Saturday, July 21, 2018

Mark Kriegel is Annoying, Bring Back Teddy Atlas

Late last fall, ESPN replaced Teddy Atlas with Mark Kriegel for their live boxing broadcasting. The switch was a mistake.

Teddy Atlas has his quirks, but what I'm looking for in an announcer is knowledge of the subject and  entertainment value. Atlas fills both requirements. Kriegel fills neither.

The Storylines
The perfect place for Kriegel on a broadcast is doing those bio pieces before the fight that I usually just fast forward through. Every action has some deeper meaning or some deeper story behind it with this guy. A fighter's orphaned childhood eating garbage out on the streets led him to that straight right-left hook combination in the 4th round. What the hell? It's a fucking boxing match, not a Russian novel. I want to know that he landed the combo because the opponent's left was low after a jab, not because he overcame bipolar disorder through years of intensive therapy.

The Repetition
I read Mark Kriegel's book The Good Son about Ray Mancini. It was enjoyable until he recycled the the same old trope: Mancini was avenging his father's career which was successful, but the father never reached the pinnacle of his profession. Kriegel never really built off of that idea, he simply repeated it. He does the same thing when he announces fights and introduces his storylines

The Lack of Knowledge
I blame Howard Cosell, but boxing has a long tradition of placing non-experts in the expert chair. You got the sense that Cosell knew what he was taking about. That doesn't mean Mark Kriegel also knows. Besides the occasional mention of a jab, Kriegel doesn't provide anything of substance. And when he mentions a jab, his accent travels back in time 50 years, but for just a word.

An ESPN official said they took Teddy Atlas off the broadcasts because he treated Kriegel horribly during one telecast. Yeah, because Teddy Atlas holds people who don't know anything about boxing to account. It was cathartic to hear Kriegel called out for his lack of knowledge about boxing.

You, Sir, Are No Larry Merchant
The gradual delivery, the contrarian attitude. Kriegel is channeling his inner Larry Merchant. The difference is we waited to hear Merchant finally finish his thought because it was worth waiting for.

Muhammad Ali Isn't Fighting Tonight
Max Kellerman had to learn this. Bringing up old fighters can be illuminating, but only if done so with care. When Kellerman first started announcing fights on HBO, he compared every Sakio Bika fight to Hagler-Hearns (not an actual example). Kellerman brings up old fighters more judiciously now. Kriegel should be taking notes.

The Jose Ramirez Fixation
Mark Kreigel is in love with junior welterweight contender (don't try to talk to me about the alphabet belts) Jose Ramirez. His infatuation with Jose Ramirez makes Dick Vitale and Duke look like puppy love. Kriegel has managed to mention Jose Ramirez in virtually every fight he's called this year. I mean, Jose Ramirez is pretty good and has a nice back story, but he's not the face of boxing or anything. I can deal with hearing about Jose Ramirez during his own fight and occasionally when another 140 pound contender is in the ring. But enough already.

ESPN should bring back Teddy Atlas. The only problem is Tim Bradley has really come into his own as an announcer since Atlas left. That's primarily because providing anything of substance falls completely on his shoulders during the broadcast. When he called a fight with his old coach, Bradley's voice was neutered. Now, he is the lone boxing expert on the team (all apologies to Joe Tessitore, but Tess does a great job of knowing his place). Neverthless, I'd be willing to sacrifice Tim Bradley's continued improvement if we can mute Mark Kriegel. In the mean time, I'll be patiently waiting to once again hear Teddy Atlas rip a judge's bad scorecard.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Presidential Press Conference

"I asked Emperor Hirohito in all seriousness if Japan attacked Pearl Harbor and he said no. Why would he lie to me? I don't see any reason why it would be Japan. It could be other people. There's a lot of people out there." - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on December 7, 1941 at a joint press conference with Japanese Emperor Hirohito.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Power Rankings of World Leaders

Here's the new power rankings of world leaders. The last one was posted on June 13.

