WHAT WE'RE WATCHING - WHAT WE'RE IGNORING - WHAT WE'RE SMOKING

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Fake news in Brazil – Oi, Brazilian voters: You know that picture of former President Dilma Rousseff as a young woman rubbing elbows with Fidel Castro? Yeah, the one your mother in law just blasted out on WhatsApp? It’s a fake. So is the pic of right-wing frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro walking into a hospital with a smile on his face – allegedly proof that his recent stabbing at a campaign rally was staged. According tofact checkers, fake news and misinformation are surging across WhatsApp ahead of a deeply polarizing presidential runoff later this month.  After the vote, which Bolsonaro is almost assured to win, expect an extremely polarized debate over effects of disinformation on the election and the legitimacy of the next president.


Fake moon in China – We at Signal have been closely following China’s push to create its own global models for finance, trade, and technology – but now it appears that Beijing’s ambitions rise higher than that still. The southwestern Chinese city of Chengdu has announced plans to launch an “illumination satellite” to light up the night sky better than the moon. This fake moon – because that’s what it is, a fake moon – will be eight times brighter than the real moon and able to cast light over a distance of 10-80 kilometers.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

People going postal over Trump’s mail decision – The White House this week said the US is ditching the 144-year old global agreement under which countries agree to deliver each other’s mail, and has ordered the US Postal Service to charge more for deliveries from China. Some people are dismayed. But since 1969 the Universal Postal Union pact has given favorable shipping rates to poorer countries – one of those countries being… China! American e-commerce companies have rightly complained that this puts them at a disadvantage: according to calculations by The Atlantic, if you’re in Virginia it’s cheaper to have a packet of eyebrow razors shipped from China than from North Carolina. There is plenty to critique in Trump’s habit of busting up international norms, but on this one he’s right. We’d bet that China – and others – will renegotiate over the next year, before the US withdrawal formally takes effect.

Canine views on Brexit – Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the mid-day sun, as the saying goes. Well, earlier this month about a thousand dogs – and their owners – marched on Britain’s parliamentto demand a fresh referendum on whether the UK should still leave the European Union. Granted – as we wrote earlier this week – the process of negotiating  “Brexit” has become more complicated than most Britons seemed to foresee. But rerunning the referendum still seems like a long shot. Unless those dogs know something…

WHAT WE'RE SMOKING

Canadian stuff – On Wednesday, Canada became the first major economy to legalize the recreational use of marijuana (Uruguay has been there since 2013.) The Canucks are already prodigious producers and smokers: Canada’s 36 million residents blazed up an estimated 773 tons of weed last year, worth around $4.2 billion, and (illegally) exported another $765 million. Over time, Canada’s decision will offer a unique look at legalized weed’s impact on the budget (marijuana is taxed) and on social issues (incarceration rates and drug use). We also relish the thought of Justin Trudeau cutting the rug while legally stoned.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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