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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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House warned of Russian effort to re-elect Trump

Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump meet at the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan, last June. Photo: Susan Walsh/AP

The nation's top election-security official warned the House Intelligence Committee last week that Russia is interfering in the 2020 election to help President Trump get re-elected, continuing to attempt to sow discord among the American electorate, the AP reports.

Why it matters: The warning raises questions about the integrity of the presidential campaign and whether Trump's administration is taking the proper steps to combat the kind of interference that the U.S. saw in 2016.

U.S. and Taliban announce first step in Afghanistan peace process

Photo: Karim Jaafar/AFP/Getty Images

The State Department confirmed Friday morning the U.S. and Taliban have "reached an understanding" that starts a 7-day "reduction of violence" to be followed by a signed U.S.-Taliban agreement.

Why it matters: The Afghanistan war is the longest war in U.S. history. President Trump has previously pulled out of talks at the last minute, only to restart them.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 8 hours ago - World

Senators warn of threats posed by Chinese rail companies

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Two U.S. senators are urging the Federal Transit Authority to clarify a ban on Chinese rail manufacturers and to warn local transit authorities of potential national security threats from China, in a letter obtained by Axios.

The big picture: The ban highlights a growing expansion of national security risks to include economic security, as the U.S. responds to Chinese government economic policies that many perceive as exploitative.

Go deeperArrow21 hours ago - World

Iran's hardliners look to consolidate control in parliamentary election

Electoral posters and a banner featuring Qasem Soleimani in Tehran. Photo: Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

The narrowing of Iran's political spectrum will be demonstrated on Friday in parliamentary elections dominated by hardline candidates.

Driving the news: An estimated one-third of sitting parliamentarians were disqualified from participating, reformists were barred en masse, and boycotts are expected from portions of the increasingly disenfranchised population.

Go deeperArrowFeb 20, 2020 - World
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