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.

In 2012, the United States created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect these young people from being deported. Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known. More than five dozen of these DACA recipients at risk are Microsoft employees. These young people contribute to the company and serve its customers. They help create products, secure services, and manage finances. And like so many young people across our nation, they dream of making an honest living and a real difference in the communities in which they reside. Yet they now live in uncertainty.

Microsoft has told its Dreamers that it will stand up for them along with all the nation's DACA recipients. It will represent them in court and litigate on their behalf. That's why Microsoft joined Princeton University and Princeton student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez to file one of the three cases challenging the DACA rescission that was heard on Nov. 12 by the United States Supreme Court.

Read more on Microsoft On The Issues.

Last week, French President Emmanuel Macron said that NATO was experiencing "brain death," citing a lack of coordination and America's fickleness under Donald Trump as reasons to doubt the alliance's commitment to mutual defense. NATO – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization – was formed in the wake of World War II as a counterweight against Soviet dominance in Europe and beyond. Its cornerstone is that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all. But disagreement about burden sharing has gained increasing salience in recent years. In 2014, the bloc agreed that each member state would increase their own defense spending to 2% of their respective GDP over the next decade. But so far, only seven of 29 members have forked out the money. Here's a look at who pays what.

In the predawn hours of Tuesday morning, Israel launched a precision attack in the Gaza Strip, targeting and killing a Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander. In response, the terror group fired more than 200 rockets at southern Israel. Exchanges of fire have brought cities on both sides of the Gaza border to a standstill and at least eight Palestinians are dead and dozens of Israelis wounded. With this latest escalation, Israel now faces national security crises on multiple fronts. Here's what's going on:

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More Brexit shenanigans: Britons this week saw Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson endorse Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in upcoming elections. As a special bonus, they got to see Corbyn return the favo(u)r with a formal endorsement of Johnson. Most viewers in the UK will have understood immediately that these are the latest example of "deep fakes," digitally manipulated video images. The more important Brexit story this week is a pledge by Nigel Farage that his Brexit Party will not run candidates in areas held by the Conservatives in upcoming national elections. That's a boost for Johnson, because it frees his party from having to compete for support from pro-Brexit voters in those constituencies.

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80: More than 80 percent of the electronic voting systems currently used in the US are made by just three companies, according to a new report which warns that they are regulated less effectively than "colored pencils."

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