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On Sunday, citizens of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) will vote in a referendum on whether to change their country’s name to “Republic of North Macedonia.” The vote will draw close attention in Greece, but also in Russia and at NATO headquarters.

The background: When Yugoslavia broke apart in the 1990s, citizens of the Yugoslav territory then known as the “Socialist Republic of Macedonia” moved to establish independence and to be known simply as “Republic of Macedonia.”

Greece strenuously objected to this move, because there is also a province in northern Greece called “Macedonia.” Both countries have laid claim to the name and an illustrious history that traces to Alexander the Great. Since then the country has been known internationally as FYROM – but  “North Macedonia” is a compromise name that the (North?) Macedonians hope the Greeks can live with.

(Side note: The land that Alexander knew as “Macedonia” included territory that today stretches across modern Greece, FYROM, and even bits of Bulgaria.)

The politics: Some 73 percent of Greeks oppose any non-Greek use of the word Macedonia—north, south, east, or west. And that matters, because FYROM wants to join the European Union and NATO. Greece, as a member of both organizations, has the power to veto FYROM’s plans. Even if FYROM votes this weekend to become North Macedonia, the Greek parliament will have a chance to vote on whether to accept or reject this change. That vote will likely be decided by a razor-thin margin.

The geopolitics: US Defense Secretary James Mattis, a man with many better-known problems to worry about, visited FYROM last week to warn that Russia is meddling in the referendum to prevent the country from joining NATO. Russia denies this charge, but evidence that Moscow intervened in the politics of Montenegro, another former Yugoslav Republic, in a failed bid to prevent that country from joining NATO last year gives the allegation some credibility.

The bottom line: It won’t be easy for FYROM to manage these tensions over its name. But there is a solution. A commenter in The Economist, writing under a pseudonym, has suggested that FYROM change its name to the “Magnificent And Celestial Eternal Democracy Of Northern Inland Areas.” This would allow the country to refer to itself by the acronym M.A.C.E.D.O.N.I.A. without having the word Macedonia appear in its name. Your Friday author wishes he’d thought of that first.

Microsoft released a new annual report, called the Digital Defense Report, covering cybersecurity trends from the past year. This report makes it clear that threat actors have rapidly increased in sophistication over the past year, using techniques that make them harder to spot and that threaten even the savviest targets. For example, nation-state actors are engaging in new reconnaissance techniques that increase their chances of compromising high-value targets, criminal groups targeting businesses have moved their infrastructure to the cloud to hide among legitimate services, and attackers have developed new ways to scour the internet for systems vulnerable to ransomware. Given the leap in attack sophistication in the past year, it is more important than ever that steps are taken to establish new rules of the road for cyberspace: that all organizations, whether government agencies or businesses, invest in people and technology to help stop attacks; and that people focus on the basics, including regular application of security updates, comprehensive backup policies, and, especially, enabling multi-factor authentication. Microsoft summarized some of the most important insights in this year's report, including related suggestions for people and businesses.

Read the whole post and report at Microsoft On The Issues.

On Tuesday night, you can finally watch Trump and Biden tangle on the debate stage. But you TOO can go head to head on debate night .. with your fellow US politics junkies.

Print out GZERO's handy debate BINGO cards and get ready to rumble. There are four different cards so that each player may have a unique board. Every time one of the candidates says one of these words or terms, X it on your card. First player to get five across wins. And if you really want to jazz it up, you can mark each of your words by taking a swig of your drink, or doing five burpees, or donating to your favorite charity or political candidate. Whatever gets you tipsy, in shape, or motivated, get the bingo cards here. It's fight night!

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GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.

The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Watch the full video above.

The enormous scale of the coronavirus pandemic was captured earlier this week as the global death toll surpassed 1 million people. As the weight of the grim milestone sunk in, the New York Times noted that COVID-19 has now killed more people this year than the scourges of HIV, malaria, influenza, and cholera — combined. While some countries like Germany and South Korea are models in how to curb the virus' spread through social distancing and mask wearing, other countries around the world have recently seen caseloads surge again, raising fears of a dreaded "second wave" of infections. Here's a look at countries where the per-capita caseload has spiked in recent days.

Donald Trump's presidency has irked a lot of people around the world. And in fairness, that's no surprise. He was elected in part to blow up long-standing assumptions about how international politics, trade, and diplomatic relations are supposed to work.

But while he has correctly identified some big challenges — adapting NATO to the 21st century, managing a more assertive China, or ending America's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — his impulsive style, along with his restrictions on trade and immigration, have alienated many world leaders. Global polls show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.

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