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Hard Numbers: Bidding Adios to the Beetle!

650 million: Between 2012 and 2018, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia donated roughly $650 million to more than 60 US universities. But Saudi Arabia isn't the greatest source of foreign money to American universities — that honor goes to Qatar…with whom the Saudis are currently feuding. #CollegeRivalries (Willis hastens to note that in the American South, college football rivalries are known as "border wars.")

81: The last VW Beetle rolled off the production line last week in Puebla, Mexico, marking the end of the iconic car's 81-year history. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche, championed by Adolf Hitler, anthropomorphized as Herbie the Love Bug, and driven famously (with a Rolls Royce Grill!) by Cheech and Chong, this car is one of the most beloved machines humanity has ever made. What's your best memory of the Beetle?

390,000: According to the US Government Accountability Office, the FBI has conducted more than 390,000 facial recognition searches since 2011. If that worries you, then consider that the FBI has access to 641 million face photos in databases compiled by local, state, and federal authorities. #savingface

6,856: Death squads backed by the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela killed 6,856 people between January of 2018 and mid-May 2019, according to a report released by the UN earlier this month. The report says this is a conservative estimate, citing outside groups that place the death toll higher than 9,000.

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