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 scientific consensus is clear. The world confronts an urgent carbon problem. The world's climate experts agree that the world must take urgent action to bring down emissions. Ultimately, we must reach "net zero" emissions, meaning that humanity must remove as much carbon as it emits each year.

While the world will need to reach net zero, those of us who can afford to move faster and go further should do so. That's why last week we announced an ambitious goal and a new plan to reduce and ultimately remove Microsoft's carbon footprint. By 2030 Microsoft will be carbon negative, and by 2050 Microsoft will remove from the environment all the carbon the company has emitted either directly or by electrical consumption since it was founded in 1975. We are also launching an initiative to use Microsoft technology to help our suppliers and customers around the world reduce their own carbon footprints and a new $1 billion climate innovation fund to accelerate the global development of carbon reduction, capture, and removal technologies.

Read more on the Official Microsoft Blog.

A potentially deadly new coronavirus that can be transmitted from one person to another is now spreading across China. Chinese state media say it has infected about 300 people and killed six, but the number of undetected or unreported cases is certain to be much higher. Complicating containment efforts, millions of people are on the move across the country this week to celebrate the Chinese New Year with family and friends.

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Norway's government breaks up over ISIS returnee – Norway's right-wing Progress Party said it will resign from the country's four-party coalition government over the prime minister's decision to bring home a Norwegian woman affiliated with the Islamic State in Syria. The woman, who left Norway for the conflict zone in 2013, was arrested shortly after arriving in Oslo with her two children, on suspicion of being a member of ISIS. Prior to her return, she had been held in the Al-Hol refugee camp in northeastern Syria, along with thousands of other family members of ISIS fighters. The defection of Norway's anti-immigrant Progress Party undercuts Prime Minister Erna Solberg's parliamentary majority, likely making it hard for her to pass laws in parliament. This case reflects an increasingly common problem for European countries: the Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate has largely collapsed but what should countries do about the return of former fighters and their families to societies that don't want them?

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20,000: Sri Lanka's president has acknowledged for the first time that some 20,000 people who disappeared during the country's brutal civil war are dead, dashing the hopes of families who had held out hope that their relatives were alive and in military custody. The conflict, which ended in 2009, split the country according to ethnicities, killing around 100,000 people, mostly Tamil rebels.

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Since Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic "I have a dream" speech in August 1963, the number of Black Americans elected to the United States Congress has dramatically increased. Still, it wasn't until last year, more than half a century later, that the share of Black members serving in the House of Representatives reflected the percentage of Black Americans in the broader population —12 percent. To date, only six states have sent a Black representative to serve in the US Senate, and many states have never elected a Black representative to either house of Congress. Here's a look at Black representation in every US Congress since 1963.