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Hard Numbers: Tech and democracy

Hard Numbers: Tech and democracy

2,000: Over 2,000 fighters affiliated with Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State – groups traditionally at war with each other in the Middle East – have joined forces to take control of vast swaths of territory in West Africa, according to a report by the US military. Fears that increasing instability in that region could become a full-blown "global crisis" come as the Trump administration weighs plans for a US troop drawdown in West Africa.


49: Increased use of technology will further erode core aspects of democracy and democratic representation over the next decade, agreed half of the tech experts surveyed by Pew on the impact of technology on democracy. Bad actors using social media and video deepfakes to spread misinformation will further undermine peoples' trust in institutions, they warn.

11: The Trump administration has followed through on its goal of cracking down on immigration to the United States, with new data revealing that the number of people who obtained lawful permanent residence fell by 11 percent from the 2016 fiscal year to FY 2018. Policy changes including stricter wealth tests on green card applicants will continue to contribute to the reduced flow of immigrants entering the country, experts warn.

42: Iran's recent parliamentary elections saw the lowest voter turnout since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, with just 42 percent of eligible voters flocking to polls across the country. Iran's supreme leader blamed the embarrassingly low turnout (down 20 percent from 2016) on "negative propaganda" linked to the spread of the coronavirus in Iran, which now has the highest death toll from the virus outside China.

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