What We’re Watching: Iran’s Nuclear Intentions & Saudi’s Newest Target

Iran's belated response to Trump's Walkout – To mark the one-year anniversary of President Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, Tehran announced this morning that it will no longer abide by parts of the agreement. It will suspend sales of its uranium stockpile – key to removing them from the country – and has threatened to resume higher uranium enrichment within 60 days unless other countries in the pact help it get around US sanctions. To date, all the parties to the deal except the US have continued to honor its terms. We'll be watching closely for the response of European governments.

Another critic in Saudi Arabia's crosshairs – An Arab pro-democracy activist and prominent critic of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman now living under asylum in Norway faces a credible threat from Saudi Arabia, according to the CIA. Ironically, the activist in question, Iyad el-Baghdadi, warned last year that unless Western powers held Riyadh to account for the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi Crown Prince would become more dangerous.

What We're Ignoring: Pompeo's Cartographic Skills & "Pardons" in Myanmar

Mike Pompeo's Fake Geography – The US Secretary of State claimed during a speech to the Arctic Council on Monday that Canada's territorial claims over the Northwest Passage are "illegitimate." Leaving aside the geographical reality that the passage in fact moves between and around Canadian islands, Ottawa responded to Pompeo by citing the 1988 Arctic Cooperation Agreement, which specifies that the US government must ask Canada's permission for its icebreakers to navigate the waterways of the Northwest Passage.

Myanmar's "pardon" of two Reuters journalists – The government of Myanmar has released two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, after 17 months in prison as part of a broader amnesty that saw 6,000 prisoners set free. That's wonderful news for these men, their families, and for journalists everywhere. But let's be clear: the only "crime" these two men committed was to provide fearless coverage of the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys by the country's security forces and Buddhist civilians in western Myanmar's Rakhine State in 2017. Their show trial was condemned by outside observers, including the UN.

Technology has played a big role in accelerating globalization. While it's our business to advance technology, we also believe that technology should respect and even help protect the world's timeless values. That conviction has led us to announce a new and fourth pillar to Microsoft's AI for Good portfolio – our $125 million, five-year commitment to use artificial intelligence to tackle some of society's biggest challenges. This new pillar will focus on AI for Cultural Heritage. Read more at Microsoft On The Issues.

China is poised to roll out a nationwide social credit scoring system by next year. What grade would you get?

"The Iranian people want to be South Korea, not North Korea" - Karim Sadjadpour sits down with Ian Bremmer.

This Saturday, July 20, will mark the 50-year anniversary of the day a human being first stepped onto another world. A moment born out of Cold War political pressures, it's easy to forget a half century later how much bitter controversy the project provoked at home and the intensity of the worldwide fanfare that followed its success.

The moon mission's primary purpose was to defeat the Soviet Union. By the time John Kennedy became president in 1961, the Soviet Union had advanced far ahead of the United States in the race for achievement in space. In October 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik, the world's first satellite. A month later, a dog named Laika became the first living creature to travel beyond Earth's atmosphere. In April 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth, the first human to do so.

In early May, Alan Shepard became the first American in space, spurring Kennedy to announce a far more ambitious plan. On May 25, Kennedy famously pledged that by the end of the decade Americans would go to the moon and return safely to the Earth.

Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, but new President Lyndon Johnson quickly signaled his intention to see the promise kept. The Soviets held their space lead through 1965, by landing an unmanned craft on the Moon.

The moon mission stoked controversy in the United States. A review of polls reveals that only in 1969 did a majority of Americans support the project. Many people argued that the billions spent on a moonshot should go toward the war in Vietnam or to fight poverty in America's inner cities. "No hot water, no toilets, no lights. But Whitey's on the moon," sang musician and activist Gil Scott Heron. It didn't help when a fire during the Apollo 1 mission killed three astronauts and destroyed their space module.

But when Neil Armstrong became the first person to step onto the moon on July 20, 1969, the event took on a life of its own. It was a decade framed by two images of respected TV anchorman Walter Cronkite—shaken to the core on air by the 1963 murder of President Kennedy and then speechless with awe as Americans bounded across the surface of the moon.

A decade that included confrontation with the Soviets in Cuba, the assassinations of John Kennedy, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, a failing war in Vietnam, race riots in American cities, and violent chaos at the 1968 Democratic Party convention ended with an accomplishment a quarter million miles away, that was watched live by 94 percent of Americans who owned a TV.

Americans weren't the only ones watching. About 650 million people around the world watched the moon landing live on TV, making the event the first truly global televised event. Nine weeks later, astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins began a world tour.

Concerns that planting an American flag on the moon's surface would seem an act of obnoxious nationalism faded as the three men were greeted by overflow crowds in 27 cities in 24 countries over 39 days. An estimated one million people greeted them in Dhaka (then Pakistan) and some 1.5 million turned out in Mumbai (then Bombay).

Fifty years later, moon missions are still a mark of national prestige. Russia, China, India, the EU, Japan, and Israel have all sent probes to orbit the Moon or landed vehicles on its surface. But none of them matches that first "giant leap for mankind."

Next up: Mars? For thoughts on the next space race, click here.

Bonus fact: An iPhone has more than 100,000 times the processing power of the computer that landed Apollo 11 on the moon.