What We're Watching: A Win Against Malaria and Cuba's Ostrich Obsession

Progress on Malaria – This week saw a potentially important victory in the war against malaria, which kills one child somewhere in the world every two minutes. Children under five are most at risk, especially in Africa. The southern African nation of Malawi began a landmark large-scale pilot program to immunize young children against malaria with the first vaccine that gives partial protection against the disease. The vaccine will protect only one-third of children under two years old from severe malaria, but clinical trials suggest those immunized are likely to have less severe cases of the disease. Smaller trials found that the vaccine prevented four in 10 cases of malaria in babies aged between five and 17 months.

Cuba's Ostrich Obsession – General Guillermo García Frías, a 91-year-old revolutionary comrade of the late Fidel Castro, raised eyebrows recently when he said on Cuban state television that Cubans should eat more ostrich. But it was his suggestion that an ostrich can produce more meat than a cow that pulled viewers out of their seats and onto social media, where they created some hilarious memes at the general's expense. Black comedy aside, this episode should set off alarm bells in the Cuban government. More Cubans now have Internet access, including on mobile phones, and hardships have only sharpened their sense of humor.

What We're Ignoring: Indonesian Hiccups and Scottish Independence

A Hiccup in Prabowo's Strategy – Opposition presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto declared victory following Indonesia's April 17 election. Though official results won't be announced until next month, Prabowo appears to be one of the very few people on Earth who believe he'll be Indonesia's next president. His claim is so dubious, in fact, that his vice-presidential running mate, Sandiaga Uno, did not appear on stage with him during his "victory" speech. When asked to explain his absence, Sandiaga claimed he'd had a debilitating attack of "non-stop hiccups." Sandiaga has since appeared with Prabowo, but he doesn't look happy about it.

Another Scotland Independence Referendum – Scotland will hold another referendum on independence from the United Kingdom, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced this week. She intends the vote to be held before May 2021, when the current term ends for Scotland's parliament. A referendum on this question failed in 2014 by a margin of 55-45 percent, but Sturgeon hopes that frustration and fear provoked by Brexit will flip the score. We're ignoring this story (for now) because much will happen over the next two years.

Last week, in Fulton, WI, together with election officials from the state of Wisconsin and the election technology company VotingWorks, Microsoft piloted ElectionGuard in an actual election for the first time.

As voters in Fulton cast ballots in a primary election for Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates, the official count was tallied using paper ballots as usual. However, ElectionGuard also provided an encrypted digital tally of the vote that enabled voters to confirm their votes have been counted and not altered. The pilot is one step in a deliberate and careful process to get ElectionGuard right before it's used more broadly across the country.

Read more about the process at Microsoft On The Issues.

The risk of a major technology blow-up between the US and Europe is growing. A few weeks ago, we wrote about how the European Union wanted to boost its "technological sovereignty" by tightening its oversight of Big Tech and promoting its own alternatives to big US and Chinese firms in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence.

Last week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her top digital officials unveiled their first concrete proposals for regulating AI, and pledged to invest billions of euros to turn Europe into a data superpower.

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Communal violence in Delhi: Over the past few days, India's capital city has seen its deadliest communal violence in decades. This week's surge in mob violence began as a standoff between protesters against a new citizenship law that critics say discriminates against India's Muslims and the law's Hindu nationalist defenders. Clashes between Hindu and Muslim mobs in majority-Muslim neighborhoods in northeast Delhi have killed at least 11 people, both Muslim and Hindu, since Sunday. We're watching to see how Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government responds – Delhi's police force reports to federal, rather than local, officials.

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Ian Bremmer's perspective on what's happening in geopolitics:

What are the takeaways from President Trump's visit to India?

No trade deal, in part because Modi is less popular and he's less willing to focus on economic liberalization. It's about nationalism right now. Hard to get that done. But the India US defense relationship continues to get more robust. In part, those are concerns about China and Russia.

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27,000: The Emir of Qatar has decreed a $27,000 fine and up to five years in prison for anyone who publishes, posts, or repost content that aims to "harm the national interest" or "stir up public opinion." No word on whether the Doha-based Al-Jazeera network, long a ferocious and incisive critic of other Arab governments, will be held to the same standard.

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