What We’re Watching: Navalny poisoning confirmed, Israel-Hamas truce, Japan PM hopefuls

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny at a rally in Moscow.

Germany confirms Russian dissident was poisoned: German lab tests have verified that Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, a defiant critic of Vladimir Putin, was recently poisoned with Novichok, the same Soviet-era nerve agent used in 2018 in the UK against former KGB spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, both of whom survived. After Germany asked Russia for an explanation, the Kremlin (as expected) brushed off the allegations and demanded that Berlin share information about the case. The use of Novichok, a rare and highly specialized poison, suggests some level of state involvement in the attempted killing, but Putin has so far declined to comment publicly on the poisoning.


Israel, Hamas stop fighting (for now): Amid a coronavirus outbreak in the Gaza Strip and a rising caseload in Israel, the Israeli government and the Palestinian militants of Hamas agreed to a temporary ceasefire. The one-month truce includes a Qatari cash infusion for Hamas, and an Israeli pledge to lifting a fuel sales ban on Gaza (which was initially imposed after Hamas began launching balloons filled with explosives and rockets into southern Israel, prompting retaliatory airstrikes by Israel). Gaza's 2 million residents are hoping that the truce will finally put them back on the electrical grid after weeks of darkness due to the fuel shortage. The enclave was placed under lockdown last week after its first community transmission of COVID-19 was detected. Experts have warned that a deadly outbreak of the coronavirus could be catastrophic in Gaza, where social distancing is often impossible and the health system is always on the brink of collapse.

Race is on to succeed Abe in Japan: Following Shinzo Abe's abrupt resignation as prime minister of Japan, several members of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) are expected to throw their hat into the ring to replace him. According to a Kyodo poll, the current frontrunner is former defense minister Shigeru Ishiba, whom Abe defeated twice in battles for the LDP leadership in 2012 and 2018. Although Ishiba — a rare vocal critic of Abe in favor of stronger ties with other Asian countries amid the US-China rivalry — has strong grassroots support among the wider electorate, he is less popular with the party establishment. Ishiba, who has yet to confirm he's running, will likely face off against Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, an LDP darling who is trailing Ishiba in the surveys but is widely considered to be the consensus candidate in a party leadership contest where only LDP lawmakers will be allowed to vote due to the coronavirus pandemic. Will they pick the popular insurgent or the trusted Abe lieutenant?

Early employment can set a young person on a trajectory for success, providing both a paycheck and a stepping-stone for improving academic performance.

Bank of America is committed to investing in youth employment, funding $160 million since 2018 to connect youth and young adults to jobs and mentoring.

The minutiae of supply chains makes for boring dinner table talk, but it's increasingly becoming a hot topic of conversation now that packages are taking much longer to arrive in the consumer-oriented US, while prices of goods soar.

With the issue unlikely to be resolved anytime soon, right-wing media have dubbed President Biden the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, conjuring images of sad Christmas trees surrounded by distraught children whose holiday gifts are stuck somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

It hasn't been a good run for Uncle Joe in recent months. What issues are tripping him up?

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Three years ago, Facebook changed its algorithms to mitigate online rage and misinformation. But it only made Facebook worse by boosting toxic engagement, says Nick Thompson, The Atlantic CEO & former WIRED editor-in-chief. Thompson believes Facebook simply got in over its head, rather than becoming intentionally "evil" like, say, Big Tobacco with cigarettes. "I think they just created something they couldn't control. And I think they didn't grasp what was happening until too late." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

From overall health and wellness to representation in the global workforce, women and girls have faced serious setbacks over the past 18+ months. They also hold the key to more robust and inclusive growth in the months and years ahead: McKinsey & Company estimates that centering recovery efforts on women could contribute $13 trillion to global GDP by 2030.

On October 28th at 12pm ET, as part of our "Measuring What Matters" series, GZERO Media and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will look beyond traditional indicators of economic recovery to examine COVID-19's impact on girls and women, specifically in the areas of health and employment.

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This year, American kids who've asked Santa for L.O.L. Surprise! dolls, Nerf blasters, or classic Legos may be disappointed. The delivery of these and other in-demand toys could be delayed due to pandemic-related supply chain disruptions that are still hitting US businesses and consumers hard. Container vessels loaded with precious cargo are waiting days to enter busy US ports, while within the country truck drivers are working flat out to meet soaring demand for goods of all kinds. Products are getting wildly expensive or arriving late. Here's a snapshot of the problem, showing longer delivery times, skyrocketing freight and shipping costs, and trucker employment.

Bolsonaro accused of crimes against humanity: A long-running Senate investigation in Brazil has found that by downplaying the severity of COVID, dithering on vaccines, and promoting quack cures, President Jair Bolsonaro directly caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. An earlier version of the report went so far as to recommend charges of homicide and genocide as well, but that was pulled back in the final copy to a mere charge of "crimes against humanity", according to the New York Times. The 1,200-page report alleges Bolsonaro's policies led directly to the deaths of at least half of the 600,000 Brazilians who have succumbed to the virus. It's a bombshell charge, but it's unlikely to land Bolsonaro in the dock — for that to happen he'd have to be formally accused by the justice minister, an ally whom he appointed, and the lower house of parliament, which his supporters control. Still, as the deeply unpopular Bolsonaro limps towards next year's presidential election, a rap of this kind isn't going to help.

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11,412: Irmgard Furchner, a 92-year-old former typist at a Nazi concentration camp in Germany, is facing trial for contributing to the murder of 11,412 people there. Furchner tried to escape German authorities in late September by sneaking out of her nursing home, but was arrested hours later and slapped with an electronic wrist tag.

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If you had to guess which current world leader has made the most trips to Africa, who would you say? China's Xi Jinping? Nope, hardly — he's been there just four times. France's Emmanuel Macron? Pas de tout.

The answer may surprise you: it's Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who's been to the continent more times than the leader(s) of any other non-African state. Just this week he notched his 28th visit, with stops in Angola, Nigeria, and Togo. Sure, being in power for two decades creates a lot of opportunities for exotic travel, but even Russia's Vladimir Putin isn't close: he's been to Africa just five times, all to visit South Africa or Egypt.

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