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What We’re Watching: Kyrgyz political unrest, Indonesian protests, Venice flooding contained

Protest against the results of a parliamentary election in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Reuters

Post-election unrest rocks Kyrgyzstan: After mass protests over alleged irregularities in Sunday's parliamentary elections, authorities in Kyrgyzstan — a small former Soviet republic in Central Asia — have nullified the results, opening the way to a fresh vote. Only four of 16 parties won seats, and (by sheer coincidence!) three of those parties have close ties to President Sooronbai Jeenbekov. The result prompted supporters of the other twelve parties to hit the streets, where they clashed with riot police and later ransacked parliament. Opposition leaders — with backing from international observers — say there is evidence of vote-buying. Some are now openly seeking to unseat Jeenbekov, who was elected in 2017 in the first democratic transfer of power in Kyrgyzstan's history. The country is no stranger to political unrest — over the past 15 years, protests have ousted two presidents. We are watching to see if Jeenbekov can reach a deal to placate the opposition and hold fresh elections, and also keeping an eye on how the Kremlin responds — if there's one thing Putin doesn't like, it's (more) democratic uprisings in his neighborhood.


Indonesians cry foul over new labor law: Indonesian workers are up in arms over the country's new labor law, which aims to increase much-needed foreign investment by loosening the protections for the environment and workers' rights. On Tuesday, millions of workers went on strike despite pandemic-related restrictions to protest against the pro-business changes, which environmental groups and unions believe will lead to rampant deforestation and disproportionately hurt poorer Indonesians. Meanwhile, independent experts say the "omnibus" bill, which revised more than 70 existing laws, was rushed through parliament. The government, for its part, argues that the reforms were needed because the previous labor legislation deterred formal hiring and scared off long-term investment. In an interesting response to the unrest, Indonesian police have dispatched cyber patrols to prevent protesters from organizing online and launched counter-narratives to defend the new law on social media.

High waters laid low in Venice: Okay, you need some good news, so here it goes… For almost thirty years, Venice has been trying to complete a flood barrier to stop high tides from flooding the city of canals. But repeated construction delays and corruption scandals surrounding the project made many Venetians think they'd never see the day when a system of massive metal plates would rise up in the sea to stop the acqua alta (the "high water" tides that roll in between fall and early spring.) But last Saturday was, at long last, that day. As the sea swelled, the 78 barriers slowly rose up, and at high tide the famous Piazza San Marco — one of the lowest points in the city — was… dry! The urgency of developing a flood solution for Venice has grown in recent years as global sea levels rise due to climate change. In 2019 an acqua alta flooded 90 percent of Venice, causing massive economic damage just before the coronavirus pandemic killed off the tourism industry that supports the city.

Urbanization may radically change not only the landscape but also investors' portfolios. Creating the livable urban centers of tomorrow calls for a revolution in the way we provide homes, transport, health, education and much more.

Our expert guests will explore the future of cities and its implications for your wealth.

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Back in 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump presented his vision for an "America First" foreign policy, which symbolized a radical departure from the US' longtime approach to international politics and diplomacy.

In electing Donald Trump, a political outsider, to the top job, American voters essentially gave him a mandate to follow through on these promises. So, has he?

Trade

"A continuing rape of our country."

On the 2016 campaign trail, candidate Trump said that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a 12 country trade deal pushed by the Obama administration — would "rape" America's economy by imperiling the manufacturing sector, closing factories, and taking more jobs overseas.

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In an op-ed titled "Iran Arms Embargo Reckoning," the Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that ending the UN arms embargo on Iran was a major flaw of the 2015 nuclear deal and questions whether Biden could do anything to contain Iran at this point. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Henry Rome take out the Red Pen to explain why this discussion misrepresents the importance of the embargo and the consequences for its expiration.

So, the US presidential election is now just days away, and today's selection is focusing on a specific aspect of foreign policy that will certainly change depending on who wins in the presidential contest—namely America's approach to Iran.

You've heard me talk before about the many similarities between Trump and Biden on some international policies, like on China or on Afghanistan. But Iran is definitely not one of those. Trump hated the JCPOA, the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, put together under the Obama administration, and he walked away from it unilaterally. Joe Biden, if he were to become president, would try to bring it back.

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It almost didn't happen — but here we are again. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden face off tonight in the final presidential debate of the 2020 US election campaign.

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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government surrender Osama bin Laden and end support for al-Qaeda. The Taliban refused.

On October 7, US bombs began falling on Taliban forces. NATO allies quickly pledged support for the US, and US boots hit the ground in Afghanistan two weeks later.

Thus began a war, now the longest in US history, that has killed more than 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. It has cost the American taxpayer nearly $3 trillion. US allies have also made human and material sacrifices.

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