Hard Numbers: Tuesday, April 17

10,000: Tomorrow, China will hold live-fire naval drills in the Taiwan Strait that include 10,000 people, 48 ships and submarines, and 76 fighter jets. The drills, China’s largest ever, are sure to further inflame already-rising tensions with Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing considers part of China.


5,000: Venezuela’s acute political and humanitarian crisis is now driving out some 5,000 refugees a day, according to the UN. At that rate, some 1.8 million people — or more than 5 per cent of Venezuela’s population — will depart this year. They are straining the ability of neighboring countries like Brazil and Colombia to cope, in ways that could become politically significant soon.

68: Back in the late 1980s, some 68 percent of Americans polled said they thought that the world’s leading economic power was… Japan. Only a quarter said the US was top dog, even though the US economy was almost twice as large as Japan’s at the time. Today, 44 percent of Americans give that title to China, while 42 percent say the US still rules the roost (Japan clocks in at a modest 4 percent.)

11: The share of Russians who view the US positively has fallen 11 points to just 26 percent since Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Despite early hopes that Trump would improve US-Russia ties, his administration and Congress have hit Moscow with several rafts of fresh sanctions. Meanwhile, 70 percent of Russians view China positively.

2: Only two subgroups of voters currently favor President Trump’s threatened tariffs on China: non college-educated whites and rural voters, according to a new poll. Trade policy is always about tradeoffs — and Trump’s tariff approach is designed to appeal directly to the base of voters that put him in office and who, he hopes, will keep him there in 2020.

"I think there are certain times where you have tectonic shifts and change always happens that way."

On the latest episode of 'That Made All the Difference,' Vincent Stanley, Director of Philosophy at Patagonia, shares his thoughts on the role we all have to play in bringing our communities and the environment back to health.

For many, Paul Rusesabagina became a household name after the release of the 2004 tear-jerker film Hotel Rwanda, which was set during the 1994 Rwandan genocide.

Rusesabagina, who used his influence as a hotel manager to save the lives of more than 1,000 Rwandans, has again made headlines in recent weeks after he was reportedly duped into boarding a flight to Kigali, Rwanda's capital, where he was promptly arrested on terrorism, arson, kidnapping and murder charges. Rusesabagina's supporters say he is innocent and that the move is retaliation against the former "hero" for his public criticism of President Paul Kagame, who has ruled the country with a strong hand since ending the civil war in the mid 1990s.

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The United Nations marks its 75th anniversary this year amid the greatest global crisis since its founding. The UN's head of global communications Melissa Fleming explains the goals of this General Assembly, and how a renewed commitment to cooperation among nations could help eradicate COVID-19.

Bibi's COVID scheming: With coronavirus cases spiking, Israel has imposed a second nationwide lockdown, the first developed country to go back to draconian measures of this kind since the spring. The controversial decision, which came as Israeli Jews prepared to celebrated the Jewish High Holidays, represents a certain failure of Prime Minister Netanyahu's handling of the pandemic, in which Israel emerged as a global case study in how not to reopen after the initial lockdowns. Polls show that two-thirds of the public disapprove of Bibi's handling of the crisis. Many critics suspect the second lockdown — which bans large public gatherings — isn't only about flattening the curve, but about quelling the anti-Netanyahu protests that have gained steam throughout the country in recent months. This all comes as the Israeli government faces an unprecedented crisis: it has failed to pass a budget in two years and its economy is in free fall, sparking fears of another election by year's end (the fourth in less than two years).

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Gerald Butts, Vice Chairman & Senior Advisor of Eurasia Group, discusses reasons the rapid global response to climate change warrants optimism on UNGA In 60 Seconds.

There's a lot of doom and gloom out there about climate change. Can you give me a reason to be optimistic?

I'm going to say something you don't hear set very often when it comes to climate change. You should be an optimist. You should be a skeptical optimist, but an optimist nonetheless. Let me explain what I mean. We are scaling up climate solutions faster than even the most ardent among us thought possible a decade ago. Consider this. In 2010, about half of US electricity was generated from coal. This year less than 20% will be, and it's trending towards zero at increasing velocity.

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