What We're Watching: Myanmar's Nobel Peace Prize winner at the Hague

Myanmar at the Hague – Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel peace prize winner who spent years under house arrest in Myanmar before being elected leader of the country in 2015, will travel to the Hague next month to defend her country against allegations of genocide. Few have been punished since the military-led crackdown on the Rohingya Muslim minority in Rakhine state in 2017, which left thousands dead and forced more than 700,000 people to flee to Bangladesh. Aung San Suu Kyi is thought to have little control over the army (a junta until recently), but she has refused to condemn its actions. Until now, Aung San Suu Kyi has defended the onslaught as a legitimate counterinsurgency against Muslim militants. The first public hearing at the International Court of Justice will begin on December 10.


Violent clashes in Lebanon – Clashes between Lebanese protesters and supporters of Hezbollah and Amal – the forces representing the country's large Shia population – intensified on Tuesday with reports of gunfire in some cities. The confrontations are some of the worst since protests erupted in mid-October, forcing Prime Minister Saad Hariri to step down. And they're a worrying display of precisely the political and sectarian strains that demonstrators say they want to get rid of. Consultations to appoint a new prime minister are expected to begin later this week. We're watching to see if this new appointment– a post reserved for a Sunni Muslim in Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing system – will defuse tensions, or inflame them.

"Fake news" laws in Singapore – Last month, Singapore adopted a new law that makes it a crime to spread false or misleading information online. This week the law was used for the first time to pressure a member of an opposition party to correct a Facebook post in which he criticized the government. In this case, the politician admitted he'd gotten some key facts wrong. But just like governments around the world started labelling their enemies "terrorists" after 9/11, the concern about making fake news a crime is the temptation for governments to label as "fake news" any speech they don't like. With other governments from Nigeria to the European Union preparing their own new measures to prevent the spread of disinformation, we are wary of the chilling effects that the push against malicious online falsehoods may have on legitimate speech.

What We're Ignoring

A rebranding exercise in Nigeria - Residents of Unguwar Wawaye, a small settlement in northern Nigeria's Kano state, have special reason to give thanks this year after a local emir gave their village a new name. Unguwar Wawaye, which means "Area of Idiots" in the local Hausa language, had been the butt of local jokes for decades. The new name, Yalwar Kadana, means "Area of Plenty." We're happy for the residents of Yalwar Kadana – Area of Plenty is a definite improvement and we wish them the best. But we can't help thinking they could have gone for something even catchier.

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