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.

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

It's been two months since President Trump abruptly ordered the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria, paving the way for a bloody Turkish offensive in that region. (See our earlier coverage here.) What's happened since? A guide for the puzzled:

No "end date" for US troops in Syria – US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said this week that the United States has completed its military pullback in northeastern Syria. Back in October, President Trump pledged to withdraw the roughly 1,000 American troops deployed there. Since then, some American troops have left Syria altogether, while others were redeployed to defend nearby oil fields from ISIS, as well as from Syrian government troops and Russia. Now, there are roughly 600 American troops dispersed around Syria, and the remainder have been deployed in Iraq to stave off a potential ISIS resurgence. It's not clear if any troops have returned to the US. When asked about the chaotic comings and goings of US troops in Syria in recent months, the commander of US Central Command said frankly: there's no "end date" for American troops stationed there.

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Turkey's government has captured many thousands of ISIS fighters as a result of its operations in northern Syria. Many of these prisoners have already been deported to some of the more than 100 countries they come from, and Ankara says it intends to send more. There are also more than 10,000 women and children – family members of ISIS fighters – still living in camps inside Syria.

These facts create a dilemma for the governments of countries where the ISIS detainees are still citizens: Should these terrorist fighters and their families be allowed to return, in many cases to face trial back home? Or should countries refuse to allow them back?

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What's the difference between Alphabet and Google?

Well, Google is the search engine, YouTube, all the stuff you probably think of as Google. Alphabet is the parent company that was created four or five years ago. And it contains a whole bunch of other entities like Jigsaw, Verily - the health care company that Google runs, Waymo - the self-driving car unit. Also, it's important to know Google makes tons of money. Alphabet, all that other stuff loses tons of money.

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