What We’re Watching: Brazil Rejects G7 Amazon Aid

Amazon aid rejected – G7 leaders agreed last weekend on an aid package of $22m to help Brazil put out thousands of fires raging across the Amazon rainforest. But despite earlier complaining that it lacked the resources to deal with the fires, Brazil has just rejected the offer, suggesting that it would best be used to "reforest Europe." Each year, farmers burn some forest acreage legally to clear land for pastures and planting, but critics say President Jair Bolsonaro's moves to loosen enforcement of rules, coupled with his anti-science rhetoric, have encouraged more fires than usual. Bolsonaro, a far right science skeptic, has bristled at international criticism about the Amazon. Last week he finally deployed more than 40,000 soldiers to squelch the blazes. The EU is holding up a massive trade deal with Brasilia over concerns about Bolsonaro's environmental policies.


Italy Reaches a Turning Point – Unless Italy's political parties can form a new government today, the country will go to snap elections. The current political crisis began earlier this month when the increasingly popular Matteo Salvini withdrew his Lega party from the governing coalition in order to force new elections he believed would make him prime minister. But if his former coalition partners in the anti-establishment Five Star Movement can now form a (once unthinkable) coalition with the center-left Democratic Party, Salvini's gamble will have backfired, leaving his party in opposition. As a reminder, debt-laden Italy is in the middle of a bitter fight with Brussels over how much money the Italian government is allowed to spend.

DR Congo (finally) forms a government – Eight months after Felix Tshisekedi was elected president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, replacing longtime strongman Joseph Kabila, the country has formed a new government. That election marked the DRC's first-ever peaceful transition of power, but some suspected that Tshisekedi – who defeated Kabila's preferred successor – had struck a secret deal allowing Kabila to stay in power behind the scenes. Kabila's political party controls 70 percent of parliament, and the new coalition government roughly mirrors the balance of power in the legislature, with nearly two-thirds of jobs going to Kabila loyalists, including prime minister and influential mining, defense, and finance ministry posts. We're watching to see whether this power-sharing agreement can produce real change in a country wracked by systemic corruption, ongoing political violence, and a raging Ebola epidemic.

What We're Ignoring

Nuking a Hurricane? – President Trump has denied media reports that he asked aides whether the US could avoid hurricane damage by hitting large storms with nuclear bombs before they make landfall. Whatever Trump may have said, this is a bad idea. Experts say that nuking a hurricane would simply create a radioactive hurricane. For a detailed technical explanation, click here. But your Signal authors also fear that a nuclear blast in the middle of the ocean might also produce a shock wave large enough to interfere with television reception just as baseball season heads for the playoffs.

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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