OTHER INTERESTED ONLOOKERS: THEIR WANTS AND WORRIES

Over the past twelve hours, all eyes have understandably been on Trump and Kim, but there are three other key players whose interests are at play. Here’s what each wants and worries about:


CHINA: More than anything, Beijing wants peace in the neighborhood as it seeks to increase its strategic and economic clout in Asia at Washington’s expense. Any diplomatic process that reduces the prospect of war or promises a reduction of US forces on the peninsula is a win that China will cautiously support. The biggest danger for Beijing — aside from a diplomatic collapse that puts peninsular war or regime change back on the agenda — is that the Kim-Trump relationship goes too well in a way that enables Pyongyang, an unwieldy but still valuable client state, to seek alternatives to Beijing’s patronage.

SOUTH KOREA: No one has hustled the diplomacy harder than South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Seoul, which lives under constant threat of North Korean bombardment, has the most to gain from a normalization of relations between North Korea and the United States. Reducing the security threat from the North and opening the way to economic opportunities above the 38th parallel would be huge wins for Moon, and most South Koreans are in favor of a formal peace treaty between the two nations. Moon’s got two big concerns: first, that in a bid to win Kim’s confidence, Trump cuts back the US security umbrella for South Korea too quickly for Seoul’s comfort (Trump’s concession on military drills, for example, caught the South Koreans by surprise); second, that he gets caught in the middle of an unconventional diplomatic process driven by two unpredictable leaders that ultimately falls apart.

JAPAN: Tokyo is the US’ closest ally in the region, though these days that doesn’t mean what it used to — just ask the Germans or the Canadians. Tokyo wants to see an agreement that cools tensions on the peninsula, and it has its own interests in securing the return of Japanese citizens abducted by North Korea decades ago. But Japan doesn’t have a seat at the table here, and Tokyo worries that Trump may ultimately cut a deal that puts America First while leaving Japan out in the cold: say, by accepting a commitment from Kim to freeze testing of long-range missiles that can hit the US, but without scraping his short-range missiles and other chemical and biological weapons that could still threaten Japan. ​

Technology has played a big role in accelerating globalization. While it's our business to advance technology, we also believe that technology should respect and even help protect the world's timeless values. That conviction has led us to announce a new and fourth pillar to Microsoft's AI for Good portfolio – our $125 million, five-year commitment to use artificial intelligence to tackle some of society's biggest challenges. This new pillar will focus on AI for Cultural Heritage. Read more at Microsoft On The Issues.

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This Saturday, July 20, will mark the 50-year anniversary of the day a human being first stepped onto another world. A moment born out of Cold War political pressures, it's easy to forget a half century later how much bitter controversy the project provoked at home and the intensity of the worldwide fanfare that followed its success.

The moon mission's primary purpose was to defeat the Soviet Union. By the time John Kennedy became president in 1961, the Soviet Union had advanced far ahead of the United States in the race for achievement in space. In October 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik, the world's first satellite. A month later, a dog named Laika became the first living creature to travel beyond Earth's atmosphere. In April 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth, the first human to do so.

In early May, Alan Shepard became the first American in space, spurring Kennedy to announce a far more ambitious plan. On May 25, Kennedy famously pledged that by the end of the decade Americans would go to the moon and return safely to the Earth.

Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, but new President Lyndon Johnson quickly signaled his intention to see the promise kept. The Soviets held their space lead through 1965, by landing an unmanned craft on the Moon.

The moon mission stoked controversy in the United States. A review of polls reveals that only in 1969 did a majority of Americans support the project. Many people argued that the billions spent on a moonshot should go toward the war in Vietnam or to fight poverty in America's inner cities. "No hot water, no toilets, no lights. But Whitey's on the moon," sang musician and activist Gil Scott Heron. It didn't help when a fire during the Apollo 1 mission killed three astronauts and destroyed their space module.

But when Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the moon on July 20, 1969, the event took on a life of its own. It was a decade framed by two images of respected TV anchorman Walter Cronkite—shaken to the core on air by the 1963 murder of President Kennedy and then speechless with awe as Americans bounded across the surface of the moon.

A decade that included confrontation with the Soviets in Cuba, the assassinations of John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, a failing war in Vietnam, race riots in American cities, and violent chaos at the 1968 Democratic Party convention ended with an accomplishment a quarter million miles away, that was watched live by 94 percent of Americans who owned a TV.

Americans weren't the only ones watching. About 650 million people around the world watched the moon landing live on TV, making the event the first truly global televised event. Nine weeks later, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins began a world tour.

Concerns that planting an American flag on the moon's surface would seem an act of obnoxious nationalism faded as the three men were greeted by overflow crowds in 27 cities in 24 countries over 39 days. An estimated one million people greeted them in Dhaka (then Pakistan) and some 1.5 million turned out in Mumbai (then Bombay).

Fifty years later, moon missions are still a mark of national prestige. Russia, China, India, the EU, Japan, and Israel have all sent probes to orbit the Moon or landed vehicles on its surface. But none of them matches that first "giant leap for mankind."

Next up: Mars? For thoughts on the next space race, click here.

Bonus fact: An iPhone has more than 100,000 times the processing power of the computer that landed Apollo 11 on the moon.