What We're Watching: Sudan's Generals and Northern Ireland

Sudan's Continuing Strife – The protesters weren't satisfied when Sudan's military ousted Omar Bashir after 30 years in power. Or when Bashir found himself behind bars. Nor did they return home when the generals promised a "military council" that would forge a path to civilian rule within two years. The protesters want a civilian government led by the political opposition, and they want it right now. The military has been reluctant to clear the streets, but something's got to give. This story is no longer about the fate of Bashir but the (immediate) future of Sudan.

Northern Ireland – When a masked gunman, still at large, shot and killed journalist Lyra McKee in Northern Ireland last week, it was a reminder of how fragile the peace that has prevailed there since the Good Friday agreement 21 years ago really is. It also gives grim weight to one of the most difficult Brexit questions: If a hard border must be restored between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland in order to separate the EU from the UK, might we see a return to the violence of decades past? At a time when a new generation too young to remember the Troubles or the peace agreement that ended them is becoming more active in the life of Northern Ireland, the answers to more immediate questions will offer some clues: Will the community help police find the gunman? And how will the public respond when an arrest is made?

What We're Ignoring: Yellow Vests Complaining About Notre Dame and Libertarians in Hot Water

The latest yellow vest protests – A fresh round of gilets jaunes demonstrations in Paris over the weekend featured signs like "Millions for Notre Dame, what about for us, the poor?" and "Everything for Notre Dame, nothing for Les Misérables." Members of the crowd were voicing frustration that fundraising efforts to restore Paris's partially destroyed Notre-Dame cathedral have raised over $1 billion, while their concerns have yet to be fully addressed. We're ignoring these new complaints, because French President Emmanuel Macron has already announced 10 billion euros of budget giveaways to assuage the yellow vests, and because we suspect the broader French public doesn't see support for a cultural treasure and support for the downtrodden as a zero-sum game.

Seasteaders abandoning ship – An American Bitcoin enthusiast and his girlfriend have scarpered from their home on a floating platform off the coast of Thailand after the country accused the pair of violating Thailand's national sovereignty – a crime that can lead to the death penalty. Michigan native Chad Elwartowski and his Thai companion had appeared in a video touting the virtues of "seasteading" – a movement championed by Silicon Valley types who dream of setting up sovereign floating communities where people can live free from government interference. The Thai navy ignored Elwartowski's protests that his home was located in international waters and dismantled the custom-built rig. We are ignoring seasteading, because this story shows how utopian fantasies are no match for an actual navy.

Microsoft announced earlier this year the launch of a new United Nations representation office to deepen their support for the UN's mission and work. Many of the big challenges facing society can only be addressed effectively through multi-stakeholder action. Whether it's public health, environmental sustainability, cybersecurity, terrorist content online or the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, Microsoft has found that progress requires two elements - international cooperation among governments and inclusive initiatives that bring in civil society and private sector organizations to collaborate on solutions. Microsoft provided an update on their mission, activities for the 75th UN General Assembly, and the team. To read the announcement from Microsoft's Vice President of UN Affairs, John Frank, visit Microsoft On The Issues.

Over the past eight days, the US-China relationship got notably hotter. None of the new developments detailed below is big enough by itself to kill hopes for better relations next year, but collectively they point in a dangerous direction.

US jabs over Hong Kong: On September 14, the US State Department issued a travel warning for the city because of what it calls China's "arbitrary enforcement of local laws" by police. The US is closely monitoring the case of 10 people detained by China while attempting to flee to Taiwan by boat. China's response to US criticism of its new security law in Hong Kong remains muted. That could change if relations deteriorate further.

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Trump is willing to give up Wisconsin for Belarus' democracy? When multilateralism hits the Zoom calls, we can't really tell what's real and what's not. #PUPPETREGIME

Kevin Sneader, global managing partner for McKinsey & Company, provides perspective on how the pandemic has influenced climate action:

Has the pandemic helped or harmed efforts to tackle climate change?

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In a new interview with GZERO World host Ian Bremmer, conducted on the eve of the 2020 General Assembly, UN Secretary-General António Guterres confronts the challenges of leading a multilateral organization in an increasingly nationalistic world. "I am not naïve," he tells Bremmer. "I know this is going to be a very tough ideological battle."

Watch the episode: UN Secretary-General António Guterres: Why we still need the United Nations

How has the pandemic influenced climate action?

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