HARD NUMBERS

40: As a Russian friend has reminded me many times, a look at Moscow won’t help you see Russia. While the capital is wearing its finest colors for the World Cup, infrastructure outside major Russian cities remains in decay. According to the country’s official statistics bureau, when Putin came to power in 2000 there were 68,100 schools. Today, there are just 41,100, a fall of nearly 40 percent. Since 2000, the number of hospitals has fallen from 10,700 to just 5,400.


38: According to a just-published survey, Europeans say immigration is the most important issue facing the EU, with 38 percent of mentions. (That’s up from just 14 percent in autumn 2017). This week’s migration controversy involving Italy and Spain, which we highlighted on Wednesday, and an ongoing policy dispute within Germany’s governing coalition suggest these issues will continue to generate heat in European politics.

113: During this election campaign season in Mexico, at least 113 candidates, prospective candidates, and current and former politicians have been murdered, according to Etellekt, a public policy consultancy. Hundreds of candidates have backed out of their races, and others still on the ballot refuse to campaign in public. Two more weeks until election day.

4: JD.com, a Chinese e-commerce firm, has built a Shanghai fulfillment center that can organize, pack, and ship 200,000 orders a day. The facility has four employees, all of whom are there to service robots.

93 million: Net inflows of foreign direct investment to North Korea amounted to just $93 million in 2016. Compare that number with $12 billion into South Korea. In other (possibly related) news, Swedish automaker Volvo still awaits payment for 1,000 sedans shipped to North Korea in the 1970s.

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

It's been two months since President Trump abruptly ordered the withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria, paving the way for a bloody Turkish offensive in that region. (See our earlier coverage here.) What's happened since? A guide for the puzzled:

No "end date" for US troops in Syria – US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said this week that the United States has completed its military pullback in northeastern Syria. Back in October, President Trump pledged to withdraw the roughly 1,000 American troops deployed there. Since then, some American troops have left Syria altogether, while others were redeployed to defend nearby oil fields from ISIS, as well as from Syrian government troops and Russia. Now, there are roughly 600 American troops dispersed around Syria, and the remainder have been deployed in Iraq to stave off a potential ISIS resurgence. It's not clear if any troops have returned to the US. When asked about the chaotic comings and goings of US troops in Syria in recent months, the commander of US Central Command said frankly: there's no "end date" for American troops stationed there.

More Show less

Turkey's government has captured many thousands of ISIS fighters as a result of its operations in northern Syria. Many of these prisoners have already been deported to some of the more than 100 countries they come from, and Ankara says it intends to send more. There are also more than 10,000 women and children – family members of ISIS fighters – still living in camps inside Syria.

These facts create a dilemma for the governments of countries where the ISIS detainees are still citizens: Should these terrorist fighters and their families be allowed to return, in many cases to face trial back home? Or should countries refuse to allow them back?

More Show less

What's the difference between Alphabet and Google?

Well, Google is the search engine, YouTube, all the stuff you probably think of as Google. Alphabet is the parent company that was created four or five years ago. And it contains a whole bunch of other entities like Jigsaw, Verily - the health care company that Google runs, Waymo - the self-driving car unit. Also, it's important to know Google makes tons of money. Alphabet, all that other stuff loses tons of money.

More Show less

The collapse of the Islamic State's self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria has given rise to a host of new challenges for governments around the world. Turkey has captured thousands of ISIS fighters as a result of its offensive in northern Syria, many of whom are foreign nationals who left their home countries to fight with the Islamic State. To date, non-Middle East countries have mostly opposed ISIS fighters returning home, leaving them, and their spouses and children, in legal limbo. Here's a look at where these foreign fighters come from.