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.
Billions of locusts have swarmed East Africa, consuming harvests and putting 20 million more people at risk of starvation, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Why it matters: The swarms have hit more than 10 countries across 2 continents. If the locusts aren't soon combatted quickly and effectively, the number of people at risk of starvation in East Africa alone could rise to 33 million over the next few months. The swarms of locusts could grow exponentially and reach new countries, WSJ writes.
Soccer leagues across Europe are reacting differently as the coronavirus spreads, from canceling games to playing in closed-door arenas.
The state of play: The Premier League said it is following advice from the government and has not canceled any of the upcoming games yet. Journalists are being asked about their recent whereabouts prior to a pre-match news conference with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, AP writes. Newcastle manager Steve Bruce said players are not greeting each other via handshake anymore, as a precaution.
The worst humanitarian crisis of Syria’s brutal civil war is colliding today with what could be the war’s most dangerous geopolitical showdown, after at least 29 Turkish troops were killed in an airstrike.
The big picture: The fighting is taking place in Idlib in northwest Syria, where a ferocious Syrian and Russian offensive has displaced 1 million civilians and infuriated Turkey, which borders the region.
People around the world have grown far more cynical about the idea their governments have their best interests at heart, according to polling from Pew.
By the numbers: When Pew last asked this question in 2002, majorities in nearly all countries polled believed their government was run to benefit all people. Amid the current populist wave, there is far more doubt.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu enters Israel's third elections in 10 months with momentum — and with his corruption trial looming just two weeks after the vote.
Why it matters: Israeli politics have been deadlocked for nearly a year as Netanyahu and his centrist rival, Benny Gantz, grapple for power. Monday's vote could provide the breakthrough, or set Israel on course for yet another election.
Saudi Arabia announced Thursday that it is banning foreign pilgrims from entering the country to visit Islam's holiest sites in Mecca and Medina due to the novel coronavirus, AP reports.
Why it matters: The unprecedented decision comes months ahead of the annual Hajj pilgrimage when millions of Muslims travel to the kingdom — and appears sparked in part by Iran's outbreak in the holy city of Qom. Saudi Arabia also said that it would suspend entry to tourists holding visas from 22 countries most affected by the virus.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Thursday that the government will ask elementary, middle and high schools around the country to close until late March as an attempt to contain its novel coronavirus outbreak, AP reports.
Why it matters: The government's decision — impacting 12.8 million students across 34,847 schools — comes as concerns mount about the spread of the virus in Japan, which has 189 confirmed cases and hundreds more abroad the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship.
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