WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Germany’s SPD – Following another local election result that underlines fast-falling support for Germany’s lead center-left party, debate has begun again among some SPD leaders about whether to quit the grand coalition government in which they currently support Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right CDU. That move would very likely force Merkel from power and bring early elections. The predicament for the SPD: It’s easier to regain popularity in opposition than as junior member of government, but true revival will depend on making a credible case for policies that will excite voters. Wounded center-left parties across Europe will be interested to see what the SPD can come up with.


South Sudan – On Wednesday, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir unveiled a deal he says will end a five-year civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. The agreement would allow rebel groups to share power with the government. It remains unclear why Kiir believes this deal will succeed where similar deals in the past have failed.

Iran sanctions – Next Monday, the US will reimpose sanctions on Iran’s oil industry. We’re watching not for Iran’s initial reaction, which will be defiant, but for how Iran continues to build constructive relations with other governments to minimize fallout from US action—and how those governments respond to US threats.

Stray Cats living in Portuguese Washing Machines – Because it’s Friday.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

High-minded Wrestlers – When World Wrestling Entertainment kicks off its “Crown Jewel” event at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh later today, two of the organization’s marquee performers won’t be there. Wrestlers John Cena and Daniel Bryan are reportedly boycotting the event to protest the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Contradictory Polling Clues – A new Harvard University survey suggests Americans aged 18-29 are likely to vote in much higher numbers in next week’s midterm elections than the same age group did in 2010 or 2014. Some 40 percent said they will “definitely vote.” Meanwhile, a new PRRI/The Atlantic survey found “little evidence that younger Americans will turn out at historic rates.” Just 35 percent of Americans aged 18-29, compared to 81 percent of seniors (ages 65+) and 55 percent of all Americans, say they’re certain to vote.

A Spectacularly Dumb Dirty Trick – An amateurish attempt to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller unraveled quickly this week. You can read the details here. The FBI is now investigating.

Ferrera Erbognone, a small town in the northern Italian province of Pavia, is home to one of the most cutting-edge computing centers in the world: Eni's Green Data Center. All of the geophysical and seismic prospecting data Eni produces from all over the world ends up here. Now, the Green Data Center is welcoming a new supercomputing system: HPC5, an advanced version of the already powerful HPC4. Due to be completed by early 2020, HPC5 will triple the Green Data Center's computing power, from 18.6 to 52 petaflops, equivalent to 52 million billion mathematical operations per second.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

This week, the process of impeaching President Trump entered the critical phase as the House of Representatives held its first public hearings. The battle lines are now drawn.

The Democrats say that there is compelling evidence that Trump withheld badly needed military to aid to an ally at war to pressure that country's government to provide him with personal political benefit by helping him discredit a political rival.

The Republicans say that the evidence comes mainly from witnesses with little or no direct contact with the president, and that the military aid was delivered to Ukraine without the Ukrainian president taking the actions Trump is alleged to have demanded.

More Show less

The fight for the Nile: In recent days, the Trump administration has tried to mediate three-way talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia on their long-running dispute to access the waters of the Nile. In short, a 1929 treaty gave Egypt and Sudan rights to nearly all Nile waters and the right to veto any attempt by upstream countries to claim a greater share. But in 2011, Ethiopia began work on the so-called Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile tributary from where 85 percent of the Nile's waters flow. The project, due for completion next year, will be Africa's largest hydroelectric power plant. Egypt, which draws 85 percent of its water from the Nile, has made threats that raised fears of military action. We're watching as this conflict finally comes to a head early next year.

More Show less

13: More than 13 percent of US adults, 34 million people, report having a friend or family member who has died in the past five years because they couldn't afford medical treatment, according to a new Gallup poll. Polls show that voters consider healthcare a high-priority issue in next year's US elections.

More Show less

What were the reasons behind the rise of the Vox Party in the Spanish general election?

I think it was basically the question of Catalonia, the unity of the Spanish nations. And VOX played very hard on that particular issue and it was eating into the support of the other center-right forces there. So, it has now established itself fairly firmly on the Spanish political scene with the consequences that that will have.

More Show less