Rank Leader Country Previous Rank
1 Xi Jiangping China 1
2 Kim Jong-un North Korea 2
3 Vladimir Putin Russia 5
4 Ali Khamenei Iran 7
5Narendra Modi India Not Ranked
6 Mohammad bin Salman Saudi Arabia 10
7 Abdel Fattah el-Sisi Egypt Not Ranked
8 Recep Tayyip Erdogan Israel Not Ranked
9 Donald Trump Malaysia 6
10Pedro Sanchez Spain Not Ranked

1. The trade war is happening and China is in a great position to win it. Xi doesn't have to worry about his political constituency because he is the unchallenged leader of China. He can put a real hurt on the U.S. since its president Donald Trump managed to alienate his allies before entering this trade war. The North Korean situation is going swimmingly for Xi as well as Trump has already capitulated on a few issues that bolster China. And in a recent Democracy Perception Index (DPI) report, China was one of the top countries for the questions about the government acting in its people's best interest and- amazingly- about the perception of its news media being balanced.

2. Kim defeated Donald Trump during the Singapore summit. Donald Trump was caught by cameras saluting a North Korean soldier. It was bad enough that the President of the United States met with the North Korean dictator as if they were equals, called a halt to necessary defensive military exercises with South Korea, and didn't get anything of substance in return, but now POTUS is saluting random North Korean soldiers. And oh by the way, after vaguely promising to denuclearize, the North Koreans have increased nuclear production at secret sites.

3. One of the most upsetting sights at the World Cup was watching Putin and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince MBS shrug their shoulders as Russia continuously scored goals in the tournament's opening match as if to say, "Let the peons have their fun, this frivolity is of no consequence to us royalty." Otherwise, the optics have been good during Putin's World Cup as none of the stadiums have collapsed and no foreigners have been beaten (except for maybe Neymar, but that's a different story). Don't underestimate Putin's ability to fix the World Cup as his low-ranked Russian squad is still alive. Putin is now preparing for his summit with Trump, who is developing a reputation as an easy mark. Russia- bewilderingly- was number one in the DPI report's question about feeling free to express one's political positions. This despite the untimely deaths or arrests of those who express the "wrong" opinions about Putin.

4. As the Iran Deal continues to crumble following President Trump's withdrawal, the pressure is on Europe and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to revive it. Trump is threatening the U.S.'s European allies with sanctions for trading with Iran, which moves the Europeans to the Iranians' side in the dispute. And if a new deal can't get done, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei benefits. Iranians are protesting the bad economy, Now Khamenei can play that old anti-American nationalism tune and hope to blame Iran's economic woes on the Great Satan. And Iran may soon be free to start up its nuclear program once again.

5. Modi is the top democratic leader on this list. India's economy is thriving, but relations between the Hindu fundamentalist government and the large Muslim minority has been a cause for concern. A UN human rights report on India's only Muslim-majority province, Kashmir, was rough on the Indians, who have run the state as a military autocracy for decades. However, the recent DPI report put India near the top with China in terms of the perception of a balanced media in the eyes of India's citizens. That might be because India's cable news media is basically people from all sides of an issue screaming at each other.

6. Women can now drive in Saudi Arabia, a great news story for MBS, who has overseen a disastrous war in Yemen, the bizarre kidnapping of the Lebanese prime minister, a counterproductive blockade of Qatar, and the jailing of female activists. He also was one half of the "let them eat cake" duo at the World Cup with Putin, arrogantly shrugging away his soccer team's pitiful performance. But in that recent DPI report, Saudi Arabia easily won the question about the government acting in its people's best interest and- astoundingly- did well on a question about whether the average citizen's voice matters.

7. Sisi is back on the list because of the DPI report. Egypt was second behind Saudi Arabia for the question about the government acting in the people's interest and tied for second for the question: do you feel that the voice of people like you matters in politics? That is an incredible achievement for a hapless despot.

