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

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.

Meet Alessandra Cominetti, a recipient of MIT Technology Review Magazine's Innovators Under 35 award. As a lab technician at Eni's Research Centre for Renewable Energy in Novara, Alessandra has devoted her career to finding new solutions and materials to optimize solar energy. Much like the serendipitous encounter that resulted in her employment, her eagerness and willingness to try new things allowed her to stumble upon a material for the creation of portable solar panels.

Watch her remarkable story on the latest episode of Faces of Eni.

Joe Biden has vowed to radically change the US' approach to foreign policy and international diplomacy should he win next week's election.

But a lot has happened in four years under Donald Trump that could impede Biden's ability to simply return to the status quo ante. How different would US foreign policy really be under a Biden presidency? What will the two-term former vice president likely be able to change, and what's bound to remain the same, at least for now?

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When Americans vote for president, the economy is (almost) always front and center, as Democratic strategist James Carville famously predicted in 1992, when he was the brainchild of Bill Clinton's successful "It's the economy, stupid" campaign message. But beyond the country's economic future, other issues are also on voters' minds when deciding on casting their ballot for the Democratic or Republican candidate. For instance, Pew surveys show that the 2020 electorate is more worried about the Supreme Court, violent crime and race than they were four years ago, while the coronavirus pandemic has become a major concern. On the other hand, foreign policy, guns and immigration are not as important now as they were in 2016. We compare the top 10 issues for voters in 2016 and 2020.

Kevin Sneader, Global Managing Partner at McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on what corporate business leaders are thinking during the global coronavirus crisis

Should big business care about small business in these times?

The answer is yes and for many reasons. First, small business is the lifeblood of our economies. 45% of employment in emerging countries and 70% in the OECD comes from small and medium enterprises. Moreover, these enterprises have been badly hit by the crisis. Surveys indicate as many as 50% of European small to medium enterprises feel they may not survive over 12 months. While SMEs are relying on government support, larger companies do have a role to play. After all, this includes prioritizing small business and procurement by locking in demand for multiple years, thus facilitating access to good credit, paying receivables to small business in time and where possible, ahead of schedule. Cash flow matters most when you're small. Looking out for small businesses that have lower resilience. For example, financial institutions can lend more and in doing so, ensure deeper customer relationships in the future.

In his latest Financial Times op-ed, Martin Wolf argues that the US global role is at stake in this election and that a Trump re-election would undo America's legacy of democratic leadership in the world. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Jeffrey Wright grabbed the Red Pen to argue that a Trump presidency exists in part because of Americans' rejection of the US's post-war leadership role, and these feelings run deeper than the article suggests.

Today, we're taking The Red Pen to a recent op-ed published in The Financial Times from my good friend, the chief economics commentator Martin Wolf. Martin argues the global role of the United States is at stake on November 3rd, and that a Trump reelection would undo America's legacy of democratic leadership in the world. There's been a lot of this sort of thing recently. I know, we did it once, but if we do it twice, it's all over and I'm not there. To be clear, we don't totally reject what Martin is presenting in this piece. Rather, we'd argue that a Trump presidency exists because there were feelings that were present in the United States before he came along and they run a lot deeper than the article suggests. In other words, it's really not all about Trump.

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