Hard Numbers

5,499: As of today, Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan has served 5499 days in office, first as Prime Minister and now as President. That makes him the longest serving leader in Turkey’s modern history — Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded modern Turkey, served a mere 5491.

62: India’s new military budget of $62 billion, unveiled in February, passes an important milestone — for the first time since gaining independence in 1947, India now spends more on defense than its former colonial power in the UK. Globally only America, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia have higher defense budgets than India today.

21.8: Non-tech companies spent $21.8 billion on acquisitions in the AI industry in 2017, some 26 times more than they spent in 2015. It’s a sign that non-tech firms are increasingly focused on the impacts — both positive and negative — that AI will have on their markets and businesses.

4:1 : In Brazil, private security guards outnumber police officers by a ratio of four to one. Elsewhere in Latin America, one of the world’s most violent regions, the ratio is even higher. These weakly regulated forces aim to supplement strained police forces, but in practice they can fuel deeper cycles of polarization, inequality, and violence, according to a new report.

0: So far this year, Chinese coal exports to North Korea fell from about 8,500 tons monthly to a big fat zero, according to Chinese government data. Steel exports have also plummeted from about 15,000 tons a month to around 260. Beijing is putting more economic pressure on Pyongyang in order to help bring about a diplomatic solution to the nuclear crisis on the Korean peninsula.

This month, a bipartisan group of legislators in Washington state presented new legislation that could soon become the most comprehensive privacy law in the country. The centerpiece of this legislation, the Washington Privacy Act as substituted, goes further than the landmark bill California recently enacted and builds on the law Europeans have enjoyed for the past year and a half.

As Microsoft President Brad Smith shared in his blog post about our priorities for the state of Washington's current legislative session, we believe it is important to enact strong data privacy protections to demonstrate our state's leadership on what we believe will be one of the defining issues of our generation. People will only trust technology if they know their data is private and under their control, and new laws like these will help provide that assurance.

Read more here.

Let's be clear— the Middle East peace plan that the US unveiled today is by no means fair. In fact, it is markedly more pro-Israel than any that have come before it.

But the Trump administration was never aiming for a "fair" deal. Instead, it was pursuing a deal that can feasibly be implemented. In other words, it's a deal shaped by a keen understanding of the new power balances within the region and globally.


For months now, the US has been lobbying countries around the world to ban the Chinese tech giant Huawei from building the 5G data networks that are going to power everything from your cell phone, to power grids, to self-driving cars. US security hawks say allowing a Chinese company to supply such essential infrastructure could allow the Chinese government to steal sensitive data or even sabotage networks. On the other hand, rejecting Huawei could make 5G more expensive. It also means angering the world's second-largest economy.


The end of the interim in Bolivia? – Mere months after taking over as Bolivia's interim president, Jeanine Áñez has decided that "interim" isn't quite permanent enough, and she now wants to run for president in elections set for May 3. Áñez is an outspoken conservative who took over in October when mass protests over election fraud prompted the military to oust the long-serving left-populist Evo Morales. She says she is just trying to unify a fractious conservative ticket that can beat the candidate backed by Morales' party. (Morales himself is barred from running.) Her supporters say she has the right to run just like anyone else. But critics say that after promising that she would serve only as a caretaker president, Áñez's decision taints the legitimacy of an election meant to be a clean slate reset after the unrest last fall. We are watching closely to see if her move sparks fresh unrest in an already deeply polarized country.


1: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was formally indicted on corruption charges Tuesday, making him the first sitting prime minister to face trial in Israel's history. The charges came hours before Netanyahu was set to meet President Trump for the unveiling of the US' long-anticipated Mideast peace plan.