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Hard Numbers: French union unity, German “revolution,” Sudanese exodus, missing Iranian data point, South Korean art heist that’s truly bananas

Unions attend the traditional May Day labor march to protest against the French pension reform law in Paris.

Unions attend the traditional May Day labor march to protest against the French pension reform law in Paris.

REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

8: Across France, hundreds of thousands of people joined May Day protests against President Emmanuel Macron’s pension reforms. For the first time since 2009, all eight of the country’s top trade unions joined the rallies — a testament to the outrage at Macron’s decision to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64.

3 million: More than 3 million people in Germany have already bought a new flat-fee ticket that enables them to use trains, buses, and metros anywhere in the country for about $50 a month. Admittedly, German public transport isn’t the sexiest topic, but this is evidently a “revolutionary” move: Until now, Germans have had to navigate a kopf-spinning patchwork of local and regional services, each with their own fare structures.

800,000: As Sudan’s civil war deepens, as many as 800,000 people could flee the country, the UN warned on Monday. A refugee exodus of that magnitude would put tremendous pressure on Sudan’s seven neighbors: South Sudan, Chad, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Central African Republic, and Libya.

2: Inflation is running very high in Iran. But we don’t know exactly how much because authorities have not released data for two months. Perhaps we’ve been hearing crickets because inflation has now topped a 1995 high of 49%. Following months of protests last year, Iran’s hardline President Ebrahim Raisi faces intense pressure to rein in prices, which have soared thanks to US sanctions.

120,000: That famous banana-taped-to-the-wall artwork has been eaten again. This time the culprit was an art student in Seoul who ate the musaceous meditation on “art,” and then taped the peel back to the wall. The piece, by artist Maurizio Cattelan, has been valued at $120,000. In other news to mess with your head, did you know that a banana is a berry but a raspberry is not? Don’t let that ruin your day.


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