WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Germany’s SPD – Following another local election result that underlines fast-falling support for Germany’s lead center-left party, debate has begun again among some SPD leaders about whether to quit the grand coalition government in which they currently support Chancellor Angela Merkel’s center-right CDU. That move would very likely force Merkel from power and bring early elections. The predicament for the SPD: It’s easier to regain popularity in opposition than as junior member of government, but true revival will depend on making a credible case for policies that will excite voters. Wounded center-left parties across Europe will be interested to see what the SPD can come up with.


South Sudan – On Wednesday, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir unveiled a deal he says will end a five-year civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people. The agreement would allow rebel groups to share power with the government. It remains unclear why Kiir believes this deal will succeed where similar deals in the past have failed.

Iran sanctions – Next Monday, the US will reimpose sanctions on Iran’s oil industry. We’re watching not for Iran’s initial reaction, which will be defiant, but for how Iran continues to build constructive relations with other governments to minimize fallout from US action—and how those governments respond to US threats.

Stray Cats living in Portuguese Washing Machines – Because it’s Friday.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

High-minded Wrestlers – When World Wrestling Entertainment kicks off its “Crown Jewel” event at the King Saud University Stadium in Riyadh later today, two of the organization’s marquee performers won’t be there. Wrestlers John Cena and Daniel Bryan are reportedly boycotting the event to protest the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

Contradictory Polling Clues – A new Harvard University survey suggests Americans aged 18-29 are likely to vote in much higher numbers in next week’s midterm elections than the same age group did in 2010 or 2014. Some 40 percent said they will “definitely vote.” Meanwhile, a new PRRI/The Atlantic survey found “little evidence that younger Americans will turn out at historic rates.” Just 35 percent of Americans aged 18-29, compared to 81 percent of seniors (ages 65+) and 55 percent of all Americans, say they’re certain to vote.

A Spectacularly Dumb Dirty Trick – An amateurish attempt to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller unraveled quickly this week. You can read the details here. The FBI is now investigating.

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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