FROM Simon Tisdall
Can the nations of Europe keep it together? First, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. Now, leaders of Catalonia, the richest province in Spain, want to declare independence. On Sunday, they went ahead with a referendum that had been ruled illegal. Tuesday, separatists took to the streets of Barcelona, Catalonia's capital city. That night, King Felipe VI took a tough stand in a rare TV appearance, instead of appealing for national unity. But today, separatist leaders said they'll obey yet another court order -- their regional parliament won't declare independence on Monday. The national government's brutal attacks on voters may have increased momentum. But Spain's not the only country where growing local resentment of distant central governments is stoking forms of separatism. Leaders of the European Union have been silent so far, but they may be facing threats to unity — as well as democracy.
Is America's "pivot to Asia" a thing of the past? So many of his Department's top jobs are still unfilled that Rex Tillerson seems like a lonely Secretary of State, and as a diplomat, he's an amateur. His trip to Asia — just one reporter included — was full of contradictions, with tweets from the President adding to the confusion. It's not clear if he threatened North Korea, advocated nuclear weapons for Japan and South Korea--or if he'll seek common ground with China. And there's another big question: how much is the Trump White House running the show?
Iran Reponds to UN Demands Iran has until the end of this month for a final response to the UN Security Council 's incentive package for halting the enrichment of uranium that could lead to building a nuclear bomb. Today, Iran met its own deadline, proposing what's described in Tehran as "a new formula," which has not as yet been released to the public. At the United Nations , where the US and other Security Council members are studying the response, US Ambassador John Bolton called the move " a significant moment ." Nevertheless, nobody thinks Tehran will stop enriching uranium. If it refuses, can the UN agree on punishment for Iran's suspected progress in building a nuclear bomb? The available options might hurt Council members as much as they hurt Iran. Is military action still "on the table?" What are the political stakes inside Iran?
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
Venezuela spirals into economic and political chaos Venezuela, a country whose potential for prosperity is unmatched, finds itself on the verge of civil war. What sustains the repressive government? With time running out, guest host León Krauze looks at what the international community can do to pull the country from the edge of collapse.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.