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What We're Watching: Panama’s Election and A Fresh Old Face in Argentina

Panama's election – On Sunday, voters in Panama will head to the polls to choose a new president. Corruption looms large in the first election since the 2016 release of the Panama Papers exposed the involvement of Panamanian banks and politicians in money laundering and transnational kickback schemes. But one conspicuously absent issue is: China. Panama and Beijing have become a lot closer in recent years, in part because of the Central American nation's critical position in global trade (the canal, yes). We're watching to see not only who wins the election, but how the next president balances between Panama's traditional allies in Washington and a more assertive China.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner's poll numbers – Things just keep getting worse for Argentine President Mauricio Macri. A business-friendly centrist who rose to power in 2015, Mr. Macri is expected to seek reelection in October. But the economy is collapsing around him and now polls show that his likely opponent, former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, would beat him in a head-to-head runoff by a whopping 9 points. That's true even though Ms. Kirchner favors a return to questionable protectionist policies and currently faces charges for bribery, embezzlement, and money laundering.

What We're Ignoring: King Thai's the Knot and A War on Weekends

A royal wedding in Thailand – Thai King in Waiting Maha Vajiralongkorn announced this week that he's gotten married, just days before his long-awaited coronation. The lucky bride is Suthida Tidjai, a former flight attendant promoted to a position within the royal guard and given a generalship in the Thai military. We are ignoring this because, for one thing, she is Vajiralongkorn's fourth wife (watch out Larry King!), but mainly because the bigger story in Thailand is that social tensions are still high following elections in which the military junta that runs the country is accused of rigging the vote. Monarchic nuptials seem like a distraction.

Italy's War on the War on Weekends – The populist coalition of Lega and the Five Star Movement is now debating a measure that would force stores to close on Sundays, in order to get Italians to spend more time in church and with their families. We are ignoring this, because for one thing, anyone who has spent time in Italy knows that Italian shopkeepers are perfectly capable of making themselves scarce on Sunday without a formal law. But more importantly, the measure could cost some 2 billion euros in tax revenue and imperil 150,000 jobs.

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