What We're Watching: More details about Xinjiang

What We're Watching: More details about Xinjiang

More details about Xinjiang: The world already knew that China has imprisoned more than a million ethnic Uighur Muslims and other minorities in camps in the country's far-west Xinjiang province. Beijing says the prisoners are volunteers receiving job training. Rights groups say they're locked in mass incarceration "re-education camps" designed to indoctrinate ethnic minorities. But a classified blueprint of the system that's been leaked to the media now details life on the inside. The camps reportedly have watch towers, double-locked doors, and video surveillance "to prevent escapes." What's more, the Chinese state is evidently using the camps to train its artificial intelligence programs for use in mass surveillance. This is the largest incarceration of people based on an ethnic or religious identity since the Holocaust. We're watching for any sign the governments of predominantly Muslim countries, the US, or Europe will take meaningful action against the Chinese government.


Press crackdown in Egypt: Over the weekend, Egyptian authorities raided the offices of the digital publication Mada Masr, one of the country's last bastions of independent investigative journalism. Top editors were arrested, and there's a decent chance it had to do with the site's publication, just days earlier, of a report that strongman President Abdul Fattah el-Sisi's son had been quietly removed from his senior role in the intelligence services due to poor performance. Though Mada Masr is well-accustomed to the security apparatus' techniques used to intimidate journalists, the clampdown has been more aggressive since anti-government protests broke out in September. Egypt ranks 163rd of 180 countries in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, published by Reporters Without Borders.

A breakthrough in Bolivia? Supporters of ousted president Evo Morales have reached a deal with the new interim government to ease tensions and pave the way to new presidential elections. Under the pact, approved over the weekend by a Congress that Morales' MAS party still controls, lawmakers will appoint a new electoral board that will set the date for a vote early next year. Morales himself will not be permitted to run. Pro-Morales groups and unions have agreed to take down hundreds of road blockades that have strangled the Bolivian economy in recent weeks, and interim-president Jeanine Áñez has begun meeting with pro-Morales activists. But things aren't exactly going swimmingly: Morales' party wants to exempt him from prosecution for backing the blockades, while the new interior minister wants to jail him for the "rest of his life."

What We're Ignoring

The Pope's call to banish nuclear weapons. Look, it's not that we are opposed to eliminating the world's most dangerous weapons. It's just that only one of the nine nuclear powers has a majority of people who consider themselves Catholics—and just 15% of French adults say they are "practicing." Which leads us to the old line: "And how many divisions does the Pope have?"

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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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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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky facts about the Games that have many people on edge.

Today — what's the smallest country (by population) to win a gold medal in a summer Olympics?

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