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What We Are Watching

Michael Cohen Goes to Washington – Donald Trump's long-time personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is testifying before three congressional committees this week, one of them publicly. He'll tell lawmakers the president of the United States has committed felonies. Cohen must report to prison on May 6 because he's been convicted of, among other things, lying to Congress. So, beyond the salacious details, we'll be watching to see what evidence he'll offer to support his claims—evidence Democrats might use to try to impeach the president and that state prosecutors might one day use to indict Trump when he's no longer in office.

Iranian Foreign Minister's (Attempted) Resignation – Iranian President Rouhani has rejected the resignation of his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif. As a key architect and backer of the Iran nuclear deal, Mr. Zarif has come under pressure from hardliners in Iran who see little point in sticking with the agreement now that the US has left. As a result, the prospect of Zarif's departure immediately raised concerns that Tehran itself may ditch the deal. For now it seems like Zarif is staying put, but we are watching for signs of further political infighting in Tehran.

What We Are Ignoring

Russian nuclear threats – During an encore performance at its Defender of the Fatherland Day holiday concert last weekend, the St. Petersburg Concert Choir broke out into a satirical 1980s tune about Soviet submariners and bomber pilots preparing to launch a nuclear attack on the US. We're ignoring this musical tomfoolery, along with the recent, more serious step-up in official Russian nuclear rhetoric, including a state TV broadcast explaining how a new hypersonic missile developed by Moscow could hit the Pentagon and Camp David in under five minutes, because India and Pakistan have already given us enough to worry about.

The orders of the Brazilian education minister – Earlier this week, the Brazilian government asked schools to film students singing the national anthem and repeating the campaign slogan of right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro: "Brazil above everything, God above everyone." Bolsonaro, elected in part as a reaction to years of corruption and mismanagement by the leftwing Workers Party, has said he wants to "purge" leftist ideas from the classroom. Critics point out that schools were ideologically policed under Brazil's 1964-1985 dictatorship, a period that Bolsonaro has spoken fondly of. We are ignoring this story – for now – because we are unruly students and also because the education minister rescinded the order amid criticism. But the left-right polarization in Brazil will continue to deepen.

Microsoft released a new annual report, called the Digital Defense Report, covering cybersecurity trends from the past year. This report makes it clear that threat actors have rapidly increased in sophistication over the past year, using techniques that make them harder to spot and that threaten even the savviest targets. For example, nation-state actors are engaging in new reconnaissance techniques that increase their chances of compromising high-value targets, criminal groups targeting businesses have moved their infrastructure to the cloud to hide among legitimate services, and attackers have developed new ways to scour the internet for systems vulnerable to ransomware. Given the leap in attack sophistication in the past year, it is more important than ever that steps are taken to establish new rules of the road for cyberspace: that all organizations, whether government agencies or businesses, invest in people and technology to help stop attacks; and that people focus on the basics, including regular application of security updates, comprehensive backup policies, and, especially, enabling multi-factor authentication. Microsoft summarized some of the most important insights in this year's report, including related suggestions for people and businesses.

Read the whole post and report at Microsoft On The Issues.

On Tuesday night, you can finally watch Trump and Biden tangle on the debate stage. But you TOO can go head to head on debate night .. with your fellow US politics junkies.

Print out GZERO's handy debate BINGO cards and get ready to rumble. There are four different cards so that each player may have a unique board. Every time one of the candidates says one of these words or terms, X it on your card. First player to get five across wins. And if you really want to jazz it up, you can mark each of your words by taking a swig of your drink, or doing five burpees, or donating to your favorite charity or political candidate. Whatever gets you tipsy, in shape, or motivated, get the bingo cards here. It's fight night!

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GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.

The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Watch the full video above.

Donald Trump's presidency has irked a lot of people around the world. And in fairness, that's no surprise. He was elected in part to blow up long-standing assumptions about how international politics, trade, and diplomatic relations are supposed to work.

But while he has correctly identified some big challenges — adapting NATO to the 21st century, managing a more assertive China, or ending America's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — his impulsive style, along with his restrictions on trade and immigration, have alienated many world leaders. Global polls show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.

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How was it that after decades of infighting, European nations were able to come together so quickly on an economic pandemic relief package? "I'm tempted to say because of COVID-19…because the triggering factor for the crisis was not the banks…not the bad behavior of some policy-makers somewhere in the region. It was actually this teeny tiny little virus..." European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde tells Ian Bremmer how a microscopic virus spurred the greatest show of international unity in years.


Watch the episode: Christine Lagarde, Leading Europe's United Economic Pandemic Response

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