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.
The Trump administration has renewed its push for opening direct talks between Israel and Lebanon on the demarcation of their maritime borders in order to find a solution for the dispute between both countries over natural gas explorations in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Israeli and U.S. officials told me.
Why it matters: Israeli officials say the Trump administration hopes to launch Israeli-Lebanese diplomatic talks before November's election. There have been no such talks between the countries in 30 years, and renewing Israeli-Lebanese negotiations would be a big achievement for the White House.
GNC Holdings, the Pittsburgh-based nutritional supplements retailer, received bankruptcy court approval to sell itself to China’s Harbin Pharma for $770 million, although the deal still faces U.S. political pressures over how GNC customer data is protected.
Why it matters: It's a reminder that the U.S.-China merger mess goes well beyond smartphone apps, with Sen. Marco Rubio asking for a CFIUS review.
The Commerce Department issued Friday an order blocking new downloads of WeChat and TikTok in the U.S. as of Sept. 20.
The state of play: President Trump has been in a standoff with TikTok, threatening to ban the app if its Chinese owner, ByteDance, does not relinquish control to a U.S. company. A deal is in the works with the American tech company Oracle, but would need to go through before Sunday to prevent TikTok from being ousted from app stores.
When he talks about Russia, Joe Biden has sounded like Ronald Reagan all summer, setting up a potential Day 1 confrontation with Russian President Vladimir Putin if Biden were to win.
Why it matters: Biden has promised a forceful response against Russia for both election interference and alleged bounty payments to target American troops in Afghanistan. But being tougher than President Trump could be the easy part. The risk is overdoing it and making diplomacy impossible.
Joe Biden described Russia as an "opponent" of the U.S. at a CNN town hall on Thursday, while identifying China as a "serious competitor."
Flashback: The former vice president opened himself to attacks early in his campaign last year when he said China was "not competition" for the U.S. — a comment that drew criticism from both Democrats and Republicans, per Axios' Jonathan Swan.
The Trump administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan and partnership with the Taliban has made the United States less safe, President Trump's former national security adviser H.R. McMaster told CBS News in a 60 Minutes interview set to air Sunday.
Why it matters: McMaster says the president partnered with the Taliban before peace talks in Doha, Qatar began this month, and diminished the sacrifice of American troops who died during the Afghanistan War.
Amid a global assault on human rights stretching from Belarus to Hong Kong to Yemen, the European Union signaled yesterday that it may act to deter corrupt kleptocrats and state abusers by hitting them where it hurts: their assets.
Driving the news: Europe's chief executive Ursula von der Leyen revealed in her first-ever State of the Union speech that she will bring forth a European Magnitsky Act, a sanctions framework modeled after a U.S. law that restricts malign actors' access to travel and the global financial system.
New Zealand's prime minister has pledged to achieve 100% renewable energy in the country by 2030 if her party wins re-election in October.
Why it matters: NZ plunged on Thursday into its worst recession in over 30 years, after its GDP fell 12.2% following two straight quarters of negative growth amid some of the world's toughest pandemic restrictions, though the drop was less than the 23.5% decrease projected in the May budget.
The Brexit omnishambles threatens to become a full-blown constitutional crisis, now that Boris Johnson's government has declared its intention to violate international law by breaking the very withdrawal treaty that Johnson negotiated, signed, declared a triumph, and ran on as the basis of his party's reelection.
For the record: Five former prime ministers have come out against Johnson's Internal Market Bill, which has already caused a slew of resignations from the government. The bill would allow the U.K. to unilaterally override the EU in a manner that explicitly violates Britain's treaty obligations.
FBI Director Chris Wray on Thursday told Congress the bureau has seen "very active efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020," primarily to "denigrate Vice President Biden and what the Russians see as kind of an anti-Russian establishment."
Why it matters: It confirms previous statements from various intelligence officials about Russia's interference activities, which continue with less than 50 days until the election.
Smoke from the historic wildfires ravaging the U.S. West was observed over the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe this week, and it will return to the continent this weekend, per European scientists' research.
Why it matters: "The fact that these fires are emitting so much pollution into the atmosphere that we can still see thick smoke" some 5,000 miles away "reflects just how devastating they have been in their magnitude and duration," said Mark Parrington, senior scientist at the European Commission's Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service (CAMS), which studied the data, in a statement.