Meridian Reads: Iowa, Israeli Settlements and Taiwan Voters

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Hey there, Meridian Readers. Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us. Let’s sit back, relax and catch up on the news.

How jammed phone lines and a failing app created chaos in Iowa

Publication: CNN | By Dan Merica and Jeff Zeleny

  • Ah, the Iowa Caucus. Not everyone understands exactly how it works, but we all know one thing: this year it didn’t.
  • Chaos spread across Iowa as the reporting methods for the nearly 1,700 precincts failed, throwing the state’s Democratic caucuses into confusion and embarrassment.
    • The heart of the problem stemmed from a new app the party had developed as a way — they hoped — to streamline reporting. The opposite happened.
  • Many then turned to the phones to directly report the results to the Iowa Democratic Party headquarters in Des Moines. But as the app failed, the phone lines backed up, with precinct chairs reporting a wait of more than an hour on Monday night and Tuesday morning. Just another manic Monday, right?
  • Wrong.
    • The breakdown left campaigns and news organizations without official results and largely in the dark on when and how the outcome of the year-long caucus campaign would be reported.
    • This led some candidates to spin using their own internal data, as campaign war rooms across Des Moines demanded results and clarity.
  • So, what’s the result?
    • We’re not totally sure. Buttigieg and Sanders appear to be tied for the lead, but now the DNC is calling for Iowa to recanvass the caucus vote. Don’t hold your breath.

Publication: The New York Times | By The Associated Press

  • White House National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien warned Palestinians on Wednesday that Israeli settlements will continue to expand because rising anti-Semitism around the world means more Jews will immigrate to Israel.
  • Addressing many hot-button global issues in a speech and discussion with foreign diplomats to the United States, Robert O’Brien also said the president hoped to go to Beijing to talk to the Chinese about a three-way nuclear arms control pact with the U.S. and Russia.
    • O’Brien added that the president still hopes that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will resume nuclear talks with the U.S.
  • O’Brien defended Trump’s Mideast peace plan, which was embraced by Israel but rejected by the Palestinians.
    • O’Brien said the plan is not “perfect,” but urged the Palestinians to negotiate terms of the proposed deal.
    • The deal offers economic benefits that would allow Palestine to become the “Singapore of the Middle East,” he said.
    • The Palestinians have roundly denounced the proposal, which offers them limited self-rule in scattered chunks of territory with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem while allowing Israel to annex large parts of the West Bank.
  • “This could be the last opportunity for a two-state solution,” O’Brien said as he defended the proposal.
  • Pssst: This conversation happened at Meridian. See more here.

Taiwan voters send strong message to China not to interfere with island’s sovereignty

Publication: The Washington Diplomat | By Deryl Davis

  • In January, voters in Taiwan overwhelmingly re-elected independence-leaning President Tsai Ing-wen to a second term in what was seen as a rebuke to mainland China’s attempts to assert greater control over the self-ruled island of 23 million people.
  • It was a stunning turnaround for Tsai, who had been lagging behind her Beijing-friendly rival in the polls until the unrest in Hong Kong scrambled the political dynamics.
  • Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) also retained control of the Legislative Yuan, or parliament, sending a strong message to Beijing not to interfere in the island’s domestic affairs.
  • “Democratic Taiwan and our democratically elected government will not concede to threats and intimidation,” Tsai declared at a post-election rally, making a direct reference to alleged disinformation and coercion campaigns orchestrated by Beijing ahead of the election.
    • Throughout the campaign, Tsai and her Democratic Progressive Party pointed to China’s crackdown on democracy protests in Hong Kong as a harbinger of what could happen to Taiwan if it did not resist Beijing’s advances.a1.taiwan.ingwen.quote.story

That’s it for this week, we’ll see you next time.