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

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.

More Show less

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.

More Show less

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.

More Show less

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.

More Show less