Hard Numbers

450 billion: Since 2000, annual defense spending by countries in the Asia Pacific has more than doubled to $450 billion today, led by China who will spend more than $200 billion on defense this year. But that still pales in comparison with the US, which recently passed a $717 billion defense spending bill into law for 2019.


2,599: Mexican prosecutors opened 2,599 homicide investigations, or about 84 a day, in the month of July. That’s the highest number of investigations opened during any single month on record. Squelching rising violence will be one of the biggest challenges facing incoming President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who takes over in December.

96: A recent survey of Facebook accounts conducted by the Counter Extremism Project documented Islamic State supporters in 96 different countries, including those as far flung as Namibia, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. In his first audio recording in nearly a year, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi recently called for fighters to step up attacks outside of Iraq and Syria.

13.3: South Korean men use an average of 13.3 cosmetic products per month, according to official data, and they spend more than twice as much on beauty products as men from any other country. Their devotion to daily skin care starts in an unlikely place, the military, where rough weather and lots of down time have fostered a strong culture of self-care among the country’s conscripts.

7: Myanmar’s de-facto leader, State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, has been stripped of seven international awards and honors for her previous humanitarian work since the outbreak of violence against the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority. Yesterday, a United Nations report called for the investigation and prosecution of Myanmar’s top military generals for genocide and accused Aung San Suu Kyi of contributing “to the commission of atrocity crimes.”

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

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Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

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In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

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When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

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YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

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Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

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28: The UK and the EU have again failed to agree on post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. In a 28-page document, the British government had suggested further changes to trade rules that were already negotiated as part of the Brexit settlement, but Brussels was not having any of it.

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