What We're Watching: Lifting the lid in Ethiopia

What We're Watching: Lifting the lid in Ethiopia

Ethiopia's big vote – Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has kept his promise to bring change since arriving in power in April 2018. His push for peace with neighboring Eritrea brought him a Nobel Prize, but his willingness to grant greater autonomy to the country's many ethnic groups has triggered violence, forcing some three million people from their homes during his brief time in office. On Wednesday, members of the Sidama ethnic group, Ethiopia's fifth largest, went to the polls to vote on whether they should have their own regional state within Ethiopia's federal system. That would give them power to make their own policies, spend their own budget on local priorities, and to maintain their own police force. We're watching to see whether the results of the vote will be peacefully accepted—and whether the demands of other groups will cause greater political turmoil in the country.


Israel's uncharted political waters – "Law enforcement isn't optional. It's not a question of politics. It's a duty." So said Israel's Attorney General as he announced Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would be indicted on three charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust. The indictments further complicate Israel's chaotic political landscape and threaten Netanyahu's bid to remain in power. Netanyahu is now likely to ask the Knesset, Israel's parliament, for immunity, which will delay criminal proceedings by several months. But the Knesset is not fully functional; no coalition government has been formed since Israel's September elections, the second in just six months. A third election is now extremely likely. But in the absence of a body authorized to decide on parliamentary immunity, it's unclear how Netanyahu's request might be considered. In a combative address, Netanyahu insisted the charges are politically motivated, and called on Israelis to "investigate the investigators." These are uncharted political waters, and all eyes are on the judiciary.

Donny Ramone – Fellow Signalista Alex Kliment is not like you and me. Where we see a photo of the handwritten notes that President Trump used on Wednesday to push back at charges he demanded the government of Ukraine investigate his political rival Joe Biden in exchange for military aid, Alex sees 1970s New York-style punk rock lyrics. You need to see this. This isn't the only reason we keep him around, but it's a really, really good one.

What We're Ignoring

Candidate Bloomberg – Former New York City Mayor and billionaire businessman Mike Bloomberg has officially filed his paperwork for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. But, his spokesperson said on Thursday, that "does not mean he has made the decision to run." We don't think he has a good chance to win anyway.

This week, the market value of Tencent, China's biggest video game company, nosedived after a state media outlet suggested that online gaming was as addictive and destructive as opium. Tencent immediately pledged to cap the number of hours people can play, and to keep minors off its platforms.

It's the latest example of a months-long crackdown on major Chinese technology firms that until recently were viewed as some of the world's most powerful and successful companies, as well as a source of national pride. Beijing's about-face on its own tech titans could have big implications for China, and beyond.

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On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer takes a look at the yin and the yang of alcohol's role in high-level diplomacy and society at large. Alcohol can bring people together just as easily as it can tear them apart. From a 1995 Clinton/Yeltsin Summit where a drunk Yeltsin almost derailed Bosnian peace talks, to Obama's Beer Summit and the recent G7 Summit, booze plays a part in how world leaders interact. Globally, alcohol consumption has been steadily increasing, by over 70 percent between 1990 and 2017, according to one report. . Low and middle-income nations like Vietnam, India, and China are a driving force behind that trend, with drinking in Southeast Asia rising by over 34 percent between 2010 and 2017. And yet, amidst this global booze boom, the world has only grown more and more divided.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

Equestrian jumpers, and their horses, are disciplined species. They don't appreciate surprises very much.

But many participants were caught off guard during this week's individual jumping qualifiers in Tokyo by a very daunting statue of a sumo wrestler on the hurdle course (which is dotted with statues paying homage to traditional Japanese culture, like geisha kimonos, cherry blossoms, and taiko drums).

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For Dick Pound, the longest serving member of the International Olympic Committee, protesting at the Games is fine — as long as it doesn't "interfere" with the competition itself or awards ceremonies. The Olympics, in his view, are an oasis of calm in the middle of an increasingly tense world, and "we shouldn't be spoiling that by pointing out the obvious , which is that there are social and political problems." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World on US public television.

India's rape problem: Hundreds of protesters have flocked to the streets of New Delhi for four days straight after a 9-year old girl was raped and murdered in a small village outside the capital while going to fetch water for her family. Some demonstrators burned effigies of India's PM Narendra Modi, saying that the government has not done enough — or anything, really — to address the country's abysmal rape problem: there were more than 32,000 rapes recorded in 2019, certainly a vast undercount given the stigma associated with reporting sexual assaults in India. The scourge of sexual violence against women and girls in India was brought to light in 2012 when a 23-year-old woman was gang raped and murdered while traveling on a bus in the nation's capital, prompting international outrage. Four men have been arrested in connection with this week's attack, though they have not been charged. The city of New Delhi, meanwhile, has ordered an inquiry to probe events surrounding the young girl's death, though Indians who have been sounding the alarm on violence against women for decades aren't expecting much to come of it.

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It's been 365 days since twin blasts at a Beirut port decimated Lebanon's capital. More than 200 people were killed and some 7,000 were injured, yet accountability has been scarce. There is ample evidence that multiple Lebanese officials knew that ammonium nitrate was being improperly stored at the port. Four high-ranking politicians, including former PM Hassan Diab, have been charged by a Lebanese judge, but they all refuse to cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

Since then, Lebanon's already-dire economic and financial crises have only intensified. The Lebanese pound, the national currency, has plummeted, losing 90 percent of its value since 2019, when the country's economic crisis erupted. And more than 50 percent of the population is now living below the poverty line.

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20,200: As the super contagious delta variant continues to spread, Thailand is now a COVID hotspot, recording more than 20,200 new COVID cases Wednesday, the highest daily toll since the pandemic began. Authorities imposed new restrictions in Bangkok and other provinces as the vaccine rollout remains sluggish; just 5.8 percent of Thailand's 66 million people are fully vaccinated.

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