What's the state of NATO as the alliance turns 70?

What's the state of NATO as the alliance turns 70?

Well, it's starting to show its age. Doesn't have the same urgency of purpose that it did when we were fighting the Soviets against the Warsaw Pact. So, a lot of countries don't know why they're in it. Some don't want to spend the 2 percent that has been promised, the nominal goal of GDP that all these countries need to spend on GDP. The Turks hardly acting like an ally these days. And President Macron says is brain dead. Still, I don't see Trump really trying to destroy it and no one else is going to leave. These institutions are very sticky. I would say it is an organization not going anywhere but looking for a little more relevance.

Will the US-China trade dispute continue until after the 2020 election?

Well, it's a little more likely that it will, in the sense that you might not get this phase-one deal because the Chinese have offered very little and they know that Trump really doesn't want to escalate tariffs before his election hits because it hurts the US economy, it hurts the red states. I still think we'll get that deal. But I also think it won't bring the two sides closer together on all the issues that we see greater conflict on, like on Hong Kong, like on technology. And by the way, watch what happens with the CFO of Huawei when that case finally comes up and gets resolved in Canada come January. Much bigger deal for the Chinese than the tariffs are.

Will the US follow through on its threat to tax French goods?

Talking about 100 percent tax on luxury goods coming out of France, like champagne, in response to the French saying they're going to hit Amazon and other companies that are delivering goods because of all the traffic it's causing. Look, I feel that in New York, there's no question it's happening. And it's interesting to see Trump essentially defending Jeff Bezos. Something he doesn't do every day. But he certainly doesn't want to get into a big fight with a seriously large economy. It's very different than putting steel tariffs and aluminum against Brazil and Argentina who have to back down to the Americans. On this one, the Trump administration is not going to want to hit the French hard. French aren't going to want to hit the Americans hard. It's going to be an awful lot of posturing. And watch out for a Macron-Trump. I mean, these are two guys that are essentially leading their hemispheres and have a fair amount of ego around it. That's not going to get easier anytime soon.

Amid the current need to continually focus on the COVID-19 crisis, it is understandably hard to address other important issues. But, on March 31st, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed landmark facial recognition legislation that the state legislature passed on March 12, less than three weeks, but seemingly an era, ago. Nonetheless, it's worth taking a moment to reflect on the importance of this step. This legislation represents a significant breakthrough – the first time a state or nation has passed a new law devoted exclusively to putting guardrails in place for the use of facial recognition technology.

For more on Washington's privacy legislation, visit Microsoft On The Issues.

Read our roundup of COVID-19 themes and stories from around the globe.

Europe skirts US sanctions to help Iran: While the US insists on tightening the sanctions noose around COVID-stricken Iran, European countries are now sending medical equipment. To do so, they are using for the first time a system called INSTEX, a back-channel financial mechanism created a year ago that allows Europe to maintain trade ties with Iran despite US sanctions. Recall that in 2018 the US pulled out of the multilateral Iran nuclear agreement and reimposed crippling sanctions – the Europeans stayed in the deal and have tried to salvage it. To date, Iran has suffered more than 3,000 deaths from COVID-19, one of the highest tolls in the world. Some say that Iran's failure to contain the contagion has been complicated further by US sanctions, which have thwarted the Islamic Republic's ability to fund medical imports. Tehran has urged the US to ease sanctions to no avail, but Ayatollah Khamenei has also, citing some wild conspiracy theories about the coronavirus' origin, refused medical aid from Washington.

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Laid-off hospitality workers tell their stories in their own words.

Ian Bremmer breaks down the massive economic toll the COVID-19 pandemic is taking on the hospitality and service industries in America and around the globe. In the U.S. alone, millions could face unemployment as businesses struggle to stay afloat.

Over the past decade or so, the European Union has weathered the global financial crisis, a migrant crisis, and the rise of populist nationalism. Sure, it's taken its fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, but the idea of a largely borderless Europe united by common democratic values has survived more or less intact.

Then came the coronavirus. The global pandemic, in which Europe is now one of the two main epicentres, is a still-spiralling nightmare that could make those previous crises look benign by comparison. Here are a few different ways that COVID-19 is severely testing the 27-member bloc:

The economic crisis: Lockdowns intended to stop the virus' spread have brought economic activity to a screeching halt, and national governments are going to need to spend a lot of money to offset the impact. But some EU members can borrow those funds more easily than others. Huge debt loads and deficits in southern European countries like Italy and Spain, which have been hardest hit by the outbreak so far, make it costlier for them to borrow than more fiscally conservative Germany and other northern member states. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, this imbalance nearly led the bloc's common currency, the Euro, to unravel.

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