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Hard Numbers: Ethiopian refugees, US COVID deaths, Aussie misconduct in Afghanistan, UK's defense spending bonanza

Ethiopians who fled the ongoing fighting in Tigray region, wait to be processed for emergency food and logistics support by the World Food Program in Hamdait village on the Sudan-Ethiopia border in eastern Kassala state, Sudan November 17, 2020.

4,000: As many as 4,000 Ethiopians are crossing into Sudan each day as violence in the Tigray region intensifies, causing a mass exodus that's sparked a full-blown "humanitarian crisis," according to the UN. Meanwhile, the Ethiopian government said that it is closing in on Tigray's capital after fighting a weeks-long battle against a coalition led by the radical Tigray People's Liberation Front.

250,000: More than 250,000 people — that's a quarter of a million — have now died from COVID-19 in the United States. This grim milestone comes as debates are raging in various states over how and if to apply new restrictions as coronavirus cases surge. If current trends continue, the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects the US could top 438,000 deaths by March.

39: An investigation by the Australian Defense Forces into its own conduct in Afghanistan found that elite Australian troops unlawfully killed 39 Afghans from 2005 to 2016. The report, released Thursday after four years of probing, said that the Aussie troops' conduct in Afghanistan was "possibly the most disgraceful episode in Australia's military history."

21 billion: UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his government will direct a whopping $21 billion (16.5 billion pounds) to the country's military over the next four years, enabling the armed forces to up their cyber and space game, and modernize weaponry. The military investment, Britain's biggest since the Cold War, is in part motivated by Johnson's desire to show US President-elect Joe Biden that the UK is committed to having a strong military capacity after Brexit, analysts say.

Bank of America's $25 million jobs initiative provides Black and Hispanic-Latino individuals access to skills and training needed for jobs of the future. Learn more about the initiative, which involves partnerships with 21 community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on US politics:

Is Trump out of options now that William Barr said the DOJ found no election interference?

Trump's problem isn't William Barr not finding election interference, it's that he lost the election and he lost it by millions of votes, and he lost it in the most important key states by tens of thousands of votes. Now, this was a very close election. The three closest states, Wisconsin, Georgia, and Arizona, Trump only lost by 44,000 votes so far, and if he'd ended up winning those three, we'd have an Electoral College tie. But the election was not close enough that Trump's strategy of trying to kick this to the courts and then getting it to go all the way to the Congress, with an alternate slate of electors, it just wasn't possible. Had the election been a little closer, he might've had a shot. But as it is, his chances are over. Joe Biden's going to be inaugurated on January 20th.

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Listen: Benjamin Franklin famously called on American business leaders more than two centuries ago to "Do well by doing good." To him, that meant creating companies that were not just about the bottom line, but also that helped foster happier and healthier communities. Now, as 2021 approaches and the world recovers from the greatest crisis of our lifetimes, sustainable investing is a bigger discussion than ever. What does it mean, and how does it not only help the environment and societies but also build your bottom line? That's the topic of the latest episode of Living Beyond Borders.

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Iran's nuclear tug-of-war: Hardliners in Iran's parliament passed a bill Tuesday suspending UN inspections of its nuclear sites and giving the go-ahead to massively increase uranium enrichment unless the US lifts its sanctions by February. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani opposes the measure, saying it would be "harmful" to diplomatic efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the incoming Biden administration in the US. But Iran's parliament doesn't actually need Rouhani's approval to pass the law, and regardless, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will have the final say on policy – as always! If the law is passed, it will immediately raise the stakes for Biden, who takes office on January 20. Both he and Rouhani say they are keen to resume dialogue in hopes of reviving the nuclear deal, which President Trump walked out of in 2018. But just days after the architect of Iran's nuclear program was assassinated (likely by Israel with the US' blessing) the hurdles to even beginning those talks are rising fast.

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET


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Episode 9: Can sustainable investing save our planet?

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