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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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Putin backs Lukashenko; Taliban peace talks; UNGA75 goes virtual

Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:

Number one, your questions. Can Putin rescue Belarus' President from his own people?

Well, not really. In the sense that Belarus has shown that their special services and their military are still very much loyal to Lukashenko. And while there have been significant and very courageous demonstrations of the Belarusian people across the country, and particularly in Minsk, among all of the major enterprises, state industry, the demonstrations happened briefly and then they stopped, because people didn't want to lose their jobs and their livelihood. And the fact that this is now gone on for well over a month. I mean, President Putin has basically said that he was going to act as the backstop for Lukashenko. He'd provide military support if needed. He's now provided some additional cash, a loan of over a billion dollars, they're saying, and it was a deeply embarrassing trip by the Belarusian President to Sochi, to bend on knee, and prostrate himself in front of his boss and ruler, the Russian President.

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The US COVID response under Trump was not "merely mediocre"

An op-ed in the New York Times says that the US coronavirus response under President Trump was mediocre, but not catastrophic, when compared to the response of other countries. But the "peer country" examples selected by columnist Ross Douthat don't paint an accurate picture. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Scott Rosenstein take issue with Douthat's argument on this edition of The Red Pen (where we keep op-eds honest.)

Today, we're taking our red pen to a recent piece from New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. The title is provocative, "How Many Lives Would a More Normal President Have Saved?" It sounds like Douthat is about to go big on the failure of President Trump's response to the pandemic. But no, that's just the headline. In reality, what he's saying is it isn't a catastrophe and may end up just being, meh, especially when you compare the US to peer nations. Not so fast, Ross. Let's break down the argument and get out the red pen.

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US election seen from Mexico: "We became an electoral piñata"

Carlos Bravo Regidor is a professor and political analyst based in Mexico City.

Alex Kliment: What areas of US-Mexico relations might change if Biden wins in November?

CBR: No relationship has been more important throughout Mexican history than the relationship with the United States. And the United States' number one priority regarding Mexico through the decades has always been to have a stable neighbor down south. With Trump, we've entered a period of exception: Trump has not given continuity to that vision.

And being such a non-orthodox president, Trump has allowed Mexican politics to take a non-orthodox direction.

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COVID is ravaging these countries: How are their leaders doing?

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.

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