Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios 

James Clapper, director of national intelligence under President Obama, says Russia is "the most pressing near-term threat to the U.S., for two reasons: its aggressive information operations campaign to undermine our basic system, and the modernization of its strategic nuclear arsenal."

Clapper told Axios in a recent interview that Russia is "bent on undermining our system any way they can," and will be as long as Vladimir Putin remains in power.

Sen. Tom Cotton cites Russia's "flagrant violations of its treaty commitments," including on nuclear weapons, as an issue that has flown under the radar despite "months of coverage of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election."

Michael Dempsey, the acting director of national intelligence in the first months of 2017, says Russia's election meddling and illegal annexation of Crimea point to a deeper threat:

  • "The erosion of existing international norms, and the international community’s inability to establish new norms in such areas as cyber warfare, artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and autonomous weapons development."
  • "My main concern is that in the absence of agreed-upon norms in each of these areas, and without a vibrant Western alliance to rely on, the world could stumble into a crisis that it doesn’t understand and is incapable of managing."

Go deeper: Cold War 2.0.

Go deeper

Deadly storm Zeta pummels parts of Alabama and Florida

A satellite image of Hurricane Zeta. Photo: National Hurricane Center/NOAA

Former Hurricane Zeta has killed at least one person after a downed power line electrocuted a 55-year-old in Louisiana as the storm's powerful winds and heavy rainfall moved into Alabama overnight.

What's happening: After "battering southeastern Louisiana and southern Mississippi," Zeta weakened to a tropical storm over central Alabama early on Thursday, per the National Hurricane Center.

Taiwan reaches a record 200 days with no local coronavirus cases

Catholics go through containment protocols including body-temperature measurement and hands-sanitisation before entering the Saint Christopher Parish Church, Taipei City, Taiwan, in July. Photo: Ceng Shou Yi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Taiwan on Thursday marked no locally transmitted coronavirus cases for 200 days, as the island of 23 million people's total number of infections reported stands at 550 and the COVID-19 death toll at seven.

Why it matters: Nowhere else in the world has reached such a milestone. While COVID-19 cases surge across the U.S. and Europe, Taiwan's last locally transmitted case was on April 12. Experts credit tightly regulated travel, early border closure, "rigorous contact tracing, technology-enforced quarantine and universal mask wearing," along with the island state's previous experience with the SARS virus, per Bloomberg.

Go deeper: As Taiwan's profile rises, so does risk of conflict with China

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Biden ahead in Wisconsin, Michigan as cases surge in the Midwest.
  2. Health: Fauci says U.S. may not return to normal until 2022 — Trump's testing czar: Surge "is real" and not just caused by more tests Some coronavirus survivors have "autoantibodies."
  3. Business: Consumer confidence sinking Testing is a windfall.
  4. World: Europe faces "stronger and deadlier" wave France imposes lockdown Germany to close bars and restaurants for a month.
  5. Sports: Boston Marathon delayed MLB to investigate Dodgers player who joined celebration after positive COVID test.