Welcome to Axios World, where two evenings a week we break down what you need to know about the big stories from around the globe.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
With Brexit talks still deadlocked, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has been forced to admit she may need more time to finalize a divorce agreement with the EU.
The key remaining issue is what will happen on the border between Northern Ireland, a constituent of the U.K., and the Republic of Ireland. A "hard" border could have implications not only for economics, but for peace. But the EU's terms for a "soft" border don't past muster with many in Northern Ireland and May's Conservative Party.
Sebastian Payne, political editorial writer for the Financial Times, emails from London that May "went to Brussels this week desperate for a Brexit breakthrough and left empty-handed."
The bottom line: "May is under increasing pressure from her colleagues to take a tougher line, but in reality she is going to have to accept more compromises to broker any deal with Brussels. The outlines of a withdrawal agreement are clear. Now it is all about the tricky politics of selling it to a cabinet, party and country that are running out of patience."
Peter Foster, the Telegraph's Europe Editor, has this withering analysis of where things went wrong for May:
Meanwhile, Stephen Paduano argues in Foreign Policy that "Britain isn’t just losing Brexit. Europe is winning it."
"The biggest winners of Brexit — Dublin, Frankfurt, and Paris — have proved to be at least as effective at pulling business in as the Brexiteers have been at pushing business out."
What a difference a sea makes. While 52% of Brits voted to leave the EU in 2016, just 7% of Irish voters would, according to a new Eurobarometer survey.
Fears of a Brexit contagion are dying down on the continent, in part because the U.K. exit has been such a shambles. But Italy is one to watch: It's at the bottom of this list and has a Eurosceptic government anxious to pick fights with Brussels.
Grain of salt: Axios' Felix Salmon points out that the poll gives "Remain" an 18-point lead in the U.K., so "nothing to worry about there!" Well ...
Mike Pompeo addresses reporters today. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
President Trump said this afternoon that it “certainly looks like” Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist and Washington Post columnist, is dead.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters this morning that upon his return from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, he advised Trump "to give [the Saudis] a few more days" to complete their investigation before deciding "how or if the United States should respond."
As the administration calls for patience, the Saudi arsenal of alibis continues to be depleted.
The bottom line: If that second report, from reporter Shane Harris, is accurate, the U.S. government is conspiring with an autocratic regime to obscure the truth of what happened to a journalist and U.S. resident.
Trump has said it would be "foolish" to cancel billions of dollars in weapons deals with Saudi Arabia over the kingdom's alleged involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance — a remarkably blunt statement of the role the international arms trade plays in U.S. foreign policy. Axios' Zach Basu puts it in perspective:
The big picture: The U.S. is the world's top arms exporter, competing directly with Russia and increasingly China in a global market that's worth upwards of $89 billion annually. Saudi Arabia is currently the No. 1 buyer of U.S. weapons, purchasing nearly three times as much as any other country over the past two years.
Arms deals tie ethics to economics, and they can exacerbate geopolitical tensions.
The bottom line: The U.S. uses arms sales as a carrot to further its foreign policy aims. But as Trump's statement on Khashoggi shows, the lucrative deals involved can also shape U.S. policy, rather than the other way around.
In some European countries most children are now born to unmarried parents, and the U.S. isn't far behind, according to a new UN report. Axios' Stef Kight breaks it down:
Why it matters: If having babies without being married becomes increasingly common, it could help stabilize falling fertility rates and avoid an aging, childless future, Michael Hermann, a senior adviser for economics and demography at UNFPA, told Axios. But it's also likely to lead to more cultural friction, as social conservatives are unlikely to accept more births outside marriage.
How we got here: Demographers point to three key trends...
One notable exception: Russia also saw an increase in births outside of marriage in the 1980s and 1990s, when alcoholism and male mortality rose during the chaos following the collapse of communism, according to Goldstone.
Afghan police guard a checkpoint today in Kandahar. Photo: Jawed TanveerAFP/Getty Images.
Afghan guards today reportedly turned their guns on Gen. Abdul Raziq, a powerful figure in the southern province of Kandahar, during a security meeting also attended by Gen. Scott Miller, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan.
The Wilson Center's Michael Kugelman tells me "it’s no surprise that there’s a fair amount of skepticism about the elections, and yet there’s a huge amount at stake."
Photo: Ian Willms via Getty Images
1. Canada became the second country to permit the possession and use of recreational marijuana at a national level on Wednesday, following Uruguay's 2013 legalization.
2. M.J. Akbar, India's junior foreign minister and a renowned former journalist, resigned on Wednesday after at least 20 women came forward against him with allegations of sexual harassment, Axios' Haley Britzky writes. It's India's highest-profile #MeToo moment yet.
3. Brazilian presidential frontrunner Jair Bolsonaro rejected an endorsement he wasn’t expecting, from former KKK leader David Duke, Axios fellow Diego Rodriguez writes.
Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios
“He did not live in Russia, but in the U.S. In this sense, the U.S. bears some responsibility for what happened to him. In truth, we do not know what happened. So why should we take any steps that could harm our relations with Saudi Arabia?”— Vladimir Putin weighs in on the Khashoggi case
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Thanks for reading — see you Monday evening!