ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 19/07/2018

POLITICO Europe – Mark Scott, Simon van Dorpe & Thibault Larger / With record antitrust fine, Europe lands blow against Google

  • Margrethe Vestager announced a record €4.3 billion ($5 billion) antitrust fine on Wednesday against Android, the search giant’s popular mobile software. It comes just over a year after the Danish politician announced a separate €2.4 billion ($2.8 billion) financial penalty linked to some of the tech giant’s search services.
  • As part of Wednesday’s decision, Vestager highlighted complex contractual agreements that Google demanded phonemakers sign if they wanted to access the company’s popular digital services, including its app store, known as the Play Store.
  • Europe’s competition czar has repeatedly claimed the investigations are not unfairly targeting U.S. tech firms in order to level the playing field for European rivals. But Vestager’s critics have been quick to focus on how she has slapped several of Silicon Valley’s largest names with sizable fines despite European firms also feeling the brunt of her regulatory powers.
  • The friction between the Commission and some of the largest U.S. tech names comes as tensions also build between Brussels and Washington over an escalating trade war. Moreover, the timing of the Android announcement had been complicated because of Trump’s visit to Brussels last week to attend a NATO summit.
  • Not everyone, though, backed Europe’s latest push against Google. Many app developers claim that the search giant has created a one-size-fits-all digital ecosystem that makes it easy — and cheap — for even the smallest of companies to build services that can reach a global audience.

 

Foreign Policy – Stephen M. Walt / Why Trump Is Getting Away With Foreign-Policy Insanity

  • [Trump’s] behavior is still hard to fathom: A guy who is trying to convince us that he isn’t Putin’s puppet and likes to portray himself as tough, strong, and “like, really smart” ended up exposing himself (again) as inarticulate, ill-prepared, gullible, and seemingly incapable of standing up to his Russian counterpart. If this were any other presidency, he’d be toast.
  • The response to Trump’s performance was immediate, overwhelming, and almost entirely negative. Even well-known GOP grandee Newt Gingrich joined the chorus of critics, calling it “the most serious mistake of his presidency.”
  • Trump is correct to say that U.S.-Russian relations are in a bad place and that it would be better if they could be improved. [...] And let’s be honest for a second: The United States is hardly blameless when it comes to interfering in other countries’ internal politics. Nor is it a passive innocent in the world of cyberespionage.
  • Yet none of these considerations require a U.S. president to ignore the possibility that another state actively interfered in America’s own electoral process and continues to do so today. The fact that the United States interfered in other countries in the past is not a reason to excuse another state interfering there—that would be like saying it’s perfectly OK for an adversary to bomb Los Angeles because the United States has bombed Berlin or Baghdad.

 

Haaretz – Jonathan Lis & Noa Landau / Israel Passes Controversial Jewish Nation-state Bill After Stormy Debate

  • The Knesset passed a controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people and asserts that “the realization of the right to national self-determination in Israel is unique to the Jewish people,” with 62 lawmakers voting in favor of the legislation and 55 opposing it.
  • The nation-state law also includes clauses stating that a “united Jerusalem” is the capital of Israel and that Hebrew is the country’s official language. Immediately after the law passed, Arab lawmakers tore copies in protest, and were subsequently removed from the Knesset plenum hall.
  • Initially, the bill was intended to significantly limit the discretion of Supreme Court justices’ decisions, requiring them to set the state’s Jewish character above its democratic character in rulings where the two clashed. This clause was removed from the bill already in May.
  • On Monday, Netanyahu said the bill was “very important to guarantee the foundations of our existence, which is Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people” – though critics say he is mainly keen to drum up support before the next Knesset election, due by November next year.

 

Washington Post – Ishaan Tharoor / Nicaragua is on the path to becoming the next Venezuela

  • Forces loyal to Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega deepened their crackdown on the country’s opposition on Wednesday, appearing to take full control of a rebel stronghold in the city of Masaya. A day earlier, heavily armed police and paramilitary fighters stormed the neighborhood of Monimbó, killing at least three people and taking 40 others into custody.
  • The violence there brings the death toll in Nicaragua to around 300 people since mid-April, when an unpopular pension-reform proposal sparked protests against the Ortega government. Those demonstrations escalated in the weeks that followed, with protesters setting up barricades in cities across the country.
  • July 19 happens to mark the 39th anniversary of the victory of the Sandinistas, the left-wing revolutionary movement that overthrew the brutal, U.S.-backed dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza. Now Ortega, a 72-year-old former Marxist guerrilla, increasingly resembles the tyrant he and his comrades once toppled.
  • Nicaragua faces its own Venezuelan moment. “[Ortega] worked from the Chávez playbook: manipulating electoral laws and eliminating checks and balances by controlling the national police; co-opting the Supreme Court and legislature; curtailing freedom of expression and repressing independent media; and harassing and hounding opposition forces and other critics”, wrote former US diplomat Otto Reich.

Daily Beast – Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian / China Built an Army of Influent Agents in the U.S.

The Brookings Institution – Tana Johnson & Andrew Heiss / Liberal institutionalism—its threatened past, its threatened future

 

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

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