Hard Numbers: From “Provincial Man” to Political Office

500 million: More than 500 million people in India are living in areas hit by a drought that has now affected more than 40 percent of the country's total land mass. The summer monsoon season may not bring much relief: forecasts call for below-average rains between June and September this year.


123 million: While the British economy continues to suffer from the uncertainty caused by Brexit, there's one industry making a killing—consultants. The British government spent $123 million on consultants between April 2018 and April 2019 to help prepare for Brexit. And that's a "conservative estimate."

4,000: Hostility from the Trump administration has prompted some asylum-seekers from Central America to try their luck crossing the Atlantic instead. The number of people from the region seeking refuge in Europe has jumped from 4,835 in 2017 to 7,800 last year. But it's not all about Trump: The number of Central Americans headed for Europe is up roughly 4,000% over the past ten years.

3: Apparently TV-stardom-to-political office isn't just a Ukrainian thing these days – seven cast members from the popular Philippines police TV serial "Ang Probinsyano," or "Provincial Man" ran for public office in the country's midterm elections in May, and three of them won.

America's internet giants are being pulled into political fights right and left these days. Speech – what can be said, and who can say it – is increasingly at the center of those controversies. Consider these two stories from opposite sides of the world:

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Italy's prime minister resigns – Giuseppe Conte, the caretaker prime minister appointed to mediate an uneasy governing alliance between Italy's anti-establishment 5Star Movement and the right-wing Lega party, resigned on Tuesday. Rather than wait for a no-confidence vote triggered by the rightwing Lega Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, Conte stepped down on his own terms. Salvini, who's popularity has been rising, had hoped that by triggering snap elections he could get himself appointed prime minister, will now have to wait for Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, to decide what comes next. While Lega and smaller right-wing allies want a new vote, center and left-wing parties are apparently working to see if they can form a majority coalition – perhaps including 5Star -- that would allow Mattarella to appoint a new government without fresh elections. We're watching to see how the dust settles in Europe's third-biggest economy.

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300: The US tested a new medium-range cruise missile on Sunday that flew more than 300 miles. This marks the first time the US has tested a weapon that would have violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a Cold War era pact that was officially abandoned three weeks ago, sparking fears of a new global arms race.

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