A Tough Act to Follow—Zimbabwe Edition

Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa has problems of a different kind. Successor to the iron-fisted Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa’s first challenge is to stabilize, then revitalize, an economy Mugabe left in ruins. That means showing the public he’s made progress on fighting corruption and bringing back money that wealthy Zimbabwean companies and individuals have moved abroad.


First, he offered an amnesty along with a limit of 90 days to bring the money back. That netted just under $600 million, according to the government, less than half the hoped-for sum. This week, Mnangagwa, known to friends and foes as “the Crocodile,” published the names of hundreds of companies, individuals, and even churches that, he says, still have a total of $827 million stashed outside the country’s borders. Return the money, he warns, or risk prison.

Second challenge: What to do with Mugabe, who appears unwilling to go quietly off to Strongman Heaven? Out of power now for four months, the elderly former dictator still has much to say to anyone who will listen. After praising his successor and calling for unity in the immediate aftermath of his ouster, he now claims he has been treated disgracefully and was the victim of a coup.

Mnangagwa has no interest in a fight with his larger-than-life predecessor. “The former president is our founding father, we respect him. He is now 94 and he is bound to forget what he says,” Mnangagwa said this week. But it’s not helping the new president’s reputation as a corruption fighter that Mugabe’s sons have lately posted video on social media of lavish parties, flash clothes, and expensive cars paid for with taxpayer money.

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.

A potentially deadly new coronavirus that can be transmitted from one person to another is now spreading across China. Chinese state media say it has infected about 300 people and killed six, but the number of undetected or unreported cases is certain to be much higher. Complicating containment efforts, millions of people are on the move across the country this week to celebrate the Chinese New Year with family and friends.

More

Norway's government breaks up over ISIS returnee – Norway's right-wing Progress Party said it will resign from the country's four-party coalition government over the prime minister's decision to bring home a Norwegian woman affiliated with the Islamic State in Syria. The woman, who left Norway for the conflict zone in 2013, was arrested shortly after arriving in Oslo with her two children, on suspicion of being a member of ISIS. Prior to her return, she had been held in the Al-Hol refugee camp in northeastern Syria, along with thousands of other family members of ISIS fighters. The defection of Norway's anti-immigrant Progress Party undercuts Prime Minister Erna Solberg's parliamentary majority, likely making it hard for her to pass laws in parliament. This case reflects an increasingly common problem for European countries: the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate has largely collapsed but what should countries do about the return of former fighters and their families to societies that don't want them?

More

20,000: Sri Lanka's president has acknowledged for the first time that some 20,000 people who disappeared during the country's brutal civil war are dead, dashing the hopes of families who had held out hope that their relatives were alive and in military custody. The conflict, which ended in 2009, split the country according to ethnicities, killing around 100,000 people, mostly Tamil rebels.

More

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.