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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.

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Syria's darkest chapter

Family room without a family, in Idlib. Photo: Muhammed Said/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

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.

Go deeperArrow10 hours ago - World

Fear of coronavirus pandemic escalates

Photo: Abdulgani Basheer/AFP/Getty Images

In the blink of an eye, we've entered a new phase on the coronavirus.

The big picture: Italy, Iran and South Korea are at "decisive" points in their responses, the World Health Organization said on Thursday.

Go deeperArrow12 hours ago - Health

Faith in government plummets around the world

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.

Go deeperArrow15 hours ago - World

Israeli election: Netanyahu has momentum despite corruption case

Netanyahu campaigns with a friend behind him. Photo: Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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.

Go deeperArrow15 hours ago - World

Saudi Arabia bans foreign pilgrims from visiting Mecca amid coronavirus fears

Muslim pilgrims walking around the Kaaba in Mecca. Photo: Abdulghani Basheer/AFP via Getty Images

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.

Go deeper ... Coronavirus updates: New global case numbers surpass China's

Keep ReadingArrow19 hours ago - World

Japan to close schools through late March to control coronavirus outbreak

A couple takes photos in front of the Olympic rings in Tokyo. Photo: Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

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.

Go deeper: The latest coronavirus updates

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