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What We're Watching

Chinese planes over Taiwan – On Sunday, two Chinese warplanes flying above the Taiwan Strait crossed into what Taiwan considers to be its airspace. In response, Taiwan scrambled warplanes to push the Chinese out. On Monday, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen warned that further Chinese provocations would be met with force. On Tuesday, US National Security Advisor John Bolton tweeted a condemnation of China's action and a pledge of US "commitment" to Taiwan's security. Nobody wants a war, but accidents happen and can create dangerous confrontations from which all sides are reluctant to back down.

Theresa May's Brexit U-Turn – Sick of Brexit yet? Well, we've got news for you: embattled UK Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday she planned to scrap her current Brexit proposal and work with the opposition Labor Party to forge a compromise. To broach such a grand bargain, though, she says the UK will need more time beyond the current April 12 deadline. So it looks like we could now be in for a few extra weeks of Brexit pain. This announcement is a big U-turn for Ms. May, who previously ruled out working with the opposition, and it means that a plan which can gain the support of a majority of parliamentarians may eventually emerge – if the EU agrees to an extension.

What We're Ignoring

Another Central Asian name-change? – Emilbek Kaptagayev, a Kyrgyz official, says Kyrgyzstan should change the name of its capital from Bishkek to Manas, the main character in a centuries-old epic poem. The purpose, according to Kaptagayev, is to prevent a future egocentric political strongman from naming it after himself. This is clearly a dig at Kazakhstan, where the capital city will soon change its name from Astana to Nursultan, in honor of retiring President Nursultan Nazarbayev. We're ignoring this story because Kyrgyz critics of the idea have rightly noted that their country has bigger problems to solve—and because common sense says changing the name once won't keep someone from changing it again.

The dark side of cryptocurrencies – Everyone knows Bitcoin and its ilk have been going through a rough patch – government crackdowns, a deflating investment bubble, and concerns about fraud have all contributed to a price crash and declining investor interest since late 2017. Now it turns out that even terrorists may have reason to be skeptical of the electronic money, which boosters claim will overthrow central banks and free people to transact with each other without government interference. A new report from the RAND think tank found terror groups were likely to prefer cash when buying weapons, because cryptocurrencies are harder to use and less secure than good old fashioned Benjamins.

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.

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

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

First of all, what is going on in the Caucuses?

Well, it's a war. You'd never know it from following American press, because of course, we're only talking about Trump and the elections. But Armenia and Azerbaijan are actively fighting each other. Over 100 are dead so far, including civilians. There is a lot of fog of war misinformation going on. Reuters piece that seems that there are some mercenaries, including Syrian mercenaries on the ground that were in Azerbaijan that were paid for by Turkey. The Armenians, as of today, are claiming that Turkish fighter jet downed an Armenian war plane. Ankara is saying, no, they didn't. The Iranians are being accused of transferring military equipment to Armenia. The Iranians are saying, no, they didn't.

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