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Watching and Ignoring

What We're Watching

Corsica — Spain is not the only country with a potential separatist problem. French President Emmanuel Macron paid his first visit to Corsica this week to respond to demands for greater autonomy from increasingly ambitious nationalists on the island.


Korean Women’s Ice Hockey Team — The Winter Olympics are officially open, and one of the great stories of these games will be a women’s hockey team that brings together South and North Korean athletes for the first time. Forget politics. Forget medals. Forget your national team, at least in women’s hockey. They may not win a single contest, but these women are THE team to watch in Pyeongchang.

Other Animals That Can’t Fly — Last week, we told you about United Airlines’ refusal to allow a woman to board her flight with a large peacock she claimed she needed for “emotional support.” Now United is preparing a list of other animals that will not be allowed. The preliminary list includes hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, reptiles and “non-household birds.” Your Friday author will be watching to ensure his Support Llama is not included.

What We're Ignoring

Lembert Mende — In 2016, Democratic Republic of the Congo’s President Joseph Kabila refused to step aside when his term of office ended. Violent street protests followed. This week, Kabila’s Minister of Communications, Lambert Mende, said that Kabila, in office since 2001, would not stand for re-election or try to select a successor who would protect his interests in a vote now scheduled for December. No offense, Mr. Mende, but we’ll need to hear this news directly from Joseph Kabila.

Pence in Pyeongchang — US Vice President says he plans to attend the Games to ensure that North Korea is unable to “hijack the messaging of the Olympics.” Is there anyone alive today on this planet who is capable of being charmed by Kim Jong-un but then guided by Mike Pence? No, there isn’t.

North Korean opinions about beer — North Korea’s state-run Taedonggang brewery has introduced a new beer which North Korea’s state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun says tastes and smells “better than existing beers” and has “already gained positive reviews from North Korean citizens.” Dear North Korea, we’ll cheer for your hockey players, but we aren’t going near your beer.

 

The role of the public library has evolved over time. As we move online at an even faster rate, knowledge, entertainment and opportunities for education and employment are found on the internet. Those living in well-connected, affluent places may have come to take internet access for granted. But there is a digital divide in the U.S. that has left people at a disadvantage – particularly since the arrival of COVID-19.

Finding ways to overcome that divide in a sustainable, community-led way could help bring the benefits of the internet to those who need it most. One solution is to use technologies such as TV white space to facilitate wireless broadband – as Microsoft's Airband Initiative is doing. To read more about Microsoft's work with public libraries, visit Microsoft On The Issues.

Who does Vladimir Putin want to win the US election? Given the Kremlin's well-documented efforts to sway the 2016 vote in Donald Trump's favor, it's certainly a fair question. And while there's no solid evidence that Russian interference had any decisive effect on the outcome four years ago, the Trump administration itself says the Kremlin — and others — are now trying to mess with the election again.

So let's put you in Vladimir Putin's size 9 shoes as you weigh up Donald Trump vs Joe Biden while refreshing your own personal PyatTridsatVosem (FiveThirtyEight) up there in the Kremlin.

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Less than a week out from Election Day, 66 million Americans have already cast their ballots, and many of those are people who are voting "early" for the first time because of the pandemic. In fact, the early vote total alone this year is already equal to nearly half of all ballots cast in the 2016 general election, suggesting that 2020 turnout could reach historic levels. Most important, however, is how things are playing out in key battleground states where the outcome of the US election will be determined. In Texas, for instance, a huge surge in early voting by Democrats this year has raised the possibility that a state which has been won by Republican candidates since 1976 could now be up for grabs. Here we take a look at early voting in battleground states in 2020 as compared to 2016.

In a national referendum on Sunday, Chileans overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new constitution. But, why are people in this oasis of political stability and steady economic growth in South America willing to undo the bedrock of the system that has allowed Chile to prosper for so long?

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Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

One week before the US election. What do other world leaders want to happen?

Well, I mean, let's face it. Outside the United States, most of the world's leaders would prefer to see the back of Trump. An America first policy was not exactly made for non-Americans. That was not the intended demographic audience. Trump doesn't really care. In fact, to a degree, it's kind of a selling point that a lot of foreign leaders don't want Trump. It's showing that Trump is strong in negotiations and indeed is doing better for the American people.

That's largely BS, but occasionally it's true. I mean, his willingness to use American power to force the Mexican government to actually tighten up on Mexico's Southern border and stop immigration from coming through. AMLO would have much rather that not have happened, but the fact that it did was an America first policy, that rebounded to the benefits of the United States. And there are other examples of that. But generally speaking, it would be better for the US long-term, and for the world, if we had more harmonious, smoother relations with other countries around the world, certainly pretty much all the Europeans would much rather see Trump lose. The United Kingdom is the significant exception given the nature of Brexit, and the fact that Trump has been in favor of that, like being called Mr. Brexit by five or six Brits or however many did.

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