Hard Numbers

2.6 million: More than 2.6 million people in North Korea, or over 10 percent of the population, live under slavery, the highest number for any country in the world according to the 2018 Global Slavery Index. The report’s definition of slavery includes victims of traditional slavery, human trafficking, forced labor, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, and the sale and exploitation of children.


250,000: Sondos Alqattan, a Kuwaiti social media star known for beauty tips, made news this week with an Instagram post complaining about a new law that gives Filipino guest workers one day off each week and allows them to refuse to surrender their passports to their employers. More than 250,000 Filipinos work in Kuwait, most as maids or domestic helpers. Guest-workers in the Middle East have suffered sometimes deadly abuse at the hands of their employers in cases that rarely make headlines.

17,000:There are nearly 17,000 active criminal cases against members of Pakistan’s outgoing PML-N party for breaking election rules. That compares to just 39 against members of Imran Khan's PTI party.

141: Zimbabwe’s elections may be much fairer than in the past, but the government still has its thumb on the scale. The ruling party, Zanu-PF, recently announced pay hikes for civil servants (17.5 percent), police (20 percent) and soldiers (22.5 percent). And a fingerprint ID system hasn’t erasedfrom the rolls a voter aged 141.

120: The military and civil cyber-security market grew from $3.5 billion in 2004 to $120 billion in 2017. The conflicts of the future will be fought in invisible trenches.

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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