What We're Watching: Myanmar protests test the generals, Haiti's political chaos, Netanyahu in the dock

A man with a tattoo of Aung San Suu Kyi takes part in a protest against the military coup and to demand the release of the elected leader in Yangon, Myanmar, February 8, 2021.

Myanmar protests test junta's patience: It didn't take long for the Myanmar military junta to get an earful from the streets. Since staging a coup last week, in which they detained civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi, they have been met with a growing protest movement in the capital, Naypyidaw, and other cities across the country. Flying the flag of Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy party and carrying images of Lord Buddha, the protesters say they are demanding an end to "dictatorship." The generals, for their part, have so far showed restraint, deploying water cannons against the protesters this time, rather than shooting them dead, as they ended up doing in 1988 and again in 2007. But the military has warned ominously that it won't tolerate actions that undermine "state stability, public safety, and the rule of law." With the world watching, will the generals change tack and crush the protests after all — in the end, who's to stop them?


Haiti's term limit turmoil: Haiti's embattled President Jovenel Moïse said Sunday that his government had arrested more than 20 people whom he accused of plotting to overthrow his government. For months, Haiti has been wracked by deepening political turmoil and violence over what should be a simple question: when does the president's term end? Moïse's opponents say that his five-year term was due to expire on Sunday, and they've called for a two-year transition government. But the president argues that because an interim government ran the country during the first year of his term, he actually has until February 2022 to lead. Top justices in Haiti as well as human rights advocates have sided with the opposition, but the Biden administration, as well as the Organization for American States and the United Nations, are all in Moïse's corner, for now. With no obvious way out of the deadlock at the moment, Haiti — the Western Hemisphere's poorest country — is on the brink of a potentially disastrous explosion of political violence.

Israel's Netanyahu in the dock: Just six weeks out from Israel's fourth general elections in the past two years, Prime Minister Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is back in court facing a host of corruption charges. Bibi, Israel's longest serving PM, has pleaded not-guilty to charges that he directed favorable government policy towards prominent media and business figures in exchange for gifts and positive media coverage. Bibi says the whole thing is a political "witch hunt," but if convicted, the forever-leader could face several years behind bars. A verdict is not expected to be handed down for months — or even years (Netanyahu's camp has already called for further delays to the proceedings until after the March 23 election) -- but the political impact of the case so close to the polls is worth watching. The March vote will largely be a referendum on Bibi, but will negative fallout from the trial really hurt him? Or is it the case that, as some observers say, most Israelis decided long ago whether they are "for or against Bibi"?

Emily Ademola lives in an area of Nigeria that has been attacked by Boko Haram militants in the past. Looking for water was very risky, and without access to water, the community – especially children – were at risk of waterborne diseases. Eni, in partnership with FAO, built a water well in Emily's community in 2019.

Watch Emily's first-hand account about how access to water "close to our doorsteps" has improved the quality of life for her community and her family.

There's never a great time to impose higher taxes on funeral services — but doing it in the middle of a raging pandemic is an especially bad move. Yet that was one of a number of measures that the Colombian government proposed last week in a controversial new tax bill that has provoked the country's largest and most violent protests in decades.

In the days since, the finance minister has resigned, the tax reform has been pulled, and President Iván Duque has called for fresh dialogue with activists, union leaders, and opposition politicians.

But demonstrations, vandalism, and deadly clashes with police have only intensified. Two dozen people are dead, 40 are missing, and the UN has criticized Colombian police for their heavy-handed response.

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While residents of wealthy countries are getting ready for hot vaxxed summer — COVID is still ravaging many low- and middle-income countries. The horrifying scenes coming out of India in recent weeks have gripped the world, causing governments and civil society to quickly mobilize and pledge support.

But on the other side of the globe, Brazil is also being pummeled by the pandemic — and has been for a year now. Yet thus far, the outpouring of aid and (solidarity) hasn't been as large.

What explains the global alarm at India's situation, and seeming passivity towards Brazil's plight? What are the politics of compassion?

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Paris-London face-off at sea: France and the UK are at loggerheads in the high seas this week over post-Brexit fishing access in Jersey, an island off the English Channel. Furious at regulations that they say makes it harder to fish in these lucrative waters, dozens of French fishing boats amassed near the Channel Island, threatening to block access to the port. In response, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson deployed two naval vessels — a move critics say was an unnecessary escalation, and an attempt by the PM to flex his muscles and bolster the Tory vote ahead of Thursday's regional election. France, for its part, sent its own naval ship and threatened to cut off Jersey's electricity supply, 90 percent of which comes from French underwater cables. Fishing rights was one of the final sticking points of Brexit trade negotiations, an emotive political issue for many Britons who say that they got a subpar deal when the UK joined the European Economic Community in the 1970s. Though an UK-EU Brexit agreement was finally reached in December 2020, it's clear that there are still thorny issues that need to be resolved.

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10: Joshua Wong was sentenced along with other Hong Kong democracy activists to 10 months in prison for participating in a vigil last year marking the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Wong is currently behind bars for participating in separate pro-democracy protests, and will only start this new sentence after that term concludes in November.

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What's the biggest foreign policy misconception that Americans have about the US's role in the world? According to international relations expert Tom Nichols, too few Americans believe that the US, in fact, has a critical role in the world, and that the things Americans enjoy, from cheap goods to safe streets, are made possible because of American global leadership. "Americans have become so spoiled and inured to the idea that the world is a dangerous place that they don't understand that the seas are navigable because someone makes them that way. They don't understand that peace between the great powers is not simply like the weather, that just happens," Nichols tells Ian Bremmer. Their conversation is featured on an episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television – check local listings.

Watch the episode: Make politics "boring" again: Joe Biden's first 100 Days

The cover story of The Economist declares that Taiwan is "The most dangerous place on Earth," because China might finally be ready to plan an invasion of the island. But are the consequences of such a move worth the many risks to China and its President Xi Jinping? Ian Bremmer breaks out the Red Pen to to explain why a US-China war over Taiwan is unlikely.

We are taking our red pen to a recent article from The Economist. The Economist, you ask, how could I? I love The Economist, I know, I know. But you'd lose respect if I give this piece a pass. In fact, it was the magazine's cover story this week, so I had no choice. The image and headline say it all. Here it is, Taiwan is now "the most dangerous place on earth" as US/China relations continue to sour in the opening months of President Biden's administration.

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Delhi-based reporter Barkha Dutt's decades of journalism couldn't prepare her for the horrific experience of covering the death of one specific COVID-19 victim: her own father. In a conversation with Ian Bremmer, Dutt recounts her desperate struggle to find an ambulance to take her father through Delhi traffic to reach the hospital, only for him to die in the ICU. Their in-depth discussion looks at India's struggle with the world's worst COVID crisis in the upcoming episode of GZERO World begins airing on US public television Friday, May 7. Check local listings.

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Would China really invade Taiwan?

The Red Pen

India’s COVID crisis hits home

GZERO World Clips
The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

GZEROMEDIA

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