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WHAT WE'RE WATCHING & IGNORING

What We're Watching

Mercenary appeals – Sizable groups of Russian mercenaries claim Moscow is keeping them at arm's length, and they're not happy about it. Members of more than a dozen Russian "private military companies," supported by Russian military veterans, filed a petition last month with the International Criminal Court (ICC) demanding an investigation of their sponsors.


They claim hundreds of Russian fighters have died in eastern Ukraine, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa without any legal protections or official recognition from the Russian state. Kremlin critics claim the Russian government uses mercenaries to achieve foreign policy goals while deflecting charges of direct intervention. The Russian government has declined to comment on this case.

Kids with snowballs – In other legal news, nine-year-old Dane Best of Severance, Colorado won a landmark victory this week that lifts his town's ban on snowball fights. "The children of Severance want the opportunity to have a snowball fight like the rest of the world," he said during a passionate three-minute presentation to the Town Board. "Today's kids need a reason to play outside." We're watching Mr. Best, because we don't like being wet and cold, and this kid looks like he has good aim.

WHAT WE'RE IGNORING

"Operation Netanyahu Shield" The Israeli military launched a significant operation along the Lebanese border this week to destroy tunnels it says were dug by Hizbullah to allow the group to attack Israeli civilians. Critics of embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu say this operation is intended mainly to bolster his popularity and have dubbed it "Operation Netanyahu Shield." Yes, this action might well give Netanyahu a political boost. But his current headaches are legal as well as political. Police recommended last weekend the prime minister be indicted for bribery, and the army can't help with that. We're watching the military operation, but ignoring the political warnings.

North Korean Footwear During careful recent inspection of a shoe store in North Korea, Kim Jong-un reportedly insisted that his country's shoemakers provide "diverse patterns and decent colors," to meet the "aesthetic tastes of our people." It's just really hard to get our hopes up on this one.

Urbanization may radically change not only the landscape but also investors' portfolios. Creating the livable urban centers of tomorrow calls for a revolution in the way we provide homes, transport, health, education and much more.

Our expert guests will explore the future of cities and its implications for your wealth.

Learn more.

Back in 2016, presidential candidate Donald Trump presented his vision for an "America First" foreign policy, which symbolized a radical departure from the US' longtime approach to international politics and diplomacy.

In electing Donald Trump, a political outsider, to the top job, American voters essentially gave him a mandate to follow through on these promises. So, has he?

Trade

"A continuing rape of our country."

On the 2016 campaign trail, candidate Trump said that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) — a 12 country trade deal pushed by the Obama administration — would "rape" America's economy by imperiling the manufacturing sector, closing factories, and taking more jobs overseas.

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In an op-ed titled "Iran Arms Embargo Reckoning," the Wall Street Journal editorial board argues that ending the UN arms embargo on Iran was a major flaw of the 2015 nuclear deal and questions whether Biden could do anything to contain Iran at this point. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Henry Rome take out the Red Pen to explain why this discussion misrepresents the importance of the embargo and the consequences for its expiration.

So, the US presidential election is now just days away, and today's selection is focusing on a specific aspect of foreign policy that will certainly change depending on who wins in the presidential contest—namely America's approach to Iran.

You've heard me talk before about the many similarities between Trump and Biden on some international policies, like on China or on Afghanistan. But Iran is definitely not one of those. Trump hated the JCPOA, the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, put together under the Obama administration, and he walked away from it unilaterally. Joe Biden, if he were to become president, would try to bring it back.

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It almost didn't happen — but here we are again. President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden face off tonight in the final presidential debate of the 2020 US election campaign.

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Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government surrender Osama bin Laden and end support for al-Qaeda. The Taliban refused.

On October 7, US bombs began falling on Taliban forces. NATO allies quickly pledged support for the US, and US boots hit the ground in Afghanistan two weeks later.

Thus began a war, now the longest in US history, that has killed more than 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. It has cost the American taxpayer nearly $3 trillion. US allies have also made human and material sacrifices.

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