What We're Watching: Putin recruits Maduro, Lebanon's new prime minister, Rwandan "hero" arrested

What We're Watching: Putin recruits Maduro, Lebanon's new prime minister, Rwandan "hero" arrested

Caracas looks for volunteers to test Russian vaccine: Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro is looking to recruit volunteers to test Russia's controversial COVID-19 vaccine. The Venezuelan government, which relies on billions of dollars in loans from the Kremlin, says it will take part in Russia's clinical trial despite the fact that the drug has been broadly criticized by the scientific community for not going through adequate phases of testing to ensure its safety and utility. After announcing in late August that he would offer up some 500 Venezuelan volunteers to participate in the drug trial, Maduro, whose government has been increasingly isolated after dozens of countries recognized Juan Guaidó as the country's legitimate leader in 2019, was scrambling on Monday to recruit enough guinea pigs to avoid disappointing Vladimir Putin, one of his (very) few remaining allies. Maduro also said he would be first in line to take the Russian drug when mass vaccinations start in October. We'll be watching to see if he keeps his pledge.


Lebanon has (another) new prime minister: A month after deadly explosions at a Beirut port killed nearly 200 people and turned the spotlight again on Lebanon's dysfunctional and corrupt government, Mustapha Adib, Lebanon's ambassador to Germany, has been appointed as the country's new prime minister. Adib, who belongs to a small Sunni political faction, has received widespread support in his new role, including from the Hezbollah militant group, an Iran-backed Shiite bloc, as well as former Prime Minister Saad Hariri. Once Adib has formed a government, he'll try urgently to reform its bloated and corrupt public sector, he says. Meanwhile, France's President Emmanuel Macron arrived in Beirut on Monday — his second visit in less than a month — to add pressure on the political class to enact structural reforms that will open the door to financial aid from the International Monetary Fund and other international donors. So far, Lebanon's political elite has largely dismissed protests demanding change to focus instead on maintaining its grip on power.

Hotel Rwanda "hero" in cuffs: Many people became familiar with the name Paul Rusesabagina after he was portrayed by actor Don Cheadle in the 2004 film "Hotel Rwanda." Rusesabagina was arrested this week on charges of terrorism, arson, kidnapping and murder. Rusesabagina, a former hotel manager who used his influence and resourcefulness to save the lives of hundreds of Rwandans seeking safety from murderous mobs during the 1994 genocide which killed hundreds of thousands, has long been at odds with Rwanda's President Paul Kagame, who accuses Rusesabagina of being a "manufactured hero" and of coordinating a string of attacks by rebel groups in southern Rwanda. Rusesabagina and his supporters say the charges are retaliation against his public criticism of Kagame, who has long been accused of stifling the media and cracking down on dissent.

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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For many, Paul Rusesabagina became a household name after the release of the 2004 tear-jerker film Hotel Rwanda, which was set during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Rusesabagina, who used his influence as a hotel manager to save the lives of more than 1,000 Rwandans, has again made headlines in recent weeks after he was reportedly duped into boarding a flight to Kigali, Rwanda's capital, where he was promptly arrested on terrorism, arson, kidnapping and murder charges. Rusesabagina's supporters say he is innocent and that the move is retaliation against the former "hero" for his public criticism of President Paul Kagame, who has ruled the country with a strong hand since ending the civil war in the mid 1990s.

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From climate change to connecting more people to the Internet, big companies like Microsoft are seeing an increasing role within multilateral organizations like the UN and the World Health Organization. John Frank, Microsoft's VP of UN Affairs, explains the contributions tech companies and other multinational corporations are making globally during this time of crisis and challenge.

7: Among the 10 nations showing the highest COVID-19 death rates per 100,000 people, seven are in Latin America. Weak health systems, frail leadership, and the inability of millions of working poor to do their daily jobs remotely have contributed to the regional crisis. Peru tops the global list with nearly 100 fatalities per 100,000 people. Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Colombia are also in the top 10.

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