A SHOWDOWN IN POLAND

Poland’s government ordered a purge of the country’s Supreme Court this week, creating a showdown we’ve been anticipating for two years. The right-wing Law and Justice Party (PiS), which rules Poland today, escalated its bid to consolidate power by forcing more than two dozen of 72 Supreme Court justices, including the top judge, into retirement.


It accomplished this by passing a law that requires any judge 65 or older to petition the president for permission to continue work. (The government’s proposed replacement for the chief judge is 66.) In response, tens of thousands of protesters hit the streets of more than 60 cities and towns, and some of the judges have simply refused to leave the bench. That’s the battle within Poland.

Then there’s PiS’s fight with the EU. The European Commission has warned that this action amounts to a power grab in violation of EU rules, and that Poland risks disciplinary action. But any European attempt to invoke Article 7, the section of the EU’s founding treaty that can authorize sanctions in response to violations of rule of law, won’t get far. A vote for sanctions must be unanimous, and Poland’s ruling party knows that like-minded friends in Hungary’s government will vote no. The EU will struggle even to withhold some budgetary funding to punish Poland and Hungary.

The government can withstand pressure from the EU. Less clear is whether it can impose its will on a divided country in years to come. This is nothing less than a battle for Poland’s future.​

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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