HARD NUMBERS

300 million: Chinese president, Xi Jinping, has launched a major initiative to bolster the country’s domestic surveillance capabilities, which analysts estimate will include the installation of almost 300 million surveillance cameras by 2020.


18,000: Turkey’s government dismissed 18,000 public sector employees just in time for the start of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s new five-year term as president on Monday. The latest purge included the firing of nine thousand police officers and hundreds of soldiers and academics.

1/2 x 282: More than half of the world’s 282 mobile-money platforms are in sub-Saharan Africa, according to research from McKinsey & Co. Mobile money is another way Africa is “leapfrogging” traditional stages of development through the adoption of new technologies.

9: Warring factions in South Sudan have agreed to a total of 9 ceasefires since the start of a brutal internal conflict there in 2013. Only one has lasted longer than a month. The latest, brokered on June 30th, is already showing signs of breaking down.

3: Since the beginning of 2017, the number of NATO members on track to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024, as outlined by the alliance as a goal in 2014, more than tripled from 5 to 16.

Ferrera Erbognone, a small town in the northern Italian province of Pavia, is home to one of the most cutting-edge computing centers in the world: Eni's Green Data Center. All of the geophysical and seismic prospecting data Eni produces from all over the world ends up here. Now, the Green Data Center is welcoming a new supercomputing system: HPC5, an advanced version of the already powerful HPC4. Due to be completed by early 2020, HPC5 will triple the Green Data Center's computing power, from 18.6 to 52 petaflops, equivalent to 52 million billion mathematical operations per second.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

A few days ago, the New York Times published a bombshell report on the Chinese government's systematic oppression of Muslims in Western China. The story was about many things: human rights, geopolitics, Chinese society – but it was also about technology: Beijing's repression in Xinjiang province is powered in part by facial recognition, big data, and other advanced technologies.

It's a concrete example of a broader trend in global politics: technology is a double-edged sword with sharp political consequences. Artificial intelligence, for example, can help develop new medicines but it can also support surveillance states. Social media helps nourish democracy movements and entertains us with cat memes, but it also feeds ISIS and 4Chan.

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Increasingly violent anti-government protests in Hong Kong have dealt a major blow to the city's once booming economy. Tourism – an economic lifeline in that city – has dropped, and retailers are suffering from a sharp decline in sales. Now, six months since the unrest began, Hong Kong has recorded its first recession in a decade, meaning its economy has contracted for two consecutive quarters. Here's a look at how Hong Kong's quarterly gross domestic product (GDP) growth has fared during the past two years.

Tehran's Next Move: "We don't want an Islamic Republic, we don't want it," was the chant heard among some protesters in Tehran over the weekend after the government announced a 50 percent fuel price hike meant to fund broader support for the country's poor. Under crippling US sanctions, the country's economy has plummeted, unleashing a "tsunami" of unemployment. What started Friday as nationwide economic protests took on a political coloring, as protestors in some cities tore up the flag and chanted "down with [Supreme Leader] Khamenei!". The unrest seems to be related, at least indirectly, to widespread demonstrations against Tehran-backed regimes in Iraq and Lebanon as well. Economically-motivated protests erupt in Iran every few years, but they tend to subside within weeks under harsh government crackdowns. So far, the authorities have shut down the internet to prevent protestors from using social media to organize rallies. But Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards Corps has warned of more "decisive action" if the unrest continues.

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