Tired of waiting for the US midterms? Voters went to the polls around the world last week, from Rio de Janeiro to Tbilisi. Test your knowledge about who won and lost, as well as the other major news from this past week.

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US President Donald J. Trump’s October 20 announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty as a result of Russian cheating set off a wide variety of anxious messages from allies as well as some gratuitous threats from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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The past few weeks have produced a steady stream of bad news for the Earth.

Here’s a look at some stories making headlines.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel
The chancellor announced her departure, as observers noted, with quiet dignity. Some thought she looked almost relieved. Angela Merkel surprised her party, her country, and the world by saying that she would let someone else lead the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) after the party’s congress in December; but she would continue to lead the government for the remainder of its term until 2021. This would then be the end of her political career; she would seek no further office.

Can Germany’s leader for thirteen years last in the chancellery for another three? At this stage it is more than doubtful. Merkel herself left the door discreetly open to an earlier exit. In her carefully calibrated speech on October 29, she mentioned the agreement between the three coalition partners in Berlin to review their joint work at half time next year. This was no accident. There are so many scenarios that could prompt an earlier exit that it would be a miracle if Merkel’s final political act lasted for a full parliament.

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Angela Merkel announced on October 30 that she would not seek re-election as leader of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) when the party hosts its annual convention in Hamburg in December. She also declared that this would be her last term as chancellor, as she will not stand for reelection to the Bundestag or any other political office. The announcement is surprising for several reasons, not least because of Merkel’s fundamental belief, inherited from her time in Helmut Kohl’s cabinet, that the chancellorship and head of the party should go hand in hand.

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In light of the European Commission’s rejection of its budget proposal, the Italian government essentially has three options: “cave quickly and fall into line with the EU’s demands, cave slowly, or take Italy off the cliff and leave the euro,” according to Megan Greene, managing director and chief economist for Manulife Asset Management.

The Italian government’s initial reaction—to brush off Brussels’ concerns—has shown that “the cave quickly option is off the table now,” according to Greene.

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German chancellor to step down from party leadership in December, give up chancellorship in 2021

Germany’s Angela Merkel, viewed by many as a staunch defender of the liberal world order and a bulwark against the rising tide of populism in Europe, has decided to step down as leader of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party in December and not run again for the chancellorship in 2021. Merkel, who dominated European politics for the past thirteen years, has been chairwoman since 2000 and chancellor since 2005.

“I will not be seeking any political post after my term ends,” Merkel told a news conference in Berlin on October 29.

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The European Union’s announcement in September 2018 that it would begin to create a special payments channel with Iran in response to the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) once again raises the question of the role of the US dollar (USD) in the international economic order. Under the surface of discussions of alternative payment mechanisms is the legitimate question of the negative impacts of US coercive economic statecraft on the USD status as the leading global reserve currency.

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Former army captain’s victory marks first time since 2002 that the left-wing Workers’ Party (PT) has not won a presidential election

For the first time since the early 2000s, Brazilians have elected a president that does not belong to the Workers’ Party (PT).

On October 28, Brazilians elected as their president Jair Bolsonaro, a populist former army captain who has served as a member of the Chamber of Deputies representing the state of Rio de Janeiro since 1991. Bolsonaro, who belongs to the Social Liberal Party (PSL), defeated his PT rival, Fernando Haddad, in a runoff election after a highly contested election. Bolsonaro won 55.1 percent of the votes against 44.9 percent for Haddad.

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Europe in the coming weeks will be facing a host of political and economic challenges that are spooking international investors, endangering American interests and worrying even the most pro-European voices that their historic union has reached its limits in pooling sovereignty and burying historic resentments.

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