EsadeGeo Daily Digest, 23/07/2020

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The New York Times – Edward Wong, Lara Jakes and Steven Lee Myers / U.S orders China to close Houston consulate, citing efforts to steal trade secrets

  • The United States has abruptly ordered China to close its consulate in Houston, accusing diplomats of aiding economic espionage and the attempted theft of scientific research as the Trump administration sharply escalates its moves against China.
  • China vowed to retaliate, calling the action illegal. Hours after the administration issued its order on Tuesday, consulate employees burned papers in open metal barrels in a courtyard of the Houston building, prompting police officers and firefighters to rush to the area.
  • It was unclear what had immediately prompted the crackdown on the consulate, which must close by Friday, although the State Department said China was directing “massive illegal spying and influence operations.”
  • David R. Stilwell, who oversees policy for East Asia and the Pacific at the State Department, said in an interview that the Houston consulate had a history of engaging in “subversive behavior” and was the epicenter of research theft in the United States.
  • South China Morning Post – Teddy Ng / US consulate in Chengdu prime target for China retaliation over Houston

Foreign Policy – Milagros Costabel / Uruguay emerges as a rare pandemic winner in Latin America

  • As of July 20, Uruguay has only 1,054 total confirmed cases, 33 deaths, and more than 920 patients recovered—with only 99 active cases. Although the government’s approach has not been without missteps, the relative success is a credit to the public and the administration.
  • With close ties through border cities with Brazil, the Uruguayan government has had to shoulder not only its own situation but also that of a country whose response to the pandemic has been disastrous.
  • In addition to being among the countries with the least poverty in Latin America, Uruguay is one of the few countries in the region where the population has full access to basic services, such as running water and electricity, as well as high rates of internet connection.
  • With more than 88,000 coronavirus tests conducted since March 13, when the first cases were detected in Uruguay, the country is among the top performers in the world in terms of testing by population—which has been widely available even to people without symptoms.
  • Bloomberg – Mac Margolis / Covid-19 may destroy Chile’s iconic pension system

The Guardian – Shaun Walker / Editor-in-chief fired at Hungary’s leading independent news site

  • The editor-in-chief of Hungary’s leading independent news website has been fired a month after he publicly raised alarm over political interference in the outlet’s operations.
  • The dismissal of Szabolcs Dull from his role at Index.hu on Wednesday appears to be yet another blow struck against news sources that do not support the far-right political line of the prime minister, Viktor Orbán, who has been in power for a decade.
  • The NGO Reporters Without Borders put Hungary in 89th place in its annual media freedom ratings this year, making it the second worst country in the EU for press freedom. Index, Hungary’s largest online news portal, is widely regarded as the last big independent player in local media.
  • A pro-government businessman acquired significant control over Index’s funding this year. Last month Index put out an emergency alert to followers warning that its independence was at risk owing to external pressure. 
  • Financial Times – Valerie Hopkins / Editor in chief of influential Hungarian news site Index.hu ousted

Bloomberg – Eric Roston / Top scientists just ruled out best-case global warming scenarios

  • A major new study of the relationship between carbon dioxide and global warming lowers the odds on worst-case climate change scenarios while also ruling out the most optimistic estimates nations have been counting on as they attempt to implement the Paris Agreement.
  • A group of 25 leading scientists now conclude that catastrophic warming is almost inevitable if emissions continue at their current rate, even if there’s less reason to anticipate a totally uninhabitable Earth in coming centuries. 
  • The research, published Wednesday in the journal Reviews of Geophysics, narrows the answer to a question that’s as old as climate science itself: How much would the planet warm if humanity doubled the amount of CO₂ in the atmosphere?
  • That number, known as “equilibrium climate sensitivity,” is typically expressed as a range. The scientists behind this new study have narrowed the climate-sensitivity window to between 2.6° Celsius and 3.9°C.
  • The Washington Post – Andrew Freedman and Chris Mooney / Major new climate study rules out less severe global warming scenario

Today’s essay:

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and EsadeGeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces.

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