Hard Numbers: Bidding Adios to the Beetle!

650 million: Between 2012 and 2018, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia donated roughly $650 million to more than 60 US universities. But Saudi Arabia isn't the greatest source of foreign money to American universities — that honor goes to Qatar…with whom the Saudis are currently feuding. #CollegeRivalries (Willis hastens to note that in the American South, college football rivalries are known as "border wars.")

81: The last VW Beetle rolled off the production line last week in Puebla, Mexico, marking the end of the iconic car's 81-year history. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche, championed by Adolf Hitler, anthropomorphized as Herbie the Love Bug, and driven famously (with a Rolls Royce Grill!) by Cheech and Chong, this car is one of the most beloved machines humanity has ever made. What's your best memory of the Beetle?

390,000: According to the US Government Accountability Office, the FBI has conducted more than 390,000 facial recognition searches since 2011. If that worries you, then consider that the FBI has access to 641 million face photos in databases compiled by local, state, and federal authorities. #savingface

6,856: Death squads backed by the Nicolas Maduro regime in Venezuela killed 6,856 people between January of 2018 and mid-May 2019, according to a report released by the UN earlier this month. The report says this is a conservative estimate, citing outside groups that place the death toll higher than 9,000.

In Italy, stacks of plastic boxes in supermarkets and stores are not garbage - they are collected and reused, thanks to a consortium that specializes in recycling them for food storage. How do these "circular" plastic boxes help reduce energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions?

Learn more in this episode of Eni's Energy SUPERFACTS series.

British economist Jim O'Neill says the global economy can bounce back right to where it was before, in a V-shaped recovery. But his argument is based on a lot of "ifs," plus comparisons to the 2008 recession and conditions in China and South Korea that may not truly apply. Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group's Robert Kahn take issue with O'Neill's op-ed, on this edition of The Red Pen.

Today, we're taking our Red Pen to an article titled "A V-Shaped Recovery Could Still Happen." I'm not buying it. It's published recently by Project Syndicate, authored by British economist named Jim O'Neill. Jim O'Neill is very well known. He was chairman of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. He's the guy that coined the acronym BRICS, Brazil, Russia, India, China. So, no slouch. But as you know, we don't agree with everything out there. And this is the case. Brought to you by the letter V. We're taking sharp issue with the idea that recovery from all the economic devastation created by the coronavirus pandemic is going to happen quickly. That after the sharp drop that the world has experienced, everything bounces back to where it was before. That's the V. Economists around the world are debating how quickly recovery will happen to be sure. But we're not buying the V. Here's why. W-H-Y.

More Show less

Over the past few years, we've seen three major emerging powers take bold action to right what they say are historical wrongs.

First came Crimea. When the Kremlin decided in 2014 that Western powers were working against Russian interests in Ukraine, President Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops to seize the Crimean Peninsula, which was then part of Ukraine. Moscow claimed that Crimea and its ethnic Russian majority had been part of the Russian Empire for centuries until a shameful deal in 1954 made Crimea part of the Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Americans and Europeans imposed sanctions on Russia. But Ukraine is not part of NATO or the EU, and no further action was taken.

More Show less

Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, provides his perspective on technology news:

Will the new audit of Facebook civil rights practices change the way the company operates?

Yes. It came under a lot of pressure from civil rights activists who organized an advertising boycott. And then an internal audit on Facebook's effect on civil rights came out. It was quite critical. Those two things, one after the other, will surely lead to changes at the company.

More Show less

The United States and the European Union have comparable population sizes, but their COVID-19 death toll trajectories have recently become very different. Since the beginning of July, the average number of both new fatalities and new deaths per 1 million people is rapidly increasing in the US while it remains mostly flat in the EU. We compare this to the average number of new cases each seven days in both regions, where the US trend continues upward but is not surging like the death toll. EU countries' robust public health systems and citizens' willingness to wear masks and maintain social distance could explain the disparity.