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Why it matters: China is becoming the most formidable rival America has faced, and the risk of confrontation with Russia, North Korea or Iran still looms. Authoritarians are rising, the chaotic Afghanistan exit revealed the limits of U.S. power, and the pandemic, climate change and other critical challenges continue to pose grave threats.

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Axios
Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

  1. Health: Transplants rebound from COVID lull
  2. Vaccines: WHO: No evidence that healthy children, teens need boosters — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America
  3. Politics: Government website for free COVID tests launches early
  4. World: Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older
  5. Variant tracker
6 hours ago - World

U.S. warns Russia may attack Ukraine from Belarus

Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko (left) and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS via Getty Images

The U.S. believes that Russia may use joint military exercises inside Belarus as cover for an invasion of Ukraine from the north, according to a senior State Department official.

Why it matters: New deployments to the Belarus-Ukraine border in the coming weeks — in addition to the 100,000 Russian troops already encircling Ukraine from the north, east and south — could allow Russia to open up a new front less than 100 miles from the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.

Updated 10 hours ago - World

Ukraine crisis: Blinken to visit Kyiv, then meet Russian foreign minister

Photo: Russian Foreign Ministry/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva on Friday, following a trip to Kyiv to reinforce U.S. support for Ukraine in the face of a possible Russian invasion, according to a senior U.S. official.

Why it matters: The meeting with Lavrov suggests a diplomatic resolution to the crisis may still be on the table, despite the collapse of security talks between Russia and the West last week.

Scoop: Lawmakers warn of states using risky Chinese tech

Rep. John Katko. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Two lawmakers are urging the federal government to ensure state governments are not procuring telecommunications equipment from Chinese companies deemed a security risk, according to a letter viewed by Axios.

The big picture: Governments around the world are struggling to determine which Chinese tech companies may pose security risks, and how to extricate those products and services from sensitive telecommunications infrastructure.

10 hours ago - World

A Hong Kong exile's manifesto for freedom

Photo: The Experiment

In a new book, former Hong Kong lawmaker Nathan Law connects his experiences as a pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong with China's attempts to curb freedoms around the world.

Why it matters: "It’s really important that we see Hong Kong as part of the puzzle in a bigger picture of democratic recession, so we can equip ourselves more as China expands its authoritarianism around the world," Law told Axios in an interview.

11 hours ago - World

NATO reveals how it will operate in outer space

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg speaking during a press conference in Brussels on Jan. 12. Photo: Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

NATO will consider an attack against a member country's assets in space as an assault on the alliance, and such actions could lead to a coordinated armed response from all members if necessary, according to NATO's first formal, public space policy released Monday.

Why it matters: The policy reflects the increasing importance of space to more countries. It also normalizes NATO's intentions in space as China, Russia, India and other countries push forward on their science and military ambitions in orbit and beyond.

Updated 14 hours ago - World

At least 3 dead after Tonga volcano eruption and tsunami

A satellite image of the explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Saturday. Photo: UNICEF/NOAA

At least three people are confirmed to have died in Tonga following the undersea volcanic eruption that sent tsunami waves toward the island nation and across the Pacific over the weekend, officials said Tuesday.

The big picture: Officials reported major damage along the western coast of the main island of Tongatapu, where the capital, Nuku'alofa, was covered in ash and dust, including on the runway of the airport. Officials in Tonga confirmed three deaths in the country's first official statement since the crisis began.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.

17 hours ago - World

Senators make bipartisan trip to Ukraine after divisive Russia vote

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Photo: John Thys/AFP via Getty Images

A bipartisan group of seven U.S. senators met Monday in Kyiv with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top officials as Ukraine and the West brace for the possibility of an imminent Russian invasion.

Why it matters: The delegation is seeking to project a united front with Ukraine, following a divisive Senate vote on Thursday in which Democrats blocked sanctions Zelensky's government was seeking against the Russia-to-Germany Nord Stream 2 pipeline.

21 hours ago - World

Satellite images reveal Tonga eruption damage

Satellite images of homes and other buildings in the Tongan capital of Nukuʻalofa, on the north coast of the island of Tongatapu, before and after the nearby Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai volcano erupted. Photo: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

The first images are emerging of the damage to Tonga's islands, which were hit by a volcanic eruption and tsunami waves over the weekend.

The big picture: At least three people were confirmed to have died in Saturday's disaster. Satellite images shared by the UN Satellite Center on Monday and Maxar Technologies on Tuesday underscore what officials on the ground are reporting: There's major damage on the main island of Tongatapuatu, where ash and dust are hindering relief efforts.

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