What We're Watching: UK's second wave, UAE-US eye arms deal, China's plans for Tibet

: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during a visit to the Jenner Institute in Oxford, Britain, September 18, 2020

UK's new COVID restrictions: In a last-ditch effort to avoid another national lockdown, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday sweeping new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country that could last up to six months, including limits on the number of people that can attend social gatherings. Warning that the country has reached "a perilous turning point," Johnson said that similar measures would soon be extended to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The PM's announcement comes as his government struggles to battle what he now admits is a second wave of the coronavirus. The UK now has the fifth highest death toll in the world and a steadily rising caseload. The new restrictions represent an about-face for the British government, which has been criticized for walking back its earlier calls for workers to return to the office. Will Johnson's move be enough to flatten the (second) curve?


UAE-US eye arms deal: After months of speculation, the US and the United Arab Emirates hope to have a solid plan in place for the sale of US-produced F-35 fighter jets to Abu Dhabi by December, according to a new report by Reuters. Once the formal contract is in place, fines may be issued to either side that violates it or pulls out. Abu Dhabi has tried to buy sophisticated F-35 fighter jets (and advanced weaponry) from Washington for years, but the US only recently acquiesced after the UAE — a close American ally — agreed to normalize ties with forever-foe, Israel. Still, there are key issues to iron out: Washington has long committed to ensuring that Israel maintains a "qualitative military edge" over its neighbors in a volatile region, and has refused to sell sophisticated weapons to some Arab states for this reason. (Israel is America's only ally in the Middle East that possesses the stealth fighter jets.) The Trump administration is reportedly working with Israeli officials to make sure that the UAE deal doesn't undermine this commitment, though details remain murky of how this might be achieved.

China's plans for Tibet: In a repressive program eerily similar to what Beijing has long been doing to ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang, China is now forcing half a million ethnic Tibetan laborers off their land, and placing them in military-style facilities where they are being trained as factory workers under an expanded quota system that affects up to 15 percent of the region's population, according to a new report. For years, Uighurs and other ethnic minorities have been imprisoned in mass detention centers as part of what Beijing describes as a benign "deradicalization campaign," but which is widely believed to be a network of internment camps where minorities are held indefinitely without trial, and learn trades to make cheap goods for Chinese firms to sell abroad. Although ethnic Tibetan opposition to Chinese rule there has been relatively muted since Buddhist monks led a failed uprising in 2008, Beijing is likely to face Tibetan resistance if it subjects the region to the same harsh policies enacted in Xinjiang. We're watching to see how Washington responds to the bombshell report amid rising tensions between the two powers over the past week.

"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.

A few weeks ago, a Signal reader emailed me to ask why so much of our coverage of the world is so damn dark. Aren't there any good news stories out there?

More Show less

There's a lot of doom and gloom in the world these days, and much cause for pessimism. Still, the advent of new technologies and scientific advancements has lifted billions out of poverty and increased quality of life for many over the last half century. Since 1990, global average life expectancy has increased by eight years to 73, while GDP per capita has also grown exponentially, doubling over the past decade alone. We take a look at how life expectancy and GDP per capita have evolved globally from 1960-2019.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Why can't President Biden order a vaccine mandate for all Americans?

Well, the reason is it's out of his powers. The one of the fundamental challenges in the pandemic is that the federal government has actually been fairly limited in the steps they can take to stop the spread of the virus. So, that's why you've seen President Biden order masks on transit, mass transit, airplanes, and the like. But he can't order masks in workplaces because that's not within his power. That power lies within state governments. State governments and other entities, like employers, can require vaccinations before you come into their buildings, or you come back to school, or you go to work in your office. But the federal government can't do that. What Biden is doing is, allegedly, supposedly going to announce a mandate for federal workers to get vaccinated.

More Show less

American gymnast Sunisa "Suni" Lee, 18, stunned spectators around the world with her breathtaking performance in Tokyo Thursday that earned her the gold.

Here are some interesting facts about Suni Lee, the gymnast queen:

More Show less

"Super Mario" takes his chances: Less than five months after becoming Italy's consensus prime minister, Mario Draghi's coalition government is on shaky ground over Draghi's proposed judicial reforms. "Super Mario" — as he's known for saving the Eurozone as European Central Bank chief during the financial crisis — wants to dramatically speed up Italy's famously slow courts. But his push to reduce judicial backlogs is opposed both by the populist 5-Star Movement, the coalition government's biggest party, and by prosecutors because many cases could be scrapped before reaching a verdict. Draghi, upset that this resistance is stalling his other initiatives to cut Italian red tape, has decided to roll the dice anyway: he'll put his plan to overhaul the courts to a no-confidence vote in parliament. If Draghi wins, he gets the reforms passed without debate; if he loses, the PM technically has to resign, but he'll keep his job because he has enough votes even if the 5-Star Movement bows out of the coalition.

More Show less

700: Roughly 700 people arrested for joining the unprecedented July 11 anti-government protests in Cuba are still being held by the regime. They may now face mass show trials as Havana continues to crack down on dissent following the biggest challenge to its power in decades.

More Show less

Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, shares his perspective from Europe:

What is going on in Bosnia with Bosnian Serbs boycotting all major institutions?

Well, it's a reaction against a decision that was taken by the outgoing high representative during his very last days, after 12 years of having done very little in this respect, to have a law banning any denial of Srebrenica and other genocides. But this issue goes to very many other aspects of the Bosnian situation. So, it has created a political crisis that will be somewhat difficult to resolve.

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

The history of disasters

GZERO World Clips

How booze helps get diplomacy done

GZERO World Clips
GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal