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What We're Watching: Orbán demands an apology, India and China escalate, UN Security Council membership change

What We're Watching: Orbán demands an apology, India and China escalate, UN Security Council membership change

Will Orbán loosen the reins? Back in March, Hungary's strongman prime minister Viktor Orbán irked the European Union when he used the coronavirus crisis to push through an emergency law that opened the way for him to rule by decree indefinitely. Critics saw the move – which granted Orbán unchecked power to suspend parliament, cancel elections, and jail people for five years if they spread misinformation about the pandemic – as evidence of Orbán's avowedly "illiberal" impulses. But with the outbreak on the wane in Hungary, the legislature – which Orbán's Fidesz party controls – has scrapped emergency decree. Orbán says that Brussels' opprobrium was unjustified – and called on both the EU and the "fake news" media to issue an apology. But there is in fact proof that Orbán's party used the emergency situation to legislate on issues that have nothing to do with the COVID crisis. Crucially, rights groups say that the government used the parliamentary hiatus to limit the rights of transgender people, as well as to stash documents related to a secret development project with China.


Sticks and stones will break my...border: As many as 20 Indian soldiers died on Tuesday in a snowy skirmish with the Chinese military in a contested part of the Himalayan Galwan Valley. Although no shots were fired – the brawl involved rocks and sticks – it's the most deadly border clash between the two nuclear armed Asian powers since 1967. Indian and Chinese troops have been facing off regularly for weeks now in a high-altitude game of cat-and-mouse with no immediate end in sight. Even neighboring Nepal has been drawn into the conflict over a new official map issued by Kathmandu that Delhi suspects Beijing helped redraw. China is unhappy about recent Indian infrastructure development in the region, including a road leading to an airport in Galwan which India argues is on its side of the Line of Control. The two old rivals already fought one brief war over the area in 1962 (China won). Military officials from both sides are meeting to de-escalate the situation.

UNSC campaign season: The race is on to secure the non-permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council now up for grabs. The UNSC, which has the power to authorize peacekeeping and impose sanctions, has five permanent members and ten non-permanent seats – five of which are elected each year by the full General Assembly. The seats are apportioned to specific geographic regions. Norway, Ireland and Canada are all the frontrunners for one of the seats. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has actively lobbied the Council's permanent representatives ahead of Wednesday's vote, while Ireland gave the World Health Organization, a UN body, a $10 million "gift," quadrupling its usual contribution. As the sole candidates in their respective categories, India and Mexico are all but guaranteed to pick up seats, while Kenya and Djibouti are battling it out for one seat designated for Africa.

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