Feb 27, 2019

Axios PM

1 big thing: The edge of the nuclear abyss

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's just after 3 am in Kashmir, where fresh escalations in the 70-year conflict between Pakistan and India have the two nuclear powers on the brink of war.

Why it matters: Do you remember the existential concerns from the Cold War? This is like that, on a subcontinent with more than a billion people.

  • The latest crisis dates to Feb. 14, when a suicide bomb from a Pakistani militant group killed 40 Indian military personnel in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir.
  • Early yesterday, India entered Pakistan's airspace to attack militant camps it said are linked to the group. India says they killed 300. Pakistan says they attacked an empty forest.
  • Early today, Pakistan shot down an Indian jet, capturing the pilot. Video on Pakistani TV featured the pilot bloody and blindfolded, the WashPost reports.
  • Airspaces were closed today in northern Pakistan and in parts of India, the NY Times reports.
  • As of early 2017, India had 130 nuclear warheads, while Pakistan had 140, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. (WashPost)

The big picture: Both Pakistan's and India's leaders have incentives to act tough instead of cooling things down, GZERO Media's Gabe Lipton writes.

  • In India, Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi is about to set a date for the country's next election.
  • In Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan has only been in office since August 2018.

The bottom line:

"With the weapons you have and the weapons we have, can we really afford such a miscalculation?"
— Khan today, in a question directed at India
Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Bill Clark/Getty Images

Michael Cohen told the House today that Trump is "becoming an autocrat," adding that The Trump Organization was steeped in a culture of threatening people — sometimes physically — who might pose a threat to Trump.

  • "Every day, most of us knew we were coming in and we were going to lie for him on something. And that became the norm. ... It's exactly what's happening here in government, sir."
  • Highlights and videos
2. What you missed
  1. The House passed the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, which would require background checks for all firearm sales, including those sold at gun shows and online. Go deeper.
  2. The U.S. will take steps to abandon its plans to increase tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said today, the WSJ reports.
  3. Hillary Clinton claimed that "Trump's fantasy about negotiating with the North Koreans" is more a play for positive headlines — or even a Nobel Prize — than national security. Go deeper.
  4. Michael Cohen submitted a series of documents to corroborate some of his allegations about President Trump. Read the documents.
3. Chart du jour

Only six countries have laws that give women equal economic opportunity to men: Belgium, Denmark, France, Latvia, Luxembourg and Sweden, according to a new World Bank report.

Expand chart
Data: World Bank Group; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios