WHAT WE’RE WATCHING/IGNORING

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Saudi Arabia's Oil Strategy – Tomorrow, members of OPEC, an organization of large oil producers, will convene in Vienna.


Over the past two months global oil prices have fallen by almost 30 percent, after reaching a high of $86 in early October. Saudi Arabia, the cartel's most powerful producer, hopes to forge an agreement among members and participating "observer states," like Russia, to reduce production with the aim of lifting prices. But it faces a political bind: any attempt to increase prices risks angering President Trump, a frequent OPEC critic, while a continued swoon could damage Saudi Arabia's oil-dependent economy.

The limits of Europe's Big Tech crackdown – A Franco-German effort to tax Silicon Valley giants hit a roadblock this week after a handful of member states objected, forcing Paris and Berlin water down their proposal. Europe has some of the world's toughest data rules and has brought huge antitrust cases against Silicon Valley firms – regulation is one of the ways the 28-member bloc, which lacks its own Silicon Valley, can project digital power in the 21st century. But some EU states remain wary of pushing the companies that will drive the next generation of big digital innovations too far. The debate over digital taxation reveals an important limit to an ongoing crackdown.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Russian attacks on Immanuel Kant – Russia's government recently launched a contentious competition to pick a new name for the airport in Kaliningrad, a small Russian exclave located between Germany and Poland. The territory, which was German (Königsberg) until the end of World War II, is the birthplace of the moral philosopher Immanuel Kant. Once the Kant's name made it to the final round of the contest, things got ugly – mobs have vandalized Kant statues and a senior naval officer there declared him a "traitor to his own country." This sort of behavior almost certainly violates Kant's first categorical imperative. Or is it the second? Either way, it looks like Empress Elizaveta of Russia, who briefly annexed the territory in the 18th century, will get the nod.

Nigeria's really fake first lady – In Tuesday's Signal, we revealed that Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been forced to defend the fact that he is, in fact, the real Muhammadu Buhari, amid persistent rumors that he died and was replaced by a clone or body double. Today, we are perplexed to report that Nigeria's secret service has detained a real-life fake first lady who was posing as Buhari's wife inside the presidential villa. Elaborate scam? Or sinister attempt to distract from the real scandal? We'll leave it to you to speculate, because we're still ignoring this story.

Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick joins That Made All the Difference podcast to discuss how his career as a surgeon influenced his work as an educator, administrator and champion of underserved communities, and why he believes we may be on the cusp of the next "golden generation."

Listen to the latest podcast now.

It's been a bad week at the office for President Trump. Not only have coronavirus cases in the US been soaring, but The New York Times' bombshell report alleging that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan has continued to make headlines. While details about the extent of the Russian bounty program — and how long it's been going on for — remain murky, President Trump now finds himself in a massive bind on this issue.

Here are three key questions to consider.

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Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, discusses technology industry news today:

Do some of the Facebook's best features, like the newsfeed algorithm or groups, make removing hate speech from the platform impossible?

No, they do not. But what they do do is make it a lot easier for hate speech to spread. A fundamental problem with Facebook are the incentives in the newsfeed algorithm and the structure of groups make it harder for Facebook to remove hate speech.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Yes, still in the middle of coronavirus, but thought I'd give you a couple of my thoughts on Russia. Part of the world that I cut my teeth on as a political scientist, way back in the eighties and nineties. And now Putin is a president for life, or at least he gets to be president until 2036, gets another couple of terms. The constitutional amendments that he reluctantly allowed to be voted on across Russia, passed easily, some 76% approval. And so now both in China and in Russia, term limits get left behind all for the good of the people, of course. So that they can have the leaders that they truly deserve. Yes, I'm being a little sarcastic here. It's sad to see. It's sad to see that the Americans won the Cold War in part, not just because we had a stronger economy and a stronger military, but actually because our ideas were better.

Because when those living in the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Block looked at the West, and looked at the United States, they saw that our liberties, they saw that our economy, was something that they aspired to and was actually a much better way of giving opportunities to the average citizen, than their own system afforded. And that helped them to rise up against it.

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Jon Lieber, managing director for the United States at Eurasia Group, provides his perspective on US politics:

How likely is bipartisan action against Russia in light of Taliban bounty reports?

I think it's probably unlikely. One of the challenges here is that there's some conflict of the intelligence and anything that touches on the issue of President Trump and Russia is extremely toxic for him. Republicans have so far been tolerant of that and willing to stop any new sanctions coming. I think unless the political situation or the allegations get much worse or more obvious, that stalemate probably remains.

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