My high school history teacher Dr. Cohen once told me, as we shuffled through the school cafeteria, that computers would one day make socialism viable. Given that the Soviet collapse had already happened, and that Super Nintendo still seemed vastly more magical than anything you could put on your desk, this seemed far-fetched.

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Over the past week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been crisscrossing the Middle East in a bid to clarify the Trump administration's policy towards the region. He has been at particular pains to explain what Trump's hasty and controversial decision to pull US troops out of Syria means for allies and adversaries alike.

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WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

DRC ELECTION DRAMA Opposition leader Martin Fayulu has, with the support of the local Catholic church and several Western governments, appealed to the country's Constitutional Court to nullify the official results of the 30 December election, which authorities say was won by Felix Tshisekedi, another opposition figure. The court could confirm the results, order a recount, or order new elections. Aside from the dangers of further political upheaval in a country long wracked by instability, global health experts are worried that the election uncertainty will complicate efforts to fight a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus.

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Hard Numbers

180: Chinese exports support as many as 180 million jobs in China, or nearly one-quarter of formal employment there. But exports have fallen to their lowest level in two years as US tariffs on Chinese goods contribute to a broader economic slowdown.

103:The number of people seeking asylum in Mexico jumped by 103 percent between 2017 and 2018, reaching 29,600. One consequence of President Trump's push to deter asylum seekers from coming to the US is that more are staying in Mexico. Whether the government is equipped to handle a larger number of asylum seekers will be an important test for new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.

84: Life expectancy in Japan is 84 years, the highest in the world, and due to a low birth rate Japan's population is graying fast. Nearly 30 percent of the country is older than 65. That has raised big questions about how the Japanese government is going to pay for the health care needs of its people as they age.

24: This year, 24 of Africa's 54 countries are scheduled to hold legislative, general, or presidential elections. Given their potentially outsized political and regional impact, we are watching the votes in Nigeria, South Africa, Tunisia, and Libya especially closely.

7: Later this week, the Greek parliament will likely hold its seventh vote of no confidence in less than eight years, after the country's defense minister resigned in protests against a contentions agreement that Athens had reached with (the Former Yugoslav Republic of) Macedonia to just call the country North Macedonia. For more background here, check out Willis's piece "Call Me By Your Name – The Former Yugoslav Edition."

Who throws the most devastating verbal darts? The Bard of Avon faces off against The Poet of Pyongyang – but with two wordsmiths this talented, can you even tell the difference? Test your knowledge of the can(n)on.

Donald Trump hates not being number one – see what happens when he discovers that he ranks a lowly FIFTH in Eurasia Group's Top Risks this year. Very Unfair!

US-China relations are hitting the skids. The future of the Middle East is doubly uncertain now that US President Donald Trump wants to pull American troops out of Syria. Meanwhile, politics in Washington, DC are about to become a bitter smackdown.

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In recent weeks, thousands of young people across Sudan have taken to the streets in protest against strongman Omar al-Bashir, the leader of one of the world's most repressive governments.

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