Hard Numbers

10,000: Around 10,000 students boycotted the first day of school in Hong Kong on Monday, the latest twist in the Chinese territory's pro-democracy protests. The walk-out follows a tense weekend in which protesters threw fire-bombs and police beat and pepper-sprayed people in the Hong Kong Metro.

21.2: The average tariff applied to Chinese products crossing the US border hit 21.2 percent on Sunday after the latest round of US trade levies took effect. That's up from an average of 3.1 percent at the beginning of the Trump administration. The figure is due to rise further in December if the two countries can't find a way to resolve their escalating trade dispute.

882,000: Colombian president Ivan Duque is offering an $882,000 bounty for the capture of former FARC leaders who appeared in a video recording last week calling for followers to resume their armed struggle against the government. It's the latest sign that the 2016 peace deal that ended the guerilla group's 50-year Marxist insurgency is in danger of falling apart.

18: The US war in Afghanistan turns 18 years old next month. On Sunday, the US lead negotiator said the country was "at the threshold" of an agreement with the Taliban, which is expected to involve the withdrawal of roughly 14,000 US troops and other foreign forces from the country. Over the weekend, the Taliban stepped up a military offensive in northern Afghanistan.

The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace launched in 2018 with the commitment of signatories to stand up to cyber threats like election interference, attacks on critical infrastructure, and supply chain vulnerabilities. Last week, on the first anniversary of the call, the number of signatories has nearly tripled to more than 1,000 and now includes 74 nations; more than 350 international, civil society and public sector organizations; and more than 600 private sector entities. These commitments to the Paris Call from around the world demonstrate a widespread, global, multi-stakeholder consensus about acceptable behavior in cyberspace.

Read More at Microsoft On The Issues.

In recent years, Republicans have come to dominate most of the state legislatures in the US. Ironically, it was during the Obama-era that the GOP made major headway in states that had long been considered safely blue. State legislatures are now redder than they've been in nearly a century, and in most parts of the country, one party holds all the levers of power. For the first time since 1914, there's only one split legislature in the entire country: Minnesota. To be sure, some state races are bucking the trend: Kentucky and Louisiana, both deep-red states, recently elected Democratic governors. Here's a look at how Democratic and Republican control of state legislatures has evolved over the past four decades.

Forty years ago, Islamic extremists angry at the Saudi government's experiments with social liberalization laid siege to the Grand Mosque of Mecca, the holiest site in Islam.

The attack came on the heels of the Iranian revolution across the Gulf, putting the House of Saud and its American backers in a precarious spot. Tehran had challenged Saudi Arabia's Islamic legitimacy from without, while jihadists were now doing the same from within. For a few days it seemed as though the world's most important oil producer – and the custodian of Islam's holiest places – might be in danger of collapse.

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Forty years ago today, dozens of bearded gunmen stormed the holiest site in Islam, the Grand Mosque at Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

They held the complex for two weeks before a French-trained Saudi force rooted them out, but the fallout from the attack went on to shape the modern Middle East in ways that are still with us today: in the scourge of transnational jihadism and the deepening rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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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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