What We're Watching: Myanmar's Nobel Peace Prize winner at the Hague

What We're Watching: Myanmar's Nobel Peace Prize winner at the Hague

Myanmar at the Hague – Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace prize winner who spent years under house arrest in Myanmar before being elected leader of the country in 2015, will travel to the Hague next month to defend her country against allegations of genocide. Few have been punished since the military-led crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine state in 2017, which left thousands dead and forced more than 700,000 people to flee to Bangladesh. Aung San Suu Kyi is thought to have little control over the army (a junta until recently), but she has refused to condemn its actions. Until now, Aung San Suu Kyi has defended the onslaught as a legitimate counterinsurgency against Muslim militants. The first public hearing at the International Court of Justice will begin on December 10.


Violent clashes in Lebanon – Clashes between Lebanese protesters and supporters of Hezbollah and Amal – the forces representing the country's large Shia population – intensified on Tuesday with reports of gunfire in some cities. The confrontations are some of the worst since protests erupted in mid-October, forcing Prime Minister Saad Hariri to step down. And they're a worrying display of precisely the political and sectarian strains that demonstrators say they want to get rid of. Consultations to appoint a new prime minister are expected to begin later this week. We're watching to see if this new appointment– a post reserved for a Sunni Muslim in Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing system – will defuse tensions, or inflame them.

"Fake news" laws in Singapore – Last month, Singapore adopted a new law that makes it a crime to spread false or misleading information online. This week the law was used for the first time to pressure a member of an opposition party to correct a Facebook post in which he criticized the government. In this case, the politician admitted he'd gotten some key facts wrong. But just like governments around the world started labelling their enemies "terrorists" after 9/11, the concern about making fake news a crime is the temptation for governments to label as "fake news" any speech they don't like. With other governments from Nigeria to the European Union preparing their own new measures to prevent the spread of disinformation, we are wary of the chilling effects that the push against malicious online falsehoods may have on legitimate speech.

What We're Ignoring

A rebranding exercise in Nigeria - Residents of Unguwar Wawaye, a small settlement in northern Nigeria's Kano state, have special reason to give thanks this year after a local emir gave their village a new name. Unguwar Wawaye, which means "Area of Idiots" in the local Hausa language, had been the butt of local jokes for decades. The new name, Yalwar Kadana, means "Area of Plenty." We're happy for the residents of Yalwar Kadana – Area of Plenty is a definite improvement and we wish them the best. But we can't help thinking they could have gone for something even catchier.

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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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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University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland says drinking makes us feel good and has historically encouraged socializing. But there are negative implications, as well. We now have the problem of "distillation and isolation": getting as much booze as you want and drinking alone, especially during the pandemic. There's a gender issue too: the "bro culture" associated with alcohol can exclude and even be dangerous for women. Not all regions have the same problems, though, as drinking habits vary widely. Watch Slingerland's interview with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

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