HARD NUMBERS

230,000: Every year, South Korea drafts more than 230,000 young men into mandatory military service, but athletes and traditional musicians are often given exemptions. While some people now want to extend that privilege to the country’s wildly popular K-Pop stars, the defense ministry prefers to do away with the exemptions altogether: decades of low birth rates have made it hard for the army, which defends one of the most militarized borders on earth, to fill its ranks.


 

190: Colombia’s historic 2016 peace deal with the FARC rebel group ended half a century of conflict, but the state has been slow to re-establish control in areas surrendered by the guerrillas. As drug traffickers and other militants have moved in, they have come into conflict with local community leaders and social activists – more than 190 of whom have been murdered this year. That’s already more than twice the annual total from 2016.

 

100: UN officials warned this week that Yemen could face the worst famine the world has seen in 100 years within the next three months if Saudi-backed airstrikes aren’t halted. Between 12 to 13 million civilians are at risk of starvation.

 

60: Over the weekend, President Trump quietly signed a bill that will expand US foreign aid to countries in Africa, Asia, and the Americas by $60 billion. The bill, which creates a new foreign aid agency that will provide loans to companies operating in developing nations, is seen by many a deliberate move to counter China’s expansive One Belt, One Road initiative, which aims to deliver $1 trillion in investment.

 

5: Indian authorities desperately seeking to trap a killer wild tigress are turning to a chic solution: luxury perfumes, which have been shown to attract felines. Chanel No. 5 is evidently a big hit with big cats, but for the time being they are using Calvin Klein Obsession because it is cheaper. The tigress in question has killed more than a dozen people and evaded capture for months.

The impact of Covid-19 is being felt in every household, changing the way we live our lives. The pandemic continues to reinforce the drive for cooperation between communities, governments and businesses in order to combat the threat.

Microsoft responded to the pandemic in its home state through efforts like donating protective equipment, making boxed lunches for families and using technology to better understand the spread of the virus over the last year. Now, we're sharing six ways Microsoft is pulling together with the community to lend a hand to fellow Washingtonians in 2021 including helping with vaccination efforts. To read more, visit Microsoft on the Issues.

Europe has been hit by a green wave in recent years. Green parties in countries as varied as Germany, Belgium, France, Ireland, Finland, and Sweden have made sizable electoral gains, with some now sitting in national governments.

The Green phenomenon seems to be gaining yet more momentum in the lead up to some crucial European elections (Germany, France) in the months ahead. What explains the green shift, and where might this trend be headed?

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One of the world's most famous political dissidents may die in a Russian prison this week.

Alexei Navalny has been on a hunger strike since March 31 over the authorities' refusal to let his own medical team examine him after he developed signs of tuberculosis. Now, one of his aides says Navalny is "close to death."

The fate of Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic — who was poisoned last summer, allegedly by state officials, treated in Germany, and then jailed upon his return to Russia — is being closely watched both inside and outside the country.

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The Biden administration's much ballyhooed Earth Day Summit this week promises to be revealing. We're going to learn a little about what additional action a few dozen of the world's largest emitters are willing to take on climate change, and a lot more about which countries are willing to take such action at the behest of the United States.

Call it a situational assessment of the status of American power just shy of Biden's 100th day in office.

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How bad is the climate crisis? Every year, the UN's Emissions Gap Report shows a large gap between the trajectory we're on and the trajectory we ought to be on, explains climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert. "Every decade now is warmer than the decade before. And we're seeing the damage pile up," says Kolbert, whose latest book is Under A White Sky: The Nature of the Future. "We saw the tremendous wildfire season in California last fall. The hurricane season in the Gulf. These are all connected to climate change, and we're just going to keep seeing more of that." She spoke with Ian Bremmer on GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting April 16. Check local listings.

Watch the episode: Can we fix the planet the same way we broke it?

Ian Bremmer and Bill Maher discussed the global leadership of the United States compared to that of China on a recent episode of Real Time. "The level of corruption in China, the level of corruption in China, even the buildings and the rails you talk about - the average building the Chinese build lasts for 20, 25 years. In the United States, it lasts for 40 to 50. There's a reason why we are still the world's most powerful country," Ian argued. "I'm just saying China's not eating our lunch - that's all."

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As the price of Bitcoin has skyrocketed in recent months, so has the amount of energy that procuring it hogs. Research shows that Bitcoin "mining" now uses 80 percent more energy than at the start of 2020. Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates recently sounded the alarm on crypto, saying that he would not invest in Bitcoin because mining for the digital currency requires huge amounts of energy, much of which is powered by fossil fuels that harm the environment. So where does Bitcoin rank in electricity consumption compared to nations?

Even if the US, Europe, China, and India reduce carbon emissions at the rate they've promised, much climate damage has already been done. That shouldn't stop these and other countries from doing all they can to meet their net-zero emissions targets, but they also better start preparing for a world of people on the move.

Climate change will displace an unprecedented number of people in coming years, creating not just a series of humanitarian crises in many parts of the world, but lasting political, economic, and social upheaval as those of us who live on higher ground try to find a sustainable place for these climate refugees to live.

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The climate crisis: how screwed are we?

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