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What We’re Watching: Brazilian women footballers get equal pay, WHO probes itself, US cuts Ethiopia aid

The Brazilian women's national football team during a friendly game with England in Middlesbrough, UK.

Equal pay for Brazilian women footballers: In a major step towards greater gender equality in sport, Brazil's football association announced that women playing for the national football team will get paid the same as the members of the men's squad. Brazil — where football is a national religion and whose male team has won the World Cup five times, more than any other nation — follows women's national football team players winning the right to equal pay with their male counterparts in Australia, Norway, New Zealand and the UK. Last May, a federal judge in the US dismissed a lawsuit brought by the women's national soccer team demanding equal pay for their squad, but its members — led by star player and Donald Trump nemesis Megan Rapinoe — have vowed to go all the way to the Supreme Court. The fight continues despite the fact that the US women's team is way more successful than the men's squad, and won the 2019 World Cup.

Probing WHO's COVID response: After months of finger-pointing, an independent panel has finally been put into motion to investigate the World Health Organization's response to the coronavirus pandemic. The panel will be led by former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark. The two women tapped the other members of the 11-person panel, which includes Britain's former foreign secretary David Miliband and Zhong Nanshan, a Chinese doctor who was the first to publicly confirm human-to-human transmission of COVID-19. The panel, financed by the WHO, will reportedly have access to all of its internal communications, and will seek to unpack how the WHO went about coordinating a global response to COVID-19. Many heads of state — chief among them US President Donald Trump — have strongly criticized the WHO for its crisis response, particularly being too deferential to China when the virus first emerged late last year (the WHO chief praised Beijing in public even when proof of a Chinese government cover-up was fast emerging). The panel will present its findings to the WHO's executive board in October 2021.

Trump cuts off Ethiopia over dam: The US has suspended millions of dollars in financial aid to Ethiopia after Addis Ababa decided to start filling the controversial Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the Upper Nile river without first reaching an agreement with Egypt and Sudan. The US State Department said the decision was based on "guidance" from President Donald Trump, who may have been inclined to place punitive measures on Addis Ababa because of his close ties to Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Egypt's strongman leader. Talks between the three countries over the dam have stalled because of enduring disagreements: Ethiopia says it needs the dam to generate electricity, but Egypt and Sudan claim it is illegal under colonial-era water sharing agreements and warn it will dry up the Nile for Egyptian and Sudanese farmers. Earlier US mediation efforts failed after Addis Ababa blasted the Trump administration for siding with its ally in Cairo.

Bank of America's $25 million jobs initiative provides Black and Hispanic-Latino individuals access to skills and training needed for jobs of the future. Learn more about the initiative, which involves partnerships with 21 community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on US politics:

Is Trump out of options now that William Barr said the DOJ found no election interference?

Trump's problem isn't William Barr not finding election interference, it's that he lost the election and he lost it by millions of votes, and he lost it in the most important key states by tens of thousands of votes. Now, this was a very close election. The three closest states, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona, Trump only lost by 44,000 votes so far, and if he'd ended up winning those three, we'd have an Electoral College tie. But the election was not close enough that Trump's strategy of trying to kick this to the courts and then getting it to go all the way to the Congress, with an alternate slate of electors, it just wasn't possible. Had the election been a little closer, he might've had a shot. But as it is, his chances are over. Joe Biden's going to be inaugurated on January 20th.

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Listen: Benjamin Franklin famously called on American business leaders more than two centuries ago to "Do well by doing good." To him, that meant creating companies that were not just about the bottom line, but also that helped foster happier and healthier communities. Now, as 2021 approaches and the world recovers from the greatest crisis of our lifetimes, sustainable investing is a bigger discussion than ever. What does it mean, and how does it not only help the environment and societies but also build your bottom line? That's the topic of the latest episode of Living Beyond Borders.

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Iran's nuclear tug-of-war: Hardliners in Iran's parliament passed a bill Tuesday suspending UN inspections of its nuclear sites and giving the go-ahead to massively increase uranium enrichment unless the US lifts its sanctions by February. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani opposes the measure, saying it would be "harmful" to diplomatic efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the incoming Biden administration in the US. But Iran's parliament doesn't actually need Rouhani's approval to pass the law, and regardless, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will have the final say on policy – as always! If the law is passed, it will immediately raise the stakes for Biden, who takes office on January 20. Both he and Rouhani say they are keen to resume dialogue in hopes of reviving the nuclear deal, which President Trump walked out of in 2018. But just days after the architect of Iran's nuclear program was assassinated (likely by Israel with the US' blessing) the hurdles to even beginning those talks are rising fast.

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET


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Episode 9: Can sustainable investing save our planet?

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