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Hard Numbers: What Country Buys the Most US Flags?

11: The US is far from the only country that celebrates independence this time of year. There are no less than 11 other countries that do the same in the first ten days of July. In order, they are Canada, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Belarus, Algeria, Cape Verde, Venezuela, Comoros, Malawi, the Solomon Islands, Argentina, South Sudan (the world's newest country!), and the Bahamas.

2: There are two countries in the world that have no official independence day or national day at all. They are the United Kingdom (the eventual cause of so many other independence days, of course) and Denmark, which wants you to know that they were "once brutal Vikings." Vikings don't get colonized!

335: The US may run a big trade deficit with the rest of the world, but the flag industry is doing its best to close the gap. In 2018 the US ran a trade surplus of 300 percent in cloth flags. Of the roughly $6.3 million worth of flags imported, almost all came from China. Meanwhile three quarters of the $21 million worth exported went south of the border to Mexico. Thanks to Jason at the US Census Bureau for helping us out with the data.

$1 billion: Boom, ra-ta-ta-ka, boom… BOOM! Americans spend more than a billion dollars on fireworks every year, according to the American Pyrotechnics association. most of which are used during the July 4 period. Ninety nine percent of them are imported from the USA's "strategic competitor" China.

Quiz Answer: Liberate yourself from a common misconception. The US actually declared independence on July 2nd 1776. The Declaration text was approved on the 4th but not signed until almost a month later, on August 2nd. So if you're in the US, tell your boss Signal said you can take August 2nd off, too.

The role of the public library has evolved over time. As we move online at an even faster rate, knowledge, entertainment and opportunities for education and employment are found on the internet. Those living in well-connected, affluent places may have come to take internet access for granted. But there is a digital divide in the U.S. that has left people at a disadvantage – particularly since the arrival of COVID-19.

Finding ways to overcome that divide in a sustainable, community-led way could help bring the benefits of the internet to those who need it most. One solution is to use technologies such as TV white space to facilitate wireless broadband – as Microsoft's Airband Initiative is doing. To read more about Microsoft's work with public libraries, visit Microsoft On The Issues.

Who does Vladimir Putin want to win the US election? Given the Kremlin's well-documented efforts to sway the 2016 vote in Donald Trump's favor, it's certainly a fair question. And while there's no solid evidence that Russian interference had any decisive effect on the outcome four years ago, the Trump administration itself says the Kremlin — and others — are now trying to mess with the election again.

So let's put you in Vladimir Putin's size 9 shoes as you weigh up Donald Trump vs Joe Biden while refreshing your own personal PyatTridsatVosem (FiveThirtyEight) up there in the Kremlin.

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In a national referendum on Sunday, Chileans overwhelmingly voted in favor of a new constitution. But, why are people in this oasis of political stability and steady economic growth in South America willing to undo the bedrock of the system that has allowed Chile to prosper for so long?

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Ian Bremmer discusses the World In (more than) 60 Seconds:

One week before the US election. What do other world leaders want to happen?

Well, I mean, let's face it. Outside the United States, most of the world's leaders would prefer to see the back of Trump. An America first policy was not exactly made for non-Americans. That was not the intended demographic audience. Trump doesn't really care. In fact, to a degree, it's kind of a selling point that a lot of foreign leaders don't want Trump. It's showing that Trump is strong in negotiations and indeed is doing better for the American people.

That's largely BS, but occasionally it's true. I mean, his willingness to use American power to force the Mexican government to actually tighten up on Mexico's Southern border and stop immigration from coming through. AMLO would have much rather that not have happened, but the fact that it did was an America first policy, that rebounded to the benefits of the United States. And there are other examples of that. But generally speaking, it would be better for the US long-term, and for the world, if we had more harmonious, smoother relations with other countries around the world, certainly pretty much all the Europeans would much rather see Trump lose. The United Kingdom is the significant exception given the nature of Brexit, and the fact that Trump has been in favor of that, like being called Mr. Brexit by five or six Brits or however many did.

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SCOTUS battle rages on: In a major victory for US President Donald Trump just a week out from the presidential election, the Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court, who was then swiftly sworn into office at a nighttime ceremony at the White House. Barrett, a conservative who was tapped to replace deceased Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg just 46 days out from the presidential election, is the first Supreme Court justice to be confirmed in over 150 years without the support of a single member of the minority party. Democrats are furious, saying that Republicans — who blocked Obama from filling a Supreme Court vacancy in 2016, arguing at the time that the seat should only be filled after the next US president was elected some nine months later — have cynically backtracked on their own assertions. Democrats have also called the rushed confirmation process "illegitimate." Pressure is now mounting on Joe Biden (specifically, from the progressive wing of his party) to expand the size of the Supreme Court should he win in November, so Democrats can install liberal justices to offset the crucial court's hard-right shift.

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