What We're Watching: Mass Arrests, Libya's Spiral, A Floating Unicorn

Mass Arrests in the US – On Sunday, US immigration police will begin a multi-day, nationwide operation to arrest thousands of people believed to be living in the United States illegally, according to press leaks from US officials. If this happens—similar plans have been postponed before—President Trump will say he is simply enforcing US law. His critics will insist he's capsizing the lives of thousands of people, including children, for political gain. The less predictable part of this story is the human drama that thousands of arrests will create—and the political firestorm that will surely follow.


Libya's Downward Spiral – A new report suggests that Libya's civil war is becoming bloodier and that the country is now "spiraling further downward." There's no end in sight to the fight between the internationally-recognized, UN-backed Government of National Accord and the so-called Libyan National Army, led by former Libyan general Khalifa Haftar and reportedly backed by Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. On July 5, the UN Security Council formally condemned an airstrike on a migrant detention camp in a suburb of Tripoli that killed 53 people. No one has admitted responsibility for that attack. A bid by Haftar to capture Tripoli has bogged down. And despite a UN arms embargo in place since 2011, Libya remains "awash with weapons."

Miracles on Italian Beaches – Imagine: You're a newlywed enjoying a holiday on a beautiful Sardinian beach. You're floating on an inflatable unicorn. But then you fall into the water, which is unexpectedly cold, and your medical condition makes it impossible for you to move your legs. A strong wind then blows away your unicorn. You are now swallowing large amounts of salt water, and you begin to lose consciousness. Not to worry, because Olympic bronze medal-winning swimmer Filippo Magnini, sunbathing on the beach with his TV star girlfriend, has been alerted to your plight, and he's only too happy to save you. Apparently, this is the sort of thing that actually happens on Italian beaches.

Off to the races – You can, and should, experience the thrills of the annual World Wife-Carrying Championships right here. But then there's also this excellent T-Rex race. We're watching for your responses to know which race you like better and why.

What We're Ignoring:

Putin's Love of Birds – In a recent speech, Russia's president warned that wind turbines are dangerous: "Wind-powered generation is good, but are birds being taken into account in this case? How many birds are dying?" Research from the London School of Economics estimated in 2014 that there could be anywhere from 9,600 and 106,000 bird deaths a year from wind energy in the UK by 2020. (That's a fairly broad guess.) Their research also found that about 55 million British birds are killed each year by British housecats. We're not doubting Putin's well-documented love of birds, but maybe his position as president of one of the world's leading producers of oil, gas, coal, and nuclear energy has skewed his judgment on this one.

This month, a bipartisan group of legislators in Washington state presented new legislation that could soon become the most comprehensive privacy law in the country. The centerpiece of this legislation, the Washington Privacy Act as substituted, goes further than the landmark bill California recently enacted and builds on the law Europeans have enjoyed for the past year and a half.

As Microsoft President Brad Smith shared in his blog post about our priorities for the state of Washington's current legislative session, we believe it is important to enact strong data privacy protections to demonstrate our state's leadership on what we believe will be one of the defining issues of our generation. People will only trust technology if they know their data is private and under their control, and new laws like these will help provide that assurance.

Read more here.

Let's be clear— the Middle East peace plan that the US unveiled today is by no means fair. In fact, it is markedly more pro-Israel than any that have come before it.

But the Trump administration was never aiming for a "fair" deal. Instead, it was pursuing a deal that can feasibly be implemented. In other words, it's a deal shaped by a keen understanding of the new power balances within the region and globally.

More

Betty Liu, Executive Vice Chairman for NYSE Group, explains:

Do election years have an impact on the markets?

So, the short answer is it depends. There's lots of factors that affect the markets, right. But there are some trends. So, the S&P has had its best performance in the year before elections and the second-best performance on election year. Now since 1928, we've had 23 election years and the S&P has had negative returns only four times in that duration.

More

For months now, the US has been lobbying countries around the world to ban the Chinese tech giant Huawei from building the 5G data networks that are going to power everything from your cell phone, to power grids, to self-driving cars. US security hawks say allowing a Chinese company to supply such essential infrastructure could allow the Chinese government to steal sensitive data or even sabotage networks. On the other hand, rejecting Huawei could make 5G more expensive. It also means angering the world's second-largest economy.

More

The end of the interim in Bolivia? – Mere months after taking over as Bolivia's interim president, Jeanine Áñez has decided that "interim" isn't quite permanent enough, and she now wants to run for president in elections set for May 3. Áñez is an outspoken conservative who took over in October when mass protests over election fraud prompted the military to oust the long-serving left-populist Evo Morales. She says she is just trying to unify a fractious conservative ticket that can beat the candidate backed by Morales' party. (Morales himself is barred from running.) Her supporters say she has the right to run just like anyone else. But critics say that after promising that she would serve only as a caretaker president, Áñez's decision taints the legitimacy of an election meant to be a clean slate reset after the unrest last fall. We are watching closely to see if her move sparks fresh unrest in an already deeply polarized country.

More