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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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Updated 15 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 18,570,858 — Total deaths: 701,316 — Total recoveries — 11,163,388Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 4,771,846 — Total deaths: 156,839 — Total recoveries: 1,528,979 — Total tests: 58,239,438Map.
  3. Public health: Moderna skirts disclosures of coronavirus vaccine costs — There’s not much good news about kids and coronavirus.
  4. Business: Auto sales may have turned a corner.
  5. Sports: The return of high school sports hangs in the balance — UConn becomes first FBS team to cancel its football season.
Updated 2 hours ago - World

At least 100 killed, much of Beirut destroyed in massive explosion

Photo: Anwar Amro/AFP via Getty Images

A major explosion Beirut, Lebanon has killed at least 100 people and injured over 4,000, according to the Lebanese Red Cross.

Driving the news: Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosions occurred at a warehouse that had been storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate for over six years.

Updated 5 hours ago - World

China says U.S. is "endangering peace" with high-level visit to Taiwan

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a June briefing in Washington, DC. Photo: Joshua Roberts/Getty Images

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced Tuesday night he will lead a delegation to Taiwan "in the coming days."

Why it matters: It's the highest-level visit by a U.S. cabinet official to Taiwan since 1979. Azar is also the first U.S. Cabinet member to visit the island state in six years. The visit has angered China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory. Chinese officials accused the U.S. Wednesday of "endangering peace" with the visit, AFP reports.

Updated 20 hours ago - Science

The U.S. is at risk of attacks in space

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Other nations are catching up to U.S. capabilities in space, potentially putting American assets in orbit at risk.

Why it matters: From GPS to imagery satellites and others that can peer through clouds, space data is integral to American national security.

Trump's new TikTok threat

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump said twice Monday that the U.S. Treasury would need to get a portion of the sale price of TikTok, as a condition of regulatory approval.

Why it matters: This is akin to extortion — the sort of thing you'd expect to hear on a wiretap, not from the White House in front of reporters.

Aug 4, 2020 - Health

UN head says global school closures could cause "generational catastrophe"

Students wear masks and face shields at school in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Sai Aung Main/AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus pandemic has caused the largest disruption of education in history, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday, AP reports.

Why it matters: Over 1 billion students were affected by closures in more than 160 countries in mid-July. Guterres warned the situation could lead to "a generational catastrophe that could waste untold human potential, undermine decades of progress, and exacerbate entrenched inequalities."

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