Watching and Ignoring

WHAT WE’RE WATCHING

Ebola in the DRC — According to the Health Ministry of the Democratic Republic of Congo, “Our country is facing another epidemic of the Ebola virus, which constitutes an international public health emergency.” At least 17 people have died following the latest outbreak, the ninth documented in the DRC. The virus, discovered in the DRC in the 1970s, takes its name from the country’s Ebola river.


Brazil after Barbosa — Former Supreme Court President Joaquim Barbosaannounced this week he won’t run for president. With less than five months to go, Brazil’s election remains wide open, if now a little less interesting.

Clown protest — In April, 100 people were murdered in the Mexican resort town of Acapulco. Residents are angry, but not surprised. This week, a group of professional clowns dressed in white made international news by marching to protest the violent crime that has become common in many Mexican cities and towns. Love them or fear them, clowns command attention.

WHAT WE’RE IGNORING

Mr. Sandman — In Rio, there are three kinds of people: those rich enough to afford a home with an ocean view, those who can’t afford such luxury, and Marcio Mizael Matolias. This third category consists of one man who lives on Barra da Tijuca beach while avoiding the high cost of housing by living in a (literal) sandcastle. Hold off on jokes about “unsustainable development,” because he says he has lived there for 22 years. So far so good. But his commitment isn’t total: When the sand gets too hot, he stays at a friend’s house.

The Robert Mueller Rumor Mill — Again this week we saw “bombshell” media reports on various allegations against President Trump followed quickly by news that Robert Mueller was investigating the same issues months ago. The Special Counsel is obviously 187 steps ahead of everyone talking and writing about his investigation. #Wait for Mueller

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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