Hard Numbers: Belarus-EU migrant haggling, Somalia’s long election, Turkey cuts rates, Salt Bae in Vietnam

Hard Numbers: Belarus-EU migrant haggling, Somalia’s long election, Turkey cuts rates, Salt Bae in Vietnam

5,000: Belarus has cleared its migrant camps at the Polish border, but the crisis ain't over yet. Minsk has offered to return 5,000 migrants to their home countries, but there's a catch — in exchange, the EU must take in another two thousand migrants, something EU member states are unlikely to agree to.


30: The UN wants Somalia to hurry up with electing all the members of its federal parliament so that a long-delayed presidential vote can happen before the end of the year. Once the chamber is filled, 30 percent of lawmakers must be women.

3: Despite sky-high inflation, Turkey's central bank has taken the odd step of cutting interest rates for the third time since September, as demanded by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to boost economic growth. Economists have warned this will only make prices surge even more, but he has other ideas.

1,960: A beef noodle soup vendor was arrested in Vietnam for mocking authorities with a parody of the famous steak impresario Salt Bae. The man posted on Facebook a viral video of himself throwing chopped green onions into tasty pho broth... just days after the real Salt Bae hand-fed a Vietnamese government minister a $1,960 gold-encrusted tomahawk steak in London.
A blue graphic using 1's and 0's to form an image of roads leading into a city

Governments, civil society and industry are beginning to understand the value of data to society in much the same way they considered the importance of thoroughfares 200 years ago. Just as these roads ushered in a new era of physical infrastructure that helped society thrive then, today we are beginning to understand the need to invest in modern approaches to our data infrastructure that will enhance economic growth and innovation, support individual empowerment and protect us from harm. Just as our physical infrastructure of roads and highways needs to be used appropriately, maintained and protected, so does our data infrastructure.

To maximize the benefits and minimize the harms of our data use, we need privacy regulations to serve as our global rules of the road that preserve our ability to use and share data across borders, supported by innovative tools and solutions that protect privacy and empower individuals. As we reframe our focus to support data use, let’s examine the regulatory approaches that have been working, and develop new approaches where needed to enable the responsible use and sharing of data. To read more about Microsoft’s approach to protecting data infrastructure, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

The French election is getting hot

Germany has been the European center of political attention in recent months, as punk-rock god Angela Merkel exits the stage after almost two decades at the helm. But there’s another big election heating up in Europe. The French will head to the polls in just twelve weeks, and the race has started to get very interesting.

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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson observes an early morning Merseyside police raid on a home in Liverpool as part of 'Operation Toxic' to infiltrate County Lines drug dealings in Liverpool, Britain December 6, 2021.

Boris’ horrible, no good, very bad day. Boris Johnson is no stranger to controversy. In fact, sometimes he appears to relish it. But not this time. As British authorities weigh whether to impose unpopular restrictions amid a surge in omicron cases, a video has surfaced of top Downing Street aides tastelessly joking about flouting lockdown rules last Christmas by gathering for a holiday party. At the time, Britons were forbidden to gather with friends and family during the holiday season, let alone say goodbye to dying relatives. What’s more, Downing Street has been accused of trying to cover up the shindig – a “wine and cheese” night, according to the video – until this damning footage materialized. Johnson says he is “sickened and furious” about it, and a top aide has since resigned. (Johnson himself has not been accused of attending the party.) Meanwhile, London police say they are looking into the case. The timing is pretty awful for Johnson, who is already facing party backlash over a series of blunders in recent months, as well as his perceived failure to address Brexit-related shortages of gasoline and goods. Currently, 55 percent of Britons disapprove of his leadership.

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A person waves flags as people gather after the Senate approved a same-sex marriage bill, in Santiago, Chile December 7, 2021

8: Chile’s Congress approved same-sex marriage Wednesday, becoming the eighth Latin American country to do so. Conservative President Sebastián Piñera for years opposed the measure, which would give full parental rights to same-sex couples, but six months ago changed his position, paving the way for the bill’s passage.

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Ian Bremmer, president of Eurasia Group, our parent company, has opened this year’s GZERO Summit with a provocative speech on the near future of international politics. Here are the highlights.

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No country is in a big hurry to recognize the Taliban, explains journalist Ahmed Rashid, even those that likely will do so in the future: Pakistan, China, and Russia. “They understand that if they recognize the Taliban, it's going to lead to a major division in the international community,” he told Ian Bremmer on GZERO World.

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Japan, the world's third-largest economy, has long been a bastion of modern capitalism. But newly-minted PM Fumio Kishida thinks it's time for a rethink of the neoliberal model.
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The Graphic Truth: French presidential frontrunners

France's presidential election is only three months away, and it’ll be no snoozer. Although barely one-quarter of French voters back current president Emmanuel Macron, he’s heavily favored to win re-election because he’d almost certainly beat far-right hopefuls Marine Le Pen or Éric Zemmour in a runoff. But the center-right French president now faces an unexpected challenge from the old establishment right: Valerie Pécresse, the nominee of the Les Republicains party, could give Macron a run for his money if she makes it to the second round. We take a look at how the top four French presidential candidates have polled over the past six months.

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Will any countries recognize the Taliban?

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