From Malmö to Mumbai to Melbourne, news junkies will spend the next 24 hours scrutinizing voting patterns coming out of places like Youngstown, Ohio, and Pensacola, Florida. Those Swedes, Indians and Aussies in the know can identify such bellwether localities in battleground states that the pundits say will decide whether Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton will be the next president of the United States.
It has become something of a trite habit every four years to declare that the race for the White House is a global event â€" from the international interest generated by the spectacle of the never-ending campaigns to the obvious and less-obvious ramifications for the rest of the world of the policies bound to come out of Washington.
The 2016 campaign, however, has fused this truism with a brand new kind of urgency. For the first time in memory, there is the realistic chance that a candidate will be elected who has openly vowed to pull America back from its role as global superpower, to question generation-old military alliances, to stem free trade, to close borders.
Beyond the cheerleading bluster of his â€œMake America Great Again,â€ Donald Trump has tapped into a sentiment among voters that the supposed greatness of yore has been lost not only amid Washington and Wall Street maneuverings, but in some distant and faceless swirl of globalization. Of course, such inward-looking, nationalistic messages had already been gaining traction â€" and winning at the polls â€" elsewhere in the world. A Trump victory would give it the kind of brand packaging and export power that, still, only America can provide.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- First state polls close in U.S. election at 11 p.m. GMT.
- Nine U.S. states vote on relaxing laws on use of medical or recreational marijuana.
SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT WILLING TO RELINQUISH SOME POWER
As part of an investigation into President Park Geun-hyeâ€™s ties to Choi Soon-sil, who is accused of having meddled in government affairs, prosecutors raided the offices of Samsung Electronics today. According to Reuters, Park said she would be willing to withdraw her nominee for prime minister in favor of a candidate picked by parliament and would let the new premier control the cabinet.
BRITISH BANKER FOUND GUILTY IN GRISLY MURDERS
A Hong Kong jury convicted Rurik Jutting, a British investment banker, of double murder in the killing of two Indonesian women in late 2014. According to the South China Morning Post, Jutting argued that he suffered from â€œabnormality of mind induced by mental diseases.â€ Jutting faces life in prison.
â€" ON THIS DAY
JFK, X-ray, Gordon Ramsay.
No, itâ€™s not a haiku â€" itâ€™s your 57-second shot of history.
ISRAELI JOURNALIST SLAMS NETANYAHU ON LIVE TV
One of Israelâ€™s top journalists, Ilana Dayan, read aloud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuâ€™s bitter critique of her expose on him during her TV show on Monday night, Haaretz reports. Netanyahu apparently called Dayan, â€œone of the leaders of a concerted frenzyâ€ against him, adding that she â€œhas proven once again that she has not even a drop of professional integrity.â€
FORMER PHILIPPINESâ€™ DICTATOR MARCOS GIVEN HEROâ€™S BURIAL
The supreme court in Philippines allowed the body of former president Ferdinand Marcos to be moved to Manilaâ€™s Heroes' Cemetery. The decision follows months of protests as Marcos had enforced strict martial law under his rule from 1965 to 1986, the Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.
When a person falls in love, several types of hormones are released â€" as addictive as drugs â€" that can provoke a state of ecstasy, euphoria and hyperactivity. Theyâ€™ve now been reproduced in the form of a nasal spray to stimulate milk production in mothers, prompting Camille Destraz of Swiss daily Le Temps to ask: â€œCan this spray, which is available over the counter, also then guarantee the attachment and loyalty of your partner? A little spurt on the pillow before going to bed? â€˜In theory, yes,â€™ says Vuilleumier. â€˜Conversely, in case of a difficult breakup, we could prescribe chemicals that would block the pain inflicted by the separation. This is part of ongoing scientific research.â€™â€
Read the full article, Can A Bottled Spray Ensure That Your Lover Stays Faithful?
TOBLERONE TRIANGLES TO HAVE LARGER GAPS
Mondelez International, the American company that produces Toblerone confectionery, announced a decision to change the design of chocolate bars in the UK. The decision angered consumers, BBC reports. In a statement on the companyâ€™s Facebook page, Mondelez International said a change was necessary so that the chocolate was still affordable as the prices of ingredients have risen.
â€" MY GRAND-PEREâ€™S WORLD
Chic Chalk â€" Paris, 1958
Yesterday, the Chinese legislature adopted a law to punish companies that fabricate box office earnings. Film distributors and theaters will now be fined $73,800 or more for falsified ticket data, according to China Radio International. This is the first law of its kind.
