Hard Numbers

46.9 billion: The United States signed foreign arms deals worth $46.9 billion during the first half of the fiscal year. That already comfortably exceeds the $41.9 billion in weapons deals agreed to during all of fiscal 2017.


26 billion: Mexican president-elect, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, spelled out his infrastructure priorities on Monday, including the construction of 300 new rural roads, a tourist train between the resort city of Cancun and the southeastern state of Chiapas, and a new airport for Mexico City. The government plans to fund the estimated $26 billion cost of the projects by cutting government salaries and benefits, streamlining purchases, and stamping out corruption.

6,000: The European Commission this week offered to pay 6,000 euros to member states for each migrant they take in after making the arduous journey across the Mediterranean – part of a broader EU proposal to house refugees in dedicated centers while their asylum claims are processed. As of May, the number of migrants arriving in Europe by sea was running at about half the level seen during the first five months of 2017.

8.5: Ethiopia’s economy is forecast to grow 8.5 percent this year. That's one of the fastest rates for any country in the world, and it's providing recently-appointed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed the political cover to pursue difficult reforms.

4.2: The Turkish lira fell by as much as 4.2 percent against the dollar on Tuesday after the central bank held interest rates steady, defying market expectations of an interest rate hike and raising concerns about the bank's independence. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who assumed office with broadly expanded powers earlier this month, and recently appointed his son-in-law finance minister, railed against high rates despite the country facing its worst inflation in 14 years.

The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace launched in 2018 with the commitment of signatories to stand up to cyber threats like election interference, attacks on critical infrastructure, and supply chain vulnerabilities. Last week, on the first anniversary of the call, the number of signatories has nearly tripled to more than 1,000 and now includes 74 nations; more than 350 international, civil society and public sector organizations; and more than 600 private sector entities. These commitments to the Paris Call from around the world demonstrate a widespread, global, multi-stakeholder consensus about acceptable behavior in cyberspace.

Read More at Microsoft On The Issues.

In recent years, Republicans have come to dominate most of the state legislatures in the US. Ironically, it was during the Obama-era that the GOP made major headway in states that had long been considered safely blue. State legislatures are now redder than they've been in nearly a century, and in most parts of the country, one party holds all the levers of power. For the first time since 1914, there's only one split legislature in the entire country: Minnesota. To be sure, some state races are bucking the trend: Kentucky and Louisiana, both deep-red states, recently elected Democratic governors. Here's a look at how Democratic and Republican control of state legislatures has evolved over the past four decades.

Forty years ago, Islamic extremists angry at the Saudi government's experiments with social liberalization laid siege to the Grand Mosque of Mecca, the holiest site in Islam.

The attack came on the heels of the Iranian revolution across the Gulf, putting the House of Saud and its American backers in a precarious spot. Tehran had challenged Saudi Arabia's Islamic legitimacy from without, while jihadists were now doing the same from within. For a few days it seemed as though the world's most important oil producer – and the custodian of Islam's holiest places – might be in danger of collapse.

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Forty years ago today, dozens of bearded gunmen stormed the holiest site in Islam, the Grand Mosque at Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

They held the complex for two weeks before a French-trained Saudi force rooted them out, but the fallout from the attack went on to shape the modern Middle East in ways that are still with us today: in the scourge of transnational jihadism and the deepening rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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What changes now that the U.S. softened its position on Israeli settlements?

Well, I mean, not a lot. I mean, keep in mind that this is also the administration that moved the embassy to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv. Everyone said that was going to be a massive problem. Ultimately, not many people cared. Same thing with recognition of Golan Heights for Israel. This is just one more give from the Americans to the Israelis in the context of a region that doesn't care as much as they used to about Israel - Palestine.

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