What We’re Watching: Constitutional Crisis and the Embassy of Fast Food

An American Constitutional Crisis – A "constitutional crisis" arises when a confrontation among branches of government can't be resolved by existing law. The US Constitution gives Congress the responsibility of oversight of the president and his administration, and it grants the president certain privileges, as well. Some Democrats now argue that the Trump administration's refusal to provide congressional committees with access to requested witnesses and documents, including the unredacted Mueller Report and President Trump's tax returns, has created such a crisis. But the Constitution provides for three branches of government. Congress is already taking Trump to court on multiple issues. If the president or Congress refuses to comply with coming court rulings, then the US will face a true constitutional crisis. We're not there yet, but the danger is growing.

Austrian McDonald's – On Tuesday, we told you about Burger King's new plan to deliver fast food to motorists stranded in traffic jams in Mexico City. Here's some good fast-food news for US citizens travelling in Austria who have lost their passports and are craving a milkshake. The US Embassy in Vienna announced this week that McDonald's restaurants across Austria will serve as mini embassies for American tourists, who can receive limited consular services there.

What We're Ignoring: Guatemala's Dirty Politics and a Tidal Wave of Euro-Kitsch

Guatemala's Presidential Field – Guatemala's Constitutional Court has ruled that Zury Ríos cannot compete in the country's June 16 presidential election because she's the daughter of former military dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, the world's first former head of state to be charged with genocide in his own country. Guatemalan voters can still choose between former first lady Sandra Torres, who faces charges of embezzlement, perjury and tax fraud, and former attorney general Thelma Aldana, who is under investigation for campaign finance irregularities.

Eurovision – We're ignoring Europe's famed song contest because it takes place in non-European Israel, non-European Australia is among the favorites to win, some of the performances give kitsch a bad name, and because the Russians don't consider the voting important enough to hack. And as we've seen, Russians will hack anything.

The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace launched in 2018 with the commitment of signatories to stand up to cyber threats like election interference, attacks on critical infrastructure, and supply chain vulnerabilities. Last week, on the first anniversary of the call, the number of signatories has nearly tripled to more than 1,000 and now includes 74 nations; more than 350 international, civil society and public sector organizations; and more than 600 private sector entities. These commitments to the Paris Call from around the world demonstrate a widespread, global, multi-stakeholder consensus about acceptable behavior in cyberspace.

Read More at Microsoft On The Issues.

In recent years, Republicans have come to dominate most of the state legislatures in the US. Ironically, it was during the Obama-era that the GOP made major headway in states that had long been considered safely blue. State legislatures are now redder than they've been in nearly a century, and in most parts of the country, one party holds all the levers of power. For the first time since 1914, there's only one split legislature in the entire country: Minnesota. To be sure, some state races are bucking the trend: Kentucky and Louisiana, both deep-red states, recently elected Democratic governors. Here's a look at how Democratic and Republican control of state legislatures has evolved over the past four decades.

Forty years ago, Islamic extremists angry at the Saudi government's experiments with social liberalization laid siege to the Grand Mosque of Mecca, the holiest site in Islam.

The attack came on the heels of the Iranian revolution across the Gulf, putting the House of Saud and its American backers in a precarious spot. Tehran had challenged Saudi Arabia's Islamic legitimacy from without, while jihadists were now doing the same from within. For a few days it seemed as though the world's most important oil producer – and the custodian of Islam's holiest places – might be in danger of collapse.

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Forty years ago today, dozens of bearded gunmen stormed the holiest site in Islam, the Grand Mosque at Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

They held the complex for two weeks before a French-trained Saudi force rooted them out, but the fallout from the attack went on to shape the modern Middle East in ways that are still with us today: in the scourge of transnational jihadism and the deepening rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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What changes now that the U.S. softened its position on Israeli settlements?

Well, I mean, not a lot. I mean, keep in mind that this is also the administration that moved the embassy to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv. Everyone said that was going to be a massive problem. Ultimately, not many people cared. Same thing with recognition of Golan Heights for Israel. This is just one more give from the Americans to the Israelis in the context of a region that doesn't care as much as they used to about Israel - Palestine.

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