Why it matters: The U.S. has responded to standoffs with North Korea, Russia, Iran and Venezuela in unorthodox and unpredictable ways. Alliances are rupturing, authoritarians are rising, and China is steadily becoming the most powerful rival America has ever faced.
The member states of the European Union together have administered more coronavirus vaccine doses per 100 people than the United States, the New York Times reports.
Why it matters: The new figures highlight the pace at which the 27 member states of the E.U. are vaccinating their citizens, and stand in stark contrast to the speed of vaccinations in the U.S., which has stagnated.
Relentless heavy rainfall spanning over three days has killed at least six people and displaced thousands in Rohingya refugee camps in southern Bangladesh, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
Driving the news: About 2,500 shelters have been damaged or destroyed by the monsoon rains and strong winds that have hit camps in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar.
Vice President Kamala Harris has big goals for improving conditions in Central America to help slow migration from the region toward the United States.
Driving the news: Senior administration officials unveiled five sweeping goals during a call on Wednesday: Bettering economic prospects; rooting out corruption; promoting human rights, labor rights, and a free press; preventing gang violence; and combating sexual, gender-based and domestic violence.
There's been plenty of Olympics drama on day six of the Tokyo Games Thursday — notably China's women's swimming team beating the U.S. and Australia in the record-setting 4x200-meter freestyle relay.
The big picture: Katie Ledecky helped the U.S. win silver, which also beat the previous world record smashed by China's team. Team USA grabbed two more swimming gold medals, when Caeleb Dressel won the men's 100m freestyle and Bobby Finke triumphed in the first men's Olympic 800m freestyle.
China grabbed Olympic gold in the women's 4x200m freestyle relay, in a surprise record win in Tokyo Thursday.
The big picture: Katie Ledecky made up time as Team USA's final swimmer to help the U.S. take silver. Australia, which was the heavy favorite, won the bronze. All three teams finished ahead of the previous world record pace.
What she's saying: "the outpouring love & support I’ve received has made me realize I’m more than my accomplishments and gymnastics which I never truly believed before. 🤍" Biles said.
House lawmakers are forming a bipartisan caucus to hold the Chinese Communist Party accountable for its human rights violations against Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region, Axios is first to report.
Why it matters: While the United States economy relies heavily on trade with China, relations between the two global powers are tense. The Chinese Communist Party's human rights violations are at the center of many complications.
President Biden held a previously unannounced meeting with Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya Tuesday.
Driving the news: Tsikhanouskaya visited Washington, D.C. last week and met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security advisor Jake Sullivan but notably did not get a meeting with the president.
With the new Iranian government about to take office, U.S. officials are stressing that Iran won't win more concessions by attempting to renegotiate the understandings reached in Vienna.
State of play: The U.S. hoped an agreement on returning to the 2015 nuclear deal would be reached before hardliner Ebrahim Raisi took office. But after six rounds of talks, the negotiations were suspended by the Iranians until the new government can form its own negotiating team.
The Israeli government is weighing rejoining the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which Israel left in 2019 together with the U.S., Israeli officials tell me.
Why it matters: An Israeli return to UNESCO, which promotes the preservation of cultural sites around the world and holds educational programs, could help pave the way for the Biden administration to rejoin the organization — and help fend off criticism from Republicans.
The White House raised concerns with Israeli officials about reports that spyware from Israeli firm NSO was used to spy on journalists, human rights activists and opposition figures in several countries around the world, Israeli officials tell me.
Why it matters: The Israeli government gave NSO export licenses to sell its Pegasus spyware to several countries. Media reports about abuse of the technology have already created uproar in Congress and in several European countries, and Israel fears a possible diplomatic crisis.
Ramallah — Amid growing domestic criticism, Abbas is planning to reshuffle the Palestinian government and replace a number of ambassadors and governors.
The intrigue: A senior Palestinian official told me the changes would include appointing a new minister of the interior and a new minister of endowments, the officials responsible for the security forces and for religious affairs and Muslim holy sites, respectively.
Relations between the new Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority have shifted substantially in recent weeks, with Israeli officials going so far as to call it “a renaissance."
Why it matters: During Benjamin Netanyahu's 12-year tenure as prime minister, relations deteriorated to the point where there was almost no contact other than security coordination.
Fully vaccinated travelers from the European Union and the U.S. will no longer need to quarantine when arriving in England, effective Aug. 2 at 4 a.m. local time, the U.K. government announced Wednesday.
Why it matters: It's a reflection of the British government's confidence in its highly successful COVID-19 vaccine rollout, despite the spread of the Delta variant. The move stands in stark contrast to the Biden administration's continued refusal to lift restrictions for travelers from the U.K. and Europe.
Olympic champion Simone Biles is receiving widespread praise for putting "mental wellness over all else" after withdrawing from the U.S. women's team finals and the upcoming all-around final at the Tokyo Games this week.
The big picture: Leading figures from the world of sports, politics, entertainment and fans, including former first lady Michelle Obama and U.S. swimming legend Michael Phelps, have lauded the four-time Olympic gold medalist.
U.S. gymnastics great Simone Biles won't defend her Olympic title in the upcoming all-around final as she continues to focus on her mental health, USA Gymnastics announced Wednesday.
Driving the news: The 24-year-old four-time Olympic gold medalist's decision comes after she pulled out of the women's gymnastics team finals on Tuesday, saying she didn't want to jeopardize her health and well-being. USA Gymnastics said in a statement it applauded Biles' "bravery in prioritizing her well-being."