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Hard Numbers: The UN is Running Out of Money

12 billion: Brazil's government, which earlier this year rejected aid to put out raging fires in the Amazon, now says that if other countries really want to preserve the rainforest, they should put their money where their mouth is: by sending Brazil some $12 billion a year to pay farmers not to develop their lands. Critics note that this would have no real effect since most fires are set illegally.


2,759: Police in Nigeria allegedly demanded a bribe of 1 million Naira ($2,759) to release a local software developer after arresting him on suspicion of being an internet scammer, simply because he was carrying a laptop. Nigeria's scammers are legendary, but the thriving local tech community in Lagos says corrupt shakedowns of talented pros like this are common and that they worsen brain drain from Africa's largest economy. #StopRobbingUs

230 million: The United Nations is facing a funding shortfall of $230 million and could run out of money by the end of this month, according to the organization's Secretary General. A third of member states, including the US and much of Latin America and Africa, have not paid their dues in full. Here's a map of the delinquents.

40 million: Facebook's policy of deliberately inflating video viewership numbers led to a class action suit that will now result in a $40 million settlement for advertisers. Some journalists have pointed out that none of this money will go to the many print hacks who lost their jobs amid the frantic push to "monetize video." Amen.

Bank of America's $25 million jobs initiative provides Black and Hispanic-Latino individuals access to skills and training needed for jobs of the future. Learn more about the initiative, which involves partnerships with 21 community colleges, Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and Hispanic Serving Institutions.

Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

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Iran's nuclear tug-of-war: Hardliners in Iran's parliament passed a bill Tuesday suspending UN inspections of its nuclear sites and giving the go-ahead to massively increase uranium enrichment unless the US lifts its sanctions by February. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani opposes the measure, saying it would be "harmful" to diplomatic efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with the incoming Biden administration in the US. But Iran's parliament doesn't actually need Rouhani's approval to pass the law, and regardless, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will have the final say on policy – as always! If the law is passed, it will immediately raise the stakes for Biden, who takes office on January 20. Both he and Rouhani say they are keen to resume dialogue in hopes of reviving the nuclear deal, which President Trump walked out of in 2018. But just days after the architect of Iran's nuclear program was assassinated (likely by Israel with the US' blessing) the hurdles to even beginning those talks are rising fast.

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"China is angry. If you make China the enemy, China will be the enemy." This was the message recently conveyed by a Chinese government official on the intensifying row with its Asia-Pacific neighbor, Australia.

China-Australia relations, steadily deteriorating in recent months over a range of political disputes, reached a new low this week when Beijing posted a doctored image on Twitter of an Australian soldier holding a knife to an Afghan child's throat. Beijing's decision to post the fake image at a hypersensitive time for Australia's military establishment was a deliberate political provocation: beat Canberra while it's down.

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19.4: The Lebanese economy, waylaid by financial and political crises on top of the pandemic, is set to contract by a crippling 19.4 percent this year, according to the World Bank. Next year things hardly get better, with a contraction of 13.2 percent coming in 2021.

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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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