What We're Watching: French anti-racism protests, Sudan-Ethiopia border dispute, Pentagon checks Trump

French protests over racial injustice: The George Floyd protests in the United States have sparked solidarity demonstrations around the world, with people flocking to US embassies in Berlin, London and elsewhere to express their outrage. But they have also inspired other countries to reexamine racial justice within their own societies. In France, where street demonstrations are practically a national pastime, thousands of people have gathered in support of the family of Adama Traoré, a 24-year old black man who died in police custody back in 2016. At least 20,000 Parisians demonstrated Wednesday, despite coronavirus bans on public gatherings. Protesters adopted similar language to the Floyd protests, demanding accountability for the officers who violently pinned down Traoré during a dispute over an identity check, leading to his death. Renewed focus on this case, which has become a potent symbol of police brutality in France, comes as coronavirus lockdowns have recently stoked tensions between the police and the mostly-minority residents of Paris' banlieues (low-income suburbs).


Sudan's new defense minister walks into a firestorm: Sudan has sworn in a new defense minister, just days after Sudanese forces clashed with militias from neighboring Ethiopia, sparking a diplomatic standoff between the two states. The two countries have long been locked in a bitter border dispute that's given rise to sporadic bursts of violence. More than 1,700 Ethiopians live on Sudanese farmland, a source of tension that the two sides had hoped to settle as part of a border demarcation process to be completed in March 2021. But tensions have resurfaced during thorny negotiations over Ethiopia's planned construction of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The hydropower project, which would draw waters from the Nile, is largely opposed by both Egypt and Sudan, which are downstream from Addis Ababa.

The Pentagon checks Trump: President Trump has repeatedly threatened to deploy the US military to quell unrest in American cities, after 10-days of both peaceful anti-racism protests and some riots. In recent days, however, pushback against the president's proposal has come from a powerful source: the Pentagon itself. After Trump floated using the Insurrection Act, which allows the US president to use active-duty troops domestically, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper distanced himself from his boss, saying that such a move would be misguided as anything but a far-off last resort – a position also supported by the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and many of the nation's governors. Meanwhile, Esper's predecessor, retired general Jim Mattis, who has refrained from weighing in on politics since leaving the Pentagon 18-months ago, penned a searing op-ed Wednesday, where he warned that calling in US troops would cause "chaos" and accused President Trump of trying "to divide us." The ensuing debate over the army's proper role in American politics has exposed a growing rift between the White House and the Pentagon, as an increasing number of armed forces personnel accuse the president of politicizing the military.

Howard University President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick joins That Made All the Difference podcast to discuss how his career as a surgeon influenced his work as an educator, administrator and champion of underserved communities, and why he believes we may be on the cusp of the next "golden generation."

Listen to the latest podcast now.

It's been a bad week at the office for President Trump. Not only have coronavirus cases in the US been soaring, but The New York Times' bombshell report alleging that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban to kill US troops in Afghanistan has continued to make headlines. While details about the extent of the Russian bounty program — and how long it's been going on for — remain murky, President Trump now finds himself in a massive bind on this issue.

Here are three key questions to consider.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Yes, still in the middle of coronavirus, but thought I'd give you a couple of my thoughts on Russia. Part of the world that I cut my teeth on as a political scientist, way back in the eighties and nineties. And now Putin is a president for life, or at least he gets to be president until 2036, gets another couple of terms. The constitutional amendments that he reluctantly allowed to be voted on across Russia, passed easily, some 76% approval. And so now both in China and in Russia, term limits get left behind all for the good of the people, of course. So that they can have the leaders that they truly deserve. Yes, I'm being a little sarcastic here. It's sad to see. It's sad to see that the Americans won the Cold War in part, not just because we had a stronger economy and a stronger military, but actually because our ideas were better.

Because when those living in the former Soviet Union and the Eastern Block looked at the West, and looked at the United States, they saw that our liberties, they saw that our economy, was something that they aspired to and was actually a much better way of giving opportunities to the average citizen, than their own system afforded. And that helped them to rise up against it.

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Jon Lieber, managing director for the United States at Eurasia Group, provides his perspective on US politics:

How likely is bipartisan action against Russia in light of Taliban bounty reports?

I think it's probably unlikely. One of the challenges here is that there's some conflict of the intelligence and anything that touches on the issue of President Trump and Russia is extremely toxic for him. Republicans have so far been tolerant of that and willing to stop any new sanctions coming. I think unless the political situation or the allegations get much worse or more obvious, that stalemate probably remains.

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When hundreds of thousands of protesters in Ethiopia brought sweeping change to their government in 2018, many of them were blaring the music of one man: a popular young activist named Hachalu Hundessa, who sang songs calling for the liberation and empowerment of the Oromo, the country's largest ethnic group.

Earlier this week, the 34-year old Hundessa was gunned down in the country's capital, Addis Ababa.

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