Hard Numbers: What does it cost to save an American job?

14,000: A sprawling NYT report says more than 128,000 people have disappeared into Syria's government prison system, where torture, rape, and summary executions are rampant, since the start of the civil war in 2011. Some 14,000 people are believed to have been tortured to death, with one officer proudly calling himself "Hitler."

2/3: Cuba, hit by tighter US sanctions and shrinking imports of cheap oil from Venezuela, has returned to a policy of rationing basic foodstuffs. The state-controlled economy imports roughly two-thirds of what its 11 million citizens eat, at an annual bill of $2 billion.

2.8 billion: Since 2016, Facebook has deleted some 2.8 billion "fake" accounts as part of a Whack-A-Mole style effort to stamp out disinformation campaigns designed to mess with elections. The tech giant's next big test on this score is the European Parliamentary election later this month.

815,000: The tariffs that the Trump administration imposed on imported washing machines last year helped to create nearly 2,000 new jobs in the United States, at a cost to consumers of more than $815,000 per job created, according to a University of Chicago study. #TradeoffsOfTrade

When Donald Trump first started talking about buying Greenland last week, we figured it was a weird story with less legs than a Harp seal.

Signal readers, we were wrong. President Trump was so serious about purchasing the autonomous Danish territory that this week he abruptly cancelled a trip to Denmark after the country's prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, labelled the idea "absurd."

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The Amazon in flames – More than 70,000 forest fires are burning in Brazil right now, most of them in the Amazon. That's up 84% over the same period last year, and it's the highest number on record. This is the dry season when farmers burn certain amounts of forest legally to clear farmland. But critics say Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro's efforts to loosen conservation rules have encouraged farmers, loggers, and miners to set more fires, many of them illegally. Bolsonaro – a science skeptic who recently fired the head of the agency that tracks deforestation – says, without proof, that NGOs are setting the fires to embarrass his government. Meanwhile, the EU is holding up a major trade deal with Brazil unless Bolsonaro commits to higher environmental protection standards, including those that affect the Amazon.

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Over the past fifty years, the Amazon rainforest has shrunk by an area equal to the size of Turkey. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Brazilian government supported settlement of the sparsely populated region for security reasons. Since then, huge swaths of the forest -- which is crucial for limiting the world's greenhouse gasses -- have been cleared for farmland used to feed Brazil's population and support its massive agricultural exports. Greater awareness of the environmental impacts in the 1990s produced tighter conservation regulations, though plenty of illegal clearing continues. In recent years, the annual deforestation rate has begun to rise again, and Brazil's new president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to weaken regulations further in order to support businesses.

3: The US has recruited Australia to join its nascent mission of protecting ships in the critical Strait of Hormuz. Along with Britain and Bahrain, Australia is now the third country to join the US-led maritime mission, as high seas brinksmanship with the Iranians continues.

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