8. Erdogan won another presidential election. This was an important one because it basically made him dictator for life in the once-democratic country. Erdogan has a knack for just clearing the 50% threshold. I have a feeling he'll do much better next election with his increased powers. It's like that old expression: With increased power comes increased comfort to fix your next election. The good news is Turkey has taken in a lot of Syrian refugees, something the United States and many European countries are loath to do. In the DPI report, Turkey- shockingly- was one of the best countries in terms of the government acting in its people's interest. Apparently, not many Kurds, Istanbulites, and Izmirian were polled.

9. Trump has had a terrible month. Separating children from their parents on the border with Mexico was inhumane. Saluting the North Korean soldier was treasonous at worst and stupid at best. The trade war is going to cost a lot of Americans their jobs and will increase the price of many consumer goods. He entered the trade war after alienating his allies, never a good plan. After being duped by Kim Jong-Un during the pair's summit, he's going to be bamboozled by Putin during their July 16 summit. You never know, Trump might end up giving Putin Crimea and California and still claim he got a great deal.

10. When the Italians heartlessly refused the Aquarius, a boat laden with refugees, Sanchez's Spain answered the call and allowed the ship to dock. Whereas French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have all failed to sway Trump, perhaps, ironically, Socialist Sanchez will be a more effective leader of the Western alliance and the liberal world order.

Sunday, July 01, 2018

Top Ten Pound-For-Pound

Here's my pound-for-pound list. I take into account ability and accomplishment. The previous list was posted on April 11, 2018.

1. Vasyl Lomachenko (11-1, 9 KOs) [1]
2. Terence Crawford (33-0, 24 KOs) [2]
3. Gennady Golovkin (38-0-1, 34 KOs) [3]
4. Sergey Kovalev (32-2-1, 28 KOs) [4]
5. Srisaket Sor Rungvisai (45-4-1, 40 KOs) [5]
6. Leo Santa Cruz (35-1-1, 19 KOs) [Not ranked]
7. Naoya Inoue (16-0, 15 KOs) [Not ranked]
8. Errol Spence (24-0, 21 KOs) [6]
9. Mikey Garcia (38-0, 30 KOs) [7]
10. Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-1, 11 KOs) [10]

Exiting the list:
Adonis Stevenson (29-1-1, 24 KOs) [8]
Keith Thurman (28-0, 22 KOs) [9]

Stevenson drew with a good opponent, Badou Jack, but that result isn't good enough to warrant staying on the list.

Thurman falls off the list due to inactivity. A good win will put him back on.

Entering the list:
Santa Cruz fell off the list in April and is now back on with an impressive win over Abner Mares. He's now beaten Mares twice, avenged his lone loss to Carl Frampton, and has bested a number of good fighters. Spence hasn't quite faced the same competition as Santa Cruz. He beat an undefeated, but untested Carlos Ocampo in one round in June. Garcia has fought a similar amount of solid opponents, but doesn't yet have a signature win; Santa Cruz has three.

Inoue hasn't fought anyone great, but he has demolished good fighters. His bigger opponent in May, Jamie McDonnell, was no slouch. Inoue stopped him inside one round.

What to Watch for:
Golovkin faces Canelo Alvarez in a rematch of their September draw. Alvarez failed a drug test before the scheduled May 5 match up. If he's clean, Canelo may return to the list. GGG might make a good case for #1 with a great showing.

Kovalev is in tough against undefeated contender Eleider Alvarez in August.

Cruiserweight Olexandr Usyk was supposed to face Murat Gassiev in May. That fight is now slated for July 21. The winner could crack the top ten pound-for-pound.

Mikey Garcia faces the undefeated Robert Easter, a legitimate and lengthy lean lightweight on July 28.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Power Ranking of World Leaders

Here's the new power rankings of world leaders. The last one was posted on May 18.

