HARD NUMBERS

50 million: China wants to be a football superpower by mid-century. To that end, President Xi Jinping is pushing ahead with a 50-point plan that envisions 20,000 training centers, 60,000 new fields, and 50 million players in the country by 2020. China, with 1 billion people, has qualified for the event just once (in 2002). Uruguay, with a population of 3.4 million, has qualified 13 times since 1950 and won the tournament (once) during the same period.


42,000: The Philippines’ blunt-spoken president, Rodrigo Duterte, has announced he wants to give 42,000 guns to community leaders for use in killing drug traffickers. Human rights watchdogs say Duterte’s scorched earth “drug war” has already led to thousands of extrajudicial killings of dealers, addicts, and traffickers. Pouring 42,000 weapons into that situation — what could possibly go wrong?

79: South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in, who was elected in part on a promise to improve relations with North Korea, has seen his approval skyrocket to 79 percent, according to Gallup Korea. That’s the highest rating that any democratically-elected leader of Korea has ever had at this point in their presidency.

70: In Yemen, Saudi-backed forces have been waging an assault on the port city of Al Hudaydah over the past week, which is controlled by Houthi rebels who ousted the government in 2014. Any interruption of sea access to Al Hudaydah could worsen what is already the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe, as 70 percent of the humanitarian aid that reaches Yemen travels through the port.

66: fresh poll on the Trump administration’s policy of separating thousands of asylum seekers and illegal immigrants from their children — and we note that Messrs MillerKelly, and Sessions all say it’s a policy even if Homeland Security Sec’y Nielsen’s says it is not — shows that 66 percent of Americans oppose the practice. But a slim majority of Republicans (55 percent) supports it, muting GOP criticism of the White House as Trump heads to Capitol Hill to discuss immigration reform with Republicans later today.

The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace launched in 2018 with the commitment of signatories to stand up to cyber threats like election interference, attacks on critical infrastructure, and supply chain vulnerabilities. Last week, on the first anniversary of the call, the number of signatories has nearly tripled to more than 1,000 and now includes 74 nations; more than 350 international, civil society and public sector organizations; and more than 600 private sector entities. These commitments to the Paris Call from around the world demonstrate a widespread, global, multi-stakeholder consensus about acceptable behavior in cyberspace.

Read More at Microsoft On The Issues.

In recent years, Republicans have come to dominate most of the state legislatures in the US. Ironically, it was during the Obama-era that the GOP made major headway in states that had long been considered safely blue. State legislatures are now redder than they've been in nearly a century, and in most parts of the country, one party holds all the levers of power. For the first time since 1914, there's only one split legislature in the entire country: Minnesota. To be sure, some state races are bucking the trend: Kentucky and Louisiana, both deep-red states, recently elected Democratic governors. Here's a look at how Democratic and Republican control of state legislatures has evolved over the past four decades.

Forty years ago, Islamic extremists angry at the Saudi government's experiments with social liberalization laid siege to the Grand Mosque of Mecca, the holiest site in Islam.

The attack came on the heels of the Iranian revolution across the Gulf, putting the House of Saud and its American backers in a precarious spot. Tehran had challenged Saudi Arabia's Islamic legitimacy from without, while jihadists were now doing the same from within. For a few days it seemed as though the world's most important oil producer – and the custodian of Islam's holiest places – might be in danger of collapse.

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Forty years ago today, dozens of bearded gunmen stormed the holiest site in Islam, the Grand Mosque at Mecca, in Saudi Arabia.

They held the complex for two weeks before a French-trained Saudi force rooted them out, but the fallout from the attack went on to shape the modern Middle East in ways that are still with us today: in the scourge of transnational jihadism and the deepening rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

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What changes now that the U.S. softened its position on Israeli settlements?

Well, I mean, not a lot. I mean, keep in mind that this is also the administration that moved the embassy to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv. Everyone said that was going to be a massive problem. Ultimately, not many people cared. Same thing with recognition of Golan Heights for Israel. This is just one more give from the Americans to the Israelis in the context of a region that doesn't care as much as they used to about Israel - Palestine.

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