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Hard Numbers: Prigozhin on Putin’s payroll, Sierra Leone election unrest, Chinese millionaire dreams of college, Rainforest destruction soars

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a televised meeting in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a televised meeting in Russia


86 billion: According to Vladimir Putin, the Wagner Group was fully funded by the Kremlin and received 86 billion rubles (or US $1 billion) from Moscow in the last year. This claim has not been independently verified but sounds an awful lot like Russia's president trying to take credit for the paramilitary group's gains on the battlefield – while painting its neutered warlord, Yevgeny Prigozhin, as a traitorous leech.

56.1: Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has been reelected to a second term after winning Saturday’s election with 56.1% of the vote, the electoral commission announced Tuesday. The election, which was marred by violence, saw Bio avoid a runoff despite a severe cost-of-living crisis that has triggered social unrest.

27: A self-made Chinese millionaire who has been trying to go to college since 1983 failed in his 27th attempt to pass China's notoriously hard gaokao, or university entrance exam, this year. He says he might give up if he doesn't make the cut in 2024.

10: Despite ambitious COP26 pledges, rainforest deforestation increased by 10% from 2021-2022, destroying a combined area the size of Switzerland. The major contributors were Brazil, the DRC, Bolivia, and Ghana. This is prompting renewed calls for economic incentives for countries that keep environmentally critical rainforests standing.


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