Hard Numbers

1.2:


Just 1.2 percent of Pakistan’s 208 million people filed income taxes during the country’s most recent tax year, with many politicians and government officials thought to be among those dodging payment. Add that to the list of economic challenges facing incoming Prime Minister Imran Khan.

10,000:

Last September the UN Security Council barred governments from issuing new work permits to North Korean workers, as part of an international effort to increase financial pressure on Pyongyang. Since then, Russia has issued work permits for more than 10,000 North Koreans.

 

9:

About 9 million people died from pollution-related causes in 2015, according to a recent study in a prominent medical journal – half of them in Asia. India alone accounted for more than 2.5m of the deaths. It’s the downside of strong economic growth in a region that is still largely dependent on burning coal for electricity.

 

15:

People in Iran bought more than 15 metric tons of gold bars and coins in the second quarter of 2018 – triple the amount they purchased a year ago, as they braced for this week’s return of US sanctions. Iran’s currency, the rial, has lost about 50 percent of its value since the US pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in May.

 

0:

The martial artist /action movie hero Steven Seagal has earned zero Oscar nominations for his work, but thanks to his outspoken admiration of Russian President Vladimir Putin he won Russian citizenship several years ago. Now the Kremlin has appointed him as a special envoy to the US. If Dennis Rodman can build bridges to North Korea, who among us will doubt the man who once uttered the words: “I’m gonna take you to the bank… The blood bank.”

America's internet giants are being pulled into political fights right and left these days. Speech – what can be said, and who can say it – is increasingly at the center of those controversies. Consider these two stories from opposite sides of the world:

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Italy's prime minister resigns – Giuseppe Conte, the caretaker prime minister appointed to mediate an uneasy governing alliance between Italy's anti-establishment 5Star Movement and the right-wing Lega party, resigned on Tuesday. Rather than wait for a no-confidence vote triggered by the rightwing Lega Interior Minister Matteo Salvini, Conte stepped down on his own terms. Salvini, who's popularity has been rising, had hoped that by triggering snap elections he could get himself appointed prime minister, will now have to wait for Italy's president, Sergio Mattarella, to decide what comes next. While Lega and smaller right-wing allies want a new vote, center and left-wing parties are apparently working to see if they can form a majority coalition – perhaps including 5Star -- that would allow Mattarella to appoint a new government without fresh elections. We're watching to see how the dust settles in Europe's third-biggest economy.

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300: The US tested a new medium-range cruise missile on Sunday that flew more than 300 miles. This marks the first time the US has tested a weapon that would have violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a Cold War era pact that was officially abandoned three weeks ago, sparking fears of a new global arms race.

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