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The Clock-Watchers: Xi, Kim, Khamenei

The Clock-Watchers: Xi, Kim, Khamenei

Over the weekend, US President Donald Trump reached a trade truce with China, restarted nuclear talks with North Korea by taking an unprecedented step into that country, and then returned home to the news that Iran has officially exceeded the limits on uranium enrichment set by the 2016 nuclear accord that he ditched last year.

As Trump heads into the final 18 months of his (first?) presidential term, these three huge foreign policy challenges remain unresolved. Despite the ludicrous speed of the news cycle, 18 isn't long in global politics time. So if you're the leader of Iran, China, or North Korea, do you stall to run out the clock? Or do you take your best shot now to get what you want from Trump?

Put yourself in the shoes of these three men…

Ayatollah Khamenei: Trump wants you to sign on to a new, stricter nuclear deal, and he's been ratcheting up sanctions while blaming you for a spike in Persian Gulf shipping attacks. But he chose to hack rather than bomb you in retaliation when you shot down an American drone, which was nice of him. He says he wants to talk to you directly – he is probably salivating at the ratings it would deliver him -- but you aren't prepared to go from "Death to America" to "Welcome Donald Trump" quite so quickly.

Your best bet is probably to wait until 2020 to see if you can get a Democrat who is both more predictable and more favorably disposed to the original Iran deal.

Xi Jinping: Trump has agreed to postpone a massive new round of tariff increases in order to revive talks on a US-China trade deal. And he may even give a little relief to Huawei, your most important tech company. Still, Trump and his team want you to dismantle the state-powered economic system that Made China Great and which, you are certain, will make China the tech superpower of the future.

You are on the fence. If you wait out Trump, you might get a more conventional Democrat in 2020. But a new US president might work more effectively with US allies to lead a united front against your trade and tech practices. Then you'd really be in trouble.

Kim Jong-un: You already have nuclear weapons, and you aren't going to give them up altogether because they are your security guarantee – after all, you've had nightmares about what happened to Qaddafi. And you've balked at even partial concessions until Trump eases some of those crippling sanctions on your country. With a little economic help from China you can hang on for a long time like this. But, here's the thing: Trump seems to like you. To really, really like you. In fact, he likes you in a way that no other US president could have or will again. Shouldn't you leap at the chance to make some kind of deal now? If Trump loses, you might too. After all, as a wise man once said, "the waiting game sucks, let's play Hungry Hungry Hippos."

Beautiful powerful voice interlude: By the way, you may have seen that Trump praised Kim Jong-un's "powerful voice" voice at the DMZ. Whatever, Puppet Regime knew about the North Korean leader's vocal talents months ago when we penned a classic surf tune with him. Check it out here, losers.

Microsoft released a new annual report, called the Digital Defense Report, covering cybersecurity trends from the past year. This report makes it clear that threat actors have rapidly increased in sophistication over the past year, using techniques that make them harder to spot and that threaten even the savviest targets. For example, nation-state actors are engaging in new reconnaissance techniques that increase their chances of compromising high-value targets, criminal groups targeting businesses have moved their infrastructure to the cloud to hide among legitimate services, and attackers have developed new ways to scour the internet for systems vulnerable to ransomware. Given the leap in attack sophistication in the past year, it is more important than ever that steps are taken to establish new rules of the road for cyberspace: that all organizations, whether government agencies or businesses, invest in people and technology to help stop attacks; and that people focus on the basics, including regular application of security updates, comprehensive backup policies, and, especially, enabling multi-factor authentication. Microsoft summarized some of the most important insights in this year's report, including related suggestions for people and businesses.

Read the whole post and report at Microsoft On The Issues.

On Tuesday night, you can finally watch Trump and Biden tangle on the debate stage. But you TOO can go head to head on debate night .. with your fellow US politics junkies.

Print out GZERO's handy debate BINGO cards and get ready to rumble. There are four different cards so that each player may have a unique board. Every time one of the candidates says one of these words or terms, X it on your card. First player to get five across wins. And if you really want to jazz it up, you can mark each of your words by taking a swig of your drink, or doing five burpees, or donating to your favorite charity or political candidate. Whatever gets you tipsy, in shape, or motivated, get the bingo cards here. It's fight night!

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GZERO Media, in partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Eurasia Group, today hosted its second virtual town hall on the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine and the challenges of its distribution.

The panel was moderated by New York Times science and health reporter Apoorva Mandavilli and featured Gates Foundation's Deputy Director of Vaccines & Human Immunobiology, Lynda Stuart; Eurasia Group's Rohitesh Dhawan, Managing Director of Energy, Climate & Resources; Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman; and Gayle E. Smith, the president & CEO of ONE Campaign and former Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Watch the full video above.

The enormous scale of the coronavirus pandemic was captured earlier this week as the global death toll surpassed 1 million people. As the weight of the grim milestone sunk in, the New York Times noted that COVID-19 has now killed more people this year than the scourges of HIV, malaria, influenza, and cholera — combined. While some countries like Germany and South Korea are models in how to curb the virus' spread through social distancing and mask wearing, other countries around the world have recently seen caseloads surge again, raising fears of a dreaded "second wave" of infections. Here's a look at countries where the per-capita caseload has spiked in recent days.

Donald Trump's presidency has irked a lot of people around the world. And in fairness, that's no surprise. He was elected in part to blow up long-standing assumptions about how international politics, trade, and diplomatic relations are supposed to work.

But while he has correctly identified some big challenges — adapting NATO to the 21st century, managing a more assertive China, or ending America's endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — his impulsive style, along with his restrictions on trade and immigration, have alienated many world leaders. Global polls show that favorable views of the US have plummeted to all-time lows in many countries, particularly among traditional American allies in Europe.

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