WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Macron’s Next Challenge– All French leaders seem eventually to face the same problem: Reform plans provoke resistance from workers and students. The protesters win public support. The president or prime minister is forced to back down—and then pilloried for his weakness. Tomorrow, Emmanuel Macron faces “Blocage du Novembre 17,” a protest in which people wearing yellow sweaters plan to block more than 1500 roads all over France to protest his diesel tax. A new poll says 65 percent of the public supports the protest and 42 percent intend to participate.


The Rise of China – Not sure we’re right about the power of the moving image? Check out this motion graphic on the rise of China.

Cuban officials in American hotels –A Hilton hotel in southwestern Japan turned away the Cuban Ambassador to Japan this week, citing US sanctions on the island nation. Japanese officials are furious. The US government should have learned decades ago that no good can come from pushing Cuban officials out of American hotels.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Rubber Lenin –Speaking of being forced from one’s lodgings, Vladimir Petrov, a Russian lawmaker, says it’s too expensive to keep former Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin on display in the Red Square Mausoleum, where his body has been exhibited since his death in 1924. He proposes burying Lenin in 2024 on the 100th anniversary of his demise. He does believe the Mausoleum should remain open, perhaps with a rubber version of Lenin instead. This is not fake news. Your Friday author knows the story of Rubber Lenin is true, because he saw it in Pravda.

Duterte power naps – On Wednesday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a man who has cultivated an image as a virile, no-nonsense problem-solver, missed four scheduled meetings at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Singapore. Apparently, he was sleeping. Don’t worry, said a presidential spokesman. Duterte doesn’t sleep as we do. These were “power naps.”

Gait recognition – What good is facial recognition surveillance software if the camera can’t see your face? In China, authorities have begun using software that can identify a person by body shape and how they walk. This will never work, in our opinion, because clever people can easily adjust their gait.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Viktor Orbán, Hungary's far-right populist prime minister, likes to shock people. It's part of his political appeal. Orbán has proudly proclaimed that he is an "illiberal" leader" creating a frenzy in Brussels because Hungary is a member of the European Union.

It's been over a decade since the 58-year old whom some have dubbed "the Trump before Trump" became prime minister. In that time he has, critics say, hollowed out Hungary's governing institutions and eroded the state's democratic characteristics.

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Why do (most) world leaders drink together? It can get them to agree on stuff they wouldn't while sober. Booze "helps people get cooperation off the ground, especially in situations where cooperation is challenging," says University of British Colombia professor Edward Slingerland. Alcohol, he explains, allows you to "see commonalities rather than just pursuing your own interest," which may put teetotaler politicians — like Donald Trump — at a disadvantage. Watch his interview on the next episode of GZERO World. Check local listings to watch on US public television.

In countries with access to COVID vaccines, the main challenge now is to convince those hesitant about the jab to roll up their sleeves, and this has become even more urgent given the spread of the more contagious delta variant. So, where are there more vaccine skeptics, and how do they compare to total COVID deaths per million in each nation? We take a look at a group of large economies where jabs are available, yet (in some cases) not everyone wants one.

Marietje Schaake, International Policy Director at Stanford's Cyber Policy Center, Eurasia Group senior advisor and former MEP, discusses trends in big tech, privacy protection and cyberspace:

QR codes are everywhere. Are they also tracking my personal data?

Well, a QR code is like a complex barcode that may be on a printed ad or product package for you to scan and access more information. For example, to look at a menu without health risk or for two-factor verification of a bank payment. And now also as an integral part of covid and vaccine registration. QR codes can lead to tracking metadata or personal data. And when your phone scans and takes you to a website, certainly the tracking starts there. Now, one big trap is that people may not distinguish one kind of use of QR codes from another and that they cannot be aware of the risks of sharing their data.

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Now that the Tokyo Olympics are finally underway, your Signal crew will be bringing you some intriguing, uplifting, and quirky bits of color from a Games like no other…

Today we've got— the best freakout celebrations!

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Tanzania reverses course on COVID: Just four months ago, the Tanzanian government was completely denying the existence of the pandemic. Then-President John Magufuli insisted Tanzania was COVID-free thanks to peoples' prayers, and refused to try to get vaccines. But Magufuli died suddenly in March — perhaps of COVID. His successor, current President Samia Suluhu, has acknowledged the presence of the virus in Tanzania, and although she was initially lukewarm on mask-wearing and vaccines, Suluhu has recently changed her tune, first joining the global COVAX facility and now getting vaccinated herself to kick off the country's inoculation drive. Well done Tanzania, because if there's one thing we've all learned over the past 18 months, it's that nowhere — not even North Korea, whatever Pyongyang says — is safe from the coronavirus.

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16: A new study tracking Earth's "vital signs" has found that 16 out of 31 indicators of planetary health are getting worse due to climate change. Last year's pandemic-induced shutdown did little to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions, stop the oceans from warming, or slow the shrinking of polar ice caps.

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How booze helps get diplomacy done

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