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.