Jupiter Rising?

Speaking of fresh claims to global power, French President Emmanuel Macron, arriving in China this week for a three-day visit, snapped off a telling tweet — “I’m here to tell you,” he wrote in French, “Europe is back.” While Macron’s ambitious domestic agenda has gotten a lot of attention, the French president is also trying to cast himself as the leader of a more energetic European foreign policy.


Three things are working in his favor: Brexit has galvanized greater security cooperation on the continent. Germany is focused inward as it struggles to form a new government after last year’s election. And Donald Trump’s “America First” foreign policy has opened up a leadership void internationally.

How’s young Jupiter doing? His biggest win to date has been on climate change policy, where last month he convened more than 50 heads of state to reaffirm their commitment to the Paris climate deal. With his trip this week, Macron hopes to forge a unified European position on trade with China.

A vast majority of the French public (73%) like how he represents France abroad. But insofar as Macron is committed to revival and renewal of the European project, his foreign policy ambitions largely depend on an older question about whether a Europe of nearly thirty countries can ever have a unified global voice. To make that happen, Europe’s ambitious new soloist will have to learn how to play the role of conductor. We’re here to tell you: watch this space.

Wrecking the global economy's hopes for a relaxing late-August Friday, China and the US have taken fresh shots at each other in their deepening trade war.

First, China announced new tariffs on US goods in response to US levies on China's exports that are set to take effect next month.

Trump responded with a vintage tweet storm, lashing out at China and demanding that US firms stop doing business there. The Dow plunged as markets waited for the next shoe to drop. And drop it did: later in the day Trump announced higher tariffs on nearly everything that China exports to the United States.

Why now? Bear in mind, all of this comes right as Trump is leaving for this weekend's G7 summit in France. That gathering already promised to be a testy one – but with the global economy slowing, the impact of Trump's increasingly nasty trade war with China will add fresh tensions to the occasion.

So where are we in the trade war now? Here is an updated list of what measures each side has imposed to date, and what's next. Both sides have a lot at stake, but from the looks of it, the list isn't going to get shorter any time soon.

When Donald Trump first started talking about buying Greenland last week, we figured it was a weird story with less legs than a Harp seal.

Signal readers, we were wrong. President Trump was so serious about purchasing the autonomous Danish territory that this week he abruptly cancelled a trip to Denmark after the country's prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, labelled the idea "absurd."

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The Amazon in flames – More than 70,000 forest fires are burning in Brazil right now, most of them in the Amazon. That's up 84% over the same period last year, and it's the highest number on record. This is the dry season when farmers burn certain amounts of forest legally to clear farmland. But critics say Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro's efforts to loosen conservation rules have encouraged farmers, loggers, and miners to set more fires, many of them illegally. Bolsonaro – a science skeptic who recently fired the head of the agency that tracks deforestation – says, without proof, that NGOs are setting the fires to embarrass his government. Meanwhile, the EU is holding up a major trade deal with Brazil unless Bolsonaro commits to higher environmental protection standards, including those that affect the Amazon.

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Over the past fifty years, the Amazon rainforest has shrunk by an area equal to the size of Turkey. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Brazilian government supported settlement of the sparsely populated region for security reasons. Since then, huge swaths of the forest -- which is crucial for limiting the world's greenhouse gasses -- have been cleared for farmland used to feed Brazil's population and support its massive agricultural exports. Greater awareness of the environmental impacts in the 1990s produced tighter conservation regulations, though plenty of illegal clearing continues. In recent years, the annual deforestation rate has begun to rise again, and Brazil's new president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to weaken regulations further in order to support businesses.