MEXICO’S NEW NAVIGATOR

A fight over a $13 billion project to expand Mexico City’s airport offers an early test for President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (known as “AMLO”), who has pledged to totally upend his country’s politics.


Although he won’t take office until December, AMLO has already waded into national politics in a controversial way—organizing a nationwide referendum on a controversial project to transform the airport into the largest in the world.

The vote, which begins tomorrow and continues through Sunday, isn’t legally binding, but Lopez Obrador has pledged to honor the result when he becomes president. Taking policy directly to the streets is part of Lopez Obrador’s style – he got his start as a community organizer, and as mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, he often went to the streets to consult ordinary citizens directly on policy issues. This common touch enabled him to put millions on the streets when he claimed he was cheated out of the presidency in 2006. This legacy, and his commitment to pare back the excesses and luxuries of Mexico’s political class, is part of what got him elected president.

Politically he has little to lose here. Many Mexicans view the airport project as a boondoggle for an out-of-touch elite. (Two-thirds of Mexicans have never been on an airplane.) And if the results do favor construction of the airport, ascurrent polls suggest is the case, he can claim popular legitimacy and support the project without being politically tainted by the project’s costs and complications.

Opponents of the vote see a more sinister power play that skirts usual checks and balances. This non-binding referendum will be overseen by an NGO rather than the government. Ballots will be set up in just 500 of the country’s 2,448 municipalities, and fewer than 2 percent of citizens will likely cast ballots. Members of AMLO’s Morena party will be tasked with monitoring voting sites.

The bottom line: In calling this unprecedented referendum, AMLO hopes to bolster his populist credentials. The results, and how the president-elect responds if voters opt to keep the project, will say a lot about Mexico’s political future and whether its next president is more pragmatist or revolutionary.

In Italy, stacks of plastic boxes in supermarkets and stores are not garbage - they are collected and reused, thanks to a consortium that specializes in recycling them for food storage. How do these "circular" plastic boxes help reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions?

Learn more in this episode of Eni's Energy SUPERFACTS series.

British economist Jim O'Neill says the global economy can bounce back right to where it was before, in a V-shaped recovery. But his argument is based on a lot of "ifs," plus comparisons to the 2008 recession and conditions in China and South Korea that may not truly apply. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Robert Kahn take issue with O'Neill's op-ed, on this edition of The Red Pen.

Today, we're taking our Red Pen to an article titled "A V-Shaped Recovery Could Still Happen." I'm not buying it. It's published recently by Project Syndicate, authored by British economist named Jim O'Neill. Jim O'Neill is very well known. He was chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He's the guy that coined the acronym BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China. So, no slouch. But as you know, we don't agree with everything out there. And this is the case. Brought to you by the letter V. We're taking sharp issue with the idea that recovery from all the economic devastation created by the coronavirus pandemic is going to happen quickly. That after the sharp drop that the world has experienced, everything bounces back to where it was before. That's the V. Economists around the world are debating how quickly recovery will happen to be sure. But we're not buying the V. Here's why. W-H-Y.

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Over the past few years, we've seen three major emerging powers take bold action to right what they say are historical wrongs.

First came Crimea. When the Kremlin decided in 2014 that Western powers were working against Russian interests in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, which was then part of Ukraine. Moscow claimed that Crimea and its ethnic Russian majority had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries until a shameful deal in 1954 made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Americans and Europeans imposed sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine is not part of NATO or the EU, and no further action was taken.

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Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, provides his perspective on technology news:

Will the new audit of Facebook civil rights practices change the way the company operates?

Yes. It came under a lot of pressure from civil rights activists who organized an advertising boycott. And then an internal audit on Facebook's effect on civil rights came out. It was quite critical. Those two things, one after the other, will surely lead to changes at the company.

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The United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, but their COVID-19 death toll trajectories have recently become very different. Since the beginning of July, the average number of both new fatalities and new deaths per 1 million people is rapidly increasing in the US while it remains mostly flat in the EU. We compare this to the average number of new cases each seven days in both regions, where the US trend continues upward but is not surging like the death toll. EU countries' robust public health systems and citizens' willingness to wear masks and maintain social distance could explain the disparity.