What We're Watching: John Bolton's long-awaited book
John Bolton's book: Details of former US National Security Advisor John Bolton's hotly-anticipated White House memoir, "The Room Where it Happened" have started to leak, including an allegation that President Trump was explicit about holding up security aid unless Ukraine investigated his Democratic rivals. This will intensify pressure on moderate Senate Republicans to join Democrats in calling for Bolton and other direct witnesses to the President's conduct to testify under oath in the impeachment trial. This may also provide an opening for Democrats to lobby Chief Justice John Roberts – who is presiding over the Senate trial – to subpoena Bolton himself. We're watching to see how Republicans in the Senate respond to this new pressure.
The rising and falling stars of Italy: Italy's far-right Lega party came up short in its bid to take power in the historically left-leaning region of Emilia Romagna in local elections this weekend, but party boss Matteo Salvini still has much to be happy about. Although the center-left Democratic Party (PD) held the region, Salvini's party has still managed to increase its share of the vote there by more than ten points (to around 30 percent) since 2018. What's more, the PD's coalition partners in the national government, the anti-establishment Five Star Movement, got clobbered in a number of regions, just days after party chief Luigi Di Maio quit. Salvini still wants fresh elections that he thinks he could win, and while failing to win Emilia Romagna is a setback, it's clear that his star is still rising while the (five) stars of his main opponents continue to fall.
Rockets flying in Iraq: The US embassy complex in Baghdad was hit by rocket fire on Monday, the second time in a week that US diplomatic facilities have been targeted with a fair degree of accuracy. No one was killed, but with tensions in the region still high after the US assassination of a senior Iranian military leader earlier this month – itself framed as a response to Iran-backed attacks on US installations in Iraq – we're watching to see who ultimately claims responsibility and how the US, Iraq, and Iran respond.
What We're Ignoring
Brazil's bid to curb sex: Alarmed by high teen pregnancy rates and rising rates of HIV infection, Brazil's far right government has a message for young people: wait. The government's minister of human rights, family, and women, an outspoken evangelical, has launched a public campaign to persuade young people not to have sex before marriage. Never mind that public health experts have concerns about abstinence policies, or that the campaign has raised questions about the separation between church and state. We're ignoring this because there are few things teenagers are less likely to listen to than government advice on what to do in their bedrooms (or anywhere else).