Watching and Ignoring


Ethiopia — Looking for a good news story? (Aren’t we all?) There is real movement toward a peace deal between Eritrea and Ethiopia, one of Africa’s most promising countries.

Japanese football fans — Here’s another one: Check out the Japanese football fans who celebrated a 2–1 World Cup win over Colombia by helping to clean garbage left in the stands at the 44,000-seat stadium where the match took place. Later in the day, Senegalese fans did the same. #SignalSalute


South Africa’s Squatter Camps — The world noticed this week that googling the phrases “South Africa” and “squatter camps” turns up lots of photos of impoverished South African white people. This result, many have noted, is representative of neither white South Africa nor the country’s squatter camps. It appears to be an algorithmic anomaly that reflects user investigations into conspiracy theories rather than an actual conspiracy to mischaracterize South African poverty.

The babushka workout — Russia’s greatest natural resource has never been oil, gas, metals, or minerals. It’s all those grandmas who continually fix what’s broken. Your Friday author, like virtually all of us, needs more exercise. But he knows he has no shot of keeping up with this bad-to-the-bone 72-year-old babushka.

We're used to seeing electric, gas and wood-burning ovens, but can you imagine baking pizza in a solar-powered oven? That technology was invented in the latest episode of Funny Applications, where Eni's budding researchers imagine new uses for technology.

Watch now.

It looks like China's leadership has finally had enough of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

In a speech on Thursday to the national people's congress, a symbolic confab of the country's ruling elite, Premier Li Keqiang announced a new national security law that would outlaw secessionist activity and criminalize foreign influence in Hong Kong. The measure, an explicit response to recent pro-democracy protests there, would also permit mainland China's security agencies to operate openly in the city.

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Indonesia becomes an epicenter: Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, is now considered an epicenter of the pandemic, after it suffered its biggest daily surge in cases Thursday with over 900 new infections. The country of 260 million has the largest outbreak in Southeast Asia, recording about 20,000 cases and 1,300 deaths, though a recent study suggested that as few as 2 percent of the country's coronavirus infections may have been reported. When pressed on why Indonesia is experiencing a surge in cases while the curve appears to be flattening in neighboring countries, Indonesian health authorities blamed the public's flouting of social distancing guidelines. But critics say the government has sent wishy-washy messages on how to stop the disease's spread, as demonstrated by the fact that only four of Indonesia's 34 provinces have applied widespread social-distancing restrictions. Meanwhile, as the country's 225 million Muslims prepare to celebrate the end of Ramadan this weekend, popular markets have been overwhelmed by shoppers buying food and clothing, with little guidance or enforcement of large-scale social distancing measures. Indonesia's public health system is grossly underfunded, and experts warn that given the shortage of hospital beds, medical equipment and staff, the situation could deteriorate fast in the coming weeks.

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This is not the 2020 that Vladimir Putin had in mind.

As the year started, Russia's president was crafting plans for changes to the constitution that would permit him to stay in power for (at least) another 16 years. A rubber stamp public referendum was to be held in April. Then, in May, he was to welcome foreign leaders to Moscow for a grand celebration (parades, concerts, fireworks, and a reviewing stand atop Lenin's Mausoleum) marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union's triumph over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War.

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Have you ever read a major op-ed and thought to yourself, "no! no! no! That's just not right!" Us too. This week, Ian Bremmer is joined by analysts Kelsey Broderick and Jeffrey Wright to take the Red Pen to former World Bank president Robert B. Zoellick's Wall Street Journal op-ed.

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