I'm back! Thanks to all of you for reading and to my brilliant colleagues Shane and Zach who steered the ship so ably while I was off in Italy and Spain.
A Rohingya refugee in Bangladesh. Photo: Munir Uz Zaman/AFP/Getty Images
The world hasn’t seen such staggering numbers of people fleeing violence, persecution and desperation since World War II — and countries that had offered safe harbor are beginning to turn them away.
Driving the news: The U.S. has declined to offer Temporary Protected Status (TPS) to Bahamians in the wake of Hurricane Dorian, a particularly stark manifestation of the Trump administration’s efforts to close America’s borders to nearly all refugees and asylum-seekers.
The big picture: The vast majority of displaced people flee not to wealthy Western countries, but to their neighbors. It’s there that efforts to curb protections are most acutely felt.
Turkey hosts more refugees than any other country. As the Syrian civil war raged, the country took “extraordinary” steps to facilitate the arrival of more than 3 million Syrians, says Hardin Lang of Refugees International.
Bangladesh was praised for taking in nearly 1 million Rohingya people who fled ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. Two years later, patience is growing thin.
Colombia has taken in about 1.4 million Venezuelans fleeing a deepening political and economic crisis, a number that continues to grow.
The international community should be supporting host countries like Colombia, argues Nazanin Ash of the International Rescue Committee.
What to watch: The crises driving the global spike in displacement show few signs of abating. And what Ash calls the "global retreat from humanitarian obligations" continues.
The bottom line: “Neighboring countries tend to bear the brunt of this,” says Lang, of Refugees International. “Convincing those countries — Jordan, Turkey, Uganda, Kenya, Colombia — to continue to carry that burden when we are in the process of closing asylum space inside the United States ... it removes all moral authority.”
Netanyahu and Trump at the White House. Photo: Jabin Botsford/Washington Post via Getty
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today denied a Politico report that U.S. intelligence agencies believe Israel planted devices near the White House intended to intercept cellphone communications.
Why it matters: The report highlights a rift between the two allies, as Israeli officials strenuously deny that such spying took place while Politico reports that "former [U.S.] officials with deep experience dealing with intelligence matters scoff at the Israeli claim,” Axios contributor Barak Ravid writes:
The state of play: Netanyahu saw the report while he was on a plane heading to Sochi for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his office issued a statement minutes later calling the report and the accusations "a blatant lie."
What to watch: Netanyahu’s political future is in the balance as Israel goes to the polls on Tuesday. Much more on that in Monday’s newsletter.
Go deeper: Bolton's ouster a blow for Netanyahu
Empty streets and vacant buildings in Dandong, China. Photo: Zhang Peng/LightRocket via Getty Images
Chinese megacities like Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen are capturing the world's attention with their glittering skylines, Fortune 500 firms and outsized wealth, but the country also has hundreds of shrinking, forgotten cities, Axios' Erica Pandey reports.
Background: In the Mao era, China opened massive state-owned steel plants and coal mines in the northeast of the country to jump-start the economy. For the next 4 decades, the materials and energy coming out of that region fueled China's rise, helping build its gargantuan cities.
Today, many of the shrinking cities in northeastern China are full of quiet streets and empty shops, as more and more young people go to the megacities to find work delivering packages or waiting tables.
What to watch: "China is obsessed with social stability, so when you have a lot of unemployed workers in one place that really worries them," Attrill says. So far, no plan to re-energize the northeast has worked. "They’ve had to revitalize their revitalization plan twice since 2003."
Bolton with his bag packed, on a trip to Nashville last May. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
President Trump announced John Bolton's departure on Tuesday, then derided him yesterday as "Mr. Tough Guy" and insisted he'd been fired.
Susan Glasser, in the New Yorker:
Frances Brown, for Axios Expert Voices:
Trump, on Twitter today:
Sunset in Granada, Spain. Photo: Yours Truly
I spent the past week hopping between Airbnbs in southern Spain. As a traveler, it was a wonderful, convenient, affordable experience.
The flip side: I found myself wondering how the surge in short-term apartment rentals affected locals. Thankfully, there’s been some good reporting on just that topic.
“The rise of short-term lets has affected cities across southern Europe, and has been blamed for driving up property prices and hollowing out economies in some of the world’s cultural capitals by promoting tourism above all else,” Aleksandra Wisniewska writes in the FT.
Children play before a mural of Robert Mugabe in Harare, Zimbabwe, a day after the freedom fighter turned dictator's death. Photo: Tafadzwa Ufumeli/Getty Images
“I don’t like it when the criticism comes from under the table. They smile at you and show their teeth and then they stab you in the back."— Pope Francis, on criticism from conservative clerics, particularly in the U.S. He said he's "not afraid of schisms" within the church.