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What We're Watching

Bolsonaro's Coup Commemoration Day – Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro, a former army captain, generated considerable controversy this week by ordering commemoration of the day in March 1964 when Brazil's army moved to seize power from President João Goulart and established a dictatorship that lasted until 1985. Bolsonaro insists the takeover was not a "coup" and has said it's a shame more leftists weren't killed during the period of military rule. We'll be watching to see if "Coup Commemoration Day" is as over-the-top cool as Carnival. And we're betting it's not.

Our Girls Freed – In Burundi, three schoolgirls arrested two weeks ago faced up to five years in prison for insulting President Pierre Nkurunziza by doodling on photos of him printed in their school textbooks. To protest these charges, social media users then created their own extravagantly altered versions of Nkurunziza's photo with the hashtag #FreeOurGirls. Score another victory for political satire, because the girls have reportedly been freed.

What We're Ignoring

The Modi Movie – Critics of Narendra Modi say that a new film, which is billed as the Indian prime minister's life story, is little more than propaganda meant to boost Modi and his party ahead of national elections in April and May. Check out the poster, which depicts a pious Mr. Modi surrounded by adorable smiling children wearing the national colors with the tagline "patriotism is my strength." We don't know whether this film violates India's election laws, as some are insisting, but we're ignoring it, because it looks like a crappy movie.

The Female Spacesuit Shortage – NASA, the US space agency, had to cancel plans this week for the first all-female spacewalk because the agency doesn't have two spacesuits small enough to fit the two women chosen for the big event. The walk will go forward, but one of the women has been replaced by a man. President John Kennedy once said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard." Here's hoping it will soon be less hard for NASA to find outfits for two female astronauts at a time.

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