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.
Still from the video released by Al Furqan, ISIS' media wing
The caliphate is gone, but ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi seems to be alive.
Driving the news: The Islamic State, or ISIS, has released an 18-minute video showing a man who appears to be Baghdadi speaking with masked supporters in an undisclosed location and referring to events that took place in the past month.
Why it matters: Baghdadi is perhaps the world’s most-wanted man. He maintains an “extreme security protocol” the NY Times’ Rukmini Callimachi notes, and this is only his second video appearance in more than a decade. It comes at an “inflection point” for ISIS, she says.
Between the lines: “This strikes me as an attempt to shore up global community in the face of territorial losses,” Joshua Geltzer, formerly a top counterterrorism adviser to Barack Obama, told the Times. “I guess they considered the payoff worth it to show the organization hasn’t truly been defeated, even in its core manifestation.”
“The underlying message is not just one of survival against the odds,” BBC’s Frank Gardner writes.
“Back when Baghdadi ruled a state—complete with a well-armed military, tax collectors, and health inspectors—he and his top deputy spoke with grandiosity that inspired followers and irritated enemies," writes The Atlantic’s Graeme Wood.
“[Baghdadi] is believed to be in hiding somewhere in the sparsely populated desert spanning the border between Iraq and Syria, where he avoids the use of technology like cellphones that could help his many enemies track him,” the NY Times’ Ben Hubbard writes.
What to watch: In addition to claiming the Sri Lanka attacks, Baghdadi accepted oaths of allegiance from groups in Mali and Burkina Faso. ISIS and its offshoots pose a grave and growing threat in West Africa.
Sánchez's victory rally last night. Photo: Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez was backed into a corner when his minority government crumbled earlier this year, but he emerges from it strengthened.
Why it matters: Sánchez’s Socialists won 29% of the vote in Sunday’s election, leaving them far short of a parliamentary majority but with nearly twice as many seats as the next largest party. In Spain’s deeply fractured political moment, that almost registers as a triumph.
The path forward: The Socialists could join forces with hard-left Podemos and an assortment of regional parties. They could also team up with center-right Ciudadanos, though that party’s leader has ruled such a coalition out.
The bottom line: Spain's unemployment rate has climbed to nearly 15% in the biggest quarter-on-quarter increase in 6 years. The Catalonia question isn't going away. It was a good night for Sánchez, but forming a government is only the first of many challenges.
We have hit a major milestone in terms of the cash flowing to low- and middle-income countries, writes Axios chief financial correspondent Felix Salmon:
The big picture: Remittances sent by foreign workers back to their home countries generally arrive in small chunks, but they add up. They now amount to more than $700 billion per year, most of which goes to poor people in poor countries.
Obama awards Lugar the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor, in 2013. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Longtime Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar died yesterday at the age of 87. He's perhaps best known for his work on nuclear security.
Lugar's greatest achievements were bipartisan, and so are the tributes to his life:
On a personal note, I was fortunate enough to be seated with Lugar at a dinner just last month while taking part in a conference at Indiana University's Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies.
Lee Feinstein, dean of the Hamilton Lugar School, says Lugar "was determinedly decent, but he was also quietly very ambitious." Feinstein told me that Lugar's "ambition wrapped up in modesty" served him well in his long career.
The NBA playoffs are an international affair, Axios' sports editor Kendall Baker writes.
Bolton looks on. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images
In a New Yorker profile published today, Dexter Filkins traces national security adviser John Bolton's militaristic impulses and the fact that — be it in North Korea, Iran or Venezuela — he might soon get an opportunity to act on them.
On Bolton's relationship with Trump:
On working with Bolton:
The bottom line: Some of the most interesting reporting in the piece is about the role James Mattis played in keeping military options from being presented to Trump. Filkins notes that no one of such stature stands in Bolton's way, and he writes that "Bolton would have extraordinary latitude in a crisis."
Just 45% of respondents across 27 countries surveyed by Pew say they're satisfied with the way democracy is working in their country.
Question: Most people have a good chance to improve their standard of living, agree/disagree?
Question: Most politicians are corrupt, agree/disagree?
A Pakistani customs official snaps a selfie beside a flaming pile of illegally smuggled alcohol seized by the coast guard on the outskirts of Karachi. Photo: Asif Hassan/AFP/Getty Images
“The ridiculous idea of the century. Only rich people are delighted. Don’t give us 10 consecutive holidays.”— The Daily Gendai tabloid summing up the surprisingly negative reaction in Japan to a 10-day national holiday tied to the ascension of the new emperor.
Thanks for stopping by — see you Thursday evening.