WORDS MATTER: NIGERIA

Last week, the United States was gripped by a furiously partisan debate about whether President Trump’s divisive and threatening rhetoric about his opponents has contributed to recent acts of politically-motivated violence in America.


As all that was happening, the army of Nigeria clashed with hundreds of protesters who had blocked traffic outside the capital, Abuja. When some of the protesters threw rocks at the soldiers, they opened fire. Amnesty International, a human rights watchdog, said as many as 40 unarmed people were killed as a result.

On Friday, as local and international criticism of the Nigerian authorities mounted, the army responded by posting a clip of a speech given by Mr. Trump a day earlier, in which the US President warned that if migrants making their way towards the United States via Mexico throw rocks at the troops he has deployed to stop them, the soldiers would be justified in shooting them.

Please Watch and Make Your Deductions, the tweet said. Later in the day a Nigerian army spokesman doubled down, telling the New York Times that if Trump thinks a rock is the same as a rifle, “then who is Amnesty International?”

To be absolutely clear – there is no connection between the killing of the protesters, which happened on Monday, and Mr. Trump’s words about rifles and rocks, which came three days later. The Nigerian Army’s Twitter post has since been taken down, and Mr. Trump has in recent days qualified his own comments on the subject.

Still, the fact remains that the military of another country has now directly quoted Mr. Trump to justify, before the world, a potentially serious human rights violation. Just as many world leaders have also taken up Mr. Trump’s habit of decrying critical reporting as “fake news,” it’s a reminder that although America’s relative clout and credibility have been waning for many years, the words of the US president still carry a tremendous and sometimes chilling kind of power around the world.

In Italy, stacks of plastic boxes in supermarkets and stores are not garbage - they are collected and reused, thanks to a consortium that specializes in recycling them for food storage. How do these "circular" plastic boxes help reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions?

Learn more in this episode of Eni's Energy SUPERFACTS series.

British economist Jim O'Neill says the global economy can bounce back right to where it was before, in a V-shaped recovery. But his argument is based on a lot of "ifs," plus comparisons to the 2008 recession and conditions in China and South Korea that may not truly apply. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Robert Kahn take issue with O'Neill's op-ed, on this edition of The Red Pen.

Today, we're taking our Red Pen to an article titled "A V-Shaped Recovery Could Still Happen." I'm not buying it. It's published recently by Project Syndicate, authored by British economist named Jim O'Neill. Jim O'Neill is very well known. He was chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He's the guy that coined the acronym BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China. So, no slouch. But as you know, we don't agree with everything out there. And this is the case. Brought to you by the letter V. We're taking sharp issue with the idea that recovery from all the economic devastation created by the coronavirus pandemic is going to happen quickly. That after the sharp drop that the world has experienced, everything bounces back to where it was before. That's the V. Economists around the world are debating how quickly recovery will happen to be sure. But we're not buying the V. Here's why. W-H-Y.

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Over the past few years, we've seen three major emerging powers take bold action to right what they say are historical wrongs.

First came Crimea. When the Kremlin decided in 2014 that Western powers were working against Russian interests in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, which was then part of Ukraine. Moscow claimed that Crimea and its ethnic Russian majority had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries until a shameful deal in 1954 made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Americans and Europeans imposed sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine is not part of NATO or the EU, and no further action was taken.

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Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, provides his perspective on technology news:

Will the new audit of Facebook civil rights practices change the way the company operates?

Yes. It came under a lot of pressure from civil rights activists who organized an advertising boycott. And then an internal audit on Facebook's effect on civil rights came out. It was quite critical. Those two things, one after the other, will surely lead to changes at the company.

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The United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, but their COVID-19 death toll trajectories have recently become very different. Since the beginning of July, the average number of both new fatalities and new deaths per 1 million people is rapidly increasing in the US while it remains mostly flat in the EU. We compare this to the average number of new cases each seven days in both regions, where the US trend continues upward but is not surging like the death toll. EU countries' robust public health systems and citizens' willingness to wear masks and maintain social distance could explain the disparity.