Rank Leader Country Previous Rank
1 Xi Jiangping China 1
2 Kim Jong-un North Korea 2
3 Moon Jae-in South Korea 5
4 Lee Hsien Loong Singapore Not Ranked
5Vladimir Putin Russia 6
6 Donald Trump United States 7
7 Ali Khamenei Iran 3
8 Benjamin Netanyahu Israel 4
9 Mahathir bin Muhammad Malaysia 10
10Mohammad bin Salman Saudi Arabia 8

1. The big winner of the U.S.-North Korea summit? China. Nothing of substance came about, but tensions do seem to be thawing. The U.S. also promised to end joint military exercises with South Korea. Xi couldn't have drawn it up better.

2. Kim got his wish to sit down with a U.S. president and sign a joint declaration of friendship. The cherry on top came when the president called Kim "honorable" and "talented." Between the summit with South Korean president Moon and this summit with Trump, Kim is apparently the most popular belle at the ball.

3. Moon worked hard to restore the summit after Trump cancelled it over hurt feelings last month. While the summit didn't accomplish world peace, it did keep the process going, which is ultimately helpful to South Korea and Moon's legacy.

4. The summit put the spotlight on Singapore, one of the most successful countries in the world. Singapore has the rare distinction of being a trade partner with North Korea and also a close ally of the U.S.

5. Putin was kicked out of the G-7 for invading Crimea in 2014. Putin critics argue he never should've been invited in, but the invasion exposed him as the bad faith actor he is. Now U.S. president Donald Trump has inexplicably whined that Putin should be let back into the club, despite killing dissidents and breaking international laws by invading other sovereign nations. Putin should hire Trump as his agent. Plus, the World Cup is in Russia starting tomorrow.

6. The summit with Kim was a positive step. Despite his critics' fears, Trump didn't mess things up and induce nuclear war. It was a rare success for Trump, who hasn't seen much else go right- usually due to his own actions. He insulted America's allies at the G-7 meeting, initially cancelled the summit like a petulant child before looking ridiculous and making an about-face, and promised to end joint military exercises with South Korea without getting any concessions from the North Koreans or consulting the South Koreans. And that was just in the last few weeks. That doesn't include ripping up the Iran deal (a deal similar to the one he hopes to get with North Korea), moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem without getting any concessions from Israel, starting a trade war with China, starting a trade war with our allies, and walking away from the TPP before asking to get back in.

7. It looks like Iran will restart its nuclear weapons program if the other parties in the JCPOA can't save it. That favors the hardliners like the Grand Ayatollah in Iran over moderates like president Hassan Rouhani.

8. Despite being interviewed by police for corruption this week, Netanyahu is doing well thanks to Trump. The U.S. moved its embassy to Jerusalem and Israel didn't have to give anything up. Netanyahu also convinced Trump to get out of the JCPOA.

9. Prime Minister Mahathir hopes to reinvigorate his country and has invited Ali Baba head Jack Ma and Indian prime minister Narendra Modi to Malaysia in recent weeks in order to do just that.

10. MbS falls down the list as activist women were arrested last month showing that either MbS isn't the reformer he has tried to portray himself as or the crown prince doesn't have as much power as he hopes. His war in Yemen is a disaster, but he has become close to Trump.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Game Four - Thrice as Nice

The Golden State Warriors won their third championship in four years to cement their legacy as a dynasty. Led by Stephen Curry's 37 and Finals MVP Kevin Durant's triple double, the game's outcome wasn't in much doubt from the outset.

The core of the team over the past four seasons has been Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green with Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston acting as key role players. Reserve Kevon Looney joined three years ago. When Kevin Durant arrived before last season, the Warriors solidified their position as perennial favorites. David West, JaVale McGee, Zaza Pachulia, and Patrick McCaw arrived with Durant and contributed differing levels of help. This year, Quinn Cook filled in admirably for an injured Stephen Curry towards the end of the regular season and Jordan Bell and Nick Young also provided some key minutes. And thus, the 2018 Golden State Warriors were formed.

