Hard Numbers: Money for Your Cow Dung

1 billion: West African leaders have pledged $1 billion to combat the growing threat of Islamic extremism in the region. Mali-based insurgent groups with links to the Islamic State and al Qaeda have since spilled over into neighboring countries, hitting Burkina Faso particularly hard in recent months.


45: When polls closed in Tunisia on Sunday evening, just 45 percent of eligible voters had turned out to vote in the presidential election, down 19 percentage points from 2014 when that country held its first post-Arab Spring election after 22 years of dictatorship.

60: India's newly created National Cow Commission has promised to fund 60% of the startup capital for any companies that commercialize a curative product known as panchagavya which is made by mixing milk, cow urine, and cow dung. The ruling Hindu nationalist BJP government has been very cow-friendly.

100 million: As fires continue to ravage the Amazon rainforest, the US and Brazil have agreed on a $100 million biodiversity conservation fund to help save the area, led by the private sector. This plan is already facing pushback from environmentalists who say it's a roundabout way to open the rainforest to even more mining, logging and farming.

The Business and Market Fair that recently took place in Sanzule, Ghana featured local crops, livestock and manufactured goods, thanks in part to the Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP), one of Eni's initiatives to diversify the local economy. The LRP program provided training and support to start new businesses to approximately 1,400 people from 205 households, invigorating entrepreneurship in the community.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky sat down yesterday with Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron for a meeting in the Elysée Palace in Paris for peace talks. This was the first-ever meeting between Putin, Russia's dominant political force since 2000, and Zelensky, who was a TV comedian at this time last year.

Fears that Putin would use Zelensky's inexperience to back him into a deal on Russian terms weren't realized, but the relationship between the two has only just begun.

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Macron not backing down over pensions – Despite five days of mass unrest that has paralyzed Paris' public transport system and dented both tourism and Christmas retail, the government will stand firm on a proposal to reform and unify the country's 42 different pension plans. France's pension system, one of the most generous of any major industrialized country, has major budget shortfalls that contribute to the country's ballooning deficit. Last year, Macron abandoned a proposed fuel price hike that ignited the Yellow Vest movement. But overhauling France's "welfare state" was central to his 2017 election platform, and acquiescing to protesters this time around would be political suicide. France's prime minister – tapped to lead the pension reform project – is expected to announce the plan's final details tomorrow. We're watching to see how this might escalate things further.

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4: The World Anti-Doping Agency handed Russia a four-year ban from all major sporting events, precluding its participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and soccer's 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Russia has three weeks to appeal the ban, which its prime minister says is the result of "chronic anti-Russian hysteria."

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Are we seeing the creation of a parallel universe for US and Chinese tech industries?

I think the answer is yes. In the past, US has dominated the world in technologies from P.C. operating systems, semiconductors, to servers, and even Internet. But ever since the rise of mobile technologies, China has really leveraged the large market with a huge amount of data and now is beginning to innovate and build great mobile apps on which there's a large amount of data being collected.

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