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What We’re Watching: Hong Kong a year later, Brazilian troops in the Amazon, Mexico’s marijuana moves

RIP Hong Kong as we knew it: Exactly a year ago on Wednesday, China imposed a draconian new national security law on Hong Kong. The measure gives Chinese authorities broad leeway to punish political dissent. It came in response to a massive pro-democracy movement on the semi-autonomous island that was touched off by Beijing's attempt to subject Hong Kongers to the jurisdiction of courts in mainland China, where the judicial system is more politicized. Since the new security law went into effect last summer, almost all vestiges of Hong Kong's once-vibrant civil society and relative political openness have been snuffed out. Opposition leaders have been jailed, pro-democracy lawmakers sidelined, and the free press largely shuttered. Meanwhile the US has revoked preferential trade and investment ties with Hong Kong, a number of European countries have cut extradition agreements, and most (but not all) countries around the world have condemned China's policy. And yet, from the perspective of Chinese President Xi Jinping, this is all arguably a win. He has suppressed one of the biggest popular challenges to China's authority in recent years, and made real the idea that there is only one system of government in China: his.

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Why election reform laws are deadlocked on Capitol Hill

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

With the For the People Act not passed in the Senate, what's the outlook on Democrats' election reform?

Well, the thing about election laws is that they're really all about power, how to get it, how to maintain it once you have it. And the Republicans and the Democrats are unlikely to agree on even the basics of what's wrong with our election system today, and they were definitely unlikely to agree on how to reform those things. So there's really no consensus on Capitol Hill on what's broken about the current election law. You've got Republicans at the state level who are pushing, rolling back some of the more generous rules that were laid out during coronavirus. You also have some that are trying to combat President Trump's allegations of widespread fraud during the 2020 election cycle. Democrats, on the other hand, are doing everything they can to make it easier to vote, to expand access to the vote. And that's part of what was in the federal legislation that Republicans voted down.

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Has the “war on drugs” been won yet?

It's been fifty years since the United States declared one of the costliest wars in its history — a trillion-dollar campaign waged at home and abroad, which continues to grind on today.

In June of 1971, President Richard Nixon, alarmed by the rise of permissive hippy culture and drug use, unleashed what would become known as the "war on drugs," a tough-on-crime approach that melded law enforcement, military action, and a public messaging campaign that both scared and scolded.

Aiming to reduce American drug use, it severely criminalized consumption in the US, while attacking international cartels' capacity to produce and export illicit narcotics, in particular from Latin America.

Did it work? We take a look at three of the war's major "battlefields" today.

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What We're Watching: AMLO's bittersweet victory, Boko Haram's leader is (maybe) dead, El Salvador's move towards crypto

Did AMLO win in Mexico's midterms? The governing Morena party of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lost its two-thirds lower-house majority in Sunday's midterms, dealing a blow to the leftwing nationalist leader's bid to radically transform Mexico. Although Morena and its allies are projected to hang on to a simple majority in the lower house, winning as many as 292 of the 500 seats up for grabs, that two-thirds margin was crucial for López Obrador's ability to change the constitution, something he's threatened to do in order to carry out what he calls a "Fourth Revolution" that remakes Mexico's economy in the interests of the poor and working class. Still, López Obrador remains in a commanding position: Morena and its allies look to have picked up more than half a dozen state governorships, and they still control both houses of Congress. Most importantly, despite failing to tackle crime, corruption, or poverty since his election in 2018, the left-populist López Obrador remains immensely popular in a country where traditional conservative politicians are reviled. Chastened as he may be by the result, as he heads into the final three years of his six-year term, López Obrador isn't likely to give much ground to his rivals. Read our full write-up of the election and its implications here.

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Mexico’s midterms: AMLO unbound?

On Sunday Mexican voters will go to the polls to elect 500 members of the lower house, roughly half of the country's governorships, more than two dozen state assemblies, and some 20,000 other local government posts. Some are calling it the largest election in the country's history.

The ruling Morena party of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, popularly known as AMLO, is looking to hang on to its current two-thirds majority in the lower house, and to pick up several governorships to boot.

Although his name won't be printed on a single ballot, the vote is largely seen as a referendum on AMLO himself, the leftwing nationalist who swept to power in 2018 with huge promises to tackle violence, root out graft, help the poor and, above all, break the power monopoly of the traditional political class.

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Mexico vote will test support for López Obrador’s agenda of change

Mexicans will go to the polls Sunday to choose their representatives for the lower house of congress and the governors of 15 of their country's 32 states. Halfway into President Andrés Manuel López Obrador's six-year term, the vote will test public support for his efforts to expand government control of the economy and improve living standards for all Mexicans.

The veteran leftist leader won election in a landslide in July 2018, and though he remains very popular, cracks in his support have appeared. Eurasia Group experts Ana Abad, Carlos Petersen, and Daniel Kerner explain what's at stake on Sunday for the president.

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Biden's first press conference reaffirms his working man approach

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Joe Biden gave the first press conference of his presidency today, a much-anticipated event that a lot of political reporters were pretty excited about, that didn't really move the needle on any messaging aspects of the administration.

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What We're Watching: EU tightens vaccine exports, Kenya to close Somali refugee camps, Mexico-US border "cooperation"

Europe's vaccine war escalates: As the European Union contends with a resurgence of COVID-19 cases and deaths, and a disastrous vaccine rollout, the European Commission announced Wednesday a proposal to tighten vaccine exports from the bloc, a move referred to by one diplomat as a "retrograde step." The new measures would ban vaccine doses produced in the EU from being sent abroad to countries that don't "reciprocate" as well as those that have a higher per capita vaccination rate than EU member states (the UK falls under both categories). European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen is upping the ante from January, when the EU banned exports by companies that don't first honor their contracts with EU member states. (In practice, only one batch of vaccines from Italy was blocked from being sent to Australia.) This is a massive development within the context of an ongoing row with the UK, which so far has received almost 10 million doses of EU-made jabs, far more than any other country. London also has rolled out a much more successful vaccine drive, having administered vaccines to 45 out of every 100 people, compared to just 13 in the EU. Although EU leaders will discuss the vaccine disaster at a summit later this week, the new proposal will come into force unless most EU members oppose it — an unlikely outcome given that many EU countries are struggling to keep their COVID crises at bay.

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