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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 8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 20,651,113 — Total deaths: 750,030— Total recoveries: 12,851,449Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 5,197,749 — Total deaths: 166,038 — Total recoveries: 1,755,225 — Total tests: 63,731,305Map.
  3. Public health: Cases are falling, but don't get too comfortable.
  4. Business: The pandemic real estate market — Newsrooms abandoned.
  5. Sports: NFL says its positive test rate is under 1%.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The financial toll of the pandemic.
20 hours ago - World

Ambassador to U.K. Woody Johnson accused of inappropriate comments

Johnson (center) at Downing Street during President Trump's state visit to the U.K. Photo: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Woody Johnson made "inappropriate or insensitive comments" in the workplace on topics "such as religion, sex, or color," according to a report from the State Department's Inspector General's Office.

Why it matters: Johnson, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune who owns the New York Jets football team, has been under scrutiny for his behavior as ambassador, including reportedly attempting to help steer the British Open golf tournament to one of President Trump's courses.

23 hours ago - World

U.S. threatens to veto UN peacekeeping in Lebanon over Hezbollah concerns

Peacekeepers with Lebanese troops in southern Lebanon. Photo: Jalaa Marey/AFP via Getty

The Trump administration is threatening to veto a resolution to extend the UN's long-standing peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon if its mandate isn't changed, Israeli and U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: The U.S. is the main funder of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which has an annual budget of $250 million. The veto threat is a tactical move, and part of a broader effort to put pressure on Iran and its proxy in Lebanon, Hezbollah.

Aug 12, 2020 - Technology

Scoop: Trump's TikTok order threatens plans for 10,000 U.S. jobs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

An order from President Trump that would ban TikTok in the U.S. is putting in jeopardy TikTok's plan to hire 10,000 U.S. employees, according to a source familiar with the company's thinking.

Why it matters: When TikTok first rolled out the job pledge, it served as a carrot in the political conflict over the social video service, but it's now being held out as a stick.

Investors are betting the future is priced in euros

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It's the euro's time now — at least that's how investors have been positioning recently.

What's happening: Speculators have raised their bets to the highest in nine years that the dollar will fall and increased bullish bets that the euro will rise to the highest level on record, Reuters reported citing data from the CFTC.

Updated Aug 12, 2020 - World

Pandemic plunges U.K. into "largest recession on record"

The scene near the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England in the City of London. Photo: Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images

The U.K. slumped into recession as its gross domestic product GDP shrank 20.4% compared with the first three months of the year, the Office of National Statistics (ONS) confirmed Wednesday.

Why it matters: Per an ONS statement, "It is clear that the U.K. is in the largest recession on record." The U.K. has fared worse than any other major European economy from coronavirus lockdowns, Bloomberg notes. And Fnance Minister Rishi Sunak warns the situation is likely to worsen.

Aug 12, 2020 - World

Lebanon reports coronavirus record: UN warns Beirut blast may drive cases higher

Protesters commemorate on Tuesday the victims of Beirut's Aug. 4 port explosion, which killed at least 158 people and injured some 6,000 others. Photo: Marwan Naamani/Picture Alliance via Getty Images

Lebanon reported on Tuesday seven deaths from COVID-19 and a record 309 new cases, taking the total number of infections to over 7,100.

Why it matters: World Organization official Tarik Jarasevic told a UN briefing in Geneva Tuesday that the displacement of some 300,000 people from the deadly explosion in Beirut's port could lead to a surge in cases. A UN report warns the emergency "has caused many COVID-19 precautionary measures to be relaxed, raising the prospects of even higher transmission rates and a large caseload in coming weeks," Reuters notes.

Aug 12, 2020 - World

EU threatens Belarus with sanctions amid third night of unrest

Belarus riot police detain protesters in Minsk on Tuesday. Photo: Sergei Gapon/AFP via Getty Images

The European Union warned Tuesday it could reimpose sanctions on Belarus as riot police clashed for a third night with demonstrators protesting this week's elections that the EU described as "neither free nor fair," per the Guardian.

Why it matters: The EU removed most sanctions against Belarus four years ago, after "Europe's last dictator" Alexander Lukashenko released political prisoners and permitted protests, AP notes. The EU said in a statement Tuesday it would be "conducting an in-depth review" into its relations with former Soviet country over his elections win claim and the deadly crackdown on protesters.

Aug 12, 2020 - Health

Fauci says he "seriously" doubts Russia's coronavirus vaccine is safe

NIAID director Anthony Fauci testifies during a July congressional hearing on Capitol Hill. Photo: Kevin DietschI/AFP via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci cast doubt during a National Geographic discussion due to air this week on the effectiveness of Russia's registered coronavirus vaccine touted by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

Why it matters: "Having a vaccine ... and proving that a vaccine is safe and effective are two different things," Fauci told told ABC News' Deborah Roberts in the discussion, expected to air on Thursday. His comments add to the weight of skepticism from scientists around the world on the Russia vaccine. There is no published scientific to support support Putin's claims.

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