The Last Word From James Mattis

The Last Word From James Mattis

We begin with a word on yesterday's events in Washington. We encourage you to read this resignation letter from US Defense Secretary James Mattis.

It appears intended, at least in part, as a response to President Trump's surprise announcement this week that ISIS has been defeated and that US forces will soon be withdrawn from Syria. (Late last evening came news the president is also considering a plan that would withdraw thousands of US troops from Afghanistan.)

Any informed debate on the continued presence of US troops in Syria will include wise arguments on both sides. Those who believe the troops should remain insist the US has interests and allies to protect in the Middle East and unfinished business with thousands of ISIS fighters still operating in both Syria and Iraq.

Those who say troops should be withdrawn argue that Russia and Iran are already the dominant influences in Syria and that the American public doesn't support an open-ended US commitment of troops and taxpayer dollars to help keep the peace in eternally unstable Middle Eastern countries.

But this much-needed debate isn't happening, because President Trump appears to have made this decision without full consultation with US allies or even with the Pentagon. That's the argument we see in General Mattis' letter.

Mattis will be replaced, and his replacement might well be a remarkably capable person. Hysteria and hyperbole over the resignation are unwarranted. But as we enter what's sure to be a year of bitter political infighting in Washington, it appears President Trump is taking foreign-policy counsel mainly from himself and acting without listening to those he should trust.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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For many, Paul Rusesabagina became a household name after the release of the 2004 tear-jerker film Hotel Rwanda, which was set during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Rusesabagina, who used his influence as a hotel manager to save the lives of more than 1,000 Rwandans, has again made headlines in recent weeks after he was reportedly duped into boarding a flight to Kigali, Rwanda's capital, where he was promptly arrested on terrorism, arson, kidnapping and murder charges. Rusesabagina's supporters say he is innocent and that the move is retaliation against the former "hero" for his public criticism of President Paul Kagame, who has ruled the country with a strong hand since ending the civil war in the mid 1990s.

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From climate change to connecting more people to the Internet, big companies like Microsoft are seeing an increasing role within multilateral organizations like the UN and the World Health Organization. John Frank, Microsoft's VP of UN Affairs, explains the contributions tech companies and other multinational corporations are making globally during this time of crisis and challenge.

7: Among the 10 nations showing the highest COVID-19 death rates per 100,000 people, seven are in Latin America. Weak health systems, frail leadership, and the inability of millions of working poor to do their daily jobs remotely have contributed to the regional crisis. Peru tops the global list with nearly 100 fatalities per 100,000 people. Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, and Colombia are also in the top 10.

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