Cleveland never really had a chance. The Cavs were fortunate even to make the Finals for the fourth time. Without LeBron James, who is a free agent, Cleveland is a lottery team. The trades int he middle of the season were ill-advised. Gone was all star Isaiah Thomas. Key glue player Jae Crowder was also shipped away. Some solid talent in George Hill, Larry Nance, Rodney Hood, and Jordan Clarkson were acquired, but it left the Cavs with a plethora of serviceable players, but fewer standouts.

The new talent could've been molded into a winner, but head coach Ty Lue was too late in making adjustments. Hood sat on the bench for much of the playoffs and it was too little too late by the time he got in during the Finals. He managed to score 15 in Game 3, but his shot was inconsistent from sitting on the bench so much and he struggled to score 10 in Game 4. A nearly 17 ppg scorer in Utah this season, Hood sat much of Game 7 in the first round against Indiana even though he had been score efficiently during the series.

Neither Nance, nor Tristan Thompson played enough in the Finals. Too often Lue was trying to matchup his inferior players to Golden State, instead of forcing Steve Kerr to make any hard decisions. After burning up during most of the playoffs, Kyle Korver struggled in the final six games. But his presence on the floor creating openings down low. Instead of giving Korver confidence, Lue stripped him of minutes. Jeff Green defended his friend Kevin Durant well in the Game 1, but then his minutes were cut too.

Instead, J.R. Smith and George Hill, the two goats from Game 1, were trotted out on the floor like some Russian soldiers without weapons during World War I. Hill had one decent game in Game 2, but otherwise contributed virtually nothing despite playing nearly 30 minutes a game. Hill had a couple of good games during the playoffs while playing over 30 minutes, but most effective as a bench scorer in the Indiana series. Smith played terrible all series long and should've been pulled as soon as Lue realized he wasn't going to recover from his Game 1 blunder. The realization came to everyone else after Game 2's first quarter. Smith played 32 minutes a game in the Finals and scored 9 and half points per game on 31.7% shooting from the field. He made up for it by playing poor defense.

For Golden State to keep the dynasty going, the big question is Kevin Durant's impending free agency. Having won two Finals MVPs during his time in Oakland, perhaps he wants to establish his legacy further by taking a less talented team to the promised land. The original core should be back for another season, which makes the Warriors a contender regardless of Durant's decision.

Golden State's 108-85 victory ended the first sweep in the Finals since 2007 when the Spurs won four straight against an under-talented Cavs team led by LeBron and only the second time since the Lakers swept the Nets in '02.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Game Three - One More 'Til Three for Four

Golden State took a commanding three games to nothing lead in the 2018 NBA Finals thanks to timely buckets by Stephen Curry and the greatness of Kevin Durant.

Cleveland started Game 3 at home with a bang, but by the end of the first quarter, the Cavs' lead was only one. LeBron James, who had a 33-point triple double, kept his team in the game throughout. Kevin Love rebounded well, grabbing 13 missed shots and scoring 20 points. Tristan Thompson had another good game with 8 points, including an acrobatic layup on the other side of the rim from which he started, and 7 rebounds. Otherwise, only Rodney Hood had a noteworthy game for the Cavs. After spending much of the Finals on the bench, he chipped in 15 points.

Golden State featured balanced scoring and the offensive genius of Kevin Durant. Durant had an incredibly efficient 43 points on 23 shots. He added 9 assists and was a clutch shooter down the stretch, including a late three from well beyond the arc as the shot clock ended. The Warriors need his performance because Curry and Klay Thompson showed that they are human, not three-point making machines. They shot 7 for 27 collectively. But Curry had a late lay up and a three that helped propel Golden State forward in tight game.

The Warriors also got good bench play. Andre Iguodala came back from injury to score 8 points. Shaun Livingston added 8. Two of Golden State's centers, JaVale McGee and Jordan Bell scored 10 points.

