to Iran-backed attacks on US installations in Iraq – we're watching to see who ultimately claims responsibility and how the US, Iraq, and Iran respond.

What We're Ignoring

Brazil's bid to curb sex: Alarmed by high teen pregnancy rates and rising rates of HIV infection, Brazil's far right government has a message for young people: wait. The government's minister of human rights, family, and women, an outspoken evangelical, has launched a public campaign to persuade young people not to have sex before marriage. Never mind that public health experts have concerns about abstinence policies, or that the campaign has raised questions about the separation between church and state. We're ignoring this because there are few things teenagers are less likely to listen to than government advice on what to do in their bedrooms (or anywhere else).

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?

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

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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