Watching and Ignoring

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

India’s water shortage –​ An Indian government think tank has warned that 600 million people in that country are at risk of extreme water scarcity and that 21 cities are likely to run out of groundwater in the next two years. This is not just about thirst. About 80 percent of India’s water is used for agriculture. Less water means lower crop yields, less food, higher food prices, and, perhaps, future political upheaval.


God’s Wrath on Rodrigo Duterte –​ In a country where more than 80 percent of the population is Roman Catholic, President Rodrigo Duterte responded to recent criticism from religious workers this week with a profanity-heavy speech in which he criticized God for casting Adam and Eve from Eden: “Who is this stupid God? He’s really stupid. You created something perfect, and then you think of an event that would tempt and destroy the quality of your work,” Duterte said.

Reindeer Zero Tolerance –​ Jon Georg Dale, Norway’s agriculture minister, says that, without a new bilateral deal to regulate grazing, his country will kill any Swedish reindeer that crosses his country’s border. #FatherChristmasLawyersUp

Ali Beiranvand –​ Your Signal authors are sick of hearing that Ronaldo “missed” that penalty kick in Portugal’s World Cup match with Iran. Alireza Beiranvand, Iran’s superlative goalkeeper, blocked that kick. We admire Beiranvand’s skill. More than that, we salute a once homeless young man, the son of nomads, who slept on the street outside the Tehran football club he hoped would one day give him a spot. Iran did not advance to the World Cup knockout round, but Ali Beiranvand can forever say that, when his moment came, he batted down a challenge from the (arguably) greatest player in the world.

WHAT WE’RE IGNORING

Warnings that immigrants bring crime –​ Multiple studies have shown that immigrants commit crimes at much lower rates than native-born citizens, and some have found that crime rates tend to drop in places where large groups of immigrants are admitted. With a hat tip to Josh Marshall, here are three. Click herehere, and here.

November 4 –​ The Trump administration announced this week that anyone buying Iranian crude oil after November 4, 2018 is subject to sanctions. On November 4, 1979, Iranians stormed the US embassy in Iran and took more than 60 hostages, triggering an historic 444-day standoff. We can ignore this, because it’s surely not intentional. But as coincidences go, that’s a good one.

Boris Johnson –​ Britain’s foreign minister claimed this week that President Trump reversed course on the policy of separating children from their parents because Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May told him to. “No sooner had she spoken than the president signed an executive order repealing the policy,” said Mr. Johnson. #BorisOnCrack

This week, the market value of Tencent, China's biggest video game company, nosedived after a state media outlet suggested that online gaming was as addictive and destructive as opium. Tencent immediately pledged to cap the number of hours people can play, and to keep minors off its platforms.

It's the latest example of a months-long crackdown on major Chinese technology firms that until recently were viewed as some of the world's most powerful and successful companies, as well as a source of national pride. Beijing's about-face on its own tech titans could have big implications for China, and beyond.

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Should people get COVID vaccine booster shots? Not yet, says the World Health Organization, which is pushing for rich nations or those with access to jabs to hold off until at least the end of September so all countries get to fully vaccinate at least 10 percent of their populations before some jump ahead with boosters. But the WHO's call has fallen on deaf ears in nations like Israel, France, Germany and Russia, which are already planning to offer boosters, in part to better protect people against the more contagious delta variant. What's more, mRNA vaccine makers Pfizer and Moderna are recommending supplemental doses for the same reason. The problem is that, beyond the obvious moral imperative for equal access to vaccines, if the rich continue hoarding jabs while vaccination rates stay low elsewhere, the virus will continue to thrive — and mutate into new, potentially even more infectious variants that sooner or later will reach every corner of the planet.

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80: If polar ice caps continue to melt at their current pace due to climate change, 80 percent of all emperor penguins will be wiped out by the end of the century because they need the ice for breeding and keeping their offspring safe. American authorities want to list emperor penguins, which only live in Antarctica, as an endangered species so that US fishing vessels will be required to protect them when operating in their habitat.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for Eurasia Group, shares updates on recent COVID-19 policy developments:

The Biden administration extended an eviction moratorium even after the Supreme Court said they couldn't, what's next?

Well, the CDC imposed a nationwide eviction moratorium in light of increased risk from evicted people because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Supreme Court in June ruled that they (CDC) overextended their authority in doing so and mandated that the moratorium expire on schedule in July. A group of progressive activists weren't happy about this and raised a huge stink in Congress, but Congress recessed for their August vacation before they could solve the problem, putting big pressure on President Biden to extend the moratorium even though he said he didn't think that it would pass constitutional muster. The CDC did it anyway, extending the moratorium until October 3rd, which is a time that's short enough to probably avoid it being overturned by lawsuits, but long enough that Congress has time to figure out how to either extend it on a bipartisan basis or put more money into a rental assistance fund that few people have taken advantage of so far. This whole incident shows the power of progressive activists in the Biden administration who were able to elevate the profile of this issue and potentially prevent millions of people from losing their homes this summer.

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On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer takes a look at the yin and the yang of alcohol's role in high-level diplomacy and society at large. Alcohol can bring people together just as easily as it can tear them apart. From a 1995 Clinton/Yeltsin Summit where a drunk Yeltsin almost derailed Bosnian peace talks, to Obama's Beer Summit and the recent G7 Summit, booze plays a part in how world leaders interact. Globally, alcohol consumption has been steadily increasing, by over 70 percent between 1990 and 2017, according to one report. . Low and middle-income nations like Vietnam, India, and China are a driving force behind that trend, with drinking in Southeast Asia rising by over 34 percent between 2010 and 2017. And yet, amidst this global booze boom, the world has only grown more and more divided.

Watch the episode: The (political) power of alcohol

Equestrian jumpers, and their horses, are disciplined species. They don't appreciate surprises very much.

But many participants were caught off guard during this week's individual jumping qualifiers in Tokyo by a very daunting statue of a sumo wrestler on the hurdle course (which is dotted with statues paying homage to traditional Japanese culture, like geisha kimonos, cherry blossoms, and taiko drums).

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For Dick Pound, the longest serving member of the International Olympic Committee, protesting at the Games is fine — as long as it doesn't "interfere" with the competition itself or awards ceremonies. The Olympics, in his view, are an oasis of calm in the middle of an increasingly tense world, and "we shouldn't be spoiling that by pointing out the obvious , which is that there are social and political problems." Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World on US public television.

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Does alcohol help bring the world together?

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How should athletes protest at the Olympics?

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