Kyrgyzstan unrest; Trump better than ever post-COVID

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

Number one, what is going on in Kyrgyzstan?

Otherwise was known as the Kyrgyz Republic. Well, massive demonstrations, a lot of violence, dozens injured, one dead, on the back of an election, parliamentary elections, where two parties that support the president said they won with a lot of claims of vote buying and corruption and massive outcry. And they've basically now overturned the result of the elections because the country was going to be in complete disarray. Not the first time in the Kyrgyz Republic there've been big demonstrations across the country to remove the outcomes of elections. We've seen presidents removed in the past. In this case, they actually got the former president who had been held in arrest for politicized charges has been removed from power. He's not saying he wants to be president, and the existing president isn't planning on stepping down, but it's clearly going to be messy and some time before we figure out how we redraw power in the Kyrgyz Republic.


It's not a very large country. It's only a few million people. It's in the mountains. It's basically locked up between China and Russia. So geopolitically, it doesn't have a lot of importance. It's mostly aligned with Kazakhstan next door, but still it is one more place there's just an awful lot of tension in the former Soviet Union, Russian country neighbors that the Russians think they should have the most influence over, and turns out it's really hard to maintain that extended presence. They're not happy about that. The Kremlin is not.

What's the update with the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan?

Well, similarly, here's a case where you've got a country, Armenia, that had a revolution. It was peaceful. They kicked out a corrupt kleptocracy. They're now being run by a democratic government. That democratic government still very much supports the Kremlin in terms of their trade deals, in terms of their intelligence sharing, and in terms of their defense relationship, they have a defense pact, to defend each other if one is invaded. Obviously, it's pretty asymmetrical because Armenia is all of five million people and landlocked, but nonetheless, didn't change that.

But the Russians aren't as happy be about the Armenians because the Russians see that Armenia is going its own way. It's more interested in civil society and Russia obviously is not. And so now for over a week, the Russians have been pretty much standing on the sidelines while there's been fairly significant attacks into mountainous Nagorno-Karabakh, an area that's overwhelmingly populated by Armenians, but that was historically part of the Azerbaijan Republic and the Azeris claim it as their territory.

There are ongoing negotiations, it's disputed territory, but it is now a military fight. Everyone's calling for ceasefire, except for Turkey, supporting Azerbaijan. And that's really kind of unfortunate because the Turks have a lot of military capacity, the Azeris have increased their military capacity, and the Armenians right now at least are pretty much all by themselves. So, brings back these historical concerns of genocide, which the Turks committed against the Armenian people some hundred years ago, and which the Turkish government has never admitted to. This has the potential to get a lot worse. And the news is between hundreds and even thousands dead on both sides at this point, and not getting much coverage at all here in the United States.

Okay. Final question. Will Trump change his views on COVID after contracting the virus?

Not at all. If anything, I mean, in Brazil after Bolsonaro contracted the virus, he said, "It's just a little flu. It's not a big deal." He was saying that before. In the United States, if anything, Trump is saying, actually this is, he's doubling down. He's saying, "I feel better than I did 20 years ago. I defeated the virus." I mean, I think it's very clear that within a week, Trump will be back, not only does he want to go to the debates, but he wants to be back on the campaign trail, and he wants to be back on the trail not wearing a mask, back on the trail with large masses, live, indoors. And we'll see. I mean, of course there'll be incredible outcry from people that can't stand Trump, but that's not new. I mean, as long as the two sides are completely in different information and media spheres, I think that this Trump strategy is not going to change.

The problem for Trump is that he's not getting an electoral college majority that way. He's actually dropped a point, two points, in key swing states over the last week. It's still early. We still need a lot of polls to come out to see how his handling of coronavirus is affecting the polls. But in Brazil they only picked up Bolsonaro a month later because the Brazilian population was having less of a hard time from coronavirus. In the United States those numbers still are persisting. They're not softening anywhere near what people would want them to. And it's going to be hard for them because Trump himself is not leaning into policies that would make that so. So what does it mean? It means his attitude is absolutely not changing and we've got four more weeks of everyone pulling their hair out in both sides of the political spectrum.

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The European Union is, for better or worse, the most ambitious experiment in human history in institutionalized multinational cooperation. Its success depends on the willingness of its members to abide by its rules.

In recent years, the populist-nationalist governments of former Communist bloc members Hungary and Poland have flouted some of those rules in order to boost their own popularity with citizens suspicious of the EU's liberal values on issues like immigration and minority rights. In response, the EU has scolded these "illiberal" governments and threatened forceful action – so far without much effect.

The fight between EU institutions and Poland and Hungary has escalated.

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Some of the worst sectarian clashes since Lebanon's 15-year civil war (1975-1990) broke out in Beirut this week between supporters of Hezbollah and Amal, both Shiite political parties, and Christian, far-right Lebanese Forces. Shiite protesters were rallying against the state probe into the Beirut port blast, which occurred last year. They say authorities were singling out Shiite politicians for questioning and blame. Below is our original piece on the Beirut port explosions published on August 5, 2020.


The twin explosions at Beirut's port on Tuesday were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

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Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, shares insights on US politics:

What does it actually mean to cut $1 trillion from the Democrats' $3.5 trillion social spending bill?

President Biden has proposed one of the most ambitious expansions of federal spending in recent memory. If he gets everything he wants, it would probably be the largest expansion of government since the Great Society, but he's not going to get everything he wants. Democrats have basically said they cannot do all $3.5 trillion in spending. They're probably going to end up around $2 trillion. So what gets cut? Well, we don't know yet. There's kind of two ways to go about this. They could either cut the number of programs that have been proposed, doing fewer things with more money on a permanent basis, or they could try to do more things, each program getting less money and potentially doing them on a temporary basis. So, a future Congress would have to extend it. What does this mean for you? Well, a lot of the money in here is designed to go directly to families, either in the form of cash payments, through the tax code, the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, or subsidies for things like child care, early childhood education, and community college. And if you cut these things back, it means less money is going to go out the door to the American people. It also means less tax increases to finance it. So the implications of what's being proposed could actually end up being a big deal for a lot of Americans who would qualify for benefits under these new programs.

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How will artificial intelligence change the world and especially the job market by 2041? AI scientist Kai-fu Lee just wrote a book about precisely that, and he predicts it'll shake up almost every major industry. AI, he explains, will be most disruptive to many so-called "routine" occupations, but the damage may be reduced by shifting "empathetic" workers to jobs that require human empathy. Watch his interview on GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

Watch this episode of GZERO World with Ian Bremmer: Is a robot coming for your job? Kai-fu Lee explains AI

The Atlantic CEO Nick Thompson believes in tech firms doing business in China because connecting with people there is a huge social good for the world. But in demanding LinkedIn de-platform certain people, he says, the Chinese government crossed a line, and "you can't justify that."

Watch Ian Bremmer's interview with Nicholas Thompson in an upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television.

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35.4: The US has overtaken China as the country with the largest share of the world's Bitcoin mining networks, now accounting for 35.4 of the global mining presence. This comes after the Chinese government banned domestic cryptocurrency mining operations to promote its own digital yuan that would track every single transaction.

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