Watching and Ignoring

What We're Watching

Turkey’s military buildup — As we wrote on Tuesday, Turkey’s President Erdogan has accused the US of working with Syrian Kurds to build a “terror army” near the Syrian-Turkish border. Erdogan fears that Syrian Kurds provide inspiration and tangible support for Kurdish separatists inside Turkey. Turkish troops and tanks are now massing along the border as Erdogan warns that he’ll order an attack on two Kurdish-held areas in northern Syria. What could go wrong?

A New Plan for Nukes — A new US nuclear strategy would allow the US to respond with nuclear weapons against “significant non-nuclear strategic attacks,” including those in cyberspace. It’s important that US strategy evolve to meet new kinds of threats, but it’s not always easy to determine a cyber-attack’s origin, and the introduction of nuclear weapons into such a murky environment raises lots of troubling risks.

Shinzo Abe’s Day Off — This week, Shinzo Abe, on the final leg of a tour of Eastern Europe, became the first Japanese prime minister to officially visit Bucharest, capital of Romania. But on Monday, Romania’s Prime Minister Mihai Tudose resigned. With no host to greet him on Tuesday, Abe and his wife spent part of the day at the Dimitrie Gusti National Village Museum, which documents life in the Romanian countryside. No word yet on whether they hit the gift shop on the way out.

What We're Ignoring

Carles Puigdemont — The secessionist would-be Catalan president, who remains in self-imposed exile in Brussels, tweeted a video this week that mixed footage of the heavy-handed Spanish police response to Catalonia’s independence referendum with footage of a 1940 meeting between Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco. The video then cuts to footage of current Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Signal has noted the excessive use of force by Spanish police before and during the referendum, but Puigdemont is now going out of his way to relieve us of any responsibility to take him seriously.

Venezuela Talks — Representatives of Venezuela’s government sat down with opposition leaders in the Dominican Republic yesterday. Yes, “meeting jaw to jaw is better than war,” as Winston Churchill once said, but we share the skepticism of the Mexican and Chilean mediators that much will come of talks between two sides that share virtually no common ground.

South Korean hockey fans –North and South Korea have agreed to ask the International Olympic Committee to approve a last-minute plan to allow them to form a unified women’s ice hockey team. But the South Korean team’s coach and conservative newspapers gripe that the plan will cost the South Korean team a shot at a medal. Thousands of South Koreans have signed online petitions to kill the idea. C’mon, folks. It won’t bring peace, but a North-South women’s hockey team would be much more fun and interesting to watch.

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.

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.


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.

It's been nine years since Libya's long-time despot Muammar Qaddafi was killed in a violent uprising, bringing the oil-rich country to the brink of civil war. That conflict entered a new stage last year when violence between warring factions competing for territory intensified around Tripoli, Libya's capital, leading to the displacement of some 300,000 civilians. In recent weeks, fighting has intensified again, and ceasefire talks have failed. Here's a look at who's who and how we got here.


Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, discusses combating cyberbullying, CCPA and tech "fashion":

What is a "troll score" and is it a realistic way to combat online bullying?

Something that Kayvon Beykpour, head of product at Twitter and I talked about, and the thought was: Twitter doesn't give you a lot of disincentives to be a jerk online. But what if there were a way to measure how much of a jerk someone is and put it right in their profile? Wouldn't that help? I think it's a pretty good idea. Though, you can see the arguments against it.