What We're Watching: Finally, a trade deal

Trump gets his deal – House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced yesterday that Democrats will back the USMCA, the US-Mexico-Canada trade agreement that will replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. Crucially, the bill will also have support from the nation's largest labor union. This is a major political victory for President Trump, who promised he would close this deal, but it's also good for Pelosi: it shows that the Democrats' House majority can still accomplish big things even as it impeaches the president. But with the speed of the Washington news cycle these days, we're watching to see if anyone is still talking about USMCA three days after it's signed.


The end of martial law in the southern Philippines – More than two years after imposing martial law in Mindanao – the Philippines' second largest island and home to more than 90 percent of the country's more than 5 million Muslims – President Rodrigo Duterte will now lift the restrictions by year-end. The measure was originally imposed in response to the seizure by Islamic State rebels of parts of the southern city of Marawim in 2017, but rights groups criticized it as evidence of Duterte's authoritarian instincts. The Philippines' government now says the clout of armed groups in the region has diminished, but the influence of ISIS in Southeast Asia more broadly has grown in recent months, with Mindanao itself hit by a number of deadly suicide bombings.

Anguish and election in the UK – Tomorrow, voters will decide whether Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives will get the parliamentary majority he needs in order to push through his Brexit plan. After three years of Brexit anguish, Johnson's "Get Brexit Done" platform appears to be resonating with working class and rural voters who see Brexit as a way to revive British industry and limit immigration. His chief rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, is trying to talk past Brexit – which many working class Labour voters now support – toward issues of social justice and economic inequality that can also attract urban and younger voters. The fiercely anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats, for their part, are just hoping to win enough seats to deny Johnson a majority. The latest polls show Johnson with a 10 point lead over Corbyn. Oddly, the latest electoral map appears to shows cartoon character Homer Simpson in a muumuu.

What We're Reading

How China pitched Italy rightwards The migrant crisis of 2015-2016 may have contributed to the recent explosion of rightwing parties across Europe but, at least in Italy, the fuse was lit decades ago when Chinese competitors began to hollow out the country's industrial heartlands. Though Chinese immigrants have contributed a lot to the economy since then, the far-right, anti-immigrant Lega party still has a large number of formerly left-wing, working class voters in these regions. A fascinating long read from the New York Times here.

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.

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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.

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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.

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