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HARD NUMBERS

99.6: Some 99.6% of people in Iceland who were watching TV on June 16 were tuned into Iceland’s first-ever World Cup match. Their team rewarded their attention with a stunning 1–1 draw vs. world football power Argentina. #HandOfCod


68: President Erdogan has expanded the number of religious schools across Turkey from 450 in 2003 to 4,500 today. His government increased the budget for religious education this year by 68 percent.

57: Need a more cost-effective approach to pension reform? Russia’s prime minister Dmitri Medvedev has proposed an increase in the retirement age for men to 65. Current World Bank data suggests that just 57 percent of Russian men will live to age 65, a percentage that hasn’t increased in 50 years.

16: El Salvador, a source of large numbers of would-be asylum seekers in the US, is the world’s most violent country that is not an active war zone. It’s typical for criminal gangs to demand bribes of local businesses. Salvadorans spend $756 million per year on extortion fees. The country’s central bank estimates that violence costs the country around 16 percent in GDP.

1:​ For the first time since 2012, the US was the world’s #1 recipient of new asylum applications, with 331,700 lodged in 2017, according to a new UN report. That’s a 27 percent increase from 2016 (262,000) and nearly double the number in 2015 (172,700).

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On Wednesday, Joe Biden will become president because eighty-one million Americans, the highest tally in US history, voted to change course after four years of Donald Trump's leadership. Like all presidents, Biden and his vice president, Kamala Harris, take office with grand ambitions and high expectations, but rarely has a new administration taken power amid so much domestic upheaval and global uncertainty. And while Biden has pledged repeatedly to restore American "unity" across party lines — at a time of immense suffering, real achievements will matter a lot more than winged words.

Biden has a lot on his agenda, but within his first 100 days as president there are three key issues that we'll be watching closely for clues to how effectively he's able to advance their plans.

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We're only a few weeks into 2021 and that 'fresh new start' that so many had been hoping for at the end of 2020 has not exactly materialized. But what gives World Bank President David Malpass hope for the coming year? "The promise of humanity and of technology, people working together with communication, where they can share ideas. It allows an incredible advance for living standards." His wide-ranging conversation with Ian Bremmer was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

It wasn't pretty, but we made it to Inauguration Day. These last four years have taught the US a lot about itself — so what have we learned?

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Ian Bremmer's Quick Take:

Hi everybody. Ian Bremmer here, and it is the last full day of the Trump administration. Extraordinary four years, unprecedented in so many ways. I guess the most important feature for me is how much more divided the United States is, the world is, as coming out of the Trump administration than it was coming in. Not new. We were in a GZERO world, as I called it well before Trump was elected president. The social contract was seen as fundamentally problematic. Many Americans believed their system was rigged, didn't want to play the kind of international leadership role that the United States had heretofore, but all of those things accelerated under Trump.

So perhaps the most important question to be answered is, once Trump is gone, how much of that persists? It is certainly true that a President Biden is much more oriented towards trying to bring the United States back into existing multilateral architecture, whether that be the Paris Climate Accord, or more normalized immigration discussions with the Mexicans, the World Health Organization, the Iranian Nuclear Deal, some of which will be easy to do, like Paris, some of which will be very challenging, like Iran. But nonetheless, all sounds like business as usual.

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The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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