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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

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