Watching and Ignoring

What We're Watching

Mexico — If Mexico elects Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) president on July 1, it will mark a sharp break from center-right dominance of the country’s politics of the past 30 years. Unless there’s a deal before July, an AMLO win would complicate the effort to renegotiate NAFTA. It would speed the deterioration of US-Mexican relations, already accelerated by President Donald Trump. AMLO is clearly the frontrunner, and his main challengers, Jose Antonio Meade from the ruling PRI and Ricardo Anaya, representing a centrist alliance, are attacking each other rather than forming a unified front to take on Lopez Obrador. The formal campaign begins on March 31.


Egypt’s ridiculous election — How ridiculous is next month’s presidential election in Egypt? The incumbent, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, faces one challenger — a man who has campaigned for Sisi in the past. Other candidates — a former prime minister, a military colonel, a human rights lawyer, and former president Anwar Sadat’s nephew — have all been harassed off the ballot. Fourteen international and Egyptian rights groups, including Human Rights Watch and the International Commission of Jurists have issued a statement that accuses Sisi of having “trampled over even the minimum requirements for free and fair elections” and calling on the US and EU to “speak out publicly now to denounce these farcical elections, rather than continue with largely unquestioning support for a government presiding over the country’s worst human rights crisis in decades.”

Atomic lizards — An advisor to Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei announced during a press conference on Tuesday that Western nations were using lizards to spy on Iran’s nuclear program. Because lizards “attract atomic waves.” Is this possible? I really don’t know. I suppose that if the Israelis can use vulturesdolphinsstorks and squirrels, then anything is possible.

What We're Ignoring

Barack Obama’s official portrait — Your Friday author is no art critic, and Kehinde Wiley is a highly respected artist. Still, on behalf of Philistines everywhere, I have to ask: Why is Obama sitting in the bushes?

The Riyadh Ritz Carlton — This five-star hotel has reopened its doors to paying customers after pulling double-duty as a high-class prison. We’re sure it’s a nice hotel, but it was much more interesting when it had 200 princes, government ministers and businessmen camped out in it. #YouCanCheckOutAnyTimeYouLike

The Robot Winter Olympics — Apparently, there is a “Robot Winter Olympics.” We don’t care. We only watch the Games for the human-interest stories. Except for Kevin. Kevin watches the robots so they don’t watch us.

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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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.

GZERO Media caught up with Japan's Permanent Representative to the UN Kimihiro Ishikane during the 2020 UN General Assembly. In an interview with Eurasia Group Vice Chairman Gerald Butts, Ishikane talked about pandemic response, and how it has impacted the broader picture of US-China relations. Regarding a global fissure potentially caused by the world's two biggest economies, Ishikane said: "China is not like the former Soviet Union. Our system is completely intertwined, and I don't think we can completely decouple our economy and neither is that desirable." He also discussed the legacy of Shinzo Abe, Japan's longest-serving prime minister, who stepped down recently due to health complications.

The world's two biggest economic powers threaten to create a "big rupture" in geopolitics, but "we are not there yet," UN Secretary-General António Guterres tells Ian Bremmer. In an interview for GZERO World, the leader of the world's best-known multilateral organization discusses the risks involved as the US and China grow further apart on key issues.

Watch the episode: UN Secretary-General António Guterres: Why we still need the United Nations

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Episode 4: The World Goes Gray

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