What We’re Watching: Chinese Karaoke and May vs. May

Patriotic Chinese Karaoke – In response to Trump's tariff war, China's leaders have tried for months to keep things civil. No need to fuel a fire they might not be able to contain by directing state-run media to broadcast insults and threats toward Washington. Their approach now appears to be changing. Last week, Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily promoted the following slogan on social media: "Talks, sure! Fight to the finish! Bully us, think again!" Last Friday, a singable Chinese propaganda song turned up on mobile messenger WeChat. Its message—"Feel bitter hatred for the enemy… If the perpetrator wants to fight, we'll beat him out of his wits"—has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. There's even a music video that goes with it. Looks like the Chinese may be digging in for a long fight.

What Comes After May? - The news this morning is that UK Prime Minister Theresa May could not survive the month of May. Repeated failure to win a majority in the House of Commons for her Brexit plan has finally done her in, and she announced this morning that she'll step down on June 7. Who has the charisma and grit to take on this seemingly impossible job? And who will succeed her? Here's one idea. #TimeForLarry

What We're Ignoring: Mini-Trump and North Korean Insults

The Next Donald Trump – In the past few days, we've learned that the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, has secured a book deal and may be mulling a run for mayor of New York. Your Friday author is convinced he's readying a future run for president. Who has the audacity, charisma, mastery of the rally, and media manipulation skills to become the next Donald Trump? We're pretty sure it's NOT Donald Trump Jr.

North Korean Insults – In response to an unflattering reference to Kim Jong-un during a recent campaign speech, North Korea's official news agency says Joe Biden is a "snob bereft of elementary quality as human being" who is "self-praising himself as being the most popular presidential candidate." Biden's candidacy, according to the North Koreans, "is enough to make a cat laugh." We're not betting on Biden quite yet, but this just feels gratuitous, even by North Korean News Agency standards. (Remember when Kim Jong-Un took on William Shakespeare?)

Wrecking the global economy's hopes for a relaxing late-August Friday, China and the US have taken fresh shots at each other in their deepening trade war.

First, China announced new tariffs on US goods in response to US levies on China's exports that are set to take effect next month.

Trump responded with a vintage tweet storm, lashing out at China and demanding that US firms stop doing business there. The Dow plunged as markets waited for the next shoe to drop. And drop it did: later in the day Trump announced higher tariffs on nearly everything that China exports to the United States.

Why now? Bear in mind, all of this comes right as Trump is leaving for this weekend's G7 summit in France. That gathering already promised to be a testy one – but with the global economy slowing, the impact of Trump's increasingly nasty trade war with China will add fresh tensions to the occasion.

So where are we in the trade war now? Here is an updated list of what measures each side has imposed to date, and what's next. Both sides have a lot at stake, but from the looks of it, the list isn't going to get shorter any time soon.

When Donald Trump first started talking about buying Greenland last week, we figured it was a weird story with less legs than a Harp seal.

Signal readers, we were wrong. President Trump was so serious about purchasing the autonomous Danish territory that this week he abruptly cancelled a trip to Denmark after the country's prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, labelled the idea "absurd."

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The Amazon in flames – More than 70,000 forest fires are burning in Brazil right now, most of them in the Amazon. That's up 84% over the same period last year, and it's the highest number on record. This is the dry season when farmers burn certain amounts of forest legally to clear farmland. But critics say Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro's efforts to loosen conservation rules have encouraged farmers, loggers, and miners to set more fires, many of them illegally. Bolsonaro – a science skeptic who recently fired the head of the agency that tracks deforestation – says, without proof, that NGOs are setting the fires to embarrass his government. Meanwhile, the EU is holding up a major trade deal with Brazil unless Bolsonaro commits to higher environmental protection standards, including those that affect the Amazon.

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Over the past fifty years, the Amazon rainforest has shrunk by an area equal to the size of Turkey. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Brazilian government supported settlement of the sparsely populated region for security reasons. Since then, huge swaths of the forest -- which is crucial for limiting the world's greenhouse gasses -- have been cleared for farmland used to feed Brazil's population and support its massive agricultural exports. Greater awareness of the environmental impacts in the 1990s produced tighter conservation regulations, though plenty of illegal clearing continues. In recent years, the annual deforestation rate has begun to rise again, and Brazil's new president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to weaken regulations further in order to support businesses.