Watching and Ignoring

What We're Watching

Shifting Saudi Arabia — A Saudi prince paid $1 billion to make corruption allegations go away — and maybe to offer fealty to soon-to-be king Mohammad bin Salman. This is yet another sign that MBS is firmly in charge.


Narita, Japan — Narita is known for both its international airport, which many a weary traveler wishes was a little closer to Tokyo, and its freshwater eels. How then to design the city’s mascot? With more than 800,000 votes, Narita has won a contest for Japan’s best regional mascot by creating a character that is half airplane/half eel. We’ll be watching next year to see this thing defend his/her/its crown.

“Mad” Mike Hughes — Apparently unaware of the works of Tom Friedman, self-taught rocket-builder Mike Hughes has promised to shoot himself 1,800 feet into the California sky in a scrap-metal rocket to take photos that prove the Earth is flat. We’ll be watching to be sure this idiot doesn’t land on us.

What We're Ignoring

War of the Roses: Part II — Faced with news that Britain’s Prince Harry will marry Meghan Markle next year, you’re probably worried that the bride’s Roman Catholicism could prevent Harry from one day becoming king. You don’t need to sweat this one. By the time Harry weds Meghan next May, he’ll be sixth in line for the throne, with two toddlers and a baby ahead of him in the queue. This guy loves mischief, but he’s no Richard III, so the kids are safe. Also, new rules went into effect two years ago that allow royals to marry Catholics, so you can safely go back to worrying about Brexit.

Venezuela’s chances of producing more oil — Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro named an army general with no energy experience to run PDVSA, the state-owned oil firm, in a country that draws more than 90 percent of export revenue from oil. That’ll go well.

The price of bitcoin — Bitcoin began 2017 at less than $1,000 and this week topped $10,000. I continue to ignore this story, because I never invest in things I don’t understand. #CryptoTulips

In the end it wasn't even close. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won a stunning victory in the UK's snap elections yesterday, taking at least 364 seats out of 650, delivering the Tories their largest majority since 1987.

Johnson read the public mood correctly. After three years of anguish and political uncertainty over the terms of the UK's exit from the European Union, he ran on a simple platform: "Get Brexit Done." In a typically raffish late-campaign move, he even drove a bulldozer through a fake wall of "deadlock." Despite lingering questions about his honesty and his character, Johnson's party gained at least 49 seats (one seat still hasn't been declared yet).

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This holiday season, how concerned should I be about smart toys and their vulnerability to hacking?

You should be concerned both, that Internet connected toys can be hacked and also that they have shoddy privacy practices. And then the voice files of your kid talking to their teddy bear will end up in the cloud, accessible to all kinds of creepy people. On the other hand, Internet connected toys are great. Kids need to learn about technology. So, tradeoffs.

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David Miliband: Now that Boris Johnson has won a majority in the House of Commons, what's going to happen to Brexit?

If only Brexit could get done in 60 seconds? Because the result of the general election obviously means that Britain will leave the European Union, but it does nothing to clarify our future relations with the European Union. The Johnson victory is undoubtedly a very strong one, and he will try and interpret it as a victory for himself and for the Conservative Party and the attraction that they offer to Labour voters.

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Once a widely heralded human rights champion who was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for advancing democracy in Myanmar, Aung San Suu Kyi has now taken up a different cause: defending her country from accusations of genocide at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Yesterday was the court's final day of hearings over that country's military-led crackdown against the Rohingya Muslim minority in 2017, which left thousands dead and forced more than 740,000 people to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. Here's what you need to know about the proceedings.

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