Watching and Ignoring

What We're Watching

Trump vs Bannon — What happens if the White House really finds itself at war with political arsonist Steve Bannon and ascendant conservative media outlet Breitbart? This story isn’t just Washington gossip. Someone is going to lose support from millions of Americans, and there are a lot more people loyal to Trump than to Bannon.


The guy who writes the weather report — From Wednesday’s Washington Post: “Bomb cyclone to blast East Coast before polar vortex uncorks tremendous cold late this week.” In the article’s first three sentences, we get “unforgiving cold,” “punished,” “assault,” “monster storm,” “hammer,” “exploding storm,” “winter hurricane,” “battering,” “damaging winds,” and “blinding snow.” That’s good stuff.

American lawnmowers — Another telling stat: Britain’s Royal Statistical Society informs us that two Americans are killed on average each year by immigrant Muslim terrorists, while 21 are killed by “armed toddlers,” and 69 are killed in lawnmower accidents. #KnowYourEnemy

What We're Ignoring

Trump’s Big Button — North Korea’s Kim Jong-un warned this week that he has a “nuclear button” on his desk. President Trump responded that he has one too and his is bigger. We’re ignoring this boast because Trump does not have a nuclear button. The president authorizes a nuclear strike via an order to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest-ranking US military officer. The chairman then passes the order to an airbase in Nebraska. The order is then sent in coded form to “on the ground” teams. The button on the president’s desk brings a Diet Coke, not Armageddon.

Burglary instructions — Contents of an unidentified Chinese burglar’s personal notebook got laughs across China this week. Among his notes, “Take different ways of escape based on the value of goods. Keep in mind to run first if the value is high. Escape quickly, hide, take cover and run far away.” We’ve seen this notebook only because the would-be thief was arrested with it in his pocket. And as he surely knows by now, sucking at burglary will kill your credit score.

The Eurovision Song Contest — I stopped watching in 1976 when “Pump Pump” by Finland’s Fredi and the Friends finished in 11th place. Watch for yourself and judge the scale of the injustice.

In the southern Italian region of Basilicata, home to the Val d'Agri Oil Centre known as COVA, hydrocarbon processing has undergone a radical digital transformation. COVA boasts one of the world's first fully digitized hydrocarbon plants, but why? Two primary reasons: infrastructure and information. Val d'Agri has the largest onshore hydrocarbon deposit in mainland Europe. The site is expansive and highly advanced, and the plant features a sophisticated sensor system built to capture massive amounts of data. Maintenance checks, equipment monitoring, inspections and measurements are tracked in a fully integrated digital system designed to prevent corrosion and ensure cleaner, more sustainable natural gas processing.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

For a president gearing up for a fierce re-election fight next year, President Trump has a lot to worry about. Democrats are now taking more of the US political spotlight. The latest opinion polls don't look good for him. There are signs that the strong US economy, Trump's top selling point, may begin to wobble.

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Chinese Pigs – Beyond a trade war with the US and unrest in Hong Kong, now Chinese officials are wrestling with an even more basic political problem. Pork is the favorite meat for many of China's 1.4 billion people, and some analysts treat pork consumption as an important indicator of the financial well-being of China's middle class. A serious outbreak of African Swine Flu is expected to push pork prices 70 percent higher over the second half of this year, which will hit ordinary Chinese pockets hard. By some estimates, half of China pigs have been culled, but there are also reports that some farmers have avoided the expense of slaughtering infected pigs, raising fears that the disease will continue to spread. The central government takes this problem seriously enough to call on local officials to boost large-scale hog farming. So far, China's "Year of the Pig" is just not going well.

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Buy or sell: The iPhone

I'll make both arguments. First, buy. The new iPhone 11 didn't blow people's mind. But it's a pretty good phone. But what is most impressive is they lowered the prices on many of their phones and they offer a really good trade ins. So you can take your old iPhone, trade it in, get a discount on a new one. It's a pretty good deal. On the other hand, if the question is more: Is the iPhone still the unadulterated leader in innovation? Maybe not. The event was not quite as transformative as some of these events have been.

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1.2 million: Surging jihadist terrorism in Burkina Faso has pushed the country to the brink of humanitarian crisis, as attacks displace people from their homes and destroy critical infrastructure and hospitals. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, 1.2 million Burkinabe are threatened with famine and malnutrition, and access to healthcare has dwindled. Experts say the violence is a spillover from the scourge of jihadism in neighboring Mali.

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