Watching/Ignoring

What We're Watching

Protests in Iraq – In recent days, thousands of people have hit the streets in southern Iraq to protest widespread electricity shortages and rampant government corruption. The protests come just months after an inconclusive and fraud-tainted election which is currently undergoing a recount. For the time being, a delicate governing alliance has been struck between the current prime minister, Haider Al-Abadi, and the biggest vote-getter, the fiery Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, that should make it possible to form a new government soon. Whether it can deliver the improvements needed to quell popular discontent remains to be seen.


The EU vs Hungary – The European Union has brought a formal complaint against the government of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for passing a controversial law that criminalizes any organization that provides aid to asylum-seekers. Brussels says the law violates EU treaties, whereas Budapest says migrants and those who help them compromise Hungary’s security. Coming alongside Brussels’ dispute with neighboring Poland over the government’s judicial power grab, the clash with Hungary raises the stakes in the EU’s deepening conflict over fundamental values and the rule of law with its increasingly nationalistic member states.

What We’re Ignoring

A little dust on the furniture in Addis – Eritrea's embassy in Ethiopia has just opened for the first time in 20 years as part of a recent watershed peace overture between the two countries, which have been in a state of war since the late 1990s. Everything in the building is just as it was when employees left in 2000, down to family photos, wine bottles, bedspreads, a scowling Peugeot 505, all under a thin patina of dust. We are ignoring the dust, which can be swifty swiffed, while remaining keenly interested to how far Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed and his Eritrean counterpart Isaias Afwerki can take a momentous and, until recently, deeply improbable peace process.

Trump critics’ expectations that he’ll change tack on Russia – Trump’s evident obsequiousness before Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki drew criticism from lawmakers across the political spectrum. But don’t expect much to change or for Congress to do much about it. Why? A poll taken since the Helsinki presser shows 79 percent of Republican voters approve of the way Trump handled Putin. As GOP lawmakers look ahead to this fall’s midterm elections, few are willing to substantively challenge a president whom their constituents overwhelmingly support. Trump, for his part, has already invited Putin to Washington.

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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