What We're Watching: Mass Arrests, Libya's Spiral, A Floating Unicorn

What We're Watching: Mass Arrests, Libya's Spiral, A Floating Unicorn

Mass Arrests in the US – On Sunday, US immigration police will begin a multi-day, nationwide operation to arrest thousands of people believed to be living in the United States illegally, according to press leaks from US officials. If this happens—similar plans have been postponed before—President Trump will say he is simply enforcing US law. His critics will insist he's capsizing the lives of thousands of people, including children, for political gain. The less predictable part of this story is the human drama that thousands of arrests will create—and the political firestorm that will surely follow.


Libya's Downward Spiral – A new report suggests that Libya's civil war is becoming bloodier and that the country is now "spiraling further downward." There's no end in sight to the fight between the internationally-recognized, UN-backed Government of National Accord and the so-called Libyan National Army, led by former Libyan general Khalifa Haftar and reportedly backed by Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. On July 5, the UN Security Council formally condemned an airstrike on a migrant detention camp in a suburb of Tripoli that killed 53 people. No one has admitted responsibility for that attack. A bid by Haftar to capture Tripoli has bogged down. And despite a UN arms embargo in place since 2011, Libya remains "awash with weapons."

Miracles on Italian Beaches – Imagine: You're a newlywed enjoying a holiday on a beautiful Sardinian beach. You're floating on an inflatable unicorn. But then you fall into the water, which is unexpectedly cold, and your medical condition makes it impossible for you to move your legs. A strong wind then blows away your unicorn. You are now swallowing large amounts of salt water, and you begin to lose consciousness. Not to worry, because Olympic bronze medal-winning swimmer Filippo Magnini, sunbathing on the beach with his TV star girlfriend, has been alerted to your plight, and he's only too happy to save you. Apparently, this is the sort of thing that actually happens on Italian beaches.

Off to the races – You can, and should, experience the thrills of the annual World Wife-Carrying Championships right here. But then there's also this excellent T-Rex race. We're watching for your responses to know which race you like better and why.

What We're Ignoring:

Putin's Love of Birds – In a recent speech, Russia's president warned that wind turbines are dangerous: "Wind-powered generation is good, but are birds being taken into account in this case? How many birds are dying?" Research from the London School of Economics estimated in 2014 that there could be anywhere from 9,600 and 106,000 bird deaths a year from wind energy in the UK by 2020. (That's a fairly broad guess.) Their research also found that about 55 million British birds are killed each year by British housecats. We're not doubting Putin's well-documented love of birds, but maybe his position as president of one of the world's leading producers of oil, gas, coal, and nuclear energy has skewed his judgment on this one.

Each month, Microsoft receives about 6,500 complaints from people who've been victims of tech support scams. But it's not just Microsoft's brand that the scammers leverage; fraudsters have pretended to be from a number of other reputable tech companies and service providers. These scams will remain an industry-wide challenge until sufficient people are educated about how they work and how to avoid them.

To measure the scope of this problem globally, Microsoft commissioned YouGov for a new 2021 survey across 16 countries. Results from the 2021 survey reveal that, globally, fewer consumers have been exposed to tech support scams as compared to the 2018 survey. However, those people who continued with the interaction were more likely to have lost money to the scammers than we saw in our previous survey. To read the highlights of the survey, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Next week, Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner who is ideologically and personally close to Iran's 82 year-old supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, will be inaugurated as Iran's president. This power transition comes as the country experiences a fresh wave of protests that started in Iran's southwest over water shortages earlier this month and has since spilled over into dozens of provinces.

Some close observers of Iranian society and politics say that popular discontent there is now more widespread than it has been in years, making the Iranian regime more vulnerable than ever.

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Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

QR codes are everywhere. Are they also tracking my personal data?

Well, a QR code is like a complex barcode that may be on a printed ad or product package for you to scan and access more information. For example, to look at a menu without health risk or for two-factor verification of a bank payment. And now also as an integral part of covid and vaccine registration. QR codes can lead to tracking metadata or personal data. And when your phone scans and takes you to a website, certainly the tracking starts there. Now, one big trap is that people may not distinguish one kind of use of QR codes from another and that they cannot be aware of the risks of sharing their data.

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Was the world so focused on climate change that warning signs about the COVID-19 pandemic were missed? Historian and author Niall Ferguson argues that, while the climate crisis poses a long-term threat to humanity, other potential catastrophes are much more dangerous in the near future. "We took our eye off that ball," Ferguson says about COVID, "despite numerous warnings, because global climate change has become the issue that Greta Thunberg said, would bring the end of the world. But the point I'm making in DOOM [his new book] is that we can end the world and a lot of other ways, much faster." Ferguson spoke with Ian Bremmer in an interview for GZERO World.

Watch the episode: Predictable disaster and the surprising history of shocks

Tunisia, the only country that emerged a democracy from the Arab Spring, is now in the middle of its worst political crisis since it got rid of former autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali over a decade ago.

On Sunday, the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, President Kais Saied responded to widespread protests over the ailing economy and COVID by firing embattled Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and suspending parliament for 30 days. Troops have surrounded the legislature, where rival crowds faced off on Monday, with one side chanting in support of the move and the other denouncing it as a coup.

How did we get here, do we even know who's really in charge, and what might come next?

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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

As COVID-19 cases rise, are vaccine mandates coming?

Oh, you just want to get me in more trouble. Yeah, some mandates are coming, but they're not national mandates in the United States. In some cases, you're looking at federal and state employees, in some cases you're looking at lots of individual corporations, universities, and such. I mean I've already been to a number of events where vaccines have been mandated in New York. You've got this Excelsior Pass if you want to go to the Brooklyn Nets games, as I certainly do. You show it off and that gets you in with your vaccine. So I think it's really going to be a decentralized process. But clearly, given Delta variant and the number of people that are getting sick and dying because they're not vaccinated, you're going to see moves towards more mandates, as a consequence.

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Castillo takes over in Peru: After almost two months of protests, baseless allegations of fraud from his rival in the runoff election, and even rumblings of a coup, Pedro Castillo will be sworn in as president of Peru on Wednesday. A former rural school-teacher famous for riding on horseback, wearing a cowboy hat and waving a giant pencil to show how much he cares about education, Castillo has big plans to achieve big change. But he won by just a razor-thin margin in a deeply divided country, and Peru's dysfunctional political system will likely hobble his attempts to get major legislation passed. Moreover, despite having moderated his positions, half of the country still sees him as a communist who might turn Peru into another Venezuela. Castillo's most immediate task is dealing with the twin crises of a deadly pandemic and a COVID-fueled economic crisis that has hit poor Peruvians — his base — the hardest.

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13: The two Koreas have restored their communication hotline almost 13 months after Pyongyang abruptly cut it in response to Seoul not doing enough to prevent North Korean defectors from sending propaganda leaflets across the shared border. The hotline was established in 2018 following a historic meeting between North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

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