Hard Numbers

20 million: A massive fire destroyed much of the 20 million piece collection of Brazil’s most historic museum on Sunday, in a disaster that many believe could have been prevented by adequate fire protection within the building. During its multi-year recession, Brazil has cut back on public spending, including on public works and buildings.


17,000: More than 17,000 civilians have been killed in Yemen since the civil war began there in 2015. Over the weekend, the US-backed Saudi coalition accepted responsibility for an airstrike last month that killed 40 children. The war has fomented one of the worst humanitarian disasters on the planet, with no end in sight.

12,450: Italy’s hardline Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has cracked down on accepting refugees arriving from Africa, but because the government’s hasn’t effectively repatriated many of those denied asylum or residency, there was a net annual increase of 12,450 migrants illegally in the country during the period from June to August, according to a new study cited by the daily La Repubblica. That only adds to the roughly half-million illegal immigrants he’s pledged to deport.

300: The US military has decided to formally cancel $300 million in suspended aid to Pakistan, citing Washington’s perception that the South Asian nation hasn’t done enough to combat extremism in the region. Pakistan, which has received more than $33 billion in US assistance since 2002, will be eager to discuss the matter with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo when he arrives in Islamabad tomorrow.

6: The economy of Nicaragua is expected to shrink by nearly 6 percent next year, after growing around 5 percent last year. That 11-point swing can be attributed to a deepening political crisis surrounding President Daniel Ortega, whose brutal clampdown on opposition protesters has disrupted tourism, caused people to take their money abroad, and sent migrants spilling into neighboring countries.

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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