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What We're Watching

China's National People's Congress – Hours ago, Chinese premier Li Keqiang opened the annual meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's (mostly ceremonial) parliamentary body. Although the rubber stamp NPC has never voted down a proposed law since its creation in 1954, the yearly confab is a chance to take stock of what China's leadership sees, or wishes the country to see, as key challenges. The two big issues at the moment are: an economic slowdown economy amid trade tensions with the US and the prospects for some form of trade deal when Xi meets President Trump in several weeks. Ok, you're not exactly excited to tune in to a meeting of hundreds of communist bureaucrats? Well martial arts film star Jackie Chan and 8-time NBA All Star Yao Ming, both members of the NPC, will also be on hand. Jackie Chan and Yao Ming!

What Modi Makes of Things – Tensions between India and Pakistan have cooled in the days since Pakistan returned an Indian pilot shot down over Kashmir last week, but one question is how the episode will play domestically for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Preliminary data suggests support for Mr. Modi has shot up since his dangerous gamble to strike Pakistan in retaliation for a Pakistan-based terrorist group's killing of Indian paramilitary police officers in Kashmir. But the capture of the Indian pilot was a mild humiliation, as are emerging questions about whether India's jets actually hit anything other than some pine trees. With Modi and his BJP girding themselves for a tougher-than-expected election in several months' time, we are watching to see how this national security crisis plays into the electoral campaign.


India's opium-addicted parrots – While we're on the subject of India, we can't help note that a pandemonium of brainwashed parrots has been making off with the poppy crop in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Frustrated local farmers, who are legally growing the opium-producing flowers for India's pharma industry, have tried beating drums and even lighting firecrackers to keep the addicted parrots away, to no avail. There's probably a good joke in here somewhere, but we're too busy googling other examples of drug use in the animal kingdom to bother with that right now.

Donald Trump Lie Counter – Media fact checkers tallied more than 100 false or misleading statements during President Trump's two-hour speech on Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). It is important to keep politicians honest, or at least document their assaults on basic and observable facts. But from a political perspective, the latest slew of misleading statements, falsehoods, and lies won't change the acrimonious polarization in the US at all. For many Republicans, Trump – who continues to command overwhelming loyalty among GOP voters – is picking the right fights. For many Democrats, after the many thousands of falsehoods and lies already documented, it makes no difference whether Trump tells another 75, 100, or 10,000. The lines are drawn.


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