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.
A major explosion has slammed central Beirut, Lebanon, damaging buildings as far as several miles away and injuring scores of people.
Driving the news: More than 78 people have been killed and over 4,000 injured, Lebanon's health ministry said, per Reuters. Prime Minister Hassan Diab said the explosions occurred at a warehouse that had been storing 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate for the past six years.
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 is sure to anger China, which views Taiwan as part of its territory, and place further strain on the Chinese government's already-deteriorated relations with the U.S.
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.
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.
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."