THE END OF WAR

Your Friday author has fielded many questions recently about the chaotic state of current global affairs and the rising risks of a serious global conflict. After all, things do look pretty grim: we have an escalating trade fight between the world’s two largest economies, far-right nationalists on the rise in Europe, a US president intent on unmaking the global norms of the past thirty years, a Middle East that remains deeply unstable, and a slow-moving crisis of climate change that is only just starting to be felt.


But let’s put this current moment in perspective. Sunday will mark the 100-year anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I, a conflagration sparked by a street corner murder in Sarajevo, today the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina, that became a wildfire as formal alliances brought more and more nations into conflict. Some 70 million people were sent into military action. The war killed nine million soldiers and seven million civilians, and it triggered a number of genocides as empires fell and borders were redrawn.

My grandfather, a would-be journalist, served as an American officer in the trenches in France and he left behind battlefield photographs that he took himself. They are modest portraits of scorched earth, ruined cathedrals, and devastated lives that I’ll be looking through again this weekend.

When the war ended, the soldiers’ return triggered an influenza epidemic, the so-called Spanish Flu, that infected an estimated 500 million people across the world: from the large metropolises of Europe and the US, to remote South Pacific Islands, and even to the Arctic. More than 50 million people died. My grandmother’s 11-year-old brother was among those who perished. I have no doubt many Signal readers will have personal connections to these two human catastrophes.

So as we worry over events of the day and how they might shape the 21st century, spare a thought this Sunday for all those who lived and died through those turbulent years. It may put things in perspective.

Ferrera Erbognone, a small town in the northern Italian province of Pavia, is home to one of the most cutting-edge computing centers in the world: Eni's Green Data Center. All of the geophysical and seismic prospecting data Eni produces from all over the world ends up here. Now, the Green Data Center is welcoming a new supercomputing system: HPC5, an advanced version of the already powerful HPC4. Due to be completed by early 2020, HPC5 will triple the Green Data Center's computing power, from 18.6 to 52 petaflops, equivalent to 52 million billion mathematical operations per second.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

Why is Instagram going to hide likes?

Well, one explanation is that they want to encourage healthy behavior and a like can make us addicted. Second explanation is that they get rid of the likes, they can get more of the cut in the market for influencers, who get money from advertisers, sometimes based on likes.

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This week, the process of impeaching President Trump entered the critical phase as the House of Representatives held its first public hearings. The battle lines are now drawn.

The Democrats say that there is compelling evidence that Trump withheld badly needed military to aid to an ally at war to pressure that country's government to provide him with personal political benefit by helping him discredit a political rival.

The Republicans say that the evidence comes mainly from witnesses with little or no direct contact with the president, and that the military aid was delivered to Ukraine without the Ukrainian president taking the actions Trump is alleged to have demanded.

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The fight for the Nile: In recent days, the Trump administration has tried to mediate three-way talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia on their long-running dispute to access the waters of the Nile. In short, a 1929 treaty gave Egypt and Sudan rights to nearly all Nile waters and the right to veto any attempt by upstream countries to claim a greater share. But in 2011, Ethiopia began work on the so-called Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile tributary from where 85 percent of the Nile's waters flow. The project, due for completion next year, will be Africa's largest hydroelectric power plant. Egypt, which draws 85 percent of its water from the Nile, has made threats that raised fears of military action. We're watching as this conflict finally comes to a head early next year.

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