Aug 24, 2017

Qatar reopening diplomatic ties with Iran amid Saudi standoff

Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

Qatar has reopened diplomatic relations with Iran and will be sending a diplomat to Tehran, the AP reports. Qatar had originally pulled its ambassador out in early 2016 when there were two attacks on Saudi diplomatic posts in Iran.

This comes amid the months-old Saudi-led blockade against Qatar, and flies in the face of Saudi Arabia's demand that Qatar restrict its ties with Iran before the blockade be lifted. Although Qatar had already been receiving shipments of food from Iran, this is likely to further entrench the blockade.

Why it matters: The blockade, which Trump has appeared to tacitly back, has brought Qatar and Iran closer together — not a desirable outcome for either Washington or Riyadh. The U.S. has its largest military base of the region in Qatar.

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South Korea and Italy step up measures as coronavirus cases spike

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The novel coronavirus has spread to more nations as South Korea and Italy in particular scramble to deal with spikes in their countries.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed at least 2,446 people and infected almost 79,000 others, mostly in mainland China. South Korean President Moon Jae-said country would increase its infectious disease alert to red, the highest level possible, the New York Times reports, as the number of cases in the country soared to 556 and the death toll to five. Italy's government announced emergency measures Sunday after infections rose to 79.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 15 mins ago - Health

Bernie Sanders wins Nevada caucus

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders waves to supporters at a campaign rally on Friday in Las Vegas. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders is projected to handily win the Nevada Democratic primary caucus, becoming the clear frontrunner among 2020 Democratic presidential primary election candidates.

Why it matters: Nevada is the first state with a diverse population to hold a nominating contest, highlighting candidates' abilities to connect with voters of color — particularly Latino voters.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Heat wave melts 20% of snow cover from Antarctic island in days

The effects of February's record heat wave on Eagle Island in Antarctica. Photo: NASA

Antarctica's Eagle Island now has a side that's almost ice-free following this month's searing heat wave in the region, images released by NASA show.

Why it maters: "The warm spell caused widespread melting on nearby glaciers," NASA said in its report. It's the third major melt event of the 2019-2020 Southern Hemisphere summer, following warm spells in January and last November, according to the United Nation's World Meteorological Organization (WMO).