PHOTO OF THE WEEK: JUPITER IN VERSAILLES

You’ve got to hand it to Emmanuel Macron (pictured above, on Monday): it takes serious nerve for a French President who is struggling in the polls to deliver a speech about the need to reform the welfare state from Versailles palace using cake as a rhetorical device. No, seriously – that really happened. Let’s assume that the 40-year-old former investment banker, who has already taken flak from domestic opponents for his aloof, allegedly king-like approach to the presidency, is acting rationally.


What message was he trying to send here?

We’ve noted before that Macron, like Donald Trump, is a political outsider who wants to project strength. By reveling in the ceremony and trappings of office – whether it’s riding a military jeep to his inauguration or walking between rows of ceremonial guards, at an estimated cost of $350,000, to deliver a State-of-the-Union-like address at Versailles – Macron is signaling that the xenophobic nationalists who are threatening to unwind decades of liberal democracy in Europe don’t have a monopoly on patriotism. There’s a risk that by trying too hard to inject gravitas into his presidency, he ends up alienating more voters than he charms. But it does help explain the puzzling optics.

How much material do we use to send a package? Too much. Does recycling help? Yes – but not really. Packaging material often accumulates as waste, contributing to its own "polluting weight." To solve our packaging dilemma, Finland came up with RePack: a "circular" solution for the reuse of material.

Learn more about RePack in Eni's new Energy Superfacts series.

Anyone with a pulse and a smartphone probably knows by now that the US-China rivalry is heating up these days, and fast. (If you know anyone who doesn't, get them a Signal subscription.)

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A steady increase of violence in the Sahel region of Africa over the past eight years has imposed fear and hardship on millions of the people who live there. It has also pushed the governments of Sahel countries to work together to fight terrorists.

The region's troubles have also captured the attention of European leaders, who worry that if instability there continues, it could generate a movement of migrants that might well dwarf the EU refugee crisis of 2015-2016.

But is Europe helping to make things better?

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Ian Bremmer's QuickTake:

It's Monday, coronavirus still going on. Plenty to talk about.

I mean, I guess the biggest news in the United States is the fact that we still don't have any stimulus going forward. I mean, now, keep in mind, this is on the back of an exceptionally strong initial US economic response, over 10% of GDP, ensuring relief for small businesses, for big corporations, and most importantly, for everyday American citizens, many of whom, large double digit numbers, lost their jobs, a lot of whom lost them permanently but didn't have to worry, at least in the near term, because they were getting cash from the government. Is that going to continue?

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Lebanon's government resigns: Lebanon's government resigned on Monday over last week's twin explosions at Beirut's port, which killed at least 160 people and shattered much of the city's downtown areas. After promising a thorough investigation into why dangerous explosives were stored at the port so close to civilian areas, Prime Minister Hassan Diab said he would step down in solidarity with the people." The people in question are furious. Thousands of Lebanese have taken to the streets in recent days demanding "revolution" and the resignation of a political class whose corruption and mismanagement had plunged the country into economic ruin even before last week's blasts. The international community, meanwhile, held a conference on Sunday and pledged $300 million in humanitarian aid to rebuild battered Beirut, with aid distribution to be coordinated by the UN. But the attendees, which included US President Donald Trump, the European Union, and the Gulf Arab states, said that the funds would not be released until the Lebanese government reforms its bloated, inefficient, and corrupt public sector. So far, Beirut's power brokers have resisted change. As rage on the streets intensifies — with angry protesters swarming the city center and setting public property and government buildings ablaze even after cabinet members resigned — it remains unclear who will run Lebanon going forward and guide the country's rebuilding process.

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