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).

Family, friends, co-workers and neighbors around the world are facing an economic crisis. Dealing with it requires the cooperation of every sector of society – governments, businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals. As a global company, Microsoft is committed to helping the efforts through technology and partnership including those with the CDC, WHO, UNESCO and other companies.

For more on our collective efforts to combat Covid-19 around the world visit Microsoft On The Issues.

Did you know that COVID-19 is caused by 5G networks? Were you aware that you can cure it with a hairdryer, cow urine, or a certain drug that isn't fully FDA-approved yet?

None of these things is true, and yet each has untold millions of believers around the world. They are part of a vast squall of conspiracy theories, scams, and disinformation about the virus that is churning through the internet and social media platforms right now.

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15: So far, 15 US states and territories have delayed their primaries amid coronavirus fears, with many expanding vote-by-mail options to protect voters' health. Six of them have picked June 2, which is now an important date to watch.

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The danger to informal workers grows: Coronavirus lockdowns have created a world of uncertainty for businesses and workers around the world. But one group of people that could be hit particularly hard are those working in the so-called "informal economy," where workers lack formal contracts, labor protections, or social safety nets. Nowhere is this challenge more widespread than in Africa, where a whopping 85 percent of the work force toils in the informal sector. These workers, which include street vendors, drivers, and the self-employed, don't have the luxury of working from home, which makes social distancing unviable. As a result, many continue to go to work, risking exposure to the virus, because not turning up is often the difference between putting food on the table and starving. What's more, even where governments are trying to provide support, many people lack bank accounts, complicating efforts to get them aid. In Nigeria, for example, some 60 percent of people do not even have a bank account, according to the World Bank.

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As Europe inches past the peak of COVID-19 deaths and the US slowly approaches it, many poorer countries are now staring into an abyss. As bad as the coronavirus crisis is likely to be in the world's wealthiest nations, the public health and economic blow to less affluent ones, often referred to as "developing countries," could be drastically worse. Here's why:

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