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.

 

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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.”

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.

Not much was agreed beyond a broader exchange of prisoners and a renewed commitment to a ceasefire that has never held. 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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The UK currently benefits from EU trade pacts covering more than 70 countries. But if the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal in place, London could lose its preferential access to those markets. In preparation for such a scenario, the UK has signed 20 "continuity" agreements, allowing countries to keep trading with the UK under current rules even after Brexit. Here's a look at which countries and blocs have signed these deals with the UK, and the total value of each trade relationship.

Macron not backing down over pensions – Despite six 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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