What We're Watching: Trump and the Uighurs, Maduro tightens his grip, George Floyd's impact in Indonesia

What We're Watching: Trump and the Uighurs, Maduro tightens his grip, George Floyd's impact in Indonesia

Does Trump support the Uighurs or not? President Trump signed a law Wednesday that would allow the United States to sanction Chinese officials involved in the detainment of that country's Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang province, a scheme long deemed to be a gross human rights violation by the United Nations. More than one million Uighurs are believed to have been locked up since 2017 as part of what Beijing describes as a benign "deradicalization campaign," but is widely believed to be a network of internment camps where minorities are held indefinitely without trial. President Trump said the measure is proof that his administration is "tough on China", and Chinese leaders have vowed retaliation. But the signing came on the same day as fresh allegations from former national security adviser John Bolton that Trump had at one point given the green light to Chinese President Xi Jinping to build the Uighur camps and asked for help with his own re-election campaign. The Trump administration says Bolton's claims, which are difficult to prove, are the lies of a "sick puppy."


Maduro tightens the noose around the opposition: It's been well over a year now since most of the world's democracies recognized Venezuelan National Assembly speaker Juan Guaidó as "interim president." But despite that slight, and a deepening social and economic crisis, strongman president Nicolas Maduro remains firmly in power, while Guaidó seems more and more like a spent force. Now Maduro is laying the groundwork to undercut Guaidó further after a Supreme Court packed with regime cronies replaced the heads of two major opposition parties this week, placing them under the control of figures loyal to Maduro. While Guaidó's own party isn't affected, the two parties in question control nearly a third of the National Assembly seats, a major reason why the body remains the only branch of government that is not under Maduro's control. Taken together with last week's move to seat a new electoral commission under the control of Maduro loyalists, it looks like the regime wants to make it nearly impossible for the opposition to keep control over the Assembly in elections that are to be scheduled later this year. Both the US and EU — which recognize Guaidó as the country's legitimate interim president — have condemned the moves, but what are they prepared to do about it?

George Floyd's impact on a verdict in Indonesia: US protests against police brutality and racism have reverberated around the world in many ways, but did they even echo into an Indonesian courtroom? A leader of the decades-old movement for Papuan independence and one of the "Balikpapan Seven" was found guilty of treason this week, for leading 2019 rallies in response to a viral video of Indonesian police using racial slurs against ethnic West Papuan students. But the sentence was only 11 months behind bars, much less than the 17 years demanded by the prosecution. According to one Papuan activist — who spent over 10 years in prison for waving the (banned) Morning Star flag — the judge was influenced by the global anti-racism protests sparked by George Floyd's death.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

"The people are stronger," pro-democracy demonstrators chanted as news broke that the Sudanese military had staged a coup Monday, overthrowing the joint civilian-military government and dashing hopes of democracy in the war-torn country.

The backstory. In 2019, Omar al-Bashir – a despot who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years – was deposed after a months-long popular uprising.

Al-Bashir was a bad guy: he cozied up to terrorists like Osama bin Laden and dropped barrel bombs on his own people. He also embezzled truck loads of money from oil production while millions of Sudanese went hungry, and oversaw a genocide in the Darfur region that left 300,000 people dead and displaced 1.6 million.

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Sort of, but governments haven't lost all control yet. On the one hand, The Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson says that governments can still push tech companies for transparency in their algorithms, while Microsoft has partnered with the US government to together fight hackers "so the company is seen as a champion for freedom and democracy." On the other, over time Thompson expects tech firms in the US and China to gradually become more powerful as the state becomes less powerful toward them. Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Big Tech: Global sovereignty, unintended consequences

As COP26 nears, the need for real climate action has never been more urgent. There are reasons for hope, but many scientists believe the ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2050 is unattainable without immediate and significant change. Governments, financial institutions, and private sector companies alike have all recognized the need for a multistakeholder approach to solving this crisis of a lifetime.

Watch "Climate Crisis: Is net zero really possible?" a one-hour virtual livestream, hosted by GZERO Media and Microsoft as part of the Global Stage series, to hear scientists, corporate leaders and policymakers debate this question and offer critical perspectives on the way forward. Live on Tuesday, November 2nd at 11am ET, we'll break down what "net zero" means, take stock of where the world is on the path to carbon neutrality, and discuss critical steps needed to make real progress.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody and happy Monday. Back in the office, getting a little cool. So I've got my sweater going on. It's the first time I've had a sweater on. What do you do with that? Discussing fashion, as I talk to you about what is on my mind this week?

And what's on my mind this week, Facebook. Facebook is on my mind. It's a tough week for Facebook. There are all sorts of whistleblowers out there. There's testimony going on. There's calls for regulation. Everybody seems unhappy with them. Indeed, you even got the government relations types, Nick Clegg, who I've known for a long time back when he was a policymaker in the UK saying that the headlines are going to be rough, but we're are going to get through it. But I will say, first of all, I'm kind of skeptical that any of this goes anywhere in terms of impact on how Facebook actually operates.

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Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the continent's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

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ASEAN gets tough(ish) with Myanmar: The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet Tuesday for their annual summit with one notable absence: the head of Myanmar's military junta. It's a rare snub from ASEAN, a regional bloc that's gotten a lot of heat in the past for giving tyrants a free pass. The junta says ASEAN violated its traditional principles of deciding by consensus by disinviting its leader, and non-interference in domestic affairs for demanding the bloc's special envoy meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For their part, the other ASEAN members have grown visibly alarmed at Myanmar's rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation since the February coup, and they're worried about the spillover effects of Myanmar becoming a failed state. More importantly, Myanmar is a big thorn in ASEAN's side as it walks a fine line between keeping warm ties with the US — which most members want cash and security from — and getting along with China, one of Myanmar's few remaining friends and viewed with suspicion by most ASEAN members over its South China Sea shenanigans.

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149: The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record-high 413.2 parts per million in 2020, 149 percent above pre-industrial levels. A new report by the UN weather agency released ahead of the COP26 climate summit found that last year's lower emissions due to COVID-related lockdowns had no impact on the overall amount of greenhouse gases causing global warming.

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