What We're 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're 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.

This month, a bipartisan group of legislators in Washington state presented new legislation that could soon become the most comprehensive privacy law in the country. The centerpiece of this legislation, the Washington Privacy Act as substituted, goes further than the landmark bill California recently enacted and builds on the law Europeans have enjoyed for the past year and a half.

As Microsoft President Brad Smith shared in his blog post about our priorities for the state of Washington's current legislative session, we believe it is important to enact strong data privacy protections to demonstrate our state's leadership on what we believe will be one of the defining issues of our generation. People will only trust technology if they know their data is private and under their control, and new laws like these will help provide that assurance.

Read more here.

Let's be clear— the Middle East peace plan that the US unveiled today is by no means fair. In fact, it is markedly more pro-Israel than any that have come before it.

But the Trump administration was never aiming for a "fair" deal. Instead, it was pursuing a deal that can feasibly be implemented. In other words, it's a deal shaped by a keen understanding of the new power balances within the region and globally.

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Betty Liu, Executive Vice Chairman for NYSE Group, explains:

Do election years have an impact on the markets?

So, the short answer is it depends. There's lots of factors that affect the markets, right. But there are some trends. So, the S&P has had its best performance in the year before elections and the second-best performance on election year. Now since 1928, we've had 23 election years and the S&P has had negative returns only four times in that duration.

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For months now, the US has been lobbying countries around the world to ban the Chinese tech giant Huawei from building the 5G data networks that are going to power everything from your cell phone, to power grids, to self-driving cars. US security hawks say allowing a Chinese company to supply such essential infrastructure could allow the Chinese government to steal sensitive data or even sabotage networks. On the other hand, rejecting Huawei could make 5G more expensive. It also means angering the world's second-largest economy.

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The end of the interim in Bolivia? – Mere months after taking over as Bolivia's interim president, Jeanine Áñez has decided that "interim" isn't quite permanent enough, and she now wants to run for president in elections set for May 3. Áñez is an outspoken conservative who took over in October when mass protests over election fraud prompted the military to oust the long-serving left-populist Evo Morales. She says she is just trying to unify a fractious conservative ticket that can beat the candidate backed by Morales' party. (Morales himself is barred from running.) Her supporters say she has the right to run just like anyone else. But critics say that after promising that she would serve only as a caretaker president, Áñez's decision taints the legitimacy of an election meant to be a clean slate reset after the unrest last fall. We are watching closely to see if her move sparks fresh unrest in an already deeply polarized country.

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