Cleveland lost 110-102 and now are one game away from elimination. But LeBron James did complete a play for the ages. He flew by McGee, threw the ball of the backboard, and slammed it down hard.

Sunday, June 03, 2018

Game Two - Curry For Three

Golden State intended to punish the downtrodden Cleveland Cavaliers after the latter's heartbreaking Game One loss. The Warriors knocked down 10 of their first 11 field goals, but Cleveland valiantly hung on and trailed by only four after one.

The Warriors made a run in the second and went into halftime with a double digit lead. In the third, Cleveland kept pace, cutting the lead to five at one point. Kevin Love had another strong game with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Thirteen of his points came in the third.

Golden State broke the game open in the fourth. Stephen Curry hit five of his NBA Finals-record nine three points in the final quarter including a ridiculous fade-away buzzer-beating 28-footer that swished beautifully. He amassed 33 points with 8 assists and 7 rebounds. Klay Thompson (20 points) and Kevin Durant (26 points) both made well over half of their shots. Neither JaVale McGee nor Shaun Livingston missed a shot from the field. McGee scored 12 points on six field goals and Livingston scored 10 on five. Draymond Green had another strong all-around game.

LeBron James had performed well- if not legendarily. He scored 29 points on 50% shooting with 13 assists and 9 rebounds. After being poked in the eye in Game One, he sported a severely reddened sclera. Tristan Thompson scored 11 points and grabbed 5 rebounds, but for some reason, head coach Ty Lue only played him 23 minutes. George Hill added 15 points.

J.R. Smith's Game One blunder carried over into Game Two. He scored only 5 points in 31 minutes. During his lone free throw attempt, the Warriors' faithful began sarcastically chanting "MVP! MVP!" Smith missed.

The Warriors pulled away in the end and won 122-103 to take a two games to nothing series lead.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Game One - J. R. Smith's Blunder

Stephen Curry and LeBron James had each just made clutch drives to the basket. Curry, who ended with 29 points, zipped by J.R. Smith and was fouled on his penetration and nailed the free throw give Golden State a one point lead, 107-106, with 23.5 seconds remaining.

LeBron, who notched a career playoff high 51 points, dribbled the ball until he found a cutting George Hill. Klay Thompson grabbed him and a foul was called with 4.7 seconds left. Hill stepped up to the line and tied the game on his first attempt. He then missed the go-ahead free throw.

J.R. Smith improbably grabbed the offensive rebound as Kevin Durant inexplicably found himself under the basket. Wide open for an easy putback, Smith dribbled out to center court. LeBron implored Smith to pass towards the basket and even tried to call timeout. Belatedly, Smith passed to Hill, who didn't have to time to release a proper shot. The game went into overtime where Golden State blitzed Cleveland, winning 124-114 to take Game 1.

Cleveland and Golden State are meeting for the fourth straight NBA Finals. Both teams needed Game 7 wins on the road after each trailed the conference finals 3-2. Cleveland traded away several key players for mostly untested talent in return in the middle of the regular season. Head Coach Ty Lue then decided not to trust the new acquisitions. Only LeBron's greatness pushed the Cavs past Indiana in 7, Toronto in 4, and Boston in 7 to return to the Finals.

Golden State limped through the regular year, finishing second behind the Houston Rockets in the West. Their bench proved weaker than in years past and the Warriors often looked disinterested and beatable. They trailed by double digits in both Games 6 and 7 against Houston only to win both and try for their third title in four years.

Cleveland was surprisingly competitive early in Game 1. The Cavs took a one point lead heading into the second quarter and Klay Thompson, Game 6 hero against Houston, sustained a leg injury in the first quarter when J.R. Smith rolled onto him.Thompson would come back and scored 24 points while making half his shots.

Only a deep Curry three at the buzzer sent the game into a halftime tied. Golden State had its customary explosive third quarter to take a six point lead into the fourth. The fourth went back and forth when Smith made his crushing mistake.

