HARD NUMBERS

3,500: The Islamic State West Africa Province, a Nigerian jihadist group aligned with ISIS, is estimated to have around 3,500 fighters today, more than the original group now has in Syria and Iraq. Africa may well be the next front for “the caliphate” as it continues to cede ground in the Middle East.


1,692: Civilian deaths in Afghanistan reached a record of 1,692 in the first half of the year, despite a temporary ceasefire between the government and the Taliban, according to a new UN report.

180: One way to prevent online dissent: turn off the internet. Between January 2016 and December 2017, there were more than 180 documented instances of government-imposed online blackouts around the world, according to the internet advocacy group Access Now. The longest lasted 93 days and took place in Cameroon.

160: A stockpile of gold estimated to be worth $160 billion is locked away in Hindu temples across India. That hidden fortune is increasingly becoming a target for theft in a country where more than 70 million still live in extreme poverty.

7: This week’s meeting between Trump and Putin was the seventh official summit between the leaders of the US and Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the first since Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.

The Business and Market Fair that recently took place in Sanzule, Ghana featured local crops, livestock and manufactured goods, thanks in part to the Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP), one of Eni's initiatives to diversify the local economy. The LRP program provided training and support to start new businesses to approximately 1,400 people from 205 households, invigorating entrepreneurship in the community.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

Russia's Vladimir Putin and Ukraine's Volodymyr Zelensky sat down yesterday with Germany's Angela Merkel and France's Emmanuel Macron for a meeting in the Elysée Palace in Paris for peace talks. This was the first-ever meeting between Putin, Russia's dominant political force since 2000, and Zelensky, who was a TV comedian at this time last year.

Fears that Putin would use Zelensky's inexperience to back him into a deal on Russian terms weren't realized, but the relationship between the two has only just begun.

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Macron not backing down over pensions – Despite five days of mass unrest that has paralyzed Paris' public transport system and dented both tourism and Christmas retail, the government will stand firm on a proposal to reform and unify the country's 42 different pension plans. France's pension system, one of the most generous of any major industrialized country, has major budget shortfalls that contribute to the country's ballooning deficit. Last year, Macron abandoned a proposed fuel price hike that ignited the Yellow Vest movement. But overhauling France's "welfare state" was central to his 2017 election platform, and acquiescing to protesters this time around would be political suicide. France's prime minister – tapped to lead the pension reform project – is expected to announce the plan's final details tomorrow. We're watching to see how this might escalate things further.

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4: The World Anti-Doping Agency handed Russia a four-year ban from all major sporting events, precluding its participation in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, and soccer's 2022 World Cup in Qatar. Russia has three weeks to appeal the ban, which its prime minister says is the result of "chronic anti-Russian hysteria."

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Are we seeing the creation of a parallel universe for US and Chinese tech industries?

I think the answer is yes. In the past, US has dominated the world in technologies from P.C. operating systems, semiconductors, to servers, and even Internet. But ever since the rise of mobile technologies, China has really leveraged the large market with a huge amount of data and now is beginning to innovate and build great mobile apps on which there's a large amount of data being collected.

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