What We Are Watching: Trump's Motives, Hong Kong Drama, Big Birthday Surprise

Trump's Added Motivation to Win – The US criminal code sets the federal statute of limitations on obstruction of justice at five years. That appears to mean that if Donald Trump wins reelection next November, he will have presidential immunity from prosecution until it's too late ever to indict him for alleged crimes detailed in the report from former special counsel Robert Mueller. Legal experts can weigh in on the possibility of an asterisk here, but it certainly looks like voters, those who back Trump and those who want him out, will be asked to weigh this factor as they go to the polls next year.

Hong Kong – The drama in the streets of Hong Kong has become even more frightening in recent days. This week, we saw thugs armed with clubs attacking defenseless protesters. After video surfaced of a pro-government lawmaker shaking hands with some of these suspected gang members, demonstrators trashed his office. That legislator then posted social media death threats against a pro-democracy political rival. Officials in Beijing have now explicitly warned that they can send Chinese army troops into Hong Kong, and protesters say they won't be intimidated and that demonstrations will continue. In short, the stakes in Hong Kong are rising, and the escalation of promises and threats continues.

Uganda – A 37 year-old Ugandan pop star, opposition lawmaker, and self-proclaimed "Ghetto President" named Bobi Wine announced this week that he will run for president in 2021 against Yoweri Museveni, the man who has held power in Uganda since Wine was four years old. The singer, whose real name is Robert Kyagulanyi, was arrested for treason last year, and he claims (credibly) that he was tortured while in custody. There's a lot that could go wrong here.

Alexander Kliment – Signal's own Alex Kliment is celebrating a big birthday today. We won't throw out a number, but let's call it the "gateway to early middle age." We're watching to see how Alex, creator of Puppet Regime, marks the occasion, because he's one of the funniest and most creative people in the universe, and because he's our friend. #SignalSalute

What We Are Ignoring:

French "perverts in the bushes" – We admit it…we only read the headline: "Perverts in bushes are ruining nude zone in Paris park, say naturists." We're ignoring this story because we just don't want to know any more about that.

The Business and Market Fair that recently took place in Sanzule, Ghana featured local crops, livestock and manufactured goods, thanks in part to the Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP), one of Eni's initiatives to diversify the local economy. The LRP program provided training and support to start new businesses to approximately 1,400 people from 205 households, invigorating entrepreneurship in the community.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky sat down yesterday with Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron for a meeting in the Elysée Palace in Paris for peace talks. This was the first-ever meeting between Putin, Russia's dominant political force since 2000, and Zelensky, who was a TV comedian at this time last year.

Fears that Putin would use Zelensky's inexperience to back him into a deal on Russian terms weren't realized, but the relationship between the two has only just begun.

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Macron not backing down over pensions – Despite five days of mass unrest that has paralyzed Paris' public transport system and dented both tourism and Christmas retail, the government will stand firm on a proposal to reform and unify the country's 42 different pension plans. France's pension system, one of the most generous of any major industrialized country, has major budget shortfalls that contribute to the country's ballooning deficit. Last year, Macron abandoned a proposed fuel price hike that ignited the Yellow Vest movement. But overhauling France's "welfare state" was central to his 2017 election platform, and acquiescing to protesters this time around would be political suicide. France's prime minister – tapped to lead the pension reform project – is expected to announce the plan's final details tomorrow. We're watching to see how this might escalate things further.

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4: The World Anti-Doping Agency handed Russia a four-year ban from all major sporting events, precluding its participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and soccer's 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Russia has three weeks to appeal the ban, which its prime minister says is the result of "chronic anti-Russian hysteria."

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Are we seeing the creation of a parallel universe for US and Chinese tech industries?

I think the answer is yes. In the past, US has dominated the world in technologies from P.C. operating systems, semiconductors, to servers, and even Internet. But ever since the rise of mobile technologies, China has really leveraged the large market with a huge amount of data and now is beginning to innovate and build great mobile apps on which there's a large amount of data being collected.

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