Hard Numbers: China is a cigarette-smoking superpower

26 billion: Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants $26 billion from the UN and foreign governments in order to develop the "safe zone" that his forces have occupied in Northern Syria. Erdogan wants to populate the region with more than 1 million mostly Arab Syrian refugees currently living in Turkey. The plan, of dubious legality, would amount to a sweeping ethnic transformation of historically Kurdish areas.

70: Some 70 percent of Bolivians view the recent ouster of President Evo Morales as a "social revolt" while just a quarter saw it as a "coup", according to a local poll. Morales, a once-popular leftist who served three terms as president, was pushed out by the military in October after his attempt to rig elections provoked nationwide protests. New elections will be held next year.

1/3: While China accounts for a fifth of the world's population, the country lights up about one third of the world's cigarettes every year. Health experts say that's one factor behind soaring rates of diabetes there.

70,000: The worst locust infestation in 25 years has destroyed some 70,000 hectares (173,000 acres) of farmland in Somalia and Ethiopia this year. Government weakness and conflict in Somalia make it impossible to eradicate the pests by aerial spraying.

Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to child online protection. First and foremost, as a technology company, it has a responsibility to create software, devices and services that have safety features built in from the outset. Last week, in furtherance of those commitments, Microsoft shared a grooming detection technique, code name "Project Artemis," by which online predators attempting to lure children for sexual purposes can be detected, addressed and reported. Developed in collaboration with The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik and Thorn, this technique builds off Microsoft patented technology and will be made freely available to qualified online service companies that offer a chat function.

Read more at Microsoft On The Issues.

Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for twenty years, but he has a problem: his current presidential term ends in 2024, and the constitution prevents him from running for re-election then.

As a result, the question of what he'll do in 2024 has been on the minds of Russia's oligarchs, spooks, bureaucrats, and a lot of ordinary folks, as well. After all, over the past two decades, Putin has made himself, for better and for worse, the indispensable arbiter, boss, and glue of Russia's sprawling and corrupted system of government. As the current speaker of Russia's legislature once said, "Without Putin, there is no Russia." Not as we currently know it, no.


It's been nine years since Libya's long-time despot Muammar Qaddafi was killed in a violent uprising, bringing the oil-rich country to the brink of civil war. That conflict entered a new stage last year when violence between warring factions competing for territory intensified around Tripoli, Libya's capital, leading to the displacement of some 300,000 civilians. In recent weeks, fighting has intensified again, and ceasefire talks have failed. Here's a look at who's who and how we got here.


India's supreme court to weigh in on citizenship law – India's southern state of Kerala filed a lawsuit in India's Supreme Court, claiming that a contentious new citizenship law that's caused nationwide protests is discriminatory and violates India's secular constitution. Kerala is the first state to legally challenge the new law backed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist party, which opens a path to Indian citizenship for migrants from neighboring countries— provided that they are not Muslims. In addition to the Kerala action, at least some of the 60 petitions filed by individuals and political parties are also likely to be heard by the court next week. Amid a climate of deepening uncertainty for India's 200 million Muslims, we're watching closely to see how the court rules.


Vladimir Putin has held power for twenty years now, alternating between the prime minister's seat and the presidency twice. He has made himself so indispensable to Russia's political system that even the speaker of the legislature has mused that "without Putin, there is no Russia." The constitution says he can't serve as president again after his current term ends in 2024 – but he'll find a way to keep power somehow. As he starts to lay those plans, here's a look back at his approval rating over the past two decades.