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800,000: Flooding in the southern Indian state of Kerala, the worst in a century, has displaced some 800,000 people and killed more than 350. Officials have put estimates of storm damage at nearly $3 billion.


700,000: South Korean President Moon Jae-in wants to set up rail links with the North, a project that could create more than 700,000 jobs in South Korea over the next five years, according to the IBK institute. Moon, whose approval rating has hit its lowest level since he took office in 2017, is eyeing the economic dividends from détente with Kim Jong-un.

90: More than 90 percent of Ethiopians hold a favorable view of the newly installed Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, according to local research firm WAAS International. That may well make Mr. Abiy – who has pledged broad reforms and pulled off a historic peace overture with neighboring Eritrea – the most popular leader in the world.

37.3: Since being thrown behind bars, Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva has only seen his popular support grow. Recent polls give him 37.3 percent of voter intentions – a 5 percentage point bump from the previous month – ahead of October’s pivotal election. The closest contender is far-right candidate Jair Bolsonaro with 18.3 percent of voter intentions.

5: The Venezuelan government moved this week to create a new currency, the “Sovereign Bolívar,” by simply wiping away five zeros from its existing legal tender. Not bad if you compare it with Hungary, which shed 29 zeros from its currency between 1945 and 1946, and Yugoslavia, whose currency dropped 27 zeros from 1990 to 1994.

Meet Ian Martin, an English Professor from Glasgow who is now head of Communications for Eni's International Resources. Approaching his work in the same way he used to hold his lectures, Ian is dedicated to listening and making people around him comfortable. Having working in both Milan and London, Ian utilizes his ability to communicate in different languages and cultures to prepare Eni's global messaging strategy. "Communication is a transfer of humanity," he says, and his job is as much centered around people as it as around language.

Watch Ian's human approach to communications on the most recent episode of Faces of Eni.

How to capture the essence of this incredible, terrible year in a few short words and without using profanity? It's not easy.

Thankfully, the dictionary website Merriam-Webster.com has released its list of most heavily searched words of 2020, and they tell the story of an historic year in US politics and the life of our planet. Here's a sample.

The top word, unsurprisingly, was "Pandemic," a disease outbreak that covers a wide area and afflicts lots of people. In 2020, the coronavirus crisis hit every region of the world, triggering a public health, economic, and political emergency on a geographic scale our planet has never experienced. Differing responses to that problem defined the politics (and geopolitics) of 2020.

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While recent news from Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca on the efficacy of their respective COVID vaccines is encouraging, it has also given rise to bidding wars between wealthy countries trying to secure the largest supply of the new drugs for their citizens. Meanwhile, many governments in emerging market economies, where healthcare infrastructure is generally weaker, are worried they'll be kicked to the back of the line in the global distribution process. Indeed, history bears out their concerns: while a lifesaving HIV treatment hit shelves in the West in the mid-1990s, for example, it took years to become widely in Africa, which saw some of the worst HIV outbreaks in the world. But here's the catch: even if wealthy countries manage to obtain large supplies of vaccines to immunize their populations, the interconnected nature of the global economy means that no one will really be out of the woods until we all are. Here's a snapshot of how many COVID vaccines select countries have already purchased.

Afghanistan's small breakthrough: For months, disagreements over a range of political issues have hamstrung the intra-Afghan peace talks brokered by the Trump administration that aim to bridge the years-long conflict between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But this week, a significant breakthrough was made on the principles and procedures governing the talks, that, experts say, will help push negotiations to the next phase. One key advance is agreement on the official name of the Afghan government, an issue that stalled talks earlier this year. Still, progress is fragile. Taliban violence and efforts to seize territory have only increased since the militants and the US reached a deal in February on a blueprint for an American troop withdrawal. And the Trump administration says it aims to pull out all but 2,500 US troops by mid-January, whether the Taliban have kept their end of the deal or not. What's more, while this week's development puts the parties one step closer to an eventual power-sharing agreement, it's unclear whether the incoming Biden administration will even honor the Trump administration's deal with the Taliban.

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Two weeks ago, Russia secured a deal to build a naval base in Sudan, its first new military facility in Africa since the end of the Cold War. The accord is a major milestone in Moscow's wider push to regain influence, and income, on a continent where the Kremlin was once a major player.

But with the ideological and military contests of the Cold War long over, what is Moscow doing in Africa today?

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Reasons for Hope: COVID and the Coming Year. Watch on Friday. Dec 4 2020 12 noon - 1 pm ET

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