Watching and Ignoring

What We're Watching

Mexico — If Mexico elects Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) president on July 1, it will mark a sharp break from center-right dominance of the country’s politics of the past 30 years. Unless there’s a deal before July, an AMLO win would complicate the effort to renegotiate NAFTA. It would speed the deterioration of US-Mexican relations, already accelerated by President Donald Trump. AMLO is clearly the frontrunner, and his main challengers, Jose Antonio Meade from the ruling PRI and Ricardo Anaya, representing a centrist alliance, are attacking each other rather than forming a unified front to take on Lopez Obrador. The formal campaign begins on March 31.


Egypt’s ridiculous election — How ridiculous is next month’s presidential election in Egypt? The incumbent, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, faces one challenger — a man who has campaigned for Sisi in the past. Other candidates — a former prime minister, a military colonel, a human rights lawyer, and former president Anwar Sadat’s nephew — have all been harassed off the ballot. Fourteen international and Egyptian rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists have issued a statement that accuses Sisi of having “trampled over even the minimum requirements for free and fair elections” and calling on the US and EU to “speak out publicly now to denounce these farcical elections, rather than continue with largely unquestioning support for a government presiding over the country’s worst human rights crisis in decades.”

Atomic lizards — An advisor to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced during a press conference on Tuesday that Western nations were using lizards to spy on Iran’s nuclear program. Because lizards “attract atomic waves.” Is this possible? I really don’t know. I suppose that if the Israelis can use vulturesdolphinsstorks and squirrels, then anything is possible.

What We're Ignoring

Barack Obama’s official portrait — Your Friday author is no art critic, and Kehinde Wiley is a highly respected artist. Still, on behalf of Philistines everywhere, I have to ask: Why is Obama sitting in the bushes?

The Riyadh Ritz Carlton — This five-star hotel has reopened its doors to paying customers after pulling double-duty as a high-class prison. We’re sure it’s a nice hotel, but it was much more interesting when it had 200 princes, government ministers and businessmen camped out in it. #YouCanCheckOutAnyTimeYouLike

The Robot Winter Olympics — Apparently, there is a “Robot Winter Olympics.” We don’t care. We only watch the Games for the human-interest stories. Except for Kevin. Kevin watches the robots so they don’t watch us.

Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to child online protection. First and foremost, as a technology company, it has a responsibility to create software, devices and services that have safety features built in from the outset. Last week, in furtherance of those commitments, Microsoft shared a grooming detection technique, code name "Project Artemis," by which online predators attempting to lure children for sexual purposes can be detected, addressed and reported. Developed in collaboration with The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik and Thorn, this technique builds off Microsoft patented technology and will be made freely available to qualified online service companies that offer a chat function.

Read more at Microsoft On The Issues.

Meng Wanzhou, CFO of the Chinese tech giant Huawei, is under house arrest in Vancouver and could be extradited to the United States. What is she accused of, and what are the political implications of prosecuting her? Cybersecurity expert Samm Sacks discusses the case with Ian Bremmer.

Since Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic "I have a dream" speech in August 1963, the number of Black Americans elected to the United States Congress has dramatically increased. Still, it wasn't until last year, more than half a century later, that the share of Black members serving in the House of Representatives reflected the percentage of Black Americans in the broader population —12 percent. To date, only six states have sent a Black representative to serve in the US Senate, and many states have never elected a Black representative to either house of Congress. Here's a look at Black representation in every US Congress since 1963.

Ian Bremmer breaks down the current situation as China rapidly expands its technology sector and carves its own path globally in cyberspace. He discusses the history of the economic relationship between the two nations, and the geopolitical consequences of the decoupling. While Huawei and the current legal action against its CFO Meng Wanzhou are the biggest tech flashpoints between the U.S. and China at the moment, that is just the tip of a very large iceberg that some analysts believe is a new Cold War.

Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for twenty years, but he has a problem: his current presidential term ends in 2024, and the constitution prevents him from running for re-election then.

As a result, the question of what he'll do in 2024 has been on the minds of Russia's oligarchs, spooks, bureaucrats, and a lot of ordinary folks, as well. After all, over the past two decades, Putin has made himself, for better and for worse, the indispensable arbiter, boss, and glue of Russia's sprawling and corrupted system of government. As the current speaker of Russia's legislature once said, "Without Putin, there is no Russia." Not as we currently know it, no.

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