Thirty four years earlier, Derek Harper dribbled out the clock in Game 4 of the Western Conference semis with the scored tied. The Lakers beat Harper's Mavs in overtime. Golden State's Shaun Livingston made sure history would repeat itself. The reserve scored 6 of his 10 points in the extra period.

Kevin Durant struggled shooting, scoring 26 points while making just 36.4% of his field goals. Jeff Green defended him especially well. Draymond Green was one assist shy of a triple double. For Cleveland, the only non-LeBron players to score in double figures were Kevin Love (21 points, 13 rebounds) and Smith (10 points). Larry Nance Jr. added 9 points and 11 boards in his first Finals game.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Power Ranking of World Leaders

Here's the new power rankings of world leaders. The last one was posted on May 4.

Rank Leader Country Previous Rank
1 Xi Jiangping China 1
2 Kim Jong-un North Korea 2
3 Ali Khamenei Iran Not Ranked
4 Benjamin Netanyahu Israel Not Ranked
5Moon Jae-in South Korea 3
6 Vladimir Putin Russia 10
7 Donald Trump United States 6
8 Mohammad bin Salman Saudi Arabia 8
9 Emmanuel Macron France 4
10Mahathir bin Muhammad Malaysia Not Ranked

1. Xi is inserting himself into the Korean peace process and making himself indespensible. After eliminating term limits earlier in the year, Xi is the most powerful man in China and he's a force on the international stage.

2. Kim engaged in another conciliatory act when he released three American prisoners earlier int he week. He has since suspended peace talks with South Korea and threatened to cancel the summit with Donald Trump over joint South Korean/U.S. military exercises and because of comments spewed by U.S. National Security Advisory John Bolton. Kim is in the driver's seat when it comes to peace/denuclearization on the Korean peninsula.

3. When Donald Trump backed out of the JCPOA aka the Iran Nuclear Deal, he neutered the moderates in Iran and emboldened the hardliners who have always accused America of being distrustful. Ayatollah Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guard were against the deal from the outset and may now be free to build a nuclear weapon.

4. Bibi Netanyahu's presentation on Iran's nuclear lies was widely panned. Not only did he fail to produce new information, but his intended audience- Donald Trump- famously hates powerpoint presentations. Trump did back out of the Iran deal, which was exactly what Netanyahu advocated for, even though it ran counter to America's (and Israel's) interests. Trump also moved the American embassy to Jerusalem, which stripped the U.S. of its role as mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and resulted in the deaths of dozens. It was another win for Netanyahu at America's expense.

5. Moon was on a path to winning the Nobel Peace Prize and going down in history as one of the primary people who created peace in Korea. But the recent joint military exercises with the U.S. has put a hold on Moon's seeming inevitable road to heroism.

6. Russia is a member of the JCPOA for now, but if it dissolves in the wake of Trump's inexplicable pulling out of the deal, Russia may come out ahead. The autocratic leader of Russia allies himself with Syria and Iran and a nuclear Iran would bolster the alliance's clout on the world stage.

7. Trump has the ability to create international crises all on his own: The looming trade war with China, potentially handing Iran the nuclear bomb, soiling good will with North Korea, and losing credibility among the Palestinians. He's aiming to destabilize America's enemies, but he often ends up emboldening them.

8. Trump's nixing of the Iran deal may not have done much for nuclear disarmament, but it made MBS happy. A weird America-Israel-Saudi Arabia axis appears to be forming for some reason. Autocrats are enjoying something of a moment on this list.

9. Macron put a lot of his political capital into convincing Trump to stay in the JCPOA and rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement. It didn't work. His next step may determine if he can vault back up the list or if he disappears into irrelevancy.

10. Mahathir became the oldest head of state at 92 when his electoral victory thwarted the increasingly autocratic regime of Najib Razak, who ransacked the nation's treasury like a Vladimir Putin wannabe. Mahathir plans to hand over power in a year or two to his former protege-turned-rival-turned-protege again in the feel-good move of the summer,