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As he embarks today on what is expected be his last major trip abroad as president — with stops in Greece, Germany and Peru — Barack Obama might find himself thinking back to that remarkable visit he made to Germany in August 2008 as Democratic nominee.

It was an unprecedented event that included a jam-packed speech near Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, marking the beginning of "Obamania" around the world, recalled German author Richard Herzinger recently in Die Welt. "The boundless euphoria ignited by the man onto whom we had pinned our hopes — even we Germans — even before he was elected for the first time," Herzinger wrote.

Fast forward eight years, and the man coming to Berlin now will be missing a certain sparkle in his eye, after Hillary Clinton's stinging defeat last week to Donald Trump — which was also a major final blow to Obama's own legacy. Herzinger notes the first African-American president's failure "to stop the disintegration of political and societal institutions or the increasingly dangerous polarization of American society."

But the legacy of the outgoing president is also a reminder of the limits of even the most powerful man on Earth. La Stampa's Massimo Gramellini wrote last Wednesday, "Barack Obama was supposed to change the world; instead the world kept changing on its own accord, as if he didn't even exist." Looking ahead to four (or eight) years of President Trump, we can only wonder how much — and in what ways — he will manage to change his country and our world.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY



TRUMP'S CABINET TAKES SHAPE

President-elect Donald Trump's administration is starting to take shape, with the appointment this weekend of Washington insider Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff and of the right-wing outsider Stephen Bannon as senior counselor. In his first prime-time television interview since winning Tuesday's election, Trump said he would deport undocumented immigrants "that are criminal and have criminal record," adding this could mean two to three million people. Meanwhile, anti-Trump protests continued yesterday for a fifth consecutive day. See the front page of Mexican daily La Jornada.

EU FOREIGN MINISTERS DISCUSS U.S. RELATIONS

Foreign ministers from European Union nations met yesterday and are expected to continue to discuss today on the future of the union's relation with the U.S. after Donald Trump's victory. "Both sides should start at zero and give each other a chance," European Parliament President Martin Schulz told German newspaper Bild, adding he believed that "President Trump will be a different man than candidate Trump."

— ON THIS DAY

A prince was born, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.

VERBATIM

"It feels like we're sitting on jelly," a winery owner told The New Zealand Herald after a violent earthquake and major aftershocks hit New Zealand. At least two people have died, and many towns were cut off by close to 100,000 landslides.

IRAQI TROOPS RETAKE ANCIENT TOWN OF NIMRUD

Iraqi government forces have recaptured the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud from ISIS terrorist fighters in the ongoing battle for Mosul, CNN reports. The archaeological site, which was founded in the 13th century BC, was largely destroyed by the jihadists last year in what UNESCO said was a "war crime."

ISIS CLAIMS PAKISTAN BOMBING

ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing of a shrine that killed at least 50 people and wounded about 100 on Saturday in central Pakistan. This comes amid reports that the terror organization is increasing its presence and recruiting fighters in the region.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

Nicaragua's once revolutionary president, Daniel Ortega, has won reelection, this time with his wife Rosario Murillo as VP. It's an accumulation of power and money that makes their own supporters squirm, this editorial in Colombian daily El Espectador argues: "After steamrolling over potential opponents with the connivance of Parliament, the Supreme Court and a discredited Supreme Electoral Council, Ortega has set about modifying laws to allow indefinite presidential reelections while gradually grinding the parliamentary opposition into oblivion. He has forged a single-party system in spite of the presence of various political parties and movements that pose no actual threat to the Ortega regime — so sure of their power, the government even finances some of its opponents. This all goes a long way to explaining the government's flat-out refusal to allow foreign observers to monitor the elections."

Read the full article, Ortega Ambitions, Nicaragua's First Couple Edges Toward "Dynastic Rule."

— MY GRAND-PERE'S WORLD

A Grand Sunrise — Grand Canyon, 1987

PRO-RUSSIAN CANDIDATE WINS IN BULGARIA

Voters in Bulgaria elected yesterday Socialist candidate Rumen Radev, a Russia-friendly newcomer to politics, with more than 58% of the vote, inflicting a stinging defeat on the ruling center-right party. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, whose ally candidate Tsetska Tsacheva couldn't obtain more than 35%, is expected to resign and trigger early general elections.

MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH

MILLENIA-OLD MUMMY FOUND

Spanish archaeologists have discovered a mummy believed to be at least 2,500 years old in "a very good condition" near the Egyptian city of Luxor, AFP reports.

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Coronavirus

Will China's Zero COVID Ever End?

Too much has been put in to the state-sponsored truth that minimal spread of the virus is the at-all-cost objective. But if the Chinese economy continues to suffer, Xi Jinping may have no choice but to second guess himself.

COVID testing in Guiyang, China

Cfoto/DDP via ZUMA
Deng Yuwen

The tragic bus accident in Guiyang last month — in which 27 people being sent to quarantine were killed — was one of the worst examples of collateral damage since the COVID-19 pandemic began in China nearly three years ago. While the crash can ultimately be traced back to bad government policy, the local authorities did not register it as a Zero COVID related casualty. It was, for them, a simple traffic accident.

The officials in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou, of course, had no alternative. Drawing a link between the deadly crash and the strict policy of Zero COVID, touted by President Xi Jinping, would have revealed the absurdity of the government's choices.

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