What We’re Watching: Xenophobia in South Africa, Peru's Border Politics, China at the WTO

Xenophobic riots in South Africa: Police in South Africa have arrested more than a hundred people in riots that appeared to target foreign-owned businesses in and around Johannesburg, the country's largest city. In a nation where the official unemployment rate is nearly 30 percent, foreign business owners and refugees from other African countries often face violence by people who accuse them of stealing jobs from South Africans. Over the past ten years, hundreds of anti-foreigner attacks have been registered. The most recent episode has taken on an international dimension as well: Nigeria, which says a number of its citizens were targeted in the violence, has already recalled its ambassador.


Peru beefs up the border: Peru is beefing up border security after imposing stricter rules on Venezuelan migrants seeking to enter the country. Since requiring Venezuelans to have visas earlier this summer, the number of legal arrivals has fallen by 90%. But now authorities are concerned that the new requirements have driven migrants underground or into the hands of traffickers. Ecuador, Peru, and Chile all have visa requirements for Venezuelans. Colombia, which is already home to 1.4 million Venezuelan migrants has thus far imposed few restrictions and has in fact encouraged them to stay visible by registering for basic social services. We are watching to see if harder policies in Bogota's Andean neighbors put greater strain on Colombia's own largesse.

What We're Ignoring

China at the WTO: Beijing has filed a formal complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO), alleging that the tariffs that the Trump administration has slapped on Chinese goods violate the global trade regulator's rules. We are all for playing by the rules, and some details of the ongoing US-China dustups at the WTO are amusing (Washington, for example, is arguing part of its case for tariffs on the basis of "public morals"), but we are ignoring this for two reasons. First, any WTO rulings will take years, and the US might not even abide by them. Second, to say that China's actions here will have zero effect on WTO-skeptic Donald Trump's trade policy would be to understate the zeroness of the concept of zero itself.

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

This week, the process of impeaching President Trump entered the critical phase as the House of Representatives held its first public hearings. The battle lines are now drawn.

The Democrats say that there is compelling evidence that Trump withheld badly needed military to aid to an ally at war to pressure that country's government to provide him with personal political benefit by helping him discredit a political rival.

The Republicans say that the evidence comes mainly from witnesses with little or no direct contact with the president, and that the military aid was delivered to Ukraine without the Ukrainian president taking the actions Trump is alleged to have demanded.

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The fight for the Nile: In recent days, the Trump administration has tried to mediate three-way talks between Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia on their long-running dispute to access the waters of the Nile. In short, a 1929 treaty gave Egypt and Sudan rights to nearly all Nile waters and the right to veto any attempt by upstream countries to claim a greater share. But in 2011, Ethiopia began work on the so-called Grand Renaissance Dam on the Blue Nile tributary from where 85 percent of the Nile's waters flow. The project, due for completion next year, will be Africa's largest hydroelectric power plant. Egypt, which draws 85 percent of its water from the Nile, has made threats that raised fears of military action. We're watching as this conflict finally comes to a head early next year.

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13: More than 13 percent of US adults, 34 million people, report having a friend or family member who has died in the past five years because they couldn't afford medical treatment, according to a new Gallup poll. Polls show that voters consider healthcare a high-priority issue in next year's US elections.

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What were the reasons behind the rise of the Vox Party in the Spanish general election?

I think it was basically the question of Catalonia, the unity of the Spanish nations. And VOX played very hard on that particular issue and it was eating into the support of the other center-right forces there. So, it has now established itself fairly firmly on the Spanish political scene with the consequences that that will have.

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