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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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Tim Kaine demands briefing on legal justification for Biden's Syria strike

Tim Kaine. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) on Friday criticized the Biden administration for Thursday night's airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, demanding that Congress immediately be briefed on the matter.

Why it matters: Kaine, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations and Armed Services committees, is the first Democrat to condemn the strikes — which constitute the Biden administration's first military action — and will likely not be the last.

Biden condemns Russian aggression on 7th anniversary of Crimea annexation

Putin giving a speech in Sevastapol, Crimea, in 2020. Photo: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

President Biden reaffirmed U.S. support for the people of Ukraine and vowed to hold Russia accountable for its aggression in a statement on Friday, the 7th anniversary of Russia's 2014 invasion of Crimea.

Why it matters: The statement reflects the aggressive approach Biden is taking to Russia, which he classified on the campaign trail as an "opponent" and "the biggest threat" to U.S. security and alliances.

2 hours ago - World

CEO of Canada's largest pension fund resigns after traveling to UAE for vaccine

Photo: Vince Talotta/Toronto Star via Getty Images

The CEO of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has resigned after the Wall Street Journal revealed that he traveled to the United Arab Emirates to obtain the first dose of a coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: Mark Machin, who managed $375 billion in assets as head of Canada's largest pension fund, reportedly used his connections to jump over millions of Canadians waiting in line for a vaccine.

Dave Lawler, author of World
3 hours ago - World

What Americans want from Biden's foreign policy

Photo illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images     

Americans tend to think the top U.S. foreign policy priorities should include protecting American jobs, preventing terror attacks, reducing the spread of infectious diseases, and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons, according to data from the Pew Research Center.

By the numbers: There's a sharp partisan divide over whether limiting China's influence should be a top priority, with 63% of Republicans believing it should versus 36% of Democrats. Both numbers have risen significantly since 2018.

4 hours ago - World

U.S. notified Israel in advance about Syria strike

Photo: Abir Sultan/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The Biden administration notified Israel in advance about the airstrike against an Iranian-backed Shiite militia base on the Syrian-Iraqi border Thursday evening, Israeli officials told me.

Why it matters: The airstrike was the first overt military action by the U.S. in the Middle East since Biden assumed office, and one that Israeli officials see as a positive signal about the new administration's posture toward Iran.

15 hours ago - World

U.S. strikes Iran-backed militia facilities in Syria

President Biden at the Pentagon on Feb. 10. Photo: Alex Brandon - Pool/Getty Images

The United States on Thursday carried out an airstrike against facilities in Syria linked to an Iran-backed militia group, the Pentagon announced.

The state of play: The strike, approved by President Biden, comes "in response to recent attacks against American and Coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats to those personnel," Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said in a statement.

Dave Lawler, author of World
16 hours ago - World

Biden's big Saudi reset

Mohammed bin Salman. Photo: Ryad Kramdi/AFP via Getty

President Biden spoke with Saudi Arabia's King Salman this evening ahead of the release of a CIA report expected to implicate the king's son, and the kingdom's de facto ruler, in the murder of a U.S.-based journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

Why it matters: In one month, Biden has ended support for the Saudi war effort in Yemen, frozen a large arms deal and snubbed Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) by declining to speak with him directly.

16 hours ago - World

WHO says El Salvador has eliminated malaria

A truck spraying mosquito repellent in San Salvador in August 2020. Photo: Camilo Freedman/APHOTOGRAFIA/Getty Images

El Salvador on Thursday became the first country in Central America to be certified malaria-free by the World Health Organization.

Why it matters: It's the 38th country to eliminate the parasitic disease that has plagued humanity for ages.

Updated 16 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Most COVID-19 survivors can weather risk of reinfection, study says — "Twindemic" averted as flu reports plummet amid coronavirus crisis
  2. Vaccine: Pfizer begins study on 3rd vaccine dose as booster shot against new strains — Republicans are least likely to want the coronavirus vaccine
  3. U.S. news: California surpasses 50,000 deaths COVID-19 deaths, more than any other state — Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter return to church after receiving COVID-19 vaccines
  4. Local: Public transit ridership in Twin Cities dropped 53% amid pandemic — Data firm predicts "complete chaos" in next phases of Florida's vaccine rolloutAlaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy tests positive for the coronavirus
17 hours ago - World

Biden holds first call with Saudi Arabia's King Salman

Salman bin Abdulaziz, king of Saudi Arabia, in Egypt in 2019. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

President Biden spoke with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz on Thursday, and affirmed "the importance the United States places on universal human rights and the rule of law," according to a White House readout of the conversation.

Why it matters: The phone call comes ahead of the expected public release of a potentially damning intelligence report about the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi,

21 hours ago - World

Dutch parliament recognizes China's treatment of Uyghurs as genocide

"Freedom for Uyghurs" demonstration in the Netherlands. Photo: Romy Arroyo Fernandez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

The Dutch parliament on Thursday passed a nonbinding motion recognizing China's treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority in the northwestern region of Xinjiang as "genocide."

Why it matters: The Dutch parliament is the first legislature in Europe to determine that China's campaign of surveillance, mass detention, forced labor and sterilization of Uyghurs amounts to genocide, a judgment also shared by the U.S. State Department and the Canadian parliament.

22 hours ago - World

Iran's nuclear program and regional behavior should be dealt with separately, Israel tells U.S.

Blinken and Biden at the State Department. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty

Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat told his U.S. counterpart Jake Sullivan in a secure video call two weeks ago that Israel thinks Iran's nuclear program should be dealt with separately from its regional activity in future negotiations, two sources briefed on the call tell me.  

Why it matters: While many critics of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal note that it did nothing to curtail Iran's aggression in the region, Israel is concerned that linking the two issues will give American and European negotiators incentives to compromise on limitations to Iran's nuclear program.

Feb 25, 2021 - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo: Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

Facebook says it will pay news industry $1 billion over 3 years

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Dublin with the tech giant's global affairs vice president Nick Clegg. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images

Facebook announced Wednesday it plans to invest $1 billion to "support the news industry" over the next three years and admits it "erred on the side of over-enforcement" by banning news links in Australia.

Why it matters: Facebook is following in Google's footsteps, after last October the company pledged to pay publishers over $1 billion during the next three years to create and curate high-quality journalism for its Google News Showcase.

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