What We’re Watching: Drug Rap for a Russian Journalist

Russians Defend a Reporter: Last week, the prominent investigative journalist Ivan Golunov was arrested on drug charges that he and his editors say were fabricated by authorities in retaliation for his reporting on graft in Moscow. But after hundreds of fellow journalists and Muscovites turned up to protest and several large dailies expressed solidarity with Golunov – who was evidently beaten by police during his detention – he was released to house arrest awaiting trial. We're watching to see if Golunov's case galvanizes any broader public support in one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists to work. A recent survey showed that a fifth of Russians would participate in political protests. That percentage, though small, has nearly tripled in just two years.


Car Wash Hosed by New Revelations? Over the past several years, Brazil's Lava Jato (Car Wash) anti-corruption probe has put hundreds of politicians and business leaders in jail, but no imprisonment was more controversial than that of leftist former president Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva. His conviction disqualified him from running in last year's election right as he was leading in the polls. On Sunday, The Intercept published leaked chats that suggest inappropriate coordination between the judge who oversaw the trials—he's now justice minister—and the prosecutors gathering evidence, particularly in the Lula case. These revelations support Lula's claim that his conviction was politically motivated, but we're watching to see if they lead to a broader delegitimization of an investigation often lauded as a new model for rule of law in Latin America.

The "New Normal" for Ebola: The World Health Organization warns that the world has entered "a new phase" in which big outbreaks of deadly diseases like Ebola have become a "new normal." The announcement comes as the Democratic Republic of Congo faces the second largest outbreak ever of the Ebola virus—and just three years after the largest was brought to an end. So far, 2,025 cases of Ebola have killed 1,357 people in the DRC. Between 2014 and 2016, 28,616 cases killed 11,310 people in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.

What We're Ignoring - A Tree Dies in DC

Oak Tree, We Hardly Knew Ye: In 2018, French President Emmanuel Macron brought an oak sapling to plant on the White House lawn during a state visit to the United States. The tree, he said, would be "a reminder … of these ties that bind us" and the "tenacity of the friendship" between the United States and France. But the French daily Le Monde reported last week that the young tree is now dead. Evidently it did not survive being dug up and quarantined against the spread of non-native diseases and invasive insects. We're ignoring the (way-too) obvious political metaphors here.

Every day thousands of people legally cross back and forth between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on their way to jobs, schools, doctor's appointments, shopping centers and the homes of family and friends. This harmonious exchange has taken place for more than 400 years, uniting neighbors through shared social ties, geography, history and, most importantly, an interlinked economy.

Beyond the people and goods, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez also converge in a cross-border flow of ideas, ambition and aspirations that have shaped the region for centuries. This forward-looking spirit is what attracted Microsoft to the region in 2017, when it launched Microsoft TechSpark to create new economic opportunities and help digitally transform established industries with modern software and cloud services. It's also why Microsoft announced on Monday that it is expanding the TechSpark El Paso program to include Ciudad Juárez and making a $1.5 million investment in the binational Bridge Accelerator. Read more about the TechSpark announcement here.

Foreign policy played a bigger role in last night's Democratic presidential debate than in previous ones, in part because of events that came on the heels of President Trump's surprise, and disastrous, withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria. Some candidates used the opportunity to play up their foreign policy bona fides, but not all of their punches landed cleanly. Here are some key takeaways.

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Will there be agreement, and will negotiations carry on if there is no agreement in the EU?

Lord William Hague: Well, they won't carry on if there is no agreement at the European Council in the next few days. But in the EU, while you always think of things going to the last minute, in fact they usually go beyond the last minute. And that could happen in this case where there could be political agreement, agreement in principle to a Brexit deal. But they'd have to have another European Council, and more detail hammering out the actual text of it before another summit on the 28th of October, which would mean some extension to Brexit.

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Since Syria's brutal civil war began eight years ago, millions of Syrians have fled their country to escape the bombs and bullets. But hundreds of thousands have been displaced within Syria's borders, where they languish in packed refugee camps. The al-Hol camp in northern Syria is sprawling, and of its nearly 70,000 residents, some 11,000 are family members of foreign ISIS fighters, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The surprise American withdrawal from northern Syria last week paved the way for Turkey and Syria's Bashar al-Assad to move in. Some 160,000 civilians have now fled the border region that Turkey is bombarding, deepening a humanitarian crisis in a stretch of Syria that had been relatively secure since the defeat of ISIS's self-declared caliphate back in March. Here's a look at the camps for displaced people in the area.

Mozambique's democracy test Mozambicans voted yesterday in an election that will test a fragile peace accord between the ruling Frelimo party, led by president Filipe Nyusi, and Renamo, a former rebel group-turned-opposition party. The two factions were on opposite sides of a Cold War-tinged civil war that killed an estimated 1 million people between 1977 and 1992. Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since independence, has been losing popularity due to a corruption scandal, but is likely to hold onto power at the national level. Renamo, which foreswore violence just two months ago in exchange for electoral reforms that will help the party, will be hoping to make regional gains that allow it to win some key governorships. Disputes over the final vote count and even outright fraud or violence are possible in coming days, particularly if Renamo fails to make its hoped-for gains.

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