Hard Numbers: EU gets more jabs, HK civil servants’ China loyalty pledge, Ecuador pauses recount, North Korean hackers indicted

Hard Numbers: EU gets more jabs, HK civil servants’ China loyalty pledge, Ecuador pauses recount, North Korean hackers indicted

350 million: The European Union has secured an additional 350 million doses of the two-shot Pfizer and Moderna COVID vaccines to be delivered this year. Good news for Brussels, which has been heavily criticized for the EU's bungled vaccine rollout, and lagging behind the US and the UK in the pace of distributing jabs.


180,000: Hong Kong's roughly 180,000 civil servants have until Thursday to sign a document pledging their allegiance to the territory's new China-drafted constitution, or risk losing their jobs. This is China's latest move to assume total control over Hong Kong, where pro-democracy lawmakers have been disqualified for refusing to make similar pledges.

33,000: Ecuador has put on hold a partial recount of the first round of the February 9 presidential election demanded by Yaku Pérez, an indigenous environmental activist who trails conservative candidate Guillermo Lasso for second place by only 33,000 votes. Pérez or Lasso will face socialist candidate and first round winner Andrés Arauz in a runoff vote on April 11.

1.3 billion: The US Department of Justice has charged three North Korean nationals with stealing $1.3 billion in money and cryptocurrency from American businesses, including banks and Hollywood studios. The defendants — all of whom are in North Korea, which will not extradite them to face trial — are also accused of being behind the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack against global health systems, and one of them was previously indicted for his role in hacking Sony Pictures following the release of "The Interview," a 2014 film which ridiculed North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

"I knew that history was my life's calling."

On Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch shares his journey and present-day work creating exhibits that inspire visitors to help our country live up to its ideals.

Listen: A deep dive down the bottle to examine the role alcohol has played in society, politics, and global summitry—from the earliest hunter-gatherer days to that memorable Obama Beer Summit in 2009. Joining Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast is philosopher Edward Slingerland, whose new book Drunk: How We Sipped, Danced, and Stumbled Our Way Into Civilization makes a compelling, if nuanced, case for alcohol's place in the world.

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

A few weeks ago, a Signal reader emailed me to ask why so much of our coverage of the world is so damn dark. Aren't there any good news stories out there?

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There's a lot of doom and gloom in the world these days, and much cause for pessimism. Still, the advent of new technologies and scientific advancements has lifted billions out of poverty and increased quality of life for many over the last half century. Since 1990, global average life expectancy has increased by eight years to 73, while GDP per capita has also grown exponentially, doubling over the past decade alone. We take a look at how life expectancy and GDP per capita have evolved globally from 1960-2019.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

Why can't President Biden order a vaccine mandate for all Americans?

Well, the reason is it's out of his powers. The one of the fundamental challenges in the pandemic is that the federal government has actually been fairly limited in the steps they can take to stop the spread of the virus. So, that's why you've seen President Biden order masks on transit, mass transit, airplanes, and the like. But he can't order masks in workplaces because that's not within his power. That power lies within state governments. State governments and other entities, like employers, can require vaccinations before you come into their buildings, or you come back to school, or you go to work in your office. But the federal government can't do that. What Biden is doing is, allegedly, supposedly going to announce a mandate for federal workers to get vaccinated.

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American gymnast Sunisa "Suni" Lee, 18, stunned spectators around the world with her breathtaking performance in Tokyo Thursday that earned her the gold.

Here are some interesting facts about Suni Lee, the gymnast queen:

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"Super Mario" takes his chances: Less than five months after becoming Italy's consensus prime minister, Mario Draghi's coalition government is on shaky ground over Draghi's proposed judicial reforms. "Super Mario" — as he's known for saving the Eurozone as European Central Bank chief during the financial crisis — wants to dramatically speed up Italy's famously slow courts. But his push to reduce judicial backlogs is opposed both by the populist 5-Star Movement, the coalition government's biggest party, and by prosecutors because many cases could be scrapped before reaching a verdict. Draghi, upset that this resistance is stalling his other initiatives to cut Italian red tape, has decided to roll the dice anyway: he'll put his plan to overhaul the courts to a no-confidence vote in parliament. If Draghi wins, he gets the reforms passed without debate; if he loses, the PM technically has to resign, but he'll keep his job because he has enough votes even if the 5-Star Movement bows out of the coalition.

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700: Roughly 700 people arrested for joining the unprecedented July 11 anti-government protests in Cuba are still being held by the regime. They may now face mass show trials as Havana continues to crack down on dissent following the biggest challenge to its power in decades.

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