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What We're Watching: Peru deports, Jakarta sinks

Deportations in Peru – Peru's immigration police deported 40 Venezuelan refugees this week that they said either had criminal records or were living in the country illegally. We are watching this because it's the first mass deportation of Venezuelans we've heard of since their country fell into crisis several years ago, prompting an exodus of some 3 million people. Peru alone hosts more than 700,000 Venezuelan refugees, most of whom arrived in the past year. So far Latin America has mostly avoided the kind of social and political disruptions that large-scale refugee flows have caused in Europe. Is that starting to change?

A new Indonesian capital – Indonesia has announced an ambitious project to move the country's capital away from Jakarta, which is famously traffic-choked, polluted, and steadily sinking into the sea. Relocation of the capital has been discussed for decades, but we are watching to see if it really happens this time and, if it does, whether President Joko Widodo can realize this project without corrupt bureaucrats and builders making it impossibly expensive. Massive construction projects and endemic corruption generally go together like peas in a pod (see "Odebrecht").

What We're Ignoring: Modi's Mangos, Fishy Russian Whales

Modi's Mangos – Journalists have a tough time getting to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but a Bollywood film star recently pinned him down for an hour-long interview about his personal life, tastes, and approaches to eating mangos, reports the FT. We are ignoring this in part because we like South American mangos better than India's famous Alphonsos (don't @ us), but mainly because we think voters' choices in the largest election in history should be determined by the issues rather than by Bollywood hagiographies or interviews of Mr. Modi.

Russian whale spies – Espionage experts claim that a white whale that approached a Norwegian fishing boat this week wearing a harness fitted with a GoPro camera holder and a label sourcing it to St. Petersburg is a Russian navy-trained spy. We're not impressed by this Bourne Beluga. Somebody sent secret squirrels into Iran in 2007. And the US Navy has trained dolphins to spot underwater mines for decades. We know everyone is on the lookout for Russians these days, but this doesn't cut it.

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Not everyone celebrates the US holiday of Thanksgiving, but we've all got something to be grateful for in this awful year, right? So as Americans gather around the table — or the Zoom — to give thanks on Thursday, here's what a few world leaders are grateful for at the moment.

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Hong Kong pro-democracy activists plead guilty: The name Joshua Wong has become synonymous with Hong Kong's once-dynamic pro-democracy movement. But the democrats' momentum has all but fizzled since Beijing imposed a draconian national security law this summer, outlawing secessionist activity and criminalizing foreign influence in Hong Kong. Now Wong, who was instrumental in the 2014 pro-democracy "Umbrella Movement," is pleading guilty in a Hong Kong court to organizing and taking part in pro-democracy protests that gripped the semi-autonomous city for much of 2019. He and his two co defendants — all of them in their 20's — have been remanded until sentencing, scheduled for December 2, and are likely to face prison terms of various lengths. Wong, for his part, said he decided to switch his plea to "guilty" after consulting with his lawyer. (Knowing that the trial would mostly be a sham, the trio decided to plead guilty in order to speed up the process, according to reports.) This internationally watched court case comes as Beijing has increasingly cracked down on Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp in recent months, prompting the US to impose sanctions on Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam, and several Western governments to terminate special economic relationship with the city. To date, there have been more than 2,000 prosecutions linked to last year's protests.

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The person a US president taps to assume the coveted role of secretary of state, the nation's top diplomat, says a lot about that president's foreign policy ambitions and global vision.

Indeed, the selection of Henry Kissinger (Nixon and Ford), James Baker (George H.W. Bush), Hillary Clinton (Obama) and Rex Tillerson (Trump) to head the State Department, provided an early window into the foreign policy priorities — or lack thereof — of their respective bosses.

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Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

Why hasn't Putin congratulated Biden yet?

There's no really good reason at this point. Pretty much every leader around the world has given the nod. As you know, Trump has not in any way conceded at this point. He may never. I suppose, at some point Putin may decide that he doesn't need to formally congratulate Biden. I mean, it's not like we're friends, right? The United States and Russia has a directly confrontational relationship, unlike the US and China, where there is a lot of interdependence, particularly economically between the two countries. That's not true with the US and Russia. You have virtually no trust and very little engagement. I will say that the Biden administration will be interested in re-entering the Open Skies agreement that we just left with the Russians, even though we're now decommissioning the spy plane, so it may be hard for the Americans and selling them for scrap, so it may be difficult to get back in and the intermediate nuclear forces agreement and new start.

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The 2020 US Election

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