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.

Every day thousands of people legally cross back and forth between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on their way to jobs, schools, doctor's appointments, shopping centers and the homes of family and friends. This harmonious exchange has taken place for more than 400 years, uniting neighbors through shared social ties, geography, history and, most importantly, an interlinked economy.

Beyond the people and goods, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez also converge in a cross-border flow of ideas, ambition and aspirations that have shaped the region for centuries. This forward-looking spirit is what attracted Microsoft to the region in 2017, when it launched Microsoft TechSpark to create new economic opportunities and help digitally transform established industries with modern software and cloud services. It's also why Microsoft announced on Monday that it is expanding the TechSpark El Paso program to include Ciudad Juárez and making a $1.5 million investment in the binational Bridge Accelerator. Read more about the TechSpark announcement here.

Foreign policy played a bigger role in last night's Democratic presidential debate than in previous ones, in part because of events that came on the heels of President Trump's surprise, and disastrous, withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria. Some candidates used the opportunity to play up their foreign policy bona fides, but not all of their punches landed cleanly. Here are some key takeaways.

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Will there be agreement, and will negotiations carry on if there is no agreement in the EU?

Lord William Hague: Well, they won't carry on if there is no agreement at the European Council in the next few days. But in the EU, while you always think of things going to the last minute, in fact they usually go beyond the last minute. And that could happen in this case where there could be political agreement, agreement in principle to a Brexit deal. But they'd have to have another European Council, and more detail hammering out the actual text of it before another summit on the 28th of October, which would mean some extension to Brexit.

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Since Syria's brutal civil war began eight years ago, millions of Syrians have fled their country to escape the bombs and bullets. But hundreds of thousands have been displaced within Syria's borders, where they languish in packed refugee camps. The al-Hol camp in northern Syria is sprawling, and of its nearly 70,000 residents, some 11,000 are family members of foreign ISIS fighters, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The surprise American withdrawal from northern Syria last week paved the way for Turkey and Syria's Bashar al-Assad to move in. Some 160,000 civilians have now fled the border region that Turkey is bombarding, deepening a humanitarian crisis in a stretch of Syria that had been relatively secure since the defeat of ISIS's self-declared caliphate back in March. Here's a look at the camps for displaced people in the area.

Mozambique's democracy test Mozambicans voted yesterday in an election that will test a fragile peace accord between the ruling Frelimo party, led by president Filipe Nyusi, and Renamo, a former rebel group-turned-opposition party. The two factions were on opposite sides of a Cold War-tinged civil war that killed an estimated 1 million people between 1977 and 1992. Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since independence, has been losing popularity due to a corruption scandal, but is likely to hold onto power at the national level. Renamo, which foreswore violence just two months ago in exchange for electoral reforms that will help the party, will be hoping to make regional gains that allow it to win some key governorships. Disputes over the final vote count and even outright fraud or violence are possible in coming days, particularly if Renamo fails to make its hoped-for gains.

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