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Myanmar military unlikely to back down; challenges for the new US ambassador to the UN

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics this week:

With protests growing, where does that leave the Myanmar coup?

Well, certainly no feeling on the part of the military that they need to back down under either domestic or international pressure. There's been relatively limited violence, thankfully so far. A few protesters have been killed. They've used tear gas, they've used water cannons, but much less of a crackdown than certainly they're capable of or that we've seen from the Myanmar military historically. That, of course, gives the protesters on the ground more incentive to think that they have success, and they can continue.

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What We’re Watching: Belarusian spooks plot killings abroad, Army enters Ghana’s parliament

Did Belarus have plans to kill dissidents abroad? On Monday, the EU Observer, an online newspaper, published a recording of unclear origin that is allegedly an April 2012 conversation between a former Belarusian spy chief and two unidentified men, in which the three discuss a plan to assassinate Belarusian dissidents living under asylum abroad, including in Germany. The men discuss the names of assassination targets, the use of poison and explosives, and refer to a "special account" to fund the plans. Adding to the intrigue, is the resemblance between the methods discussed in the recording and those used to carry out the car bomb assassination in Ukraine of a Belarusian journalist in 2016. None of the targets named in the recording itself has been killed, and the dissident who leaked the recording claims that Western intelligence foiled the plans. German authorities aren't saying much about this story, but the news will again focus Europe's attention on abuses of power by the government of strongman President Alexander Lukashenko.

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The stories COVID buried

This year has been disastrous on so many levels as the COVID crisis wreaked havoc around the world. While coverage of the once-in-a-century pandemic dwarfed everything else in 2020, we have seen other huge political stories this year that will continue to shape the world for years to come.

We, your four Signal writers, each chose one big story that, to one degree or another, went under the radar as the global health crisis took centre stage. What do these tell us about the current state of our G-Zero world?

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The other 2020 elections

Of course, the United States presidential election isn't the only major race on the world stage this year. Ian Bremmer takes a look at a number of highly important elections around the globe this year, including those in New Zealand, Israel and South Korea. One thing is clear - for most democratic political contests in 2020, no matter whose name is on the ballot, coronavirus is on voters' minds. Elections right now are as much a referendum on pandemic response as they are on the politicians running.

Watch the episode: What could go wrong in the US election? Rick Hasen on nightmare scenarios & challenges

What We’re Watching: Belarus on strike, Iran (again) enriching uranium, Tanzania’s “Bulldozer”

Belarus on strike: In recent days, the Belarusian streets have turned up the heat on strongman President Alexander Lukashenko, as thousands of state factory workers and students in Belarus heeded a call from opposition leader Svyatlana Tikhanouskaya to join a general strike. Protests have roiled the country since August, when Lukashenko, in power since 1994, won a presidential election widely regarded as rigged. Last Sunday, 100,000 people turned up in Minsk, the capital. Tikhanouskaya — who ran against Lukashenko in that election and is currently exiled in neighboring Lithuania — had demanded the president resign by October 26. When he didn't, the walkout began. In one of the most iconic moments of protest so far, a striking worker at a refrigerator factory climbed the plant's tower to record a dramatic call for Lukashenko to step down. Belarus has been hit with sanctions from the US and EU, both of which are calling on him to hold new elections, but so far he has shown no signs of backing down, deploying his riot police with the usual fury. Something's got to give, soon.

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