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).

Are the US and China headed for a new Cold War over technology? Judging by what we heard a few days ago at the Munich Security Conference, a major trans-Atlantic gathering for world leaders and wonks, you'd certainly think so. US, European, and Chinese officials at the event all weighed in with strong words on the US campaign against Chinese 5G giant Huawei and much more. Here are the main insights we gleaned from the proceedings:

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Bloomberg takes the stage – Tomorrow's Democratic debate will be the first to feature media tycoon Mike Bloomberg, who in recent weeks has thrown hundreds of millions of dollars behind an ad campaign designed to position himself as a viable, moderate candidate who can beat Trump. As his support in national polls has climbed to nearly 20 percent, Bloomberg – who largely sat out the earlier rounds of Democratic campaigning – has come under attack for sexist comments in the past as well as his support, as NYC mayor, for "stop and frisk" policing tactics that disproportionately targeted people of color. Bloomberg will immediately be at war not only with the moderates whom he wants to displace – Pete Buttigieg, Amy Klobuchar, and Joe Biden – but especially with the front running left-progressive Bernie Sanders. It will likely be quite ugly and we're certainly tuning in.

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150: As the Chinese government continues to expand travel restrictions, hoping that reducing human contact will stop the virus from spreading further, at least 150 million people are now facing government restrictions dictating how often they can leave their homes. That's more than 10 percent of the country's total population who are currently on lockdown. Some 760 million are under partial, locally enforced restrictions.

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While attending the Munich Security Conference, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was asked to respond to the news of the first coronavirus death outside of Asia. The victim, a Chinese tourist who arrived in France in January, was among 11 confirmed cases in that country. "I think everybody in the world needs to be concerned," Kerry told GZERO.

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