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What We're Watching &What We're Ignoring


DRC ELECTION DRAMA Opposition leader Martin Fayulu has, with the support of the local Catholic church and several Western governments, appealed to the country's Constitutional Court to nullify the official results of the 30 December election, which authorities say was won by Felix Tshisekedi, another opposition figure. The court could confirm the results, order a recount, or order new elections. Aside from the dangers of further political upheaval in a country long wracked by instability, global health experts are worried that the election uncertainty will complicate efforts to fight a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus.

Canada vs China – Relations between China and Canada took a turn for the worse yesterday after a Chinese court sentenced a Canadian man to death for attempting to smuggle drugs out of China. The verdict hastily handed down on Robert Schellenberg comes against the backdrop of Canada's arrest in December of Meng Wanzhou, a top executive of Chinese technology giant Huawei at the request of the US. With Ms. Meng now out on bail awaiting an extradition hearing, the families of Mr. Schellenberg and two other Canadian citizens detained by China fear that these men could be become pawns in a broader diplomatic fight between China and the West. Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has no good options – any hint of clemency to Ms. Meng, who was arrested at the request of the US, risks infuriating Washington. But can he stand by as China executes one of his citizens?


Questions about whether Donald Trump "worked for Russia" – The New York Times and Washington Post have recently published stories that say, respectively, that the FBI last year looked into whether the US President was doing Moscow's bidding, and that Mr. Trump had sought to conceal the US translator's notes from his one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki. In the days since, journalists have been asking Mr. Trump if he "worked for Russia." After initially skirting the question on FOX, he flatly denied the allegation to the White House press corps. We are ignoring this question, as well as Mr. Trump's answers, and waiting for the findings of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation.

Justin Trudeau's Afghan doppelgänger – Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a man of many talents. He explains quantum physics. He boxes. He dances to Bhangra music in India. He runs a country so nice it's almost worthy of parody. But wait, does he also sing in fluent Dari and Pashto on television in Afghanistan? We too were fooled for a second when we saw the lyrical stylings of Afghan wedding singer Salam Maftoon, who bears an uncanny (like, really really crazy) resemblance to Mr. Trudeau. Attention to Mr. Maftoon's Trudeau-likeness has evidently boosted his chances of winning a popular TV singing contest, Afghan Star, by "50 percent." As an increasingly embattled Trudeau heads into elections later this year, he'd presumably be grateful for anything Mr. Maftoon can do to return the favor. But we are ignoring this because there is already a life-sized Justin Trudeau cutout, for whatever reason, in our office so we don't need another doppelgänger to keep track of.

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