What We're Watching: Syria's Shame, South Africa's Land, and Kenya's Women on Wheels

What We're Watching: Syria's Shame, South Africa's Land, and Kenya's Women on Wheels

Syria's overlooked killings – In the past 10 days, Syria's military, backed by Russia, has killed more than 100 Syrian civilians, including 26 children, according to the UN. We've written before about Idlib province, which is supposed to be protected from attack by a 10-month old truce brokered by Russia and Turkey. That agreement spared the province's 2.7 million civilians an all-out government attack. But Bashar al-Assad's military has relied on strikes that kill smaller numbers over time to avoid international condemnation, and that strategy appears to be working. In three months, government attacks have forced 330,000 from their homes, and the story has gone largely unreported. For a look at what the Assad family shares in common with The Godfather's Corleones, check out the latest from Ian Bremmer here.

New promises, and fears, over South African land – Whites make up less than 10 percent of South Africa's population, but 25 years from the end of apartheid, they still own nearly three-quarters of the country's individually-owned farmland. President Cyril Ramaphosa faces pressure to address this disparity. He doesn't want to damage South Africa's economy by throwing property rights into question, but he faces intense criticism that he favors big business over small farmers. This week, a presidential panel proposed expropriation of land without compensation—but only for land that's rented out or held as investment property. For more on South Africa, click here.

Kenya's all-female biker gangs: Throttle Queens. Piki Dada. Inked Sisterhood. Heels of Steel. We're watching these all-female biker gangs cruising through Kenya, a socially conservative country, because the photos show that they're impossibly cool. They've taken their share of criticism but, says a member of Inked Sisterhood, if you're a woman who wants to join, "there is a community here waiting to learn with you, grow with you, ride with you."

What We're Ignoring:

A Greek smoking ban - Nine years, 10 months, and 27 days ago, Greek lawmakers voted to ban smoking in all public places. With the arrival of new Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, it has been announced that the nearly decade-old ban will now be enforced inside the parliament building itself. Ashtrays have been removed from hallways. We can now ignore this story, because we're sure that lawmakers—to say nothing of patrons in bars, clubs, and restaurants—in the heaviest smoking country in the EU will now fully abide by the rules. Definitely.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary's far-right populist prime minister, likes to shock people. It's part of his political appeal. Orbán has proudly proclaimed that he is an "illiberal" leader" creating a frenzy in Brussels because Hungary is a member of the European Union.

It's been over a decade since the 58-year old whom some have dubbed "the Trump before Trump" became prime minister. In that time he has, critics say, hollowed out Hungary's governing institutions and eroded the state's democratic characteristics.

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Why do (most) world leaders drink together? It can get them to agree on stuff they wouldn't while sober. Booze "helps people get cooperation off the ground, especially in situations where cooperation is challenging," says University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland. Alcohol, he explains, allows you to "see commonalities rather than just pursuing your own interest," which may put teetotaler politicians — like Donald Trump — at a disadvantage. Watch his interview on the next episode of GZERO World. Check local listings to watch on US public television.

In countries with access to COVID vaccines, the main challenge now is to convince those hesitant about the jab to roll up their sleeves, and this has become even more urgent given the spread of the more contagious delta variant. So, where are there more vaccine skeptics, and how do they compare to total COVID deaths per million in each nation? We take a look at a group of large economies where jabs are available, yet (in some cases) not everyone wants one.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

QR codes are everywhere. Are they also tracking my personal data?

Well, a QR code is like a complex barcode that may be on a printed ad or product package for you to scan and access more information. For example, to look at a menu without health risk or for two-factor verification of a bank payment. And now also as an integral part of covid and vaccine registration. QR codes can lead to tracking metadata or personal data. And when your phone scans and takes you to a website, certainly the tracking starts there. Now, one big trap is that people may not distinguish one kind of use of QR codes from another and that they cannot be aware of the risks of sharing their data.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky bits of color from a Games like no other…

Today we've got— the best freakout celebrations!

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Tanzania reverses course on COVID: Just four months ago, the Tanzanian government was completely denying the existence of the pandemic. Then-President John Magufuli insisted Tanzania was COVID-free thanks to peoples' prayers, and refused to try to get vaccines. But Magufuli died suddenly in March — perhaps of COVID. His successor, current President Samia Suluhu, has acknowledged the presence of the virus in Tanzania, and although she was initially lukewarm on mask-wearing and vaccines, Suluhu has recently changed her tune, first joining the global COVAX facility and now getting vaccinated herself to kick off the country's inoculation drive. Well done Tanzania, because if there's one thing we've all learned over the past 18 months, it's that nowhere — not even North Korea, whatever Pyongyang says — is safe from the coronavirus.

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16: A new study tracking Earth's "vital signs" has found that 16 out of 31 indicators of planetary health are getting worse due to climate change. Last year's pandemic-induced shutdown did little to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, stop the oceans from warming, or slow the shrinking of polar ice caps.

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How booze helps get diplomacy done

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