What We're Watching & What We' re Ignoring
WHAT WE'RE WATCHING
DR Congo – As we wrote last Friday, tensions are rising in advance of the results of an election marred by suspicions of rampant cheating in favor of Emmanuel Ramazani Shadary, outgoing President Joseph Kabila's handpicked successor.
The anxiety spiked again on Sunday when election officials announced that nearly half of votes remain uncounted and that the country must wait another week for preliminary results. The opposition worries that the government is simply delaying in preparation for the resulting fury—and probably violence—when Shadary is ultimately announced as the hotly disputed winner.
Withdrawal from withdrawal in Syria? –Over the weekend, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said that US troops supporting Kurdish fighters in Syria would not in fact be withdrawn until Washington has secured a promise from Turkey not to attack the Kurds afterwards. But Ankara sees the Syrian Kurdish fighters as one and the same with the domestic Kurdish rebels whom Turkey, along with the rest of NATO, consider to be terrorists. Turkish President Recep Erdogan will want to preserve flexibility to prevent the establishment of a formal Kurdish enclave just across its frontier with Northern Syria.
WHAT WE'RE IGNORING
The difference between concrete and steel – The US government remains partially shut down as President Trump digs in on his demand that Congress fund a $5 billion wall at the southern border, while Democrats who now control the House of Representatives say no way. Over the weekend, Trump offered Democrats a compromise: it can be made of steel, he said, rather than concrete. Given that just weeks ago he proposed a barrier of "artistically designed steel slats," we don't think this is "material" progress. Let's see what he says during his prime time address this evening.
The Indies Short-Tailed Cricket – Back in 2016, diplomats stationed at the US embassy in Havana began hearing strange chips, hums, and other noises while suffering from vertigo, dizziness, painful ringing in the ears, and even in some cases suspected brain damage. Speculation abounded that the Cubans, or maybe the Russians, were behind the mystery noise – sonic weapons, was the theory. No concrete evidence was ever found. But scientists who this week analyzed a recording of the offending frequencies think the noise on the tape could be a diminutive Caribbean cricket known for its shrill trill. This mystery is far from solved, and we would be very surprised if the dozens of documented injuries were all down to this one insect. For now we are ignoring the critter, with all due respect to Anurogryllus celerinictus. (Say it aloud. Try.)