HARD NUMBERS

169 million: Africa-based tech startups raised $169 million in the first half of 2018, more than they raised in all of 2017. Kenya and Nigeria, both of which have large English-speaking populations and burgeoning financial centers, were the top destinations for venture capital investment on the continent.


667,000: More than 667,000 foreigners have left Saudi Arabia since the beginning of 2017, the biggest-ever exodus of expatriate workers in the kingdom. A combination of tighter government regulations on foreign workers and a sluggish economy are causing trouble for this group that amounts to about one third of Saudi’s population and more than 80 percent of its private sector workforce.

51.3: Last week, the temperature at a weather station in Ouargla, Algeria hit 51.3 degrees Celsius – or 124.3 degrees Fahrenheit. If confirmed, that would be the hottest temperature ever recorded on the continent. Multiple studies suggest that higher temperatures can lead to higher rates of violence – an additional challenge for already strained governments across Africa.

46: Germany’s aging fleet of Tornado fighter jets will have been in servicefor 46 years by the time the Luftwaffe, Germany’s air force, starts phasing them out 2025. The ongoing debate within Germany over their replacement is another reminder of the country’s long reliance on US military resources and equipment for its security, which could shift in the coming years as the Trump administration pushes European nations to bolster their defense spending.

36: The last time two British cabinet ministers resigned within 24 hours of each other outside a routine government reshuffle, as happened earlier this week, was 36 years ago in 1982. While pressure on May to leave office has eased temporarily, the embattled British prime minister still faces a tough road ahead in managing the UK’s exit from the European Union.

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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