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What We're Watching & What We're Ignoring

Ukraine and Russia – In October, the Orthodox Christian Church patriarch in Istanbul announced he would recognize a new Ukrainian church that's independent of Russia. This news has triggered intense debate within the Ukrainian church and angered the Kremlin.


Tomorrow, Ukrainian religious leaders are set to hold a "unification assembly" to establish the new church and choose its leader. Watch for provocations, even confrontation, in coming days between Russia and Ukraine in breakaway regions of Ukraine and in the Black Sea.

A "Cyber-attack" on China – Despite encouraging signs of compromise in the US-China trade war, we're watching for a possible US escalation against suspected Chinese hacking after revelations of a massive Beijing-sponsored infiltration of the US hotel chain Marriott. In coming days, the US may claim China has violated the cyber-espionage agreement Chinese President Xi Jinping made with former president Barack Obama. That might lead to an indictment of hackers accused of working for Chinese security services, a significant escalation in the broader US-China standoff over cyber-security.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

Russian Robots – During its coverage of a technology forum held each year to celebrate "future intellectual leaders of Russia," a Russian state television channel praised the highly modern design of "Robot Boris," which demonstrated a few interesting dance moves in front of a live audience and bragged that it "knows mathematics well." Turns out "Robot Boris" was a guy in a robot suit.

Chicken logs – On Thursday, US fast-food chain KFC announced the grand unveiling of the "KFC 11 Herbs and Spices firelog." Light this thing up, and it smells like fried chicken. Reaction in our office ranged from "Where can I get one?" to "That's the most disgusting thing I've ever heard." Your Friday author considers this "firelog" an affront to human dignity, but I'm ignoring this debate because my time is better spent watching for fake robots and trying to figure out Brexit.

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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GZEROMEDIA

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream