WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Trump’s phone calls – So… Russian and Chinese spies are listening in on phone calls from the president of the United States because he refuses to stop using his personal phone? Sounds like a story we’ll be hearing more about. President Trump has dismissed the report as “wrong,” “long,” and “boring.”


Cameroon corruption – Earlier this week, Clement Atangana, president of Cameroon’s Constitutional Council, announced his finding that President Paul Biya, in power since 1982, had won a seventh term as president and that opposition charges of fraud were without grounds. Later in the week, Cameroon’s government issued a public tender for construction of a $475,000 house for Mr. Atangana. Your Friday author is sure this is just a crazy coincidence, but we’ll keep watching just in case.

Ethiopia’s First Female President – Ethiopia’s parliament has appointed Sahle-Work Zewde to be the country’s first female head of state. The post of president is ceremonial in Ethiopia; real power lies with the prime minister. But Zewde insists this is still an important moment for her country. “In a patriarchal society such as ours, the appointment of a female head of state not only sets the standard for the future but also normalizes women as decision-makers in public life.” For the moment, she is Africa’s only female head of state.

Us vs Them: The American Gender Edition – A new poll on US midterm elections from Quinnipiac University found that Democrats lead among women on a generic congressional ballot by a margin of 58 percent to 33 percent, and that Republicans lead among men by 50 percent to 42 percent. If the election results match this poll, this will be the largest gender gap in US midterm elections in 60 years.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Death comes to Russia – Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin warned that any foe who launched a nuclear war on Russia would “drop dead without time to repent” while Russians would accept death and “go to heaven as martyrs.” This week, a man dressed as the grim reaper roamed the streets of the Siberian city of Kurgan to ask passersby which of these two options they would personally prefer. Results were inconclusive. Death has reportedly appeared in Kurgan before to protest “alcoholism, poor highway maintenance, and swimming in dangerous waters.”

Lurking saints – A Catholic Evangelical group has created a game called “Follow JC Go!” an imitation of Pokémon Go that lets players finds saints or Bible characters instead of little green monsters. Players can also raise their scores by collecting virtual water, food and "spirituality.”

Egypt Expels Mickey and Donald – Last month, a province north of Cairo announced a plan to remove Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck from classroom walls in favor of art depicting Egyptian “military martyrs.” Your Friday author is fine with this, because he much prefers Bugs Bunny to Mickey and Daffy Duck to Donald—and has no opinion on Egyptian military martyrs.

Complaints about clever dogs – Someone called Betsy Reyes of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma claims to have photographic evidence that her dog, Princess, is pretending to be a stray to persuade the night crew at a local McDonald’s restaurant to give her food. “If you see my dog @ the McDonald's on shields, quit feeding her fat ass bc she don't know how to act … She's not even a stray dog.” wrote Reyes. We’re ignoring you, Betsy, and we hope McDonalds will too, because we think canine initiative and ingenuity should be rewarded. #I’mLovingIt

The world is at a turning point. Help shape our future by taking this one-minute survey from the United Nations. To mark its 75th anniversary, the UN is capturing people's priorities for the future, and crowdsourcing solutions to global challenges. The results will shape the UN's work to recover better from COVID-19, and ensure its plans reflect the views of the global public. Take the survey here.

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. To understand what that means for the country's politics and public health policy, GZERO sat down with Christopher Garman, top Brazil expert at our parent company, Eurasia Group. The exchange has been lightly edited for clarity and concision.

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The Trump administration sent shockwaves through universities this week when it announced that international students in the US could be forced to return to their home countries if courses are not held in classrooms this fall. Around 1 million foreign students are now in limbo as they wait for institutions to formalize plans for the upcoming semester. But it's not only foreign students themselves who stand to lose out: International students infuse cash into American universities and contributed around $41 billion to the US economy in the 2018-19 academic year. So, where do most of these foreign students come from? We take a look here.

For years, the Philippines has struggled with domestic terrorism. Last Friday, Rodrigo Duterte signed into law a sweeping new anti-terror bill that has the opposition on edge, as the tough-talking president gears up to make broader constitutional changes. Here's a look at what the law does, and what it means for the country less than two years away from the next presidential election.

The legislation grants authorities broad powers to prosecute domestic terrorism, including arrests without a warrant and up to 24 days detention without charges. It also carries harsh penalties for those convicted of terror-related offenses, with a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Simply threatening to commit an act of terror on social media can now be punished with 12 years behind bars.

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16,000: Amid a deepening economic crisis in Lebanon that has wiped out people's savings and cratered the value of the currency, more than 16,000 people have joined a new Facebook group that enables people to secure staple goods and food through barter.

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