What We Are Watching: New EU Migrant Plan, A Governor on the Ropes, Trump’s Kashmir Curveball

A new EU plan for refugees – French President Emmanuel Macron said yesterday that 14 EU countries now back a new plan for handling refugees rescued from the Mediterranean Sea. Details of the plan are vague, but at least one important country is not on board: Italy, where right-wing interior minister Mateo Salvini has chased away rescue boats and accused other member states of turning his country, often the first landing point for migrants from Africa, into "the refugee camp of Europe." Differences of opinion across the EU have hampered efforts to hammer out an effective union-wide migrant policy. That hasn't stopped people fleeing dire conditions in Africa and the Middle East: at last count, nearly 32,400 migrants had arrived in Europe via the Mediterranean since January.

Ricky on the Ropes – Puerto Rico's embattled governor Ricardo "Ricky" Rossello says he'll step down after his term ends next year but not before then. He's even willing, he says, to face impeachment – but he won't resign. That won't play well with the hundreds of thousands of protestors now demanding his ouster over unpopular austerity policies, a corruption scandal, the botched response to Hurricane Maria, and a recent leak of Rossello's vulgar and offensive chat messages. Can Ricky really ride this out, hoping that the protesters lose momentum in the summer heat? Or will he succumb to popular pressure, opening up a broader contest for power and potentially reopening basic questions about the relationship between Puerto Rico and Washington?

Claims on Kashmir – Kashmir is a territory claimed by both India and Pakistan. Sporadic fighting over it has killed tens of thousands over the past three decades. On Monday, President Donald Trump told visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had asked the US president to mediate this dispute. Khan was no doubt surprised and delighted: international mediation on Kashmir is a long-standing Pakistani goal. Not so for India, which continues to insist that Kashmir's status can be decided only by direct talks between India and Pakistan. Enraged opposition lawmakers in India have demanded that Modi explain himself. India's foreign ministry responded that "no such request [of Trump] has been made." We're watching to see what Modi himself will say.

What we are ignoring:

Rumors about dead strongmen – It's been a busy week on the are-they-dead-or-aren't-they front. First came the rumors that Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, a renowned trance DJ and rapper whose deft marksmanship recently earned him a mention in this newsletter, had died from kidney failure. Then it was Recep Tayyip Erdogan's turn in the rumor mill. On Monday night, several news reports of dubious provenance suggested that the Turkish president had suffered a heart attack and died. We're ignoring these rumors until we see some better sources or hear from the leaders themselves. But we do want to point out that more transparent governments don't usually suffer from this particular brand of fake news.

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.

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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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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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.

"Neither America first, which is ultimately America alone, nor America the world's policeman," Sen. Chris Coons told Ian Bremmer in describing VP Joe Biden's approach to foreign policy should he win the presidential election in November. In the latest episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer, Sen. Coons provides details of how U.S. relationships with foreign governments and multilateral alliances could change in a Biden presidency. He also defended President Obama's track record, saying "I think it is a mischaracterization of the Obama-Biden foreign policy for President Trump to say that we were picking up the tab and fighting the world's wars and that we were disrespected." Coons stated that Biden would work to restore U.S. involvement in alliances like NATO, and shore up global support to pressure China on labor and environmental standards. The exchange is part of a broad conversation with the Senator about COVID response and economic relief, Russian interference in elections, and the 2020 presidential race. The episode begins airing nationally in the U.S. on Friday, July 10. Check local listings.