What We’re Watching: America Rules the Waves & An Istanbul Do-Over

US warships steaming toward Iran – A US aircraft carrier group is now headed to the Middle East following warnings from Washington that Iran and its proxy forces have given "troubling and escalatory" indications of a possible attack on US forces in the region. It's not immediately clear what these indications are, but we're certainly watching for any dangerous escalation in US-Iranian military tensions. Tomorrow marks the one-year anniversary of President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the Iranian nuclear agreement.

The Istanbul Do-Over – Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wanted another chance to win local elections in Istanbul, and he'll get one on June 23. A Turkish court ruled on Monday that a previous vote, which the opposition won by a margin of about 14,000 votes out of more than 8 million cast on March 31, must be re-run. We'll be watching not only for the new election result but for how Erdogan, the opposition, and residents of Istanbul react to them – if you call a do-over, you better be sure to win when it's done over, right?

What We're Ignoring: The UK's Newest Royal & A Deep, Deep Hole

Baby Sussex – The Signal team sends hearty congratulations to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex—that's Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for all you Americans—on the birth of their first child, a boy. But given that this kid is only seventh in line of royal succession, he better be doing card tricks by Thursday or we won't have much further interest in him. (Trivia fans: per our friend Dave Lawler at Axios, seventh in line to the US presidency is Attorney General William Barr — how's that for an expert weaving of news flows?)

Jumping down the deepest hole on Earth – You probably know that there was a Cold War race to the moon, but less familiar is the fierce scramble to the center of the Earth. By the time the USSR fell, Soviet scientists had drilled the deepest hole in the planet, more than 7 miles under the Siberian tundra, in an unfinished bid to reach all the way to the earth's mantle. The Kola Superdeep Hole has been capped since then, but Japanese scientists now want to take the plunge. We are doing our best to ignore this extraordinary story, because we fall down WAY too many fascinating rabbit holes in our line of work as is...

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Does the EU really have a foreign policy?

For decades, European leaders have debated the question of whether Europe should have a common foreign policy that’s independent of the United States.

Germany, the UK, and countries situated closest to Russia have traditionally preferred to rely on membership in NATO and US military strength to safeguard European security at a cost affordable for them.

French leaders, by contrast, have argued that, with or without NATO, Europe needs an approach to foreign-policy questions that doesn’t depend on alignment, or even agreement, with Washington.

There are those within many EU countries who agree that Europe must speak with a single clear voice if the EU is to promote European values and protect European interests in a world of US, Chinese, and Russian power.

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The politics of US crime: Perception vs reality

A recent spate of violent crimes in New York City has made national headlines. Since Eric Adams was sworn in four weeks ago as mayor of America’s most populous city, violence on the streets — and the subways — has again become a major political focus. Things got even more heated this week, when two young cops were killed while responding to a domestic dispute in Harlem.

Crime is not only a dominant political issue in New York. It also resonates more broadly with American voters worried over increased lawlessness and unrest. Indeed, crime is already shaping up to be a wedge issue as Republicans vie to win control of the US Congress this November.

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Hard Numbers: South China Sea jet search, US economy surges, Cuban protesters charged, Africa gets vaxxed

FILE PHOTO of a F-35C Lightning II, assigned to the Argonauts of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, launches off the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Jan. 14, 2022.

U.S Navy/EYEPRESS

100 million: The US Navy is scrambling to find a $100 million F-35 stealth fighter jet that crashed and sank soon after taking off on Monday from an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. One expert described the Cold War-ish race to locate the remains — stocked with classified equipment — before the Chinese do as "basically The Hunt For Red October meets The Abyss."

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The logo of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project is seen on a pipe at the Chelyabinsk pipe rolling plant in Chelyabinsk, Russia, February 26, 2020.

Nord Stream 2 used as a bargaining chip with Russia. The US now says that if Russia invades Ukraine, it’ll block the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, which is set to transfer even more natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea. This is a big deal, considering that Germany – thirsty for more Russian gas – has long been pushing for the pipeline to start operating despite ongoing objections from Washington. The $11 billion energy project, which would double Russian gas exports to Germany, is seen as (a big) part of the reason why Berlin is reluctant to push back hard against the Kremlin over its troop buildup at the Ukrainian border. Still, German officials admit Nord Stream 2 could face sanctions if the Russians invade, suggesting that the Americans’ threat was likely coordinated with Berlin in advance. This comes amid ongoing diplomatic attempts to de-escalate the Ukraine crisis, with US President Joe Biden and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz set to meet at the White House on February 7.

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Putin Has a “Noose” Around Ukraine, Says Russia Analyst Alina Polyakova | GZERO World

What’s going on in Vladimir Putin’s mind? That’s the million-dollar question.

Ukraine and Russia analyst Alina Polyakova doesn’t think it’s anything good.

Russia's president, she says, has put a “noose” around Ukraine with a troop build-up along the border that could spell invasion in the near term. The US has led an effort to deescalate the situation through diplomacy.

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The AI Addiction Cycle | GZERO World

Ever wonder why everything seems to be a major crisis these days? For former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, it's because artificial intelligence has determined that's the only way to get your attention.

What's more, it's driving an addiction cycle among humans that will lead to enormous depression and dissatisfaction.

"Oh my God there's another message. Oh my God, there's another crisis. Oh my God, there's another outrage. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God," he says. "I don't think humans, at least in modern society where [we’ve] evolved to be in an 'Oh my God' situation all day."

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Merkin' It With Angela Merkel | PUPPET REGIME | GZERO Media

Angela Merkel is retired — but only from politics. Still, maybe she's not as good at other jobs as she was as German chancellor.

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