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Hard Numbers: HK vote hopefuls out, US economy tanks, Chileans dip into pensions, Russian mercs in Belarus

Hard Numbers: HK vote hopefuls out, US economy tanks, Chileans dip into pensions, Russian mercs in Belarus

12: The pro-Beijing Hong Kong government has disqualified 12 pro-democracy candidates from running in September's parliamentary election, where the opposition was expected to win a majority of seats. The list includes high-profile activists like Joshua Wong and also Dennis Kwok, an outspoken pro-democracy lawmaker who recently discussed China's new security law for Hong Kong on GZERO World with Ian Bremmer.

32.9: The US economy contracted by 9.5 percent in the second quarter of the year, an annualized rate of 32.9 percent for 2020, the sharpest decline in America's history. The coronavirus pandemic has obliterated many US businesses and made unemployment surge above 15 percent, and the economic crisis may get even worse if more states reimpose lockdowns to contain the spread of COVID-19.

1 million: More than 1 million Chileans started lining up on Thursday to withdraw up to 10 percent of their pension funds. The government has passed a controversial new law allowing citizens to tap into part of their state-mandated retirement savings to mitigate the impact of the pandemic-fueled economic crisis.

33: Belarus has detained 33 Russian private security contractors, accusing them of being mercenaries aiming to disrupt the country's upcoming presidential election. It's the latest sign of a growing rift between two authoritarian presidents — Belarus' Alexander Lukashenko and Russia's Vladimir Putin — who used to be close allies but are not getting along lately.

Now that Joe Biden is officially US president, leaders from around the world would like a word with him — but where will he make his first international trip?

After a tumultuous four years, many countries are now clamoring for a face-to-face with President Biden. That includes allies who felt abandoned by Trump's "America First" presidency, as well as adversaries with thorny issues on the agenda. We check in on who's pitching him hardest on a near-term state visit.

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Jon Lieber, Managing Director of the United States for the Eurasia Group, shares his insights on what to expect from President Biden's first 100 days:

It's Inauguration Day. And you can see behind me the Capitol Building with some of the security corridor set up that's preventing people like me from getting too close to the building, as Joe Biden gets sworn in as our 46th president. Historic day when you consider that you've got Kamala Harris, the first woman vice president, the first woman of color to be vice president.

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On Wednesday, Joe Biden will become president because eighty-one million Americans, the highest tally in US history, voted to change course after four years of Donald Trump's leadership. Like all presidents, Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, take office with grand ambitions and high expectations, but rarely has a new administration taken power amid so much domestic upheaval and global uncertainty. And while Biden has pledged repeatedly to restore American "unity" across party lines — at a time of immense suffering, real achievements will matter a lot more than winged words.

Biden has a lot on his agenda, but within his first 100 days as president there are three key issues that we'll be watching closely for clues to how effectively he's able to advance their plans.

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Kamala Harris was sworn in today as the first woman Vice President of the United States. That means she's only a heartbeat away from occupying the Oval Office — and could well be the Democratic candidate to replace Joe Biden if the 78-year-old president decides to not run for reelection in 2024. Should Harris — or another woman — become US president soon in the future, that'll (finally) put America on par with most of the world's top 20 economies, which have already had a female head of state or government at some point in their democratic history. Here we take a look at which ones those are.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.


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