WHEN DONALD MEETS VLADIMIR

When the US and Russian presidents shake hands in Helsinki on July 16, the travelling press corps will hang on very rumor, word, and gesture, and your Signal authors will pop up some popcorn.


Trump will surely feed the frenzy. He’ll say Crimea is rightfully Russian or repeat that Russia should rejoin the G7. He’ll drop jaws with a comment disparaging NATO. Or Ukraine. Or both. Putin will flash that tight smile that says, “I know a great joke, but you wouldn’t think it’s funny.” And as with Trump’s Singapore sit-down with Kim Jong-un, the real result will be less than meets the eye.

The US government maintains sanctions on Russia and support for Ukraine because the Pentagon and a bipartisan majority in Congress don’t share Trump’s urge to give Putin a hug. Congress has power to keep sanctions in place whatever the president says publicly, and Republican lawmakers know that new sanctions can be added in coming months without an embarrassing public fight with the White House.

Defense Secretary James Mattis will move forward with his plan to reinforce NATO troops in Poland and the Baltic states with a new NATO force of 30 land battalions, 30 aircraft squadrons and 30 warships that can deployed within 30 days.

Trump and Putin will each declare victory, but very little will change in relations between Washington and Moscow.

We're used to seeing electric, gas and wood-burning ovens, but can you imagine baking pizza in a solar-powered oven? That technology was invented in the latest episode of Funny Applications, where Eni's budding researchers imagine new uses for technology.

Watch now.

It looks like China's leadership has finally had enough of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

In a speech on Thursday to the national people's congress, a symbolic confab of the country's ruling elite, Premier Li Keqiang announced a new national security law that would outlaw secessionist activity and criminalize foreign influence in Hong Kong. The measure, an explicit response to recent pro-democracy protests there, would also permit mainland China's security agencies to operate openly in the city.

More Show less

Indonesia becomes an epicenter: Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, is now considered an epicenter of the pandemic, after it suffered its biggest daily surge in cases Thursday with over 900 new infections. The country of 260 million has the largest outbreak in Southeast Asia, recording about 20,000 cases and 1,300 deaths, though a recent study suggested that as few as 2 percent of the country's coronavirus infections may have been reported. When pressed on why Indonesia is experiencing a surge in cases while the curve appears to be flattening in neighboring countries, Indonesian health authorities blamed the public's flouting of social distancing guidelines. But critics say the government has sent wishy-washy messages on how to stop the disease's spread, as demonstrated by the fact that only four of Indonesia's 34 provinces have applied widespread social-distancing restrictions. Meanwhile, as the country's 225 million Muslims prepare to celebrate the end of Ramadan this weekend, popular markets have been overwhelmed by shoppers buying food and clothing, with little guidance or enforcement of large-scale social distancing measures. Indonesia's public health system is grossly underfunded, and experts warn that given the shortage of hospital beds, medical equipment and staff, the situation could deteriorate fast in the coming weeks.

More Show less

This is not the 2020 that Vladimir Putin had in mind.

As the year started, Russia's president was crafting plans for changes to the constitution that would permit him to stay in power for (at least) another 16 years. A rubber stamp public referendum was to be held in April. Then, in May, he was to welcome foreign leaders to Moscow for a grand celebration (parades, concerts, fireworks, and a reviewing stand atop Lenin's Mausoleum) marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union's triumph over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War.

More Show less

Have you ever read a major op-ed and thought to yourself, "no! no! no! That's just not right!" Us too. This week, Ian Bremmer is joined by analysts Kelsey Broderick and Jeffrey Wright to take the Red Pen to former World Bank president Robert B. Zoellick's Wall Street Journal op-ed.

More Show less