Watching/Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

State elections in Bavaria: Fresh off Oktoberfest celebrations, voters in Germany’s southeastern state of Bavaria head to the polls in a statewide election on Sunday that is likely to deal a blow to the governing CSU party—a key partner of Chancellor Merkel’s center-right CDU in the national government. The Bavarian CSU has taken a hit ever since picking – and losing – a fight with the canny Ms. Merkel over border controls earlier this year. But if the CSU fares poorly this weekend, Merkel herself could end up on the ropes: she needs their support to maintain her governing coalition, and there are already calls for her to step down early in order to make way for a new generation of center-right leaders.


Cocaine hippos: In honor of Willis, Signal’s zoographer-in-chief: Four hippopotamuses once owned by Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar have spawned dozens of wild offspring since his killing in 1993, posing a tricky dilemma for the Colombian government. On the one hand, the hippos – a species not native to South America – may have a serious impact on the ecosystems of the rivers and lakes where they now splash, yawn, and chill. On the other hand, culling, moving, or castrating these “cocaine hippos” is both controversial and dangerous (just you try it). For now, the hippos are being left to their own devices – but they are closely watched by both scientists and Signalists alike.

Bonus Hippo material: Speakers of Egyptian Arabic will recall that the dialect term for hippo translates literally as “Mister Cream” – so spare a thought, if you will, for these “Colombian cocaine mister creams.”

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s claims that he’s feeling just fine: Nothing to see here, according to the Filipino strongman, who recently emerged from a surprise trip to the hospital with news that he was “not yet cancerous.” But all signs are that Duterte is making arrangements for a successor in the event that he’s unable to serve out his full term. His allies have introduced a constitutional reform that would temporarily skip over the vice president and put the president of the Senate – a key ally named Tito Sotto – next in line of succession. At the same time, Duterte ally Bongbong Marcos (son of former dictator Fernando and his shoe-crazed wife Imelda) is seeking to invalidate the election of the current vice president Leni Robredo, a Duterte opponent, and to take her place.

China’s application to join the Trade Deal Formerly Known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership: Beijing is reportedly looking into joining the new 11-nation trade agreement that emerged after President Trump pulled the US out of the original TPP pact last year. China didn’t apply for membership during previous rounds of negotiations – the original TPP was, after all, intended to contain China’s economic influence in Asia. But with the US gone and trade tensions with Washington rising, at least one well-placed Beijing academic thinks China may be looking to the pact as a way to shield itself from an increasingly hostile US. Still, it seems pretty safe to write this one off as posturing – a state-dominated economy like China would struggle to live up to the standards required in the agreement.

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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