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

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.

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