What We're Watching: Trudeau in Trouble

Justin Trudeau's Bid to Save Face – Canada's prime minister shouldn't play dress-up anymore. An unfortunate series of outfits he and his family wore during a visit to India in 2018 drew widespread mockery, and now there are old photos and video of Justin Trudeau wearing brown and black makeup on separate occasions at costume parties years ago. Trudeau has acknowledged that the costumes are racist and apologized profusely. It'll be up to Canadian voters to decide on October 21 just how seriously they take these spectacular lapses of judgment and good taste. In the meantime, Signal readers can enjoy this video of Trudeau throwing himself down a flight of stairs.


Child Soldiers in South Sudan – Though a shaky peace agreement remains in place, rival sides from a civil war that tore the country apart between 2013 and 2018 are rapidly increasing their recruitment of child soldiers and sex slaves, according to the UN. The irony is that the peace agreement itself may be contributing to this trend: whoever has the most troops will be eligible for the most funds for reintegration and disarmament. A unity transition government is due to be formed by November, but as the ranks of combatants continue to swell, with slim prospects for a strong central government, this conflict could easily reignite.

A Coverup Uncovered in Brazil – Last spring, gunmen in Rio de Janeiro murdered city councillor Marielle Franco, a 38-year old gay, black, single mother who had been a fierce critic of police brutality. Mass protests ensued. Two former police officers were arrested in connection with the killing, but Brazil's outgoing prosecutor general, Raquel Dodge, now says five local officials have tried to scuttle the investigation. She has recommended indicting them and called on federal authorities to take charge of the probe. Brazil's government is led by a man who has openly encouraged violence by the police, so we're watching to see whether justice will be served.

What We're Ignoring

Brexit Without Booze – British companies have begun stockpiling beer, wine and hard liquor to ensure that Brexit won't leave Britons high and dry during the Christmas holidays. Post-Brexit family gatherings will be difficult enough; enduring them without booze would provoke a true national crisis.

Electricity consumption in our homes contributes 25% of all greenhouse gas emissions. What if we could transform this huge contributing factor into a solution? That's what Eni's luminescent solar concentrators can do. These transparent, colored slabs can be inserted into home windows to capture solar energy and generate electricity. By adjusting to the brightness and temperature of your home, they can even save you money on heating and air conditioning costs.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

How did an entire country's media spread false news for a night?

Fascinating case study in France over the weekend. For less than a day, we thought that the most wanted men in the country had been caught in Scotland. Turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. The so-called news was actually reported quite carefully at first, on Friday night with careful words. But the language quickly moved from conditional to categorical and therefore, to misinformation through human error. What you have here is the tension between being first and being right, which has always been present in journalism but is more and more as you have these 24 hour news channels, social media, and the incredible economic pressure on news sites that are advertising based and therefore click based.

More Show less

Donald Trump announced a fresh "phase 1" trade deal with China last week, part of his ongoing bid to reduce the United States' huge trade deficit with China. The US has been buying more from China than China buys from the US for decades, but since coming into office Trump has made reducing that deficit central to his "America First" agenda. It's not easy to do. Consider that in 2018, after two full years of the Trump administration, the trade deficit with China actually swelled to its highest level since the Clinton years. That's because many perfectly healthy economic factors contribute to a trade deficit: stronger economic growth under Trump has meant more demand for foreign goods, so as long as the economy keeps humming along, it will be hard for Trump to reduce the deficit. Likewise, the strong US dollar makes foreign goods cheaper for US consumers to import, while China's own economic slowdown in 2018 decreased Chinese demand for American goods. For a historical perspective on all of this, here's a look at how the US-China trade balance has developed under each US president going back to 1993.

On Friday, we detailed the main arguments for and against President Trump's decision to withdraw US troops from a pocket of northern Syria where their presence had protected Washington's Kurdish allies against an attack from Turkey. We then asked Signal readers to let us know what they thought.

More Show less

Dangerous Chaos in Syria – Turkey's military move into northern Syria had two stated goals: to push Kurdish fighters inside Syria further from Turkey's border and to create a "safe zone" inside Syria in which Turkey could place up to two million Syrian refugees currently living in camps inside Turkey. But the Kurds have now allied with Syria's army, which is backed by Russia, and these forces are now moving north into that same territory toward Turkish troops and Arab militias backed by Ankara. Meanwhile, large numbers of ISIS fighters and their families have escaped prisons where Kurds had held them captive. Turkey's President Erdogan vows to press ahead with his operation until "ultimate victory is achieved." Pandora's Box is now wide open.

More Show less