What We're Watching: North Korea's massive weapon, a broken truce in Nagorno-Karabakh, UK's COVID fiasco

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reacts as he attends a parade to mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea

North Korea's massive missile: "We will continue to strengthen the war deterrent," North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said at a military parade Saturday as his armed forces paraded a new intercontinental ballistic missile, the largest-ever rolled out by Pyongyang. Observers were quick to weigh in, saying that though the missile had not been tested yet, it was likely more powerful than the North's previous weapons, and could potentially travel further and inflict more damage. As is always the case with the opaque North Korean regime, it's unclear whether this display — set to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the North's ruling Workers' Party — was a blusterous show of strength by Kim amid failed negotiations with the US and a faltering economy, or whether there's something more sinister at play. Either way, analysts agree, the unveiling of the large weapon is a threat to the US' nuclear deterrence capability.


A tenuous truce in Nagorno-Karabakh: A temporary truce that raised hopes of an end to a weeks-long bloodbath between Armenians and Azeris in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region has already been breached, with both sides blaming the other for violating the humanitarian ceasefire. The truce, brokered by Moscow, was supposed to involve the exchange of prisoners with the hope of paving the way for more dialogue. It comes after the recent round of fighting expanded beyond the rugged highland region to civilian enclaves near the border, resulting in scores of civilian deaths on both sides. Meanwhile, around 70,000 people have already been displaced in the latest escalation — the most intense confrontation in the South Caucasus (where Armenia and Azerbaijan are located) since the two sides fought a years-long war in the 1990s that killed 30,000 people. Now, the temperature only seems to be rising despite the nascent truce: Turkey — which backs Azerbaijan — came in hot on Monday, threatening that the Russian-brokered ceasefire was Armenia's "last chance" to withdraw its forces.

UK's COVID mess: As coronavirus cases continue to surge in the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson implemented a new tiered system of lockdown measures, which aims to target coronavirus hotspots with stricter rules while avoiding the uniform lockdowns seen over the spring. Britain, which has one of the highest COVID-19 death rates per capita in the world, has thus far implemented a byzantine lockdown system and inconsistent social distancing guidelines that many Britons have been accused of flouting (including government officials). In recent days, people have rallied against the new measures, suggesting that the country is suffering from what some experts have called "pandemic fatigue." Indeed, part of this can be attributed to Britons' lack of trust in the government's ability to manage the crisis: confidence in the government's handling of the pandemic currently stands at 31 percent, down from 72 earlier in the year (that's the lowest approval of any government polled by YouGov.) Additionally, critics also say that there are no adequate measures now in place to protect laid-off workers. As a result, the country's hospitality industry has threatened legal action against the British government over the latest restrictions.

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Does the EU really have a foreign policy?

For decades, European leaders have debated the question of whether Europe should have a common foreign policy that’s independent of the United States.

Germany, the UK, and countries situated closest to Russia have traditionally preferred to rely on membership in NATO and US military strength to safeguard European security at a cost affordable for them.

French leaders, by contrast, have argued that, with or without NATO, Europe needs an approach to foreign-policy questions that doesn’t depend on alignment, or even agreement, with Washington.

There are those within many EU countries who agree that Europe must speak with a single clear voice if the EU is to promote European values and protect European interests in a world of US, Chinese, and Russian power.

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The politics of US crime: Perception vs reality

A recent spate of violent crimes in New York City has made national headlines. Since Eric Adams was sworn in four weeks ago as mayor of America’s most populous city, violence on the streets — and the subways — has again become a major political focus. Things got even more heated this week, when two young cops were killed while responding to a domestic dispute in Harlem.

Crime is not only a dominant political issue in New York. It also resonates more broadly with American voters worried over increased lawlessness and unrest. Indeed, crime is already shaping up to be a wedge issue as Republicans vie to win control of the US Congress this November.

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Hard Numbers: South China Sea jet search, US economy surges, Cuban protesters charged, Africa gets vaxxed

FILE PHOTO of a F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the Argonauts of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches off the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Jan. 14, 2022.

U.S Navy/EYEPRESS

100 million: The US Navy is scrambling to find a $100 million F-35 stealth fighter jet that crashed and sank soon after taking off on Monday from an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. One expert described the Cold War-ish race to locate the remains — stocked with classified equipment — before the Chinese do as "basically The Hunt For Red October meets The Abyss."

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The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020.

Nord Stream 2 used as a bargaining chip with Russia. The US now says that if Russia invades Ukraine, it’ll block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to transfer even more natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. This is a big deal, considering that Germany – thirsty for more Russian gas – has long been pushing for the pipeline to start operating despite ongoing objections from Washington. The $11 billion energy project, which would double Russian gas exports to Germany, is seen as (a big) part of the reason why Berlin is reluctant to push back hard against the Kremlin over its troop buildup at the Ukrainian border. Still, German officials admit Nord Stream 2 could face sanctions if the Russians invade, suggesting that the Americans’ threat was likely coordinated with Berlin in advance. This comes amid ongoing diplomatic attempts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, with US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz set to meet at the White House on February 7.

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Putin Has a “Noose” Around Ukraine, Says Russia Analyst Alina Polyakova | GZERO World

What’s going on in Vladimir Putin’s mind? That’s the million-dollar question.

Ukraine and Russia analyst Alina Polyakova doesn’t think it’s anything good.

Russia's president, she says, has put a “noose” around Ukraine with a troop build-up along the border that could spell invasion in the near term. The US has led an effort to deescalate the situation through diplomacy.

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The AI Addiction Cycle | GZERO World

Ever wonder why everything seems to be a major crisis these days? For former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, it's because artificial intelligence has determined that's the only way to get your attention.

What's more, it's driving an addiction cycle among humans that will lead to enormous depression and dissatisfaction.

"Oh my God there's another message. Oh my God, there's another crisis. Oh my God, there's another outrage. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God," he says. "I don't think humans, at least in modern society where [we’ve] evolved to be in an 'Oh my God' situation all day."

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Merkin' It With Angela Merkel | PUPPET REGIME | GZERO Media

Angela Merkel is retired — but only from politics. Still, maybe she's not as good at other jobs as she was as German chancellor.

Watch more PUPPET REGIME!

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