MORE STORIES, BROUGHT TO YOU BY WORLDCRUNCH
- Youngstown, Rusting Ohio City Is Grim Trump-Clinton Battleground â€" The Washington Post
- Turkey: Why Europe Must Stand Up To Erdoganâ€™â€‹s Power Grabs â€" Süddeutsche Zeitung
- Trump Or Clinton? Arab-Americansâ€™ Surprising Ambivalence â€" Le Figaro
BURNING CAMPAIGN TRAIL
Steve Bannon, the chief executive officer of Trumpâ€™s campaign, found his pants on fire at a campaign stop in New Hampshire last month. While writing a teleprompter script, Bannon looked down to realize that a hot TV light had made his pants burn.
The Saudis may be awaiting the outcome of Iran's nuclear talks with the West, to see whether Tehran will moderate its regional policies, or lash out like never before.
LONDON — The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said earlier this month that Iranian and Saudi negotiators had so far had four rounds of "continuous" talks, though both sides had agreed to keep them private. The talks are to ease fraught relations between Iran's radical Shia regime and the Saudi kingdom, a key Western ally in the Middle East.
Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian has said that the talks were going in the right direction, while an Iranian trade official was recently hopeful these might even allow trade opportunities for Iranian businessmen in Saudi Arabia. As the broadcaster France 24 observed separately, it will take more than positive signals to heal a five-year-rift and decades of mutual suspicions.
Agence France-Presse news agency, meanwhile, has cited an unnamed French diplomat as saying that Saudi Arabia wants to end its costly discord with Tehran. The sides may already have agreed to reopen consular offices. For Saudi Arabia, the costs include its war on Iran-backed Houthis rebels fighting an UN-recognized government in next-door Yemen.
The role of the nuclear pact
Bilateral relations were severed in January 2016, after regime militiamen stormed the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Amirabdollahian was then the deputy foreign minister for Arab affairs. In 2019, he told the website Iranian Diplomacy that Saudi Arabia had taken measures vis-a-vis Iran's nuclear pact with the world powers.
It's unlikely Ali Khamenei will tolerate the Saudi kingdom's rising power in the region.
He said "the Saudis' insane conduct toward [the pact] led them to conclude that they must prevent [its implementation] in a peaceful environment ... I think the Saudis are quite deluded, and their delusion consists in thinking that Trump is an opportunity for them to place themselves on the path of conflict with the Islamic Republic while relying on Trump." He meant the administration led by the U.S. President Donald J.Trump, which was hostile to Iran's regime. This, he said, "is not how we view Saudi Arabia. I think Yemen should have been a big lesson for the Saudis."
The minister was effectively admitting the Houthis were the Islamic Republic's tool for getting back at Saudi Arabia.
Yet in the past two years, both sides have taken steps to improve relations, without firm results as yet. Nor is the situation likely to change this time.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in 2020commons.wikimedia.org
Riyadh's warming relations with Israel
Iran's former ambassador in Lebanon, Ahmad Dastmalchian, told the ILNA news agency in Tehran that Saudi Arabia is doing Israel's bidding in the region, and has "entrusted its national security, and life and death to Tel Aviv." Riyadh, he said, had been financing a good many "security and political projects in the region," or acting as a "logistical supplier."
The United States, said Dastmalchian, has "in turn tried to provide intelligence and security backing, while Israel has simply followed its own interests in all this."
Furthermore, it seems unlikely Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will tolerate, even in this weak period of his leadership, the kingdom's rising power in the region and beyond, and especially its financial clout. He is usually disparaging when he speaks of Riyadh's princely rulers. In 2017, he compared them to "dairy cows," saying, "the idiots think that by giving money and aid, they can attract the goodwill of Islam's enemies."
Iranian regime officials are hopeful of moving toward better diplomatic ties and a reopening of embassies. Yet the balance of power between the sides began to change in Riyadh's favor years ago. For the kingdom's power has shifted from relying mostly on arms, to economic and political clout. The countries might have had peaceful relations before in considerably quieter, and more equitable, conditions than today's acute clash of interests.
If nuclear talks break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive.
Beyond this, the Abraham Accord or reconciliation of Arab states and Israel has been possible thanks to the green light that the Saudis gave their regional partners, and it is a considerable political and ideological defeat for the Islamic Republic.
Assuming all Houthis follow Tehran's instructions — and they may not — improved ties may curb attacks on Saudi interests and aid its economy. Tehran will also benefit from no longer having to support them. Unlike Iran's regime, the Saudis are not pressed for cash or resources and could even offer the Houthis a better deal. Presently, they may consider it more convenient to keep the softer approach toward Tehran.
For if nuclear talks with the West break down, Iran's regime may become more aggressive, and as experience has shown, tensions often prompt a renewal of missile or drone attacks on the Saudis, on tankers and on foreign shipping. Riyadh must have a way of keeping the Tehran regime quiet, in a distinctly unquiet time.
- Arab-Israeli Rapprochement: Is Saudi Arabia Next? - Worldcrunch ›
- Why Iran Is Actively Backing The Taliban For The First Time ... ›
- Iran-Azerbaijan Tensions: How Khamenei Overplayed Islamic Ties ... ›