(World) State of The Union

Tonight President Trump delivers his first State of the Uniom — er, Union — address. Audiences around the world will be listening in to see if, and how, Trump lays out a coherent policy vision on several global issues that will come to a head in 2018.


Here’s what you’re listening for if you’re…

China: Trump’s been ratcheting up the pressure over unfair trade practices, IP theft, and policies that disadvantage American firms in China. He’s surely going to unleash about how China hurts American companies, but will he contain himself to a fresh round of limited trade measures, or is he about to impose crippling restrictions on Chinese investment in the United States? An ensuing trade war would hit your exporters hard, but US firms and consumers are awfully vulnerable too…

Mexico: US domestic politics affect you more than any other country, and your upcoming presidential election will turn in part on relations with your Northern neighbor. You’ll be watching to see if Trump signals a real willingness to pull out of largely deadlocked NAFTA talks. Also critical: does he repeat his demand for a border wall and immigration restrictions as part of any immigration deal that will affect millions of your citizens.

South Korea: Getting through this speech without hearing a threat of nuclear war is a win in your book.

Iran: Trump has said he’ll pull the plug on the nuclear deal unless Congress and the EU strengthen it. You’ll be looking for further clues about what he’s thinking, while you continue to lay the groundwork for a new deal with the Europeans if Washington walks. The clock is ticking: Trump has to recertify the deal by mid-May.

ISIS: Trump will boast rightly that your “caliphate” has been destroyed. But with a national security strategy that says “great power rivalry” is the main challenge today, does he have a plan to roll back your still-powerful ideology and internet presence? Lots of your soldiers are returning home…

Remember, this will be the more sedate, Teleprompter-Trump who’ll appear “presidential.” But visceral Twitter-Trump is sure to erupt on every one of these issues again before long. So far, there hasn’t been a foreign policy crisis severe enough to reveal which Trump is at the table when the chips are down. How long will that hold?

On the latest episode of Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Ken Burns explores the opportunity to come out of this moment as better versions of ourselves — and reveals whether a film about this year is in the cards.

Listen to the new episode here.

The twin explosions at Beirut's port on Tuesday were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

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Former Spanish King Juan Carlos I's decision to leave the country after being investigated for corruption has reignited the debate over the future of the monarchy in Spain. Opinions are divided between mostly older Spaniards who defend the institution's role as a symbol of national unity, and the younger generations and nationalist regions who want Spain to become a republic. More than three quarters of the world's countries are now republics, but 44 still have a king or queen as their head of state — among them the 16 Commonwealth countries officially ruled by British Queen Elizabeth II and 5 countries where the sovereign is all-powerful. We take a look at which countries remain monarchies today, and those that sent their royals packing in the post-World War II waves of decolonization and republicanism.

Modi riles up his base: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday set the first stone for a new Hindu temple to be built over the remains of a Mughal-era mosque in Uttar Pradesh state. The site, in the town of Ayodhya, has been disputed for decades by Hindus and Muslims, but the Supreme Court last November ruled, based on archeological findings, that construction of the temple could begin. The ruling dismayed many of India's 180 million Muslims, who worry that Modi — who was accompanied at the ceremony by Mohan Bhagwat, an ultranationalist Hindu activist whose followers helped to destroy the old mosque amid a wave of sectarian violence in 1992 — wants to replace India's secular foundations with his more explicitly Hindu vision of the country's identity. Although months ago Modi saw sizable protests over a controversial new citizenship law that discriminated against Muslims, he has so far proven to be extremely resilient and remains widely popular in India.

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280 million: Democratic candidate Joe Biden plans to spend $280 million on campaign ads in his battle against US President Donald Trump. Although Trump trails the former vice president by 7 points in an average of national polls, the incumbent has set aside less than half that amount for ads of his own.

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