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.

Building on its previous commitment, Walmart is investing an additional $350 billion in products made, grown and assembled in America - supporting more than 750,000 new jobs by 2030. This pledge will aim to avoid more than 100M metric tons of CO2 emissions, advance the growth of U.S. based suppliers, and provide opportunities for more than 9,000 entrepreneurs to become Walmart suppliers and sellers through Walmart's annual Open Call.

"The people are stronger," pro-democracy demonstrators chanted as news broke that the Sudanese military had staged a coup Monday, overthrowing the joint civilian-military government and dashing hopes of democracy in the war-torn country.

The backstory. In 2019, Omar al-Bashir – a despot who ruled Sudan with an iron fist for 30 years – was deposed after a months-long popular uprising.

Al-Bashir was a bad guy: he cozied up to terrorists like Osama bin Laden and dropped barrel bombs on his own people. He also embezzled truck loads of money from oil production while millions of Sudanese went hungry, and oversaw a genocide in the Darfur region that left 300,000 people dead and displaced 1.6 million.

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Sort of, but governments haven't lost all control yet. On the one hand, The Atlantic CEO Nicholas Thompson says that governments can still push tech companies for transparency in their algorithms, while Microsoft has partnered with the US government to together fight hackers "so the company is seen as a champion for freedom and democracy." On the other, over time Thompson expects tech firms in the US and China to gradually become more powerful as the state becomes less powerful toward them. Watch his interview with Ian Bremmer on the latest episode of GZERO World.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Big Tech: Global sovereignty, unintended consequences

As COP26 nears, the need for real climate action has never been more urgent. There are reasons for hope, but many scientists believe the ambitious goal of net zero emissions by 2050 is unattainable without immediate and significant change. Governments, financial institutions, and private sector companies alike have all recognized the need for a multistakeholder approach to solving this crisis of a lifetime.

Watch "Climate Crisis: Is net zero really possible?" a one-hour virtual livestream, hosted by GZERO Media and Microsoft as part of the Global Stage series, to hear scientists, corporate leaders and policymakers debate this question and offer critical perspectives on the way forward. Live on Tuesday, November 2nd at 11am ET, we'll break down what "net zero" means, take stock of where the world is on the path to carbon neutrality, and discuss critical steps needed to make real progress.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody and happy Monday. Back in the office, getting a little cool. So I've got my sweater going on. It's the first time I've had a sweater on. What do you do with that? Discussing fashion, as I talk to you about what is on my mind this week?

And what's on my mind this week, Facebook. Facebook is on my mind. It's a tough week for Facebook. There are all sorts of whistleblowers out there. There's testimony going on. There's calls for regulation. Everybody seems unhappy with them. Indeed, you even got the government relations types, Nick Clegg, who I've known for a long time back when he was a policymaker in the UK saying that the headlines are going to be rough, but we're are going to get through it. But I will say, first of all, I'm kind of skeptical that any of this goes anywhere in terms of impact on how Facebook actually operates.

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Turkey's Erdogan ups the ante with the West: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared diplomats from 10 Western countries "persona non-grata" after the group — which includes the US, France, and Germany — called on Ankara to release Osman Kavala, a Parisian-born Turkish businessman who's been held in jail since 2017 but hasn't been charged with a crime. Erdogan says that Kavala was involved in an attempted coup against the government in 2016. This latest move is a sign of Turkey's authoritarian drift in recent years, which has seen Erdogan's government increasingly crack down on opposition members as well as journalists. It also reflects Turkey's increasingly fraught relations with the West: things got particularly bad between Washington and Ankara after Turkey purchased missile defense systems from the Russians in 2019. The Council of Europe (the continent's leading human rights organization) had previously warned that Ankara has until November to release Kavala or it would impose "infringements," though it's unclear what those would be.

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ASEAN gets tough(ish) with Myanmar: The leaders of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations meet Tuesday for their annual summit with one notable absence: the head of Myanmar's military junta. It's a rare snub from ASEAN, a regional bloc that's gotten a lot of heat in the past for giving tyrants a free pass. The junta says ASEAN violated its traditional principles of deciding by consensus by disinviting its leader, and non-interference in domestic affairs for demanding the bloc's special envoy meet detained former leader Aung San Suu Kyi. For their part, the other ASEAN members have grown visibly alarmed at Myanmar's rapidly deteriorating political and economic situation since the February coup, and they're worried about the spillover effects of Myanmar becoming a failed state. More importantly, Myanmar is a big thorn in ASEAN's side as it walks a fine line between keeping warm ties with the US — which most members want cash and security from — and getting along with China, one of Myanmar's few remaining friends and viewed with suspicion by most ASEAN members over its South China Sea shenanigans.

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149: The concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere reached a record-high 413.2 parts per million in 2020, 149 percent above pre-industrial levels. A new report by the UN weather agency released ahead of the COP26 climate summit found that last year's lower emissions due to COVID-related lockdowns had no impact on the overall amount of greenhouse gases causing global warming.

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