World

What's the state of NATO as the alliance turns 70?

Well, it's starting to show its age. Doesn't have the same urgency of purpose that it did when we were fighting the Soviets against the Warsaw Pact. So, a lot of countries don't know why they're in it. Some don't want to spend the 2 percent that has been promised, the nominal goal of GDP that all these countries need to spend on GDP. The Turks hardly acting like an ally these days. And President Macron says is brain dead. Still, I don't see Trump really trying to destroy it and no one else is going to leave. These institutions are very sticky. I would say it is an organization not going anywhere but looking for a little more relevance.

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What happened in the Hong Kong elections and what does it mean for China?

Well, the elections were massive turnout. Almost all Democrats won. So that means in local elections doesn't have a lot of power, just matter for local issues like potholes and such. Overwhelmingly pro-democracy wins. That certainly means that they're not going to give up in their demands for autonomy vis-a-vis mainland China anytime soon. And the Chinese aren't about to provide that to them. So, I still think we've got problems in Hong Kong.

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What changes now that the U.S. softened its position on Israeli settlements?

Well, I mean, not a lot. I mean, keep in mind that this is also the administration that moved the embassy to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv. Everyone said that was going to be a massive problem. Ultimately, not many people cared. Same thing with recognition of Golan Heights for Israel. This is just one more give from the Americans to the Israelis in the context of a region that doesn't care as much as they used to about Israel - Palestine.

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Are we going to learn anything new from public impeachment hearings?

No, but like with Mueller, you know, people weren't reading the transcript, but they did actually listen to Mueller when he gave his speech. Now, the question is: Are they going to take anything different away from the public impeachment hearings? And the answer is, yes. They'll take very different things away, if they're watching on Fox or if they're watching on MSNBC. Still deeply divided and still can't imagine senators on the GOP impeaching, slash, convicting President Trump.

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What does it mean when Iran says it will begin injecting gas into centrifuges?

It means that they're taking one further step, the most significant so far, to break their own commitment to the Iranian nuclear deal. Keep in mind, the Americans pulled out well over a year ago. And with new sanctions, the Iranian economy is contracted this year by almost 10 percent. So, they're pretty angry about it, and they're lashing out. That's where we are.

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Do the protests happening globally share anything in common?

Yeah, people are angry, yeah. But what else do they have in common? Well, I mean, the fact that the world economy is getting softer means that people aren't going to be expecting as much from their governments. And there's an awful lot of sense that governing leaders are not getting it done for them. That across the board, almost every country that you see major demonstrations right now, not only are the popularity of leaders very low, but the average individual is saying, the middle class and the working class, is saying "these people do not represent me." In numbers that are historic in places like Chile and Ecuador and Bolivia and Lebanon and in other countries around the world. Also not seeing many in Asia because the economy's doing better and because the governments tend to be a little bit stronger.

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Why is Chile erupting in violent protests?

Well, it's one of the more unusual countries to do so. Usually it's the most stable, certainly wealthiest of the South American countries. And over a tiny hike in subway price. But reality is, a whole bunch of middle and working class, angry that they haven't benefited from the growth in the economy. Kind of like what you're seeing in a lot of wealthy countries around the world. And this is going to make it more challenging to get the kind of reforms done that this leader, President Piñera, actually wants to accomplish.

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What's the update at the Syria-Turkey border?

Well, it is increasingly in the hands of Assad and the Russians, who the Kurds have flipped with. The United States withdrawing some troops away from the border, the Turks coming in, but they going to be limited in how much they can do given the fact that ultimately, Assad and Russia has most the firepower and Turkey does not want that fight.

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