ALGERIA: TAKING DOWN A PICTURE FRAME

The aging president of Algeria, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has not spoken in public in years. When he is meant to attend a public ceremony or a meeting, his handlers place a framed picture of him on an easel. So when the government announced recently that the 82-year-old Mr. Bouteflika, who suffered a debilitating stroke in 2013, would seek a fifth consecutive term in office, protests erupted across the country. They have now lasted two weeks.


Bouteflika, a hero of Algeria's 1960s war of independence with France, has ruled the energy-rich country with a strong hand since a devastating civil war in the 1990s between Islamists and the government. The memory of that conflict, which killed more than 200,000 people, has underpinned a grim bargain between the people and the government ever since: Mr. Bouteflika, and his circle of family members and generals, would rule without democratic accountability or economic openness, but they would also prevent a return to the bloodletting of the past.

But for the 70 percent of Algeria's population that is under the age of 30, the devastation of the 1990s is increasingly distant. And with the state-run economy flagging, millions of young Algerians are fed up with a sclerotic and opaque system.

Despite the demonstrations, Mr. Bouteflika and his circle have stuck with their plan to wheel him out for elections this April, though they've offered a concession: after the vote – which Bouteflika is sure to win – fresh elections will be held within a year in which he will not run. As of Monday, many protesters were still out in force.

The stakes are high not only for Algeria's 41 million people and its neighbors, but also for Europe, which counts the country as a major energy exporter, a counterterrorism ally, and a partner in controlling migration flows from Africa.

The bottom line: A young population with high expectations no longer accepts an authoritarian system built around a Weekend at Bernie's presidency. The repercussions could spread far beyond Algeria.

Last week, in Fulton, WI, together with election officials from the state of Wisconsin and the election technology company VotingWorks, Microsoft piloted ElectionGuard in an actual election for the first time.

As voters in Fulton cast ballots in a primary election for Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates, the official count was tallied using paper ballots as usual. However, ElectionGuard also provided an encrypted digital tally of the vote that enabled voters to confirm their votes have been counted and not altered. The pilot is one step in a deliberate and careful process to get ElectionGuard right before it's used more broadly across the country.

Read more about the process at Microsoft On The Issues.

The risk of a major technology blow-up between the US and Europe is growing. A few weeks ago, we wrote about how the European Union wanted to boost its "technological sovereignty" by tightening its oversight of Big Tech and promoting its own alternatives to big US and Chinese firms in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her top digital officials unveiled their first concrete proposals for regulating AI, and pledged to invest billions of euros to turn Europe into a data superpower.

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Communal violence in Delhi: Over the past few days, India's capital city has seen its deadliest communal violence in decades. This week's surge in mob violence began as a standoff between protesters against a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against India's Muslims and the law's Hindu nationalist defenders. Clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs in majority-Muslim neighborhoods in northeast Delhi have killed at least 11 people, both Muslim and Hindu, since Sunday. We're watching to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government responds – Delhi's police force reports to federal, rather than local, officials.

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Ian Bremmer's perspective on what's happening in geopolitics:

What are the takeaways from President Trump's visit to India?

No trade deal, in part because Modi is less popular and he's less willing to focus on economic liberalization. It's about nationalism right now. Hard to get that done. But the India US defense relationship continues to get more robust. In part, those are concerns about China and Russia.

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27,000: The Emir of Qatar has decreed a $27,000 fine and up to five years in prison for anyone who publishes, posts, or repost content that aims to "harm the national interest" or "stir up public opinion." No word on whether the Doha-based Al-Jazeera network, long a ferocious and incisive critic of other Arab governments, will be held to the same standard.

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