Hard Numbers

250,000: Some 250,000 people left Turkey for work, political, social, or cultural reasons in 2017, twice the number recorded in 2016. The combination of economic turmoil and deepening authoritarianism have pushed younger and more cosmopolitan Turks abroad: almost half of the emigrants were between 25 and 34 years old and 57 percent came from big cities like Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir.


2,312: Researchers mapping illegal mines in the Amazon have identified 2,312 small sites, along with 245 large-scale mining operations in six countries that share the rain-forest. High prices for gold and other rare minerals used in the manufacture of cellphones has spurred a historic surge in illegal mining, which accelerates deforestation and contamination of the rainforest. Venezuela, Brazil, and Ecuador – the top three countries for illegal mines – don't cooperate well enough to address the problem. Very cool interactive map of the sites is here.

42: Russia's role in the world has grown over the past ten years, say 42% of respondents to a global survey by Pew. Whether they think that's a good thing is less clear. Globally, a median of just 34 percent have a favorable view of Russia, while around a quarter say they are confident that Putin will "do the right thing" in world affairs. The most Russia-friendly countries according to the survey are the Philippines, Tunisia, South Korea and Greece.

1: Over the weekend Iraq celebrated the one-year anniversary of the defeat of Islamic State. So how is the self-styled caliphate doing these days? It controls only about 20-square miles of territory, but its attacks have gotten more frequent over the past year, jumping to 75 a month versus 60 in 2016. What's more, the group is believed to still have 20,000 to 30,000 people under arms in Iraq and Syria, about the number that the Central Intelligence Agency estimated in 2014, when ISIS was at its peak.

Amid the current need to continually focus on the COVID-19 crisis, it is understandably hard to address other important issues. But, on March 31st, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed landmark facial recognition legislation that the state legislature passed on March 12, less than three weeks, but seemingly an era, ago. Nonetheless, it's worth taking a moment to reflect on the importance of this step. This legislation represents a significant breakthrough – the first time a state or nation has passed a new law devoted exclusively to putting guardrails in place for the use of facial recognition technology.

For more on Washington's privacy legislation, visit Microsoft On The Issues.

Over the past decade or so, the European Union has weathered the global financial crisis, a migrant crisis, and the rise of populist nationalism. Sure, it's taken its fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, but the idea of a largely borderless Europe united by common democratic values has survived more or less intact.

Then came the coronavirus. The global pandemic, in which Europe is now one of the two main epicentres, is a still-spiralling nightmare that could make those previous crises look benign by comparison. Here are a few different ways that COVID-19 is severely testing the 27-member bloc:

The economic crisis: Lockdowns intended to stop the virus' spread have brought economic activity to a screeching halt, and national governments are going to need to spend a lot of money to offset the impact. But some EU members can borrow those funds more easily than others. Huge debt loads and deficits in southern European countries like Italy and Spain, which have been hardest hit by the outbreak so far, make it costlier for them to borrow than more fiscally conservative Germany and other northern member states. In the aftermath of the global financial crisis, this imbalance nearly led the bloc's common currency, the Euro, to unravel.

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3.5 billion: There are now an estimated 3.5 billion people worldwide under some sort of coronavirus lockdown after residents in Moscow (12 million) and Nigeria's capital Lagos (21 million) were ordered to join the ranks of those quarantined at home.

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North Korea has zero coronavirus cases? North Korea claims to be one of few countries on earth with no coronavirus cases. But can we take the word of the notoriously opaque leadership at face value? Most long-term observers of Pyongyang dismiss as fanciful the notion that the North, which shares a border with China, its main trade partner, was able to avert the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe. Many point to Pyongyang's lack of testing capabilities as the real reason why it hasn't reported any COVID-19 cases. To be sure, Kim Jong-un, the North's totalitarian leader, imposed some of the strictest lockdown measures in the world, well before many other countries – closing the Chinese border and quarantining all diplomats. The state's ability to control its people and their movements would also make virus-containment efforts easier to manage. We might not know the truth for some time. But what is clear is that decades of seclusion and crippling economic sanctions have devastated North Korea's health system, raising concerns of its capacity to manage a widespread outbreak of disease.

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As the coronavirus continues to ravage the world, all eyes now turn to the place where it all started. For more than two months, the 11 million residents of Wuhan, the Chinese industrial hub where the novel coronavirus was first detected, have lived under near complete lockdown.

Now, as China reports a dwindling number of new cases, the city's people are slowly emerging back into the daylight. Some travel restrictions remain, but public transportation is largely functioning again, and increasing numbers of people are cautiously – with masks and gloves and digital "health codes" on their phones that permit them to move about – going back to work.

The rest of the world, where most hard-hit countries have imposed various forms of lockdown of their own, is now keenly watching what happens in Wuhan for a glimpse of what might lie in store for the rest of us.

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