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What We’re Watching: Wisconsin riots turn deadly, COVID-19 spreads in Gaza, Xinjiang (still) on lockdown

What We’re Watching: Wisconsin riots turn deadly, COVID-19 spreads in Gaza, Xinjiang (still) on lockdown

Chaos and anti-racism riots in Wisconsin: A white teenager was arrested Wednesday on murder charges a day after killing at least one of two people shot dead amid street protests over the police shooting of an unarmed Black man in the US city of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Also on Wednesday, the NBA postponed several playoff basketball games after players for the Milwaukee Bucks, Wisconsin's home team, went on strike to protest racial injustice. Although the exact details are still unclear, the two killings occurred after a group of armed civilians — which police described as vigilante militia groups — clashed with protesters once police had cleared the area to enforce a curfew. The protests were sparked by the case of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, who has been left paralyzed after being shot seven times in the back by a white police officer on Sunday. We're watching to see if the protests and riots spread to other parts of the country as was the case back in June, when the killing of George Floyd (also a Black man) by a white police officer in Minneapolis ushered in a wave of mass rallies calling for a national reckoning on racial justice and police brutality, including proposals to reform the police itself in many US cities (and around the world, too). The unrest in Kenosha also takes place as the US presidential election campaign ramps up — President Trump will likely push his tough law-and-order approach to dealing with violent protesters to draw a contrast with his opponent Joe Biden, whom Trump wants to portray as soft on crime.


Coronavirus in Gaza: The Gaza Strip has been placed under lockdown for 48-hours after community transmission of COVID-19 was detected there for the first time. Until now, all known cases in Gaza were linked to quarantine facilities where travelers returning from abroad were required to remain in isolation for 21 days. But these new cases — and one death —were all linked to a family living in the al-Maghazi refugee camp with no known travel record. To date, blockades and restrictions on movement imposed by Israel have spared the impoverished Strip, run by the militant group Hamas, from widespread infection. Gaza, home to over 2 million people, hosts some of the most densely populated refugee camps in the world, where social distancing is impossible. Coupled with a crippled healthcare system, poor sanitation and regular power outages, a deadly outbreak of disease in the enclave would be catastrophic, health experts warn.

China keeps Xinjiang locked down: Residents of China's northwestern Xinjiang region are fed up with the draconian measures that authorities have continued to impose to stop the spread of the coronavirus, despite the fact that the region has not registered a positive case for more than a week. After several COVID-19 outbreaks were reported there in late July, Beijing ordered a sweeping lockdown in Xinjiang, with harsh restrictions such as punishing violators by handcuffing them to their homes or forcing ethnic Uighur residents — who have long been victims of human rights violations by the Chinese government — to take traditional Chinese medicine to ward off the coronavirus. What's more, the strict stay-at-home order remains in place despite the fact that the region has not registered a positive case for more than a week. Xinjiang residents can't take it anymore, and have gone to social media to vent their frustration. Although the lockdown is roughly similar to the one China imposed in Wuhan to contain the first outbreak of COVID-19 back in February, its duration and severity have prompted concerns that Beijing is being too harsh on its anti-coronavirus strategy in Xinjiang, where community services are not as developed as Wuhan's, so people banned from going outside to buy food are often left hungry in their own homes.

Pop quiz: what percentage of plastic currently gets recycled worldwide? Watch this video in Eni's Energy Shot series to find out and learn what needs to be done to prevent plastic from ending up in our oceans. Plastic is a precious resource that should be valued, not wasted.

This Monday, March 8, is International Women's Day, a holiday with roots in a protest led by the Russian feminist Alexandra Kollontai that helped topple the Tsar of Russia in 1917. More than a hundred years later, amid a global pandemic that has affected women with particular fury, there are dozens of women-led protests and social movements reshaping politics around the globe. Here we take a look at a few key ones to watch this year.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shocked the world last year when he recovered from an attempted assassination plot by poisoning — an attempt that bore all the fingerprints of Russian government. Then he shocked the world again by returning to Russia and timing that return with the release of an hours-long documentary that catalogued the Putin regime's extensive history of corruption. Virtually no one, therefore, was shocked when he was immediately sentenced to a lengthy prison term. Anne Applebaum, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and expert on authoritarian regimes, believes there was a method to Navalny's madness. "His decision of '….I'm going to do something that harms me personally, but is going to be a lesson for Russians. I'm going teach a generation of Russians how to be brave.' I mean, not very many people would have the guts to do that."

Applebaum's conversation with Ian Bremmer is part of the latest episode of GZERO World, airing on public television stations nationwide starting Friday, March 5. Check local listings.

It's not like things are going well in Mexico.

COVID has killed more people there than in any country except the United States and Brazil. Just 2 percent of Mexicans have gotten a first vaccine jab, compared with nearly 24 in the US. The Biden administration made clear this week that it won't send vaccines to its southern neighbor until many more Americans have been vaccinated. Mexico's government has cut deals for doses from China, Russia, and India.

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A body blow for Pakistan's Prime Minister: Imran Khan suffered an embarrassing defeat this week when members of the National Assembly, the country's lower house, voted to give the opposition bloc a majority in the Senate. (In Pakistan, lower house legislators and provincial assemblies elect senators in a secret ballot.) The big drama of it all is that Khan's own Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party holds a lower house majority, which means that lawmakers supposedly loyal to his party voted in secret for opposition candidates. Khan's allies claim that PTI members were bribed to support the opposition, and the prime minister says he will ask for a lower house vote of confidence in his leadership. That vote will not be secret, but even if he survives, the political damage is done. Without a Senate majority, he has no chance of passing key reform plans, including constitutional amendments meant to centralize financial and administrative control in the federal government. Khan has, however, refused to resign.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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