What We're Watching: Zimbabwe's anti-government protests, China's "dark fleet," Trump calls for election delay

President feels the heat in Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's security forces are clearing the streets of the capital, Harare, ahead of a planned anti-government protest on Friday, as the country reels from the worst economic crisis in a decade. Activists have called on Zimbabweans to take to the streets to demand the government do more to address rampant corruption and hyperinflation — which is precisely what President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to do when he took over from longtime strongman Robert Mugabe after a 2017 coup. Since then, however, citizens have continued to see government officials accused of graft, while annual inflation has soared to over 737 percent. Salaries and pensions in local currency are now worth so little that nurses have gone on strike until they get paid in US dollars, causing a shortage that this week led to seven stillborn babies born in one night at a major hospital in Harare. To make matters worse, Mnangagwa's critics claim that the president and his allies are using coronavirus-related emergency powers to arrest countless dissidents among the over 100,000 people detained for violating lockdown rules since March.


Chinese "dark fleet" threatens Galápagos biodiversity: The Ecuadorian navy is closely monitoring a fleet of around 260 Chinese fishing vessels spotted near the Galápagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site and scuba diver's paradise known for its unique marine biodiversity and for being where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution. In 2017, a Chinese fishing boat was intercepted in the same area with over 300 tonnes of protected species, including the Galapagos shark which is endemic to the islands. According to Quito, the Chinese fleet has been there for at least two weeks and is now getting very close to Ecuador's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone around the archipelago, and there is no word yet from Beijing. This is the latest example of the global reach of China's so-called "dark fleet" of fishing vessels operating far away from Chinese waters, which is often accused of depleting local fish stocks. Last week, a new report alleged that over 1,000 Chinese fishing vessels have been operating illegally for years in waters off North Korea, catching over $440 million in squid alone.

Can the US election be delayed? As new figures were released on Thursday revealing that the US economy contracted by 32.9 percent this past spring, the fastest dip on record, President Trump tweeted that the November election should be "delayed." The president, who has faced plummeting poll numbers in recent weeks, cited unsubstantiated claims about mail-in-ballots — ballots that are sent to people's homes and then either cast by mail or returned to polling stations in person— as necessitating a postponement. But the US election can only be delayed with GREAT difficulty. Consider the following: The date for Election Day is set by federal law, which requires Congressional approval to be changed. There is no chance that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives would agree to this. (The courts would also then be forced to weigh in and things could get very messy.) Additionally, even if the election does not go forward as planned, the US Constitution explicitly states that a presidential term shall end on January 20. Figuring out who would step in to replace both President Trump and Vice President Pence would be complicated business (think Electoral College complicated). Bottom line: trying to delay the US election is an enormously complicated process over which the president has little control.

Paper was originally made from rags until the introduction of cellulose in 1800. Since then, it has transformed into a "circular" industry, with 55% of paper produced in Italy recovered. It no longer just comes from trees, either. Some companies produce paper with scraps from the processing of other products like wool and walnuts.

Learn more about this rags to riches story in Eni's new Energy Superfacts series.

In late 2017, Zimbabwe's long-serving strongman Robert Mugabe was deposed by the army after 37 years in power. Amid huge popular celebrations, he handed over the reins to Emmerson Mnangagwa, his former spy chief. It was an extraordinary turn of history: Mugabe, one of Africa's last "Big Men" and a hero of the struggle to end white minority rule, went out with barely a whimper, placing Zimbabwe — stricken by economic ruin and international isolation — in the hands of "The Crocodile."

Mugabe has since died, but almost three years after his departure, Zimbabwe's woes continue.

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As the world prepares to mark the 75th anniversary since American forces dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, global non-proliferation efforts, first codified in Cold War-era treaties, are in jeopardy. While the overall number of nuclear weapons continues to decrease — mainly because the US and Russia have set about dismantling retired weapons — both countries, which account for 90 percent of the world's total nuclear arsenal, continue to modernize their nuclear weapons programs. Meanwhile, the New START treaty, which limits the number of long-range nuclear weapons that each side can deploy to about 1,500 apiece, is at risk of collapsing. Here's a look at which countries have nuclear weapon stockpiles and who's ready to use them.

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Happy Monday, we are in August, summer, should be taking it a little easier. Coronavirus not taking the stress levels off but hopefully giving people the excuse, if you're not traveling so much, be close with your families, your loved ones and all that. Look, this is not a philosophical conversation, this is a talk about what's happening in the world, a little Quick Take for you.

First of all, you know, I'm getting a little bit more optimistic about the news in the United States right now. Yes, honestly, I am. In part because the caseload is flattening across the country and it's reducing in some of the core states that have seen the greatest explosion in this continuation of the first wave. Yes, the deaths are going up and they should continue to for a couple of weeks because it is a lagging indicator in the United States. But the fact that deaths are going up does not say anything about what's coming in the next few weeks. That tells you what's happened in the last couple of weeks.

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TikTok, ya don't stop: The wildly popular video app TikTok has been in the crosshairs of American lawmakers for many months now. Why? Because the app is owned by a Chinese company, raising national security concerns that it could funnel personal data on its 100 million American users to the Chinese government. The plot thickened in recent days after President Trump abruptly threatened to ban the app altogether, risking a backlash among its users and imperiling US tech giant Microsoft's efforts to buy the company's operations in the US. Canada, Australia and New Zealand. After a weekend conversation between Microsoft and the White House, the sale negotiations are back on but US lawmakers say any deal must strictly prevent American users' data from winding up in Chinese Communist Party servers. And Trump says that unless a deal is reached by September 15th, he'll go ahead with the ban. The broader fate of TikTok — which has now been banned in India, formerly its largest market, and may be broken up under US pressure — nicely illustrates the new "tech Cold War" that is emerging between China and the United States.

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