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Alex Brandon / AP

President Trump is preparing for his first foreign visits with a trip that starts in Saudi Arabia and includes stops in Jerusalem and the Vatican — to visit the Pope — before ending in Brussels.

Senior administration officials said they're working to build a framework in the Middle East to counter ISIS, counter Iran and provide a security blanket for America's allies in the region.

Big topics:

  • Israel/Palestine: The level of interest from the Saudis and Jordanians in the conflict "feels different to me" because they're "running out of time," said one official.
  • Syria: The administration is beginning to engage with Russia in a way it hasn't before to resolve the Syrian civil war.
  • Trump wants better "burden sharing": (translation: Arab allies to foot more of the bill for the war against radicalization in the region.)
  • A change in rhetoric: "Radical Islamic Terrorism" wasn't said at the briefing.
  • The key sentence, from a senior administration official: "We chose these three places because we really want to focus on how we can unite all the different countries and all the different religions in the fight against intolerance and radicalization."

Go deeper

UNC race conscious admissions process upheld by judge

Students walk through the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Aug. 18, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can continue its race conscious admissions process, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Why it matters: The case could end up in the Supreme Court after the conservative nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) vowed to appeal the judge's ruling that UNC didn't discriminate against against white and Asian American applicants in its policy that it said was designed to increase diversity.

SEC debunks conspiracy theories about meme stock mania

Photo: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The SEC issued its long-awaited report on the meme stock mania, which downplayed the narrative that a "short squeeze" was the primary driver behind GameStop's historic stock moves — and shot down conspiracy theories about the event.

Why it matters: The postmortem was highly anticipated, largely because of what it could hint about what the regulator thinks should be done in wake of the saga. But the report stopped short of specific policy recommendations.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Breaking Biden's diplomatic logjam

Expand chart
Data: Center for Presidential Transition via Congress.gov; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

The logjam for reviewing and confirming President Biden's ambassadorial picks is finally starting to break.

Why it matters: Biden is far behind his predecessors in the rate at which his ambassadorial picks have been confirmed. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a series of high-profile hearings and votes this week to finally begin chipping away at the backlog.