UK's new COVID restrictions: In a last-ditch effort to avoid another national lockdown, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday sweeping new restrictions to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the country that could last up to six months, including limits on the number of people that can attend social gatherings. Warning that the country has reached "a perilous turning point," Johnson said that similar measures would soon be extended to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. The PM's announcement comes as his government struggles to battle what he now admits is a second wave of the coronavirus. The UK now has the fifth highest death toll in the world and a steadily rising caseload. The new restrictions represent an about-face for the British government, which has been criticized for walking back its earlier calls for workers to return to the office. Will Johnson's move be enough to flatten the (second) curve?
What We're Watching: Mexico dismisses US report on drugs, UN warns Burundi, Biden's limits on US-UK trade
Mexico rejects top drug hub claim: In response to a new US report on the countries that are major transit points and producers of illicit drugs, Mexico's populist president Andrés Manuel López Obrador, known as AMLO, rejected the report's findings — which called out Mexico as one of the world's most prolific drug production hotspots — as merely a matter of "opinion." AMLO said that the accusation is an example of things that come up in its relations with the US that "we [Mexico] don't accept," but made clear that he would not seek confrontation with Washington over the disagreement. Indeed, AMLO's dismissal is remarkable considering he came to power in 2018 in part on his promise to root out crime linked to the country's powerful drug cartels. But to date, crime in Mexico has only exploded under AMLO's watch, while more recently, the country's powerful cartels have exploited the pandemic to expand their operations (evidence suggests that lockdowns have exacerbated the addictions of their US clientele, who account for over $20 billion of Mexican drug sales each year).
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Brexit has been a messy process since the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union in June 2016. So messy, in fact, that although London and Brussels have already technically agreed on how to part ways at the end of this year, it's still unclear what the relationship — particularly on trade — will look like after December 31.
Carl Bildt, former Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Sweden, with the view from Europe:
What's really going on between the EU and the UK with the UK government threatening to change the so-called Withdrawal Agreement?
Yup, it's really bad. Because what Boris Johnson has proposed is for the UK government to defect and break international law by going away from a substantially important part of the Withdrawal Agreement that has to do with the Northern Ireland peace process. This is a break of trust between the EU and the UK, if it goes ahead. It will have very serious ramifications. And I think if it happens, I think sorry to say, that we are headed for a crash between the European Union and the UK with bad ramifications all across the board. We'll see. Not good.
We're now six months into the worst public health and economic crisis most countries have seen in generations. But how is that affecting politics? We take a look at the leaders of the countries that currently have the five largest death tolls.