Jan 4, 2018

Pakistan placed on State Dept. watch list for religious freedom violations

Photo: MANDEL NGAN / AFP / Getty Images

The State Department announced on Thursday that it was placing Pakistan on a watch list for "severe violations of religious freedom," Reuters reports.

Why it matters: After recent criticism from the Trump administration that Pakistan isn't doing enough to fight terrorism, and his threat to cut aid to the country, U.S.-Pakistan tensions have worsened.

What they're saying: Michael Kugelman, Deputy Director of the Woodrow Wilson Center's Asia Program, told Axios that this announcement should be viewed "in the broader context of US-Pakistan tensions and Washington's willingness to push the envelope more when it comes to its Pakistan policy."

  • Kugelman told Axios that "there were often rumblings [in the Obama administration] that Pakistan would be placed on this religious freedom violation watch list, but it didn't happen. With Trump...it's a different story."
  • One more thing: In the Department's statement about Pakistan, it also announced 10 other countries designated as "Countries of Particular Concern" for religious freedom violations. Those include Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Burma, China, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Eritrea.

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Hungary's Viktor Orbán granted sweeping powers amid coronavirus crisis

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Hungary's parliament passed a law Monday to allow Prime Minister Viktor Orbán almost unlimited power, for an indefinite period, to fight the coronavirus outbreak.

Why it matters: Hungary has taken a sharply authoritarian turn over the past decade under Orbán, and its likely that he and other strongman leaders around the world will seek to maintain powers they gain during the current crisis long after it's over.

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  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 9:30 a.m. ET: 143,055 — Total deaths: 2,513 — Total recoveries: 4,865.
  3. Federal government latest: The White House will extend its social distancing guidelines until April 30.
  4. Trump latest: The president brushed aside allegations that China is spreading misinformation about the origin of the coronavirus on "Fox & Friends."
  5. Business updates: Americans are calm about their retirement savings despite coronavirus fallout.
  6. World updates: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will self-isolate after an aide tested positive for coronavirus.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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BIG3 to create a hybrid reality show about quarantine basketball

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Sports are on pause, and there's no timetable for their return. In the interim, leagues, teams and athletes are getting creative with ways to keep fans engaged.

The latest: A "quarantined reality show basketball tournament," courtesy of the BIG3, the upstart 3-on-3 basketball league founded by Ice Cube and his longtime business partner Jeff Kwatinetz.

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