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What We're Watching

Mueller Report Machinations – The House Judiciary Committee voted Wednesday to authorize a subpoena to force Attorney General William Barr to deliver Special Counsel Robert Mueller's "full and unredacted" report. If Barr refuses, the ensuing legal battle could drag on for years, but the political impact will be immediate as Democrats accuse Republicans of a coverup and Republicans accuse Democrats of playing politics with the law. Raising the stakes, The New York Times and the Washington Post reported Wednesday that anonymous members of Mueller's team claim the report's findings are more critical of President Trump than Barr has indicated. A warning shot from Team Mueller that Barr better be more forthcoming?

Pirates of the Caribbean – A surge in the number of pirate attacks in the 10-mile stretch of water between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago suggests Venezuela's economic crisis has allowed criminal gangs to expand operations offshore, in particular to control drug trafficking into the Caribbean Sea. In some cases, scarcity in Venezuela has pushed criminal gangs to carry out maritime robberies of Trinidadian fishermen.

What We're Listening To

An incredibly lewd song that explains why Brazil's congress shut down yesterday during a debate on pension reform.

What We're Ignoring

Sisi Soaps – The government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is reportedly extending its dominance of national media into production of the country's extremely popular TV soap operas, and a production company linked to the military is taking charge of some of the most popular shows. Makers of these shows have reportedly been informed that they must, for example, always portray the army and police in a positive light, cast the banned Muslim Brotherhood as odious and dangerous, and encourage children to obey their elders. Sounds like really exciting TV.

Health Warnings from Donald Trump – The president of the United States warned this week that the noise produced by wind turbines causes cancer. Your Friday author concludes from this that if Don Quixote had simply worn earplugs, he might well be alive today.

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