When Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in the 2020 election, many people were happy, and many people were sad — but at Puppet Regime we were worried as hell.

Not because of Trump’s damaging lies about the election being “stolen.” Or because of the Capitol insurrection that he fanned. That was all very bad.

But we had a more immediate concern: we had a show to put on, dammit, and we’d just lost our biggest star.

For four years, Puppet Regime, like countless other sketch comedy parody shows, was spoiled by a world leader whose unique capacity for the provocative, the unpredictable, and the surreal gave us more material than we knew what to do with.

Sometimes our best shots at parody were overtaken by reality altogether — like when we scripted Trump and Kim Jong-un comparing the size of their nuclear buttons and saw that happen in real life just days later.

But Trump Estrangement Syndrome ended up being a good thing. It forced us to work harder, more melodiously, and with a wider canvas. After all, the world of global politics certainly isn’t any more functional, coherent, or reassuring than it was twelve months ago, and our mission is the same: to entertain and illuminate without any biases except one – it better be funny.

And so it quickly became clear that Trump’s departure hadn’t diminished Joe Biden’s chronic anachronism, Vladimir Putin’s feline malice, Emmanuel Macron’s debilitating arrogance, Mark Zuckerberg’s android megalomania, or Angela Merkel’s just wanting to get out of this mess after 16 years.

Here’s a look back at 2021, through the rods and felt of PUPPET REGIME:

In January, Joe Biden showed up at the White House thinking that a certain someone was gonna leave more easily than he did — and boy was he wrong.

And it didn’t take long for us to get a sense of what Biden’s presidency would look like — Trillion Dollar Joe wanted to spend more money than anyone in history, but wasn’t quite sure where it would come from, and his early push to renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal turned into a massive song and dance.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the European Union was struggling mightily with vaccine supply, forcing Angela Merkel to slum it with the drug deal of the century.

Then the world got a taste of the blockbuster Godzilla vs Kong, a rivalry that looked pretty quaint next to what shaped up in Brazil when former president Lula was released from jail and made it clear that he’d try to knock current president Jair Bolsonaro off his perch in next year’s elections.

Speaking of important votes, the world’s leading US elections expert, Vladimir Putin, made a mid-year PSA to educate Americans on how to make the least of their democracy. File that one away for next year’s midterms.

Throughout it all, of course, the pandemic continued to rage, with the COVID family welcoming a slew of new variants who turned the coronavirus household into a soap opera.

By the end of the summer it was clear things were going off the rails for Joe Biden — first the delta variant showed up with a wave of musical taunts, then Biden couldn’t keep allies like France and the UK from childishly squabbling over submarines. The holidays gave him no relief either: not only was he unable to pick a good Halloween costume, he couldn’t even properly pardon a Thanksgiving turkey!

Perhaps the final blow was when Biden ended up looking like the second most powerful “Joe” in Washington DC – the president was just “Dancin’ for Manchin” all along.

And as the year drew to a close, we turned up the volume for a legendary aufwiedersehen from one of the world’s longest-serving leaders: Angela Merkel’s hit record Eins Zwei Drei (Kraftwerk Mix)

Now we head into 2022 with the pandemic raging again and the world’s autocrats smirking at the charade that democracy has become.

And of course, President Trump – who can’t stand being out of the spotlight – is readying his numbers in order to become the star of the show once again.

Thanks to all of you who were part of the Regime this year. See you on the other side, friends.

People working at computers in a room labeled Malware Lab

Microsoft observed destructive malware in systems belonging to several Ukrainian government agencies and organizations that work closely with the Ukrainian government. The Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center (MSTIC) published a technical blog post detailing Microsoft’s ongoing investigation and how the security community can detect and defend against this malware. Microsoft shared this information over the weekend to help others in the cybersecurity community look out for and defend against these attacks. To read more visit Microsoft On the Issues.

President Vladimir Putin

No one knows whether Russian President Vladimir Putin plans on invading Ukraine. But the president of the United States sure seems to think this is a real possibility, saying Wednesday that Putin will likely "move in" in the near term. Biden, prone to political gaffes, was then forced to awkwardly walk back comments that Russia would face milder consequences from the West in the event of a "minor incursion."

The timing of this blunder is... not great. It comes just as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken prepares to meet his Russian counterpart on Friday in hopes of lowering the temperature after recent diplomatic efforts in Geneva were deemed a failure by Moscow.

Indeed, with the Kremlin having amassed at least 100,000 troops surrounding Ukraine on three sides, the growing threat is impossible to ignore. So what would a Russian military offensive into Ukraine actually look like, and how might the West respond?

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Omicron has arrived. It's more contagious, but less severe. Some parts of the world are even looking forward to the pandemic becoming endemic.

Not China. Xi Jinping's zero-COVID strategy has worked wonders until now, but it's unlikely to survive omicron, explains Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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Chilling at the beach, retired German Chancellor Angela Merkel is so over politics. Or is she?


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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody. Happy Tuesday after the long weekend for those of us that had a long weekend. I thought I would kick us off with the first major foreign policy crisis of the Biden administration. And that is of course, Russia-Ukraine. Afghanistan, of course, was a debacle, but not exactly a global crisis. This of course has the potential to really change the way we think about European security and about US relations with the other major nuclear power in the world. So, I would say that the level of concern is even higher and there are a lot of things we can say.
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What We’re Watching: Xinjiang at the Beijing Olympics, Boris in deep(er) trouble, Indonesia’s new capital

Selling Xinjiang. Xi Jinping — a man well known for both his grand vision of China’s future, and for his willingness to get large numbers of people to do things they might not otherwise do — said in 2018 that he wanted 300 million Chinese people to participate in winter sports. The Chinese government announced this week that this goal has been met in honor of the Beijing Winter Olympic Games, which open in China’s capital on February 4. Multinational companies are consistently impressed by the commercial opportunities created when 300 million people decide to try new things. But it’s an inconvenient truth that most of China’s most abundant snow and best ski slopes are found in the northwestern region of Xinjiang, a place where Western governments and human rights organizations have accused Beijing of imprisoning more than one million minority Uyghurs in re-education camps. In these prisons, critics say inmates have experienced “torture, and inhumane and degrading treatment.” As China’s government opens new profit opportunities in Xinjiang, multinational corporations will face pressure from multiple directions not to invest there.

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Hard Numbers: Tongan emergency fundraising, EU docks Poland pay, new Colombian presidential hopeful, Turkey gets UAE lifeline

345,000: As of Wednesday afternoon ET, Tonga's Olympic flag-bearer has raised more than $345,000 online to help the victims of Saturday's volcanic eruption and tsunami. Pita Taufatofua, a taekwondo fighter and cross-country skier, has not yet heard from his father, governor of the main Tongan island of Haapai.

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Ian Bremmer shares his insights on global politics this week, discussing Boris Johnson's tenuous status as UK PM, US Secretary of State Blinken's visit to Ukraine, and the volcano eruption in Tonga:

Will Boris Johnson resign?

It certainly looks that way. He's hanging on by his fingernails. He's losing members of Parliament. He's giving shambolic media interviews. In fact, I think the only people that don't want him to resign at this point is the Labour Party leadership, because they think the longer he holds on, the better it is for the UK opposition. But no, he certainly looks like he's going. The only question is how quickly. Is it within a matter of weeks or is it after local elections in May? But feel pretty confident that the days of Boris Johnson are numbered.

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China vs COVID in 2022

GZERO World Clips

COVID at the Beijing Winter Olympics

GZERO World Clips


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