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What We Are Watching & What We Are Ignoring

WHAT WE'RE WATCHING

Brazil's president-elect vs a jaguar – Just three weeks before he takes office, Jair Bolsonaro is facing a corruption scandal. It seems that while his son Flavio Bolsonaro was a state lawmaker, his personal driver's bank account swelled into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. What's more, the driver evidently made a transfer directly to Jair Bolsonaro's wife.


The senior Bolsonaro says the payments discovered by a local Rio anti-corruption investigation amazingly named "The Jaguar's Cave" – was simply repayment for a loan. Whether there is more to the story remains to be seen, but even a whiff of corruption is a bad vibe for Bolsonaro. Back in October, millions of Brazilians were willing to overlook his (extremely) divisive rhetoric because they saw him as a fitting rebuke to a corrupted political elite. As he prepares to take power, can he and his sons – all of whom are politicians as well – walk the walk?

Migrant crisis in Bosnia – A generation ago, more than half a million people in Bosnia and Herzegovina fled their homes amid the Yugoslav civil wars. Today, the small and politically precarious Balkan country is struggling with its own influx of people in need. More than 20,000 migrants and asylum seekers from the Middle East and South Asia have officially entered Bosnia this year, hoping to make a clandestine crossing into Croatia, an EU member state. Last year the number was below 1,000, but since other routes into Europe – in particular via Serbia into Hungary – have been closed off, migrants have focused on Bosnia. Absorbing refugees can be an economic and political challenge even for the wealthiest countries, but Bosnia is already one of the poorest and most politically precarious countries in Europe. Aid from the EUand Turkey is helping, but as winter approaches, the UN has warned that a full blown humanitarian crisis could soon emerge.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

The Trump/Pelosi/Schumer meeting – Later today, President Trump, incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer will meet to discuss a potential deal to avert a partial government shutdown before Christmas. In the past, Democrats offered $25 billion for the president's border wall in exchange for protection for 1.7 million young undocumented immigrants who face deportation. Trump agreed, then changed his mind. With Democrats now set to control the House, and Democratic voters who don't want any compromise with Trump, Pelosi and Schumer have much less reason to meet Trump halfway. We'd ignore this meeting and focus on the likelihood of a shutdown – if you want to visit a US national park with the family this holiday season, do it now!

The forced exile of 5,000 Spanish pigeons Officials in the Andalusian port city of Cadiz are preparing to trap and relocate some 5,000 pigeons whose appetites and droppings are, local hoteliers say, scaring off tourists. The great pigeon deportation, which is to take place next year, is a more humane way to deal with the birds than poisoning them, for sure. And the hope is that they'll happily adapt to their new homes somewhere in eastern Spain. We are ignoring this because we think the birds are smart enough to find their way back to their seaside haunts in Cadiz. After all, Spain has a long and illustrious history with homing pigeons.

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