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What We're Watching: Bashir in the dock

What We're Watching: Bashir in the dock

Sudan's Show Trial: Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's ousted strongman, is now finally in the dock to face charges of butchery and corruption. For the moment, the country's new strongman Mohamed Hamdan "Hemeti" Dagolo and the military council he leads are sharing power with a civilian opposition alliance. An agreement signed last weekend promises elections and civilian rule. We're watching to see how a new regime, led by the gunmen who enabled the old regime's atrocities, will make the case against its former boss—and how the opposition will respond.

Foreign aid under the knife: The Trump administration is reportedly advancing a plan that would end billions of dollars in foreign aid funding, and it claims it has the authority to do this without approval from Congress. The White House says much of this money is wasted on governments that don't support US policies. Critics of the cuts charge that, beyond the humanitarian value of foreign aid, the money benefits the United States by helping to stabilize countries and regions plagued with violence and poverty, reducing the risk they'll produce war, terrorism, and refugees. We're watching to see how hard Republicans in Congress push back on this plan.

Smokey Bear Meets Hungry Goat: Portugal has faced a surge of forest fires in recent years, for two reasons: temperatures are rising as the earth warms, and flammable brush and forests are being left untended as more and more people leave the countryside for opportunities elsewhere. But authorities have hit upon a decidedly low-tech solution, the Times reports. It turns out that the country's Algarve goats love to graze on precisely the underbrush that serves as kindling for forest fires, so the government is working with local shepherds to have their flocks do just that. The catch? Urbanization means that there are precious few qualified shepherds left...#HerdHelpWanted

What We're Ignoring:

Our speakers (and yours): A presenter at a big hacking conference in Las Vegas last week warned that saboteurs could hijack internet-enabled home sound systems, headphones, or other connected speakers to make them emit ear-piercing – and possibly psychologically destructive – noise. This is on top of the already established fact that a well-placed cue in a TV ad (or an episode of South Park) can trigger your electronic in-home assistant to order cat foodor worse – on Amazon. We're ignoring our newfangled Wi-Fi speakers, because we're worried hackers are hiding inside them. We'll fire up the turntable instead. #HiFiNotWiFi

Bank of America's $25 million jobs initiative provides Black and Hispanic-Latino individuals access to skills and training needed for jobs of the future. Learn more about the initiative, which involves partnerships with 21 community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

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Iran's nuclear tug-of-war: Hardliners in Iran's parliament passed a bill Tuesday suspending UN inspections of its nuclear sites and giving the go-ahead to massively increase uranium enrichment unless the US lifts its sanctions by February. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani opposes the measure, saying it would be "harmful" to diplomatic efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the incoming Biden administration in the US. But Iran's parliament doesn't actually need Rouhani's approval to pass the law, and regardless, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will have the final say on policy – as always! If the law is passed, it will immediately raise the stakes for Biden, who takes office on January 20. Both he and Rouhani say they are keen to resume dialogue in hopes of reviving the nuclear deal, which President Trump walked out of in 2018. But just days after the architect of Iran's nuclear program was assassinated (likely by Israel with the US' blessing) the hurdles to even beginning those talks are rising fast.

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"China is angry. If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy." This was the message recently conveyed by a Chinese government official on the intensifying row with its Asia-Pacific neighbor, Australia.

China-Australia relations, steadily deteriorating in recent months over a range of political disputes, reached a new low this week when Beijing posted a doctored image on Twitter of an Australian soldier holding a knife to an Afghan child's throat. Beijing's decision to post the fake image at a hypersensitive time for Australia's military establishment was a deliberate political provocation: beat Canberra while it's down.

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19.4: The Lebanese economy, waylaid by financial and political crises on top of the pandemic, is set to contract by a crippling 19.4 percent this year, according to the World Bank. Next year things hardly get better, with a contraction of 13.2 percent coming in 2021.

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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