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Hard Numbers: China’s COVID death toll, Iran squeezes Syria, Myanmar’s DIY arms suppliers, Sweden cuts dance red tape

A staff member pushes a cart carrying a body bag at a funeral home in Shanghai, China.

A staff member pushes a cart carrying a body bag at a funeral home in Shanghai, China.


59,938: That's how many COVID deaths China has officially recorded since ditching its draconian pandemic curbs in early December. Beijing is widely suspected of underreporting fatalities, and weeks ago redefined the criteria for counting deaths from the virus.

70: Iran has reportedly told Syria that it now has to pay more than $70 per barrel of oil, double the current rate, and cough up the cash up front as peak demand for Iranian oil kicks in. Tehran can no longer afford to subsidize Syrian energy. This comes at a critical time for Damascus, currently in the middle of its worst fuel shortage since the civil war began more than a decade ago.

13: Corporations from at least 13 countries — including the US, France, India, and Japan — are still supplying Myanmar with parts that allow the ruling junta to make its own arms and target civilians with them, according to a new UN report. Decades of sanctions have made the generals turn to DIY weapons such as sniper rifles, anti-aircraft guns, missile launchers, grenades, bombs, and landmines.

67: Sweden's new right-wing government is all for cutting red tape, including for ... dancing. Justice Minister Gunnar Strömmer wants to ditch a decades-old law that requires businesses to apply for a $67 permit before patrons can whirl and twirl in their establishments.


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