Watching and Ignoring

What We're Watching

Mexico — If Mexico elects Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) president on July 1, it will mark a sharp break from center-right dominance of the country’s politics of the past 30 years. Unless there’s a deal before July, an AMLO win would complicate the effort to renegotiate NAFTA. It would speed the deterioration of US-Mexican relations, already accelerated by President Donald Trump. AMLO is clearly the frontrunner, and his main challengers, Jose Antonio Meade from the ruling PRI and Ricardo Anaya, representing a centrist alliance, are attacking each other rather than forming a unified front to take on Lopez Obrador. The formal campaign begins on March 31.


Egypt’s ridiculous election — How ridiculous is next month’s presidential election in Egypt? The incumbent, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, faces one challenger — a man who has campaigned for Sisi in the past. Other candidates — a former prime minister, a military colonel, a human rights lawyer, and former president Anwar Sadat’s nephew — have all been harassed off the ballot. Fourteen international and Egyptian rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists have issued a statement that accuses Sisi of having “trampled over even the minimum requirements for free and fair elections” and calling on the US and EU to “speak out publicly now to denounce these farcical elections, rather than continue with largely unquestioning support for a government presiding over the country’s worst human rights crisis in decades.”

Atomic lizards — An advisor to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced during a press conference on Tuesday that Western nations were using lizards to spy on Iran’s nuclear program. Because lizards “attract atomic waves.” Is this possible? I really don’t know. I suppose that if the Israelis can use vulturesdolphinsstorks and squirrels, then anything is possible.

What We're Ignoring

Barack Obama’s official portrait — Your Friday author is no art critic, and Kehinde Wiley is a highly respected artist. Still, on behalf of Philistines everywhere, I have to ask: Why is Obama sitting in the bushes?

The Riyadh Ritz Carlton — This five-star hotel has reopened its doors to paying customers after pulling double-duty as a high-class prison. We’re sure it’s a nice hotel, but it was much more interesting when it had 200 princes, government ministers and businessmen camped out in it. #YouCanCheckOutAnyTimeYouLike

The Robot Winter Olympics — Apparently, there is a “Robot Winter Olympics.” We don’t care. We only watch the Games for the human-interest stories. Except for Kevin. Kevin watches the robots so they don’t watch us.

Eni's luminescent solar concentrators can help smart windows and next-generation buildings generate electricity. But even Eni hadn't imagined using this technology to create eyeglasses capable of charging mobile phones and headsets.

Introducing Funny Applications, Eni's video series that imagines new, unexpected uses for technology. Watch the premiere episode.

We've written recently about how the COVID-19 pandemic will hit poorer countries particularly hard. But the burden of the virus' spread also falls more heavily on working class people even in wealthy countries, particularly in Europe and the United States. This is exacerbating the divide between rich and poor that had already upended the political establishment in countries around the world even before anyone had heard of a "novel coronavirus."

Why?

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Meet Mark Wetton, a Kentucky-based businessman who owns a dust-collection factory in Wuhan. He has been there since the beginning of the outbreak, and describes the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak there, life in lockdown, and what things are like today as the city finally begins to reopen its borders and come back to life. He also shares some lessons learned that he hopes Americans will heed.

The coronavirus is likely to hit poorer countries particularly hard, but it is also laying a bigger burden on working class people even in wealthy ones. As less affluent people suffer disproportionately not only from the disease, but also from the economic costs of containing it, we can expect a worsening of income inequalities that have already upended global politics over the past few years. Here is a look at inequality in some of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19 so far.

500 million: The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic could plunge 500 million people into poverty, according to a new report released by Oxfam. As incomes and economies continue to contract, global poverty will increase for the first time in 30 years, the report predicts, undermining many of the gains of globalization that have pulled millions out of poverty in recent years.

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