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What We're Watching: Deadly Explosion in Mexico

Deadly unintended consequences in Mexico – Earlier this month, we wrote that Mexico's new president was off to a rough start following some early policy missteps. In particular, we noted the temporary pipeline shutdown Lopez Obrador had ordered to combat gasoline theft that had triggered a severe gasoline shortage in several of Mexico's states. The unintended consequences of that mistake turned deadly last week when a pipeline exploded as hundreds of people in one town in Central Mexico tried to collect gasoline gushing from a pipeline leak. The death toll has risen to 94. We're watching closely to see how AMLO deals with the political fallout.


Huawei Yesterday, the US Department of Justice confirmed that it planned to pursue extradition of the Chinese tech giant's CFO Meng Wanzhou from Canada, where she was arrested last month at the request of US authorities. China warned that moving forward with Meng's extradition would be a "serious mistake." President Trump might prefer to cut her loose to avoid a major escalation in relations as trade negotiations continue with Beijing, but he also faces political pressure from hawks in Congress who want the administration to get tough on Huawei. It's not just the trade talks that hang in the balance – China has detained two Canadian citizens in apparent retaliation for Meng's arrest and recently sentenced a third to death in a drug smuggling case. We'll be watching how this saga unfolds ahead of a January 30 paperwork deadline.

What We're Ignoring:

New Vows, Same Old Marriage The leaders of France and Germany met in the border town of Aachen yesterday to sign a new friendship agreement on the anniversary of a similar one penned by their predecessors 56 years ago. The Treaty of Aachen aims to demonstrate unity and bolster cooperation between Europe's two powerhouses at a moment when the common bloc is struggling to deal with widespread nationalism and anti-EU sentiment. We're ignoring the story though because both Macron and Merkel remain sufficiently tied up with domestic concerns and out of step on key issues like economic and security cooperation to make this new treaty anything other than symbolic.

The growing list of Democratic presidential contenders It's not that we don't care that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, California Senator Kamala Harris, Hawaii Representative Tulsi Gabbard, and a clutch of other hopefuls have either declared themselves official candidates or launched exploratory committees for the Democratic Party's nomination in the 2020 race. But the list of contenders is bound to get longer, and we need to conserve our energy.

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.

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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Join us tomorrow at 11 am ET for a GZERO Town Hall livestream event, Ending the COVID-19 Pandemic, to learn about the latest in the global hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine.

Watch here at 11am ET: https://www.gzeromedia.com/events/town-hall-ending-the-covid-19-pandemic-livestream/

Our panel will discuss where things really stand on vaccine development, the political and economic challenges of distribution, and what societies need to be focused on until vaccine arrives in large scale. This event is the second in a series presented by GZERO Media in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group.

Apoorva Mandavilli, science & global health reporter for the New York Times, will moderate a conversation with:

  • Lynda Stuart, Deputy Director, Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director, Energy, Climate & Resources, Eurasia Group
  • Mark Suzman, CEO, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Gayle E. Smith, President & CEO, ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development

Add to Calendar


Sign up here to get alerts about future GZERO Media events.

The long-simmering conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over a region called Nagorno-Karabakh erupted over the weekend, with more than 50 killed (so far) in the fiercest fighting in years. Will it escalate into an all-out war that threatens regional stability and drags in major outside players?

What's the background? For years, Armenia and Azerbaijan have been at odds over the rugged highlands of Nagorno-Karabakh, which lies between them. In the dying days of the USSR, the two sides fought a bloody six-year war to control the enclave, which was part of Muslim-majority Azerbaijan but mainly populated by ethnic Armenian Christians.

The conflict ended in 1994 with over 30,000 dead, more than one million displaced, and a fragile truce that left Nagorno-Karabakh as a de facto independent state, recognized and supported by Armenia but not by most other countries, including Azerbaijan. Low-level clashes have persisted ever since — including deadly skirmishes in 2016 — and both governments often use the conflict to stoke nationalist flames at home.

Although the trigger for the latest violence is still unclear, bilateral tensions have been rising since mid-July, when 16 soldiers died in border clashes. That violence sparked an uproar in Azerbaijan, where thousands of Azeris took to the streets calling for the army to "recapture" Nagorno-Karabakh. Now, both sides are accusing each other of throwing the first punch, and have declared martial law.

A war over the enclave would resonate far beyond the region. The South Caucasus, where Armenia and Azerbaijan are located, has enormous strategic importance because it is crossed by two major energy pipelines that carry Azeri oil and Caspian Sea gas to Turkey and Europe.

Two outside players — Turkey and Russia — are on opposite sides of the conflict. Turkey has close relations with fellow Turkic Azerbaijan, and historically there is little love lost between Ankara and the Armenians. Moreover, Azerbaijan is Turkey's main oil supplier. Turkey has denied reports that it has sent 4,000 Syrians to fight on behalf of the Azeri army, but Turkish President Recep Erdogan's moves here merit close attention.

Russia is the dominant player in the region. But although it sells weapons to both Azerbaijan and Armenia, Moscow keeps troops garrisoned in Armenia and is, technically, treaty-bound to defend the country. If things escalate further, Vladimir Putin will have to decide whether to honor that obligation. Doing so could quickly put Ankara and Moscow on opposite sides of another nasty war (they already back different sides of the civil war in Libya.)

Finally, Iran also as a stake. It borders both countries, and Azeris are Iran's largest ethnic minority. Although Tehran has traditionally backed Yerevan, and often bickers with Baku over energy and security in the Caspian Sea, the Iranians offered to mediate when the latest tensions began two months ago. Will they try again now?

62: In a referendum over the weekend, nearly 62 percent of Swiss voters said they wanted to preserve freedom of movement between the European Union and Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU. The right-wing Swiss People's Party had proposed imposing migration quotas at the border, saying that the current frontier is basically a... (okay, they didn't actually say it's a "Swiss cheese" but still).

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

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