What We're Watching: Protests in Hong Kong and the World's Toughest Parrot

Hong Kong's Extradition Protests – In one of its largest protests in years, tens of thousands marched through Hong Kong's streets toward parliament over the weekend to oppose a plan they say would make it easier to extradite critics of the Chinese government to the mainland. Since 2014, pro-democracy advocates in Hong Kong have been calling for more autonomy from Beijing—with little to show for their efforts. They view the latest legislation as a thinly veiled ploy by the Chinese-backed government in Hong Kong to help Beijing curb dissent. More broadly, they fear that China is slowly stripping Hong Kong of freedoms guaranteed under the handover agreement signed by China and Britain, which controlled Hong Kong until 1997.

Freddy Krueger the Parrot – Brazil is a resilient country, and an Amazonian parrot named Freddy Krueger has now made his case to become Brazil's national bird. This week, Freddy somehow found his way back to the zoo in the southern city of Cascavel from which he was stolen following a difficult past in which he was bird-napped, bitten by a snake, and wounded during a drug-den shootout between traffickers and police. We're watching to see what Freddy gets into next and hoping for a biopic.

What We're Ignoring: Trump Meets Dems and Austrian Grannies Get Angry

The Don, Chuck, and Nancy Show – Can President Trump and congressional Democrats agree on anything? How about some big spending to upgrade shoddy US infrastructure? Trump has said at various times that he wants to splurge on major improvements to roads, rail, ports, airports and even communications infrastructure. Lead Democratic lawmakers Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer want these things too, though they want tax increases to pay for them along with labor and environmental protections as part of any deal. We're ignoring their meeting tomorrow, because Senate Republicans won't agree to any of this. Even where Trump, Pelosi, and Schumer agree, there's just no deal to be made.

Austria's Angry GranniesGrannies Against the Right is a movement created to protest Austria's rightward shift under the conservative-nationalist government of Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. It's organized by women old enough to remember the terrible aftermath of World War II. This is a fine organization engaged in a noble cause, but we decided to ignore them when we discovered that the group accepts non-grannies as members.

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

A few days ago, the New York Times published a bombshell report on the Chinese government's systematic oppression of Muslims in Western China. The story was about many things: human rights, geopolitics, Chinese society – but it was also about technology: Beijing's repression in Xinjiang province is powered in part by facial recognition, big data, and other advanced technologies.

It's a concrete example of a broader trend in global politics: technology is a double-edged sword with sharp political consequences. Artificial intelligence, for example, can help develop new medicines but it can also support surveillance states. Social media helps nourish democracy movements and entertains us with cat memes, but it also feeds ISIS and 4Chan.

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Increasingly violent anti-government protests in Hong Kong have dealt a major blow to the city's once booming economy. Tourism – an economic lifeline in that city – has dropped, and retailers are suffering from a sharp decline in sales. Now, six months since the unrest began, Hong Kong has recorded its first recession in a decade, meaning its economy has contracted for two consecutive quarters. Here's a look at how Hong Kong's quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) growth has fared during the past two years.

Tehran's Next Move: "We don't want an Islamic Republic, we don't want it," was the chant heard among some protesters in Tehran over the weekend after the government announced a 50 percent fuel price hike meant to fund broader support for the country's poor. Under crippling US sanctions, the country's economy has plummeted, unleashing a "tsunami" of unemployment. What started Friday as nationwide economic protests took on a political coloring, as protestors in some cities tore up the flag and chanted "down with [Supreme Leader] Khamenei!". The unrest seems to be related, at least indirectly, to widespread demonstrations against Tehran-backed regimes in Iraq and Lebanon as well. Economically-motivated protests erupt in Iran every few years, but they tend to subside within weeks under harsh government crackdowns. So far, the authorities have shut down the internet to prevent protestors from using social media to organize rallies. But Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps has warned of more "decisive action" if the unrest continues.

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