What We’re Watching: Mexican women demand abortion rights, Kuwaiti emir dies, Duterte hits Facebook

Women take part in a protest in Mexico City to demand abortions are legalized in the country. Reuters

Mexico reckons with abortion rights: Scores of people joined protests in Mexico's capital on Monday, demanding the legalization of abortion in the majority Roman Catholic country. The demonstrations coincided with International Safe Abortion Day, which aims to ensure women around the world have access to safe sexual and reproductive health services. In Mexico, which has a female population of at least 65 million, the procedure is banned outside Mexico City and the southern state of Oaxaca (which moved to legalize the procedure last year), though it's legal in instances of rape. More than half of all pregnancies in Mexico are estimated to be unintended, leading many women to seek (botched) illegal abortions that often lead to complications requiring serious medical care. Protesters clashed with police — with some women even hurling Molotov cocktails — as confrontations became increasingly heated throughout the day. Many attendees were clad in green scarfs, which have become the symbol of the pro-choice movement in parts of Latin America in recent years. Some analysts say that the recent death of US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a women's right icon, has put renewed global focus on abortion rights — and women's rights more broadly.


Kuwait emir dies: Kuwaiti Emir Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah died on Tuesday at age 91. Taking over the reigns of the country in 2006 following four decades as foreign minister, Sheikh Sabah leveraged his diplomatic skills for tiny yet oil-rich Kuwait to punch above its weight in regional politics, charting an independent foreign policy that largely stayed out of traditional Middle Eastern feuds and rivalries. His legacy includes a key mediation role when three Gulf states — Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE — cut off relations and blockaded Qatar in 2014 over the latter's alleged support of terrorism and ties to Iran. Sheikh Sabah also oversaw a stable alliance with the US, which fought the the 1991 Gulf War to liberate the emirate from Saddam Hussein and keeps around 13,000 troops in Kuwait. On the domestic front, he was relatively popular (by Gulf absolute monarchy standards) although in 2011 Skeikh Sabah had to dissolve parliament and crack down on Arab Spring-inspired protests that threatened the royal family's rule over Kuwait. Kuwait's new emir is Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who is already 82. We'll be watching whom he appoints as crown prince in a long-term succession process that is a bit more complicated than in other Gulf monarchies because the royal family is not as united and the crown prince must deal with parliament, which has more power in Kuwait than elsewhere in the region.

What We're Ignoring

Duterte's Facebook rant: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has lashed out at Facebook after it blocked several fake accounts operated by members of the military and the police found to be spreading misinformation in support of the government. Although these days strongmen threatening to shut down Facebook after complaining of political bias are a dime a dozen, we're ignoring Duterte's tirade because he only takes issue when Facebook doesn't serve his own political goals. The Philippine leader used an army of Facebook trolls to get elected in 2016, and once in office, his aides continued weaponizing the social media platform to defend Duterte's bloody war on drugs and call out critics such as prominent journalist Maria Ressa. Additionally, the military recently admitted that Facebook is a great medium to rally popular support against "enemies of the state." Not to mention that banning a platform used by 96 percent of social media-obsessed Filipinos would hurt Duterte's popularity...

The impact of Covid-19 is being felt in every household, changing the way we live our lives. The pandemic continues to reinforce the drive for cooperation between communities, governments and businesses in order to combat the threat.

Microsoft responded to the pandemic in its home state through efforts like donating protective equipment, making boxed lunches for families and using technology to better understand the spread of the virus over the last year. Now, we're sharing six ways Microsoft is pulling together with the community to lend a hand to fellow Washingtonians in 2021 including helping with vaccination efforts. To read more, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Europe has been hit by a green wave in recent years. Green parties in countries as varied as Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, Finland, and Sweden have made sizable electoral gains, with some now sitting in national governments.

The Green phenomenon seems to be gaining yet more momentum in the lead up to some crucial European elections (Germany, France) in the months ahead. What explains the green shift, and where might this trend be headed?

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Guilty: Eleven months after George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died under the knee of Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, on a Minneapolis street corner, we finally have a verdict in the murder trial. On Tuesday, a jury found Chauvin guilty of all three charges: second- and third-degree murder, as well as second-degree manslaughter. The verdict was celebrated by advocates for racial justice and police reform. Last summer, video footage of Floyd suffocating to death as he cried out "I can't breathe" galvanized anti-racism protests across America (some of which turned violent) that went global. We're watching to see if the jury's verdict gives fresh impetus to the nationwide movement for police accountability and broader criminal justice reform, both of which have been met with fierce resistance from law-and-order conservatives and police unions. And we'll also be keeping an eye on the sentence, as Chauvin faces up to 75 years in prison for his crimes.

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120,000: Ukraine warns that Russia will soon have as many as 120,000 troops on its eastern border, a larger presence than when Moscow seized Crimea in 2014. Kyiv wants to join NATO to deter the Russian forces from invading the Donbas region, where about half the population are ethnic Russians.

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During a pandemic, the work of reporters around the world is particularly important to ensure transparency about the scope of outbreaks and the measures that governments are taking to contain them. But in many countries, press freedom has been declining since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Press freedom took a bit hit over the past year, as governments across the world doubled down on censoring media that criticized their handling of the pandemic, and locking up reporters for reporting the facts. Reporters Without Borders today published its annual World Press Freedom Index, which takes a microscope to every country, ranking the ability of its media to report freely and independently. Here's a look at how countries' scores have changed over the past year.

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on World In 60 Seconds (aka Around the World in 180 Seconds) and discusses Xi Jinping's message to the US, Russia's buildup at the Ukraine border, and Cuba's new leader.

What did you make of Xi Jinping's message to the US at China's annual Boao Forum?

Well, he didn't mention the United States directly, but he basically said that we don't accept hegemonic powers, we don't accept people that are setting the rules for other countries. Basically, consistently Xi Jinping saying that the Chinese want to be treated as equals with the United States. They're going to be rule makers for themselves. The Chinese political and economic system, every bit as legitimate as that of the United States. This is going to be a real fight. The American perspective is that the relationship between the two is going to be very competitive, whether it's a happy competition or an unhealthy competition depends on the Chinese. Xi Jinping's perspective is the Americans are not treating the Chinese with due respect. And that's going to play out on security, it's going to play out in climate, on the economy. I mean, you name it.

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One of the world's most famous political dissidents may die in a Russian prison this week.

Alexei Navalny has been on a hunger strike since March 31 over the authorities' refusal to let his own medical team examine him after he developed signs of tuberculosis. Now, one of his aides says Navalny is "close to death."

The fate of Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic — who was poisoned last summer, allegedly by state officials, treated in Germany, and then jailed upon his return to Russia — is being closely watched both inside and outside the country.

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The Biden administration's much ballyhooed Earth Day Summit this week promises to be revealing. We're going to learn a little about what additional action a few dozen of the world's largest emitters are willing to take on climate change, and a lot more about which countries are willing to take such action at the behest of the United States.

Call it a situational assessment of the status of American power just shy of Biden's 100th day in office.

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