What We're Watching & What We're Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

A New Arms Race The US and Russia have now both officially pulled out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). A key piece of the global arms control regime constructed by Moscow and Washington during the Cold War, the INF Treaty prohibits land-based missiles with ranges between 300 and 4,000 miles. The US signaled its intention to pull out last year, saying Russia was violating its terms, and noting that China isn't even party to the pact. Now Moscow has bolted as well, and we are watching, with no small degree of unease, to see whether this prompts a new global arms race. Remember the 1950s civil defense drills in New York? We don't either, but these photos from the era are chilling.

A New Wiosna (Spring) in Poland? An openly gay LGBT activist is leadinga new leftist party breaking ground in conservative Poland. Robert Biedron, a former mayor from the Western border town of Slupsk, hopes that the upcoming European parliamentary elections in May can be a springboard for his Wiosna (Spring) party to launch a domestic political movement. He has growing support among young city-dwellers disenchanted with the conservative nationalism of Poland's ruling Law and Justice party. But Wiosna may struggle to expand its base in Europe's most Catholic nation. We're watching to see whether a political spring has sprung for Poland.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Curbing Germans' Need for Speed Germans love driving fast almost as much as Americans love their guns. It's no surprise then that a recent proposal to limit speeds on the country's famously freewheeling Autobahn (to an oozing 75mph) didn't go over well. Proponents of the idea say it would close one-fifth of the current gap in Germany's 2020 carbon emissions goals. But when a German transport minister imposed similar restrictions in the 1970s, they lasted just four weeks. We're ignoring this story because we're confident Germans will put their foot down – and then speed off into the sunset.

Trump-Churchill comparisons – A new report suggests 60 percent of President Trump's day is consumed by unstructured "Executive Time," much of which is spent watching cable news, reading newspapers, and making phone calls. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich responded to the report by comparing the president's habits to those of the famously misanthropic UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill. We're ignoring the comparison though because Churchill wrote 17 books during his lifetime and won World War II.

Every day thousands of people legally cross back and forth between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on their way to jobs, schools, doctor's appointments, shopping centers and the homes of family and friends. This harmonious exchange has taken place for more than 400 years, uniting neighbors through shared social ties, geography, history and, most importantly, an interlinked economy.

Beyond the people and goods, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez also converge in a cross-border flow of ideas, ambition and aspirations that have shaped the region for centuries. This forward-looking spirit is what attracted Microsoft to the region in 2017, when it launched Microsoft TechSpark to create new economic opportunities and help digitally transform established industries with modern software and cloud services. It's also why Microsoft announced on Monday that it is expanding the TechSpark El Paso program to include Ciudad Juárez and making a $1.5 million investment in the binational Bridge Accelerator. Read more about the TechSpark announcement here.

Foreign policy played a bigger role in last night's Democratic presidential debate than in previous ones, in part because of events that came on the heels of President Trump's surprise, and disastrous, withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria. Some candidates used the opportunity to play up their foreign policy bona fides, but not all of their punches landed cleanly. Here are some key takeaways.

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Will there be agreement, and will negotiations carry on if there is no agreement in the EU?

Lord William Hague: Well, they won't carry on if there is no agreement at the European Council in the next few days. But in the EU, while you always think of things going to the last minute, in fact they usually go beyond the last minute. And that could happen in this case where there could be political agreement, agreement in principle to a Brexit deal. But they'd have to have another European Council, and more detail hammering out the actual text of it before another summit on the 28th of October, which would mean some extension to Brexit.

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Since Syria's brutal civil war began eight years ago, millions of Syrians have fled their country to escape the bombs and bullets. But hundreds of thousands have been displaced within Syria's borders, where they languish in packed refugee camps. The al-Hol camp in northern Syria is sprawling, and of its nearly 70,000 residents, some 11,000 are family members of foreign ISIS fighters, according to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. The surprise American withdrawal from northern Syria last week paved the way for Turkey and Syria's Bashar al-Assad to move in. Some 160,000 civilians have now fled the border region that Turkey is bombarding, deepening a humanitarian crisis in a stretch of Syria that had been relatively secure since the defeat of ISIS's self-declared caliphate back in March. Here's a look at the camps for displaced people in the area.

Mozambique's democracy test Mozambicans voted yesterday in an election that will test a fragile peace accord between the ruling Frelimo party, led by president Filipe Nyusi, and Renamo, a former rebel group-turned-opposition party. The two factions were on opposite sides of a Cold War-tinged civil war that killed an estimated 1 million people between 1977 and 1992. Frelimo, which has ruled Mozambique since independence, has been losing popularity due to a corruption scandal, but is likely to hold onto power at the national level. Renamo, which foreswore violence just two months ago in exchange for electoral reforms that will help the party, will be hoping to make regional gains that allow it to win some key governorships. Disputes over the final vote count and even outright fraud or violence are possible in coming days, particularly if Renamo fails to make its hoped-for gains.

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