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What We're Watching

China's National People's Congress – Hours ago, Chinese premier Li Keqiang opened the annual meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's (mostly ceremonial) parliamentary body. Although the rubber stamp NPC has never voted down a proposed law since its creation in 1954, the yearly confab is a chance to take stock of what China's leadership sees, or wishes the country to see, as key challenges. The two big issues at the moment are: an economic slowdown economy amid trade tensions with the US and the prospects for some form of trade deal when Xi meets President Trump in several weeks. Ok, you're not exactly excited to tune in to a meeting of hundreds of communist bureaucrats? Well martial arts film star Jackie Chan and 8-time NBA All Star Yao Ming, both members of the NPC, will also be on hand. Jackie Chan and Yao Ming!

What Modi Makes of Things – Tensions between India and Pakistan have cooled in the days since Pakistan returned an Indian pilot shot down over Kashmir last week, but one question is how the episode will play domestically for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Preliminary data suggests support for Mr. Modi has shot up since his dangerous gamble to strike Pakistan in retaliation for a Pakistan-based terrorist group's killing of Indian paramilitary police officers in Kashmir. But the capture of the Indian pilot was a mild humiliation, as are emerging questions about whether India's jets actually hit anything other than some pine trees. With Modi and his BJP girding themselves for a tougher-than-expected election in several months' time, we are watching to see how this national security crisis plays into the electoral campaign.

WHAT WE ARE IGNORING

India's opium-addicted parrots – While we're on the subject of India, we can't help note that a pandemonium of brainwashed parrots has been making off with the poppy crop in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. Frustrated local farmers, who are legally growing the opium-producing flowers for India's pharma industry, have tried beating drums and even lighting firecrackers to keep the addicted parrots away, to no avail. There's probably a good joke in here somewhere, but we're too busy googling other examples of drug use in the animal kingdom to bother with that right now.

Donald Trump Lie Counter – Media fact checkers tallied more than 100 false or misleading statements during President Trump's two-hour speech on Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). It is important to keep politicians honest, or at least document their assaults on basic and observable facts. But from a political perspective, the latest slew of misleading statements, falsehoods, and lies won't change the acrimonious polarization in the US at all. For many Republicans, Trump – who continues to command overwhelming loyalty among GOP voters – is picking the right fights. For many Democrats, after the many thousands of falsehoods and lies already documented, it makes no difference whether Trump tells another 75, 100, or 10,000. The lines are drawn.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream