A key question hanging over United States President Donald Trump has changed from whether he will go quietly to just how crazy it will get before he does.
The lame duck period between US administrations always has the potential for disruption and conflict.
Other countries update their calculations on what will happen under the new regime. Some want to send messages and warnings. It can be seen as a time for doing or planning actions while the superpower is distracted in electoral limbo.
This time the incoming US leader is getting more pushback than co-operation from the outgoing one. A few more degrees of difficulty are being added to President-elect Joe Biden's already Herculean tasks.
Republican claims of voter fraud, election-stealing, and a lack of federal interest in providing immediate pandemic aid to citizens will make it hard for Biden to receive any honeymoon bounce with the public at home.
Biden is already facing the prospect of dealing with a Republican-controlled Senate unless the Democrats can pick up two seats in Georgia in January.
Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, one of Iran's most important nuclear officials, has been assassinated in Tehran. This is what we know /THREAD/:— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) November 27, 2020
1. Israel has assassinated numerous Iranian nuclear scientists in the past but have never been able to get to the highly protected Fakhrizadeh.
Overseas, Biden will find it harder to make progress on tough issues.
The assassination of a top scientist in Iran appears to be an attempt to sink any relaunch - while the boat is still in dock - of the Obama administration's nuclear deal that Trump has spent years sabotaging.
Biden wants to drop sanctions that Trump imposed, if Tehran returns to the strict rules of the pact.
Tehran blames Israel for the killing of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, whose car was apparently fired on. A number of officials involved in the nuclear programme have previously met grisly ends.
Israeli top brass worried over a Trump parting gift of advanced arms to Saudishttps://t.co/EEtj6TFE3S— avi scharf (@avischarf) November 27, 2020
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considers Iran a implacable threat and has no time for the 2015 deal, saying "there must be no return to the previous nuclear agreement".
There have been a number of recent attacks on Iran in apparent attempts to provoke and weaken the regime and degrade its capabilities.
And Trump, after the US election, reportedly considered missile strikes on Iran.
Any strong reaction from Iran now would give Trump the chance to let loose without having to deal with the consequences himself. It makes more sense for Iran to bide its time even as it is firing up its rhetoric.
New steps by 🇨🇳 to weaponize trade in its political disputes with 🇦🇺. Other countries must take note of the dangers in this development. It’s highly likely to backfire on 🇨🇳. https://t.co/JRlkCAnUvo— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) November 28, 2020
Closer to home, Australia's relations with China remain in a chilly bin long after Canberra sought a probe into the origin of the pandemic.
Wine has been added to the list of Australian goods - including beef, coal, barley, seafood, sugar and timber - effectively barred from China's markets. Anti-dumping tariffs of up to 212 per cent have been imposed on Australian wine imports.
It makes New Zealand's own export tightrope seem a bit thinner.
The trade war once again shows China using its economic clout for political influence but it is already pushing regional neighbours into closer defence cooperation and will likely result in export rethinks. "We are saying to our exporters, you should spread your risk," Australian Agriculture Minister David Littleproud said.
The arrival of a more multilateral-inclined US administration will accelerate the reassessments of relations with China occurring in countries around the world.