What We're Watching: Algeria's "sham" election

Algeria's election: Some Algerians went to the polls today to elect a new president. Others hit the streets of major cities to denounce the vote as a sham, one designed to hide the reality that nothing will change following the ouster in April of doddering former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika after two decades on the job. All five presidential candidates have promised "change" in some form, but all five have also worked for Bouteflika at some time in the past. The military, led by General Ahmed Gaid Salah, remains the true power behind the throne. Protests are likely to continue, and we'll be watching the army, which will be watching the crowds.

Trump gets a trade deal with China: After months of wrangling and rollercoaster hype, the US and China agreed today on the terms of a so-called "phase one" trade deal. The US will roll back some existing tariffs on Chinese imports and postpone any new ones, in exchange for Beijing's promise to buy more US agriculture goods. The legal text of the agreement hasn't yet been finalized, though, so there's still a possibility that either side could ditch it (which has already happened once before.) If a deal is finalized it would be a welcome reprieve from steadily growing tensions between the world's two largest economies, but it still wouldn't address the core issues on which Washington and Beijing are at odds: China's unwavering support for state companies and its ambitions to become a rival technology superpower.

What we're listening to: The New Yorker's Moscow correspondent Joshua Yaffa on The New Yorker Radio Hour, explaining how today's Russian propaganda differs from the Soviet variety in the way that it actively undermines the idea of truth itself. Yaffa's excellent new profile of Konstantin Ernst, the Kremlin's arty and sophisticated propaganda chief, is worth a read too.

Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to child online protection. First and foremost, as a technology company, it has a responsibility to create software, devices and services that have safety features built in from the outset. Last week, in furtherance of those commitments, Microsoft shared a grooming detection technique, code name "Project Artemis," by which online predators attempting to lure children for sexual purposes can be detected, addressed and reported. Developed in collaboration with The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik and Thorn, this technique builds off Microsoft patented technology and will be made freely available to qualified online service companies that offer a chat function.

Read more at Microsoft On The Issues.

Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for twenty years, but he has a problem: his current presidential term ends in 2024, and the constitution prevents him from running for re-election then.

As a result, the question of what he'll do in 2024 has been on the minds of Russia's oligarchs, spooks, bureaucrats, and a lot of ordinary folks, as well. After all, over the past two decades, Putin has made himself, for better and for worse, the indispensable arbiter, boss, and glue of Russia's sprawling and corrupted system of government. As the current speaker of Russia's legislature once said, "Without Putin, there is no Russia." Not as we currently know it, no.


Since Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic "I have a dream" speech in August 1963, the number of Black Americans elected to the United States Congress has dramatically increased. Still, it wasn't until last year, more than half a century later, that the share of Black members serving in the House of Representatives reflected the percentage of Black Americans in the broader population —12 percent. To date, only six states have sent a Black representative to serve in the US Senate, and many states have never elected a Black representative to either house of Congress. Here's a look at Black representation in every US Congress since 1963.

It's been nine years since Libya's long-time despot Muammar Qaddafi was killed in a violent uprising, bringing the oil-rich country to the brink of civil war. That conflict entered a new stage last year when violence between warring factions competing for territory intensified around Tripoli, Libya's capital, leading to the displacement of some 300,000 civilians. In recent weeks, fighting has intensified again, and ceasefire talks have failed. Here's a look at who's who and how we got here.


Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, discusses combating cyberbullying, CCPA and tech "fashion":

What is a "troll score" and is it a realistic way to combat online bullying?

Something that Kayvon Beykpour, head of product at Twitter and I talked about, and the thought was: Twitter doesn't give you a lot of disincentives to be a jerk online. But what if there were a way to measure how much of a jerk someone is and put it right in their profile? Wouldn't that help? I think it's a pretty good idea. Though, you can see the arguments against it.