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What We're Watching: Trump and the Uighurs, Maduro tightens his grip, George Floyd's impact in Indonesia

What We're Watching: Trump and the Uighurs, Maduro tightens his grip, George Floyd's impact in Indonesia

Does Trump support the Uighurs or not? President Trump signed a law Wednesday that would allow the United States to sanction Chinese officials involved in the detainment of that country's Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang province, a scheme long deemed to be a gross human rights violation by the United Nations. More than one million Uighurs are believed to have been locked up since 2017 as part of what Beijing describes as a benign "deradicalization campaign," but is widely believed to be a network of internment camps where minorities are held indefinitely without trial. President Trump said the measure is proof that his administration is "tough on China", and Chinese leaders have vowed retaliation. But the signing came on the same day as fresh allegations from former national security adviser John Bolton that Trump had at one point given the green light to Chinese President Xi Jinping to build the Uighur camps and asked for help with his own re-election campaign. The Trump administration says Bolton's claims, which are difficult to prove, are the lies of a "sick puppy."


Maduro tightens the noose around the opposition: It's been well over a year now since most of the world's democracies recognized Venezuelan National Assembly speaker Juan Guaidó as "interim president." But despite that slight, and a deepening social and economic crisis, strongman president Nicolas Maduro remains firmly in power, while Guaidó seems more and more like a spent force. Now Maduro is laying the groundwork to undercut Guaidó further after a Supreme Court packed with regime cronies replaced the heads of two major opposition parties this week, placing them under the control of figures loyal to Maduro. While Guaidó's own party isn't affected, the two parties in question control nearly a third of the National Assembly seats, a major reason why the body remains the only branch of government that is not under Maduro's control. Taken together with last week's move to seat a new electoral commission under the control of Maduro loyalists, it looks like the regime wants to make it nearly impossible for the opposition to keep control over the Assembly in elections that are to be scheduled later this year. Both the US and EU — which recognize Guaidó as the country's legitimate interim president — have condemned the moves, but what are they prepared to do about it?

George Floyd's impact on a verdict in Indonesia: US protests against police brutality and racism have reverberated around the world in many ways, but did they even echo into an Indonesian courtroom? A leader of the decades-old movement for Papuan independence and one of the "Balikpapan Seven" was found guilty of treason this week, for leading 2019 rallies in response to a viral video of Indonesian police using racial slurs against ethnic West Papuan students. But the sentence was only 11 months behind bars, much less than the 17 years demanded by the prosecution. According to one Papuan activist — who spent over 10 years in prison for waving the (banned) Morning Star flag — the judge was influenced by the global anti-racism protests sparked by George Floyd's death.

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?

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