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Hard Numbers: Polish culture wars, Burkina Faso refugees, US jets for Taiwan, big loss for Norway

Hard Numbers: Polish culture wars, Burkina Faso refugees, US jets for Taiwan, big loss for Norway

67,800: The town of Tuchow in southern Poland will receive $67,800 in government funding after losing access to EU financial assistance for declaring itself "free of LGBTQ ideology." LGBTQ rights have become a flashpoint of Polish culture wars, with the ruling Law and Justice party pushing for what it calls "pro-family" policies in rural parts of the country despite EU threats to withdraw funding if such towns discriminate against LBGTQ people.

1 million: About one million people are now displaced due to increasing violence in Burkina Faso, where jihadist groups and a trigger-happy army are wreaking havoc on the local population. On top of climate change, which is making droughts more intense and frequent, now now the coronavirus pandemic has aggravated an already dire humanitarian emergency in the country, one of the poorest in Africa.

66: The US Air Force has agreed to sell 66 F-16 fighter jets to Taiwan. The sale comes amid rapidly deteriorating ties between the US and China, which considers Taiwan part of its territory, and just a week after the US made its highest-level visit to the island since recognizing the People's Republic of China in 1979.

$21 billion: Norway's sovereign wealth fund lost 188 billion kroner ($21 billion) in the first half of 2020 as a result of plummeting stock prices worldwide due to COVID-19. Close to 70 percent of the fund — where the Norwegian state invests its oil revenues — is held in stocks.

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It's been four days since Iran's top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, died in a hail of bullets on a highway near Tehran. Iran has plausibly blamed Israel for the killing, but more than that, not much is known credibly or in detail.

This is hardly the first time that an Iranian nuclear scientist has been assassinated in an operation that has a whiff of Mossad about it. But Fakhrizadeh's prominence — he is widely regarded as the father of the Iranian nuclear program — as well as the timing of the killing, just six weeks from the inauguration of a new American president, make it a particularly big deal. Not least because an operation this sensitive would almost certainly have required a US sign-off.

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hey everybody. Ian Bremmer here, have your quick take. Plenty going on this week. I could of course talk about all these new Biden appointees, but frankly, there's not that much that surprising there. Moderate, lots of expertise, not very controversial, almost all of which could get through a Republican controlled Senate, presuming that markets are going to be reasonably happy, Progressive's in the Democratic party somewhat less so. But no, the big news right now internationally, certainly about Iran. The Iranians started this year with the assassination by the United States of their defense leader, Qasem Soleimani. Everyone was worried about war. Now, closing the year with the assassination of the head of their nuclear program and historically the head of their nuclear weapons program.

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Joe Biden has had one of the longest political careers in American history, but his most important act is yet to come. Can decades of experience in Washington prepare him to lead the most divided America since the end of the Civil War?

Watch the GZERO World episode: What you still may not know about Joe

Ethiopia on the brink: After ethnic tensions between Ethiopia's federal government and separatist forces in the northern Tigray region erupted into a full-blown armed conflict in recent weeks, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed announced his forces had taken control of Tigray's capital on Saturday and declared victory. But the fugitive Tigray leader Debretsion Gebremichael quickly called Abiy's bluff, saying the fighting is raging on, and demanded Abiy withdraw his forces. Gebremichael accused Abiy of launching "a genocidal campaign" that has displaced 1 million people, with thousands fleeing to neighboring Sudan, creating a humanitarian catastrophe. The Tigray, who make up about five percent of Ethiopia's population, are fighting for self-determination, but Abiy's government has repeatedly rejected invitations to discuss the issue, accusing the coalition led by Gebremichael's Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) of "instigating clashes along ethnic and religious lines." As the two sides dig in their heels, Ethiopia faces the risk of a civil war that could threaten the stability of the entire Horn of Africa.

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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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Your move, Iran