What We’re Watching: Salvini's Next Move

Salvini's next move From his post as interior minister, the charismatic Matteo Salvini has cut a dominant figure in Italian politics for the past year. Boosted by the popularity of his hardline approaches toward North African migrants and EU officials, Salvini believed that forcing early elections would make him prime minister. He figured the populist Five Star Movement (5SM) and center left Democratic Party (PD) would never find enough common ground to form a coalition government without Lega, his party. Turns out 5SM and PD do share one thing: they can't stand Matteo Salvini. They've now agreed to form a government. For now, Salvini will settle into the role of opposition leader, a natural fit for his firebrand talents. He's already called for a protest in Rome on October 19. But his quest to eventually become prime minister will continue.


Somalia's climate emergency – Aid agencies warn that two million people in Somalia already face severe hunger, and three million more don't know where their next meal will come from. Following severe droughts in recent years—and evidence that the frequency and duration of droughts has increased—Somalia offers the latest case study in how climate issues can combine with political instability, corruption, and terrorism to create humanitarian emergencies.

Chinese media's Hong Kong spin – Chinese state media have tried just about every approach in covering the ongoing pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, according to BBC Monitoring. They've tried to ignore them, blamed them on "foreign agents," portrayed protesters as dangerous hooligans, argued that a silent majority of Hong Kongers disapprove of the demonstrations, and highlighted foreigners living in Hong Kong who praise China and pro-China protests led by Chinese nationals living in Western countries. They've even used Chinese celebrities—actresses, models, and members of boy bands–to talk up China and chastise the demonstrators. But none of this has quelled the public anger in Hong Kong, so we're watching to see what Chinese media try next.

"War and Peace" in India – A year ago, five activists were arrested in Mumbai and charged with instigating caste-based violence. This week, a judge in Mumbai made news by demanding to know why a copy of Tolstoy's War and Peace was found in one of the defendant's homes. Why did the defendant have an interest, asked the judge, in learning about "war in another country?" This episode leaves us wondering about Crime and Punishment in India.

What We're Ignoring

Slovenia's Trump Statue – We're ignoring this 25-foot-tall statue of Donald Trump that appeared recently in his wife's home country of Slovenia because it's weird, creepy, and doesn't look that much like him.

The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace launched in 2018 with the commitment of signatories to stand up to cyber threats like election interference, attacks on critical infrastructure, and supply chain vulnerabilities. Last week, on the first anniversary of the call, the number of signatories has nearly tripled to more than 1,000 and now includes 74 nations; more than 350 international, civil society and public sector organizations; and more than 600 private sector entities. These commitments to the Paris Call from around the world demonstrate a widespread, global, multi-stakeholder consensus about acceptable behavior in cyberspace.

Read More at Microsoft On The Issues.

In recent years, Republicans have come to dominate most of the state legislatures in the US. Ironically, it was during the Obama-era that the GOP made major headway in states that had long been considered safely blue. State legislatures are now redder than they've been in nearly a century, and in most parts of the country, one party holds all the levers of power. For the first time since 1914, there's only one split legislature in the entire country: Minnesota. To be sure, some state races are bucking the trend: Kentucky and Louisiana, both deep-red states, recently elected Democratic governors. Here's a look at how Democratic and Republican control of state legislatures has evolved over the past four decades.

Forty years ago, Islamic extremists angry at the Saudi government's experiments with social liberalization laid siege to the Grand Mosque of Mecca, the holiest site in Islam.

The attack came on the heels of the Iranian revolution across the Gulf, putting the House of Saud and its American backers in a precarious spot. Tehran had challenged Saudi Arabia's Islamic legitimacy from without, while jihadists were now doing the same from within. For a few days it seemed as though the world's most important oil producer – and the custodian of Islam's holiest places – might be in danger of collapse.

More Show less

Forty years ago today, dozens of bearded gunmen stormed the holiest site in Islam, the Grand Mosque at Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

They held the complex for two weeks before a French-trained Saudi force rooted them out, but the fallout from the attack went on to shape the modern Middle East in ways that are still with us today: in the scourge of transnational jihadism and the deepening rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

More Show less

What changes now that the U.S. softened its position on Israeli settlements?

Well, I mean, not a lot. I mean, keep in mind that this is also the administration that moved the embassy to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv. Everyone said that was going to be a massive problem. Ultimately, not many people cared. Same thing with recognition of Golan Heights for Israel. This is just one more give from the Americans to the Israelis in the context of a region that doesn't care as much as they used to about Israel - Palestine.

More Show less