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Hard Numbers: Zuckerberg helps fund US election, Latin American job losses, Germans for QAnon, cashless WFP

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan. Reuters

400 million: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have donated a total $400 million to help US state and local governments safely oversee the 2020 election, including funds to cover polling place rentals and personal protective equipment for poll workers. Meanwhile, conservative groups are suing Zuckerberg to block such private funding of elections.


9: It could take Latin America as long as 9 years for employment to return to pre-pandemic levels, according to research conducted by the Inter-American Development Bank. The impact of COVID-19 is widely expected to wipe out decades of progress on poverty reduction across the region.

200,000: Roughly 200,000 Germans are believed to be followers of QAnon, the extreme rightwing US conspiracy theory that claims that that US President Donald Trump is fighting a secret war against a left-wing elite "deep state" of Satan-worshipping pedophiles. It's the largest number of any non-English speaking country, and comes as social media platforms try to crack down on QAnon to curb the online spread of misinformation.

6.8 billion: The World Food Program needs $6.8 billion from its government and non-government donors over the next six months to help avoid a pandemic-induced famine around the world. The UN agency recently won the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for its work on fighting global hunger.

Microsoft has been looking at ways its technology and resources can help address some of the challenges journalism faces, and the company shared some of the initial work. It includes a new community-based pilot program that looks at ways to provide journalists and newsrooms new tools, technology and capacity, and expand reach for local news outlets. It also includes a new pro bono program, also in pilot form, to provide legal support to journalists and smaller newsrooms, and an expansion of AccountGuard to help protect journalists from cyberattacks. The company will build on top of work already under way by Microsoft Research and the Microsoft Defending Democracy team that's designed to tackle issues such as disinformation. To read more about the Journalism Initiative, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, US President George W. Bush demanded that Afghanistan's Taliban government surrender Osama bin Laden and end support for al-Qaeda. The Taliban refused.

On October 7, US bombs began falling on Taliban forces. NATO allies quickly pledged support for the US, and US boots hit the ground in Afghanistan two weeks later.

Thus began a war, now the longest in US history, that has killed more than 3,500 coalition soldiers and 110,000 Afghans. It has cost the American taxpayer nearly $3 trillion. US allies have also made human and material sacrifices.

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US and Russia buy time to talk arms control: Americans and Russians are close to agreeing on a one-year extension of their last remaining nuclear arms control agreement. For months the two sides have been unable to settle on terms to extend the New START treaty, an agreement limiting long-range nuclear weapons that was hammered out by the Kremlin and the Obama administration back in 2011, and expires next February. One of the main points of contention was the Trump administration's insistence that Russia bring China into any new arms control pact. But Beijing has no interest in capping its nuclear arsenal at levels far lower than what the US and Russia have, while the Kremlin says that if China is part of it, then other Western nuclear powers like the UK and France should join as well. But those disputes will be shelved now, as Moscow and Washington have agreed to freeze their nuclear arsenals for one year and to keep talking about an extension in the meantime. Of course, the Kremlin — which proposed the one-year extension as a stopgap — can't be sure just whom they'll be talking to on the US side after January…

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It almost didn't happen — but here we are again. US President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden face off tonight in the final presidential debate of the 2020 campaign.

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Three years ago, long before anyone had ever heard of COVID-19, a different kind of virus spread around the world: a piece of malicious software code launched by a nation state. It paralyzed computer networks in hundreds of countries, disrupted global shipping, forced pharmaceutical factories to shut down, and inflicted an estimated $10 billion of economic damage.

On the physical battlefield, a widely accepted set of rules, backed by international law, governs conduct, with the aim of protecting soldiers and civilians. Establishing common rules or guardrails is much harder in cyberspace, where borders can't be easily defined and the tools and tactics of combat are always changing. But it has never been more urgent.

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