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What We're Watching: Zimbabwe's anti-government protests, China's "dark fleet," Trump calls for election delay

What We're Watching: Zimbabwe's anti-government protests, China's "dark fleet," Trump calls for election delay

President feels the heat in Zimbabwe: Zimbabwe's security forces are clearing the streets of the capital, Harare, ahead of a planned anti-government protest on Friday, as the country reels from the worst economic crisis in a decade. Activists have called on Zimbabweans to take to the streets to demand the government do more to address rampant corruption and hyperinflation — which is precisely what President Emmerson Mnangagwa promised to do when he took over from longtime strongman Robert Mugabe after a 2017 coup. Since then, however, citizens have continued to see government officials accused of graft, while annual inflation has soared to over 737 percent. Salaries and pensions in local currency are now worth so little that nurses have gone on strike until they get paid in US dollars, causing a shortage that this week led to seven stillborn babies born in one night at a major hospital in Harare. To make matters worse, Mnangagwa's critics claim that the president and his allies are using coronavirus-related emergency powers to arrest countless dissidents among the over 100,000 people detained for violating lockdown rules since March.


Chinese "dark fleet" threatens Galápagos biodiversity: The Ecuadorian navy is closely monitoring a fleet of around 260 Chinese fishing vessels spotted near the Galápagos Islands, a UNESCO World Heritage site and scuba diver's paradise known for its unique marine biodiversity and for being where Charles Darwin developed his theory of evolution. In 2017, a Chinese fishing boat was intercepted in the same area with over 300 tonnes of protected species, including the Galapagos shark which is endemic to the islands. According to Quito, the Chinese fleet has been there for at least two weeks and is now getting very close to Ecuador's 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone around the archipelago, and there is no word yet from Beijing. This is the latest example of the global reach of China's so-called "dark fleet" of fishing vessels operating far away from Chinese waters, which is often accused of depleting local fish stocks. Last week, a new report alleged that over 1,000 Chinese fishing vessels have been operating illegally for years in waters off North Korea, catching over $440 million in squid alone.

Can the US election be delayed? As new figures were released on Thursday revealing that the US economy contracted by 32.9 percent this past spring, the fastest dip on record, President Trump tweeted that the November election should be "delayed." The president, who has faced plummeting poll numbers in recent weeks, cited unsubstantiated claims about mail-in-ballots — ballots that are sent to people's homes and then either cast by mail or returned to polling stations in person— as necessitating a postponement. But the US election can only be delayed with GREAT difficulty. Consider the following: The date for Election Day is set by federal law, which requires Congressional approval to be changed. There is no chance that the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives would agree to this. (The courts would also then be forced to weigh in and things could get very messy.) Additionally, even if the election does not go forward as planned, the US Constitution explicitly states that a presidential term shall end on January 20. Figuring out who would step in to replace both President Trump and Vice President Pence would be complicated business (think Electoral College complicated). Bottom line: trying to delay the US election is an enormously complicated process over which the president has little control.

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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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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 transition of power formally beginning now, what can we expect between now and inauguration day?

Well, there's a couple of important deadlines between now and Inauguration Day. The first is the December 14th meeting of the Electoral College, which will make the state certifications official and will make Joe Biden officially president-elect in the eyes of the US government. Another really important date is going to be January 5th, which is when Georgia has its runoff for the two Senate seats that will determine majority control in the Senate. If the Republicans win one of those seats, they'll maintain their majority, although very slim. If the Democrats win both of the seats, they'll have a 50/50 Senate with Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote and slightly more ability to enact Joe Biden's agenda next year. Also, between now and Inauguration Day, we're going to see Joe Biden announce his cabinet and senior staff. Most of whom will probably get confirmed fairly easily early, earlier ... Excuse me, later in January or early in February. And of course, we're going to see what President Trump is going to do next. I think that it's still a little bit up in the air what his post-presidency plans are. He has yet to concede the election. So, anything is possible from him, including a lot of new executive orders that could try to box Biden in and limit his options when it comes to economic policy, foreign policy, and social policy.

What can we expect out of the Biden administration's first 100 days?

Well, the biggest priority of the Biden administration first is going to be to confirm all of their cabinet appointees, and that should be pretty easy at the cabinet head level for the most part, even with a Republican controlled Senate. It's going to be a little more difficult once you get below the cabinet head, because then you're going to start to see some more ideological tests and some more policy concerns be flushed out by Republicans in the Senate. The second thing you're going to see is Biden start to undo as much of the Trump legacy as he can, and his primary vehicle for doing this is going to be executive orders, which is a lot of what president Trump used in order to enact policy. Expect Biden to reenter the Paris Climate Accord on day one and expect him to start undoing things like Trump's immigration orders and perhaps reversing some of his decisions on trade. Yet to be determined is if Congress is going to have fully funded the government for the entire year in December in the lame-duck session, and if they haven't, Biden's going to have to work out a deal probably in March or so to do that.

Joe Biden is well known as the kind of guy who will talk your ear off, whether you're a head of state or an Average Joe on the campaign trail. But Evan Osnos, New Yorker staff writer and author of "Joe Biden: The Life, The Run and What Matters Now," thinks that reputation may be outdated. "Here he is in his eighth decade when a lot of people are, frankly, in more of a broadcasting mode than a listening mode, he's actually become a more attentive listener." Despite one of the longest political careers in modern American history, there remains more to Joe Biden than may meet the eye. Osnos spoke with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe

Joe Biden has had one of the longest political careers in American history, but his most important act is yet to come. Can decades of experience in Washington prepare him to lead the most divided America since the end of the Civil War?

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe


The 2020 US Election

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