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Hard Numbers: Ethiopia faces locusts again, Japan's COVID response lags, and Russian booze booms

Hard Numbers: Ethiopia faces locusts again, Japan's COVID response lags, and Russian booze booms

1 million: The UN said this week that recent massive locust infestations in East Africa (some swarms were estimated to be the size of Moscow) have decimated crops, forcing 1 million Ethiopians onto food aid. And it's not over. The UN has also warned that a coming second wave of locusts could be twenty times worse.


14: A surge in fighting between the UN-backed government in Libya and opposition forces has forced the closure of 14 hospitals just as the war-torn country has recorded dozens of new COVID-19 cases. Coronavirus-designated hospitals in Tripoli, the capital, have been targeted in the fighting, prompting the UN to call for an immediate ceasefire. So far, no one is listening.

75: A majority of Japanese – some 75 percent – think that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's move to declare a state of emergency last week in response to the coronavirus pandemic came too late. The move allows some states to mandate the closure of schools and businesses, and order residents to stay in their homes.

65: Alcohol abuse in Russia may have fallen sharply over the past 15 years, but with millions of Russians now under home quarantine orders, vodka sales leapt 65 percent in the last week of March. Hospitals say they are now gearing up for a host of booze-related admissions.

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