What We're Watching: German Politicians vs the Internet

AKK – Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer ("AKK"), the leader of Germany's ruling Christian Democratic Union and Angela Merkel's choice to succeed her as Chancellor, has called for regulation of political opinions on the internet during election campaigns. Her proposal came in response to a German YouTube star's viral video that accused the governing party of failing to address climate change. Her idea has provoked intense criticism, in particular from free speech advocates. Not a good look just after her party took a hit in the European Parliament elections. We're watching to see how much damage she's inflicted on her political future.


Netanyahu on the Clock – Today is the deadline for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a coalition government following last month's elections. If he fails, Israel might face a repeat vote for the first time in its history. The stakes are especially high for Netanyahu, who faces indictment on corruption charges. If he can form a government, he can try to pass laws that would give him immunity from prosecution while in office. For the moment, the ultra-orthodox and ultra-nationalist parties that are Netanyahu's likeliest potential coalition partners are still holding out in hopes of winning policy concessions.

What We're Ignoring: Bad Maps in East Africa

Fatwas on the Greenback – There are many ways to manage a currency crisis. Religious scholars in Pakistan have declared a fatwa against the hoarding of dollars in order to stop people from buying the US currency as fears rise that Prime Minister Imran Khan's cash-strapped government will soon devalue the Pakistani rupee. We're skeptical a fatwa will be enough to solve this problem.

Ethiopia's New Maps – Ethiopia's foreign ministry has said it's sorry for any "confusion and misunderstanding" after publishing a map of Africa on its website that erased neighboring Somalia by incorporating its territory within Ethiopia's borders. It's a touchy subject, given wars between the two countries in the 1960s and 70s and Ethiopian intervention inside Somalia in more recent years. But those who see something sinister at work should consider that the map also shows the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of Congo as a single country, and it doesn't show South Sudan at all. In other words, the Ethiopian foreign ministry may just have really bad mapmakers.

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.

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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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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Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, provides his perspective on technology news:

Will the new audit of Facebook civil rights practices change the way the company operates?

Yes. It came under a lot of pressure from civil rights activists who organized an advertising boycott. And then an internal audit on Facebook's effect on civil rights came out. It was quite critical. Those two things, one after the other, will surely lead to changes at the company.

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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.