What We're Watching: A Dammed Denial in the Nile

Britain's Supreme Court – The UK's Supreme Court will rule as soon as the end of this week on whether it was unlawful for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to suspend Parliament for several weeks during a critical period ahead of the 31 October Brexit deadline. A court in Scotland said it was, arguing that Johnson misled the Queen into suspending Parliament in order to limit MPs' ability to block Johnson's plans to lead the UK out of the EU with a deal or not. But a court in England took the government's position that none of this is for the courts to decide. So now the highest court in the land will rule on the matter. The wily Johnson says he'll abide by what the justices say. Let's see. (Weird trivia: the UK has had a Supreme Court for only ten years.)


Denial of The Nile – Ethiopia, one of the world's fastest growing economies, has been building a massive hydroelectric dam on the Nile in order to boost its industries. Sudan, next door, is in favor of the project too. But Egypt, which is downstream of both and relies on the river for 90 percent of its freshwater, is very sensitive about it, and the two sides have in the past exchanged veiled threats of war over the river. That's why we're alarmed to learn that ongoing negotiations about water rights between Cairo and Addis Ababa have reportedly broken down again, just days ahead of a big meeting between the three countries. The Ethiopians say the dam will begin operating by the end of next year – but without a negotiated compromise, that could turn into a deadline for major conflict.

What We're Ignoring

Marco Rubio on Islands – "I will begin exploring ways to cut off ties with Solomon Islands including potentially ending financial assistance and restricting access to U.S. dollars and banking." So tweeted Republican Senator Marco Rubio of Florida on Tuesday, in response to the "shameful" decision by the Solomons, a group of islands east of Australia, to cut ties with Taiwan in favor of closer ties with China. Some of the archipelago nation's 600,000 people are probably wondering what action the US will take against itself, since Washington recognized China and ended formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan in 1978. In any case, the implications of all this for Taiwan are negligible.

The Business and Market Fair that recently took place in Sanzule, Ghana featured local crops, livestock and manufactured goods, thanks in part to the Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP), one of Eni's initiatives to diversify the local economy. The LRP program provided training and support to start new businesses to approximately 1,400 people from 205 households, invigorating entrepreneurship in the community.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky sat down yesterday with Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron for a meeting in the Elysée Palace in Paris for peace talks. This was the first-ever meeting between Putin, Russia's dominant political force since 2000, and Zelensky, who was a TV comedian at this time last year.

Fears that Putin would use Zelensky's inexperience to back him into a deal on Russian terms weren't realized, but the relationship between the two has only just begun.

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Macron not backing down over pensions – Despite five days of mass unrest that has paralyzed Paris' public transport system and dented both tourism and Christmas retail, the government will stand firm on a proposal to reform and unify the country's 42 different pension plans. France's pension system, one of the most generous of any major industrialized country, has major budget shortfalls that contribute to the country's ballooning deficit. Last year, Macron abandoned a proposed fuel price hike that ignited the Yellow Vest movement. But overhauling France's "welfare state" was central to his 2017 election platform, and acquiescing to protesters this time around would be political suicide. France's prime minister – tapped to lead the pension reform project – is expected to announce the plan's final details tomorrow. We're watching to see how this might escalate things further.

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4: The World Anti-Doping Agency handed Russia a four-year ban from all major sporting events, precluding its participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and soccer's 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Russia has three weeks to appeal the ban, which its prime minister says is the result of "chronic anti-Russian hysteria."

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Are we seeing the creation of a parallel universe for US and Chinese tech industries?

I think the answer is yes. In the past, US has dominated the world in technologies from P.C. operating systems, semiconductors, to servers, and even Internet. But ever since the rise of mobile technologies, China has really leveraged the large market with a huge amount of data and now is beginning to innovate and build great mobile apps on which there's a large amount of data being collected.

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