WATCHING AND IGNORING

​​​​​​WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

The North Korean Coast – While flipping through his latest copy of Casino World Daily, your Friday author noted that casino magnate and conservative donor Sheldon Adelson wants to open casinos along the North Korean coast, perhaps on the “great beaches” near the hotels and condos President Trump would like to see built. Though some have mocked Trump’s suggestion, Kim Jong-un has expressed interest in exactly these sorts of tourism cash-cows. Sadly, he was too busy pointing at potatoes last week to build investor confidence by meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.


Leaders facing justice – El Salvador’s Supreme Court ordered President Sánchez Cerén to testify in a case involving the disappearance and likely murder of South Africa’s ambassador to the country in 1979. Sánchez Cerén is accused of serving as second in command of the left-wing rebel group that claimed to have killed the ambassador. The president denies involvement and refuses to testify. Also this week, a judge in Ecuador ordered the arrest of former President Rafael Correa on charges of kidnapping a political rival. Like Sánchez Cerén, Correa blames political enemies for these accusations. The difference? Correa now lives in Belgium.

WHAT WE’RE IGNORING

The Trump Baby Balloon’s Spokesperson – Apparently, the controversial Trump Baby balloon has its own spokesperson. That’s not necessary. Love it or hate it, the Trump Baby balloon speaks for itself.

Criticism of the giant Kazakh squirrel – Not a day goes by without someone asking your Friday author why he so rarely writes about giant squirrels. Well, Kazakhstan now has one, and this 40-foot-tall, bushy-tailed rodent needs both a talented spokesperson and a good lawyer. This creation has apparently delighted many Kazakh children, but some insist that $67,000 in public funds might have been better spent and warn that its straw and wood guts make it a fire hazard. Its creators say it represents nature's evolution from rural to urban life. #WorksForMe

The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace launched in 2018 with the commitment of signatories to stand up to cyber threats like election interference, attacks on critical infrastructure, and supply chain vulnerabilities. Last week, on the first anniversary of the call, the number of signatories has nearly tripled to more than 1,000 and now includes 74 nations; more than 350 international, civil society and public sector organizations; and more than 600 private sector entities. These commitments to the Paris Call from around the world demonstrate a widespread, global, multi-stakeholder consensus about acceptable behavior in cyberspace.

Read More at Microsoft On The Issues.

In recent years, Republicans have come to dominate most of the state legislatures in the US. Ironically, it was during the Obama-era that the GOP made major headway in states that had long been considered safely blue. State legislatures are now redder than they've been in nearly a century, and in most parts of the country, one party holds all the levers of power. For the first time since 1914, there's only one split legislature in the entire country: Minnesota. To be sure, some state races are bucking the trend: Kentucky and Louisiana, both deep-red states, recently elected Democratic governors. Here's a look at how Democratic and Republican control of state legislatures has evolved over the past four decades.

Forty years ago, Islamic extremists angry at the Saudi government's experiments with social liberalization laid siege to the Grand Mosque of Mecca, the holiest site in Islam.

The attack came on the heels of the Iranian revolution across the Gulf, putting the House of Saud and its American backers in a precarious spot. Tehran had challenged Saudi Arabia's Islamic legitimacy from without, while jihadists were now doing the same from within. For a few days it seemed as though the world's most important oil producer – and the custodian of Islam's holiest places – might be in danger of collapse.

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Forty years ago today, dozens of bearded gunmen stormed the holiest site in Islam, the Grand Mosque at Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

They held the complex for two weeks before a French-trained Saudi force rooted them out, but the fallout from the attack went on to shape the modern Middle East in ways that are still with us today: in the scourge of transnational jihadism and the deepening rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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What changes now that the U.S. softened its position on Israeli settlements?

Well, I mean, not a lot. I mean, keep in mind that this is also the administration that moved the embassy to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv. Everyone said that was going to be a massive problem. Ultimately, not many people cared. Same thing with recognition of Golan Heights for Israel. This is just one more give from the Americans to the Israelis in the context of a region that doesn't care as much as they used to about Israel - Palestine.

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