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.

Wrecking the global economy's hopes for a relaxing late-August Friday, China and the US have taken fresh shots at each other in their deepening trade war.

First, China announced new tariffs on US goods in response to US levies on China's exports that are set to take effect next month.

Trump responded with a vintage tweet storm, lashing out at China and demanding that US firms stop doing business there. The Dow plunged as markets waited for the next shoe to drop. And drop it did: later in the day Trump announced higher tariffs on nearly everything that China exports to the United States.

Why now? Bear in mind, all of this comes right as Trump is leaving for this weekend's G7 summit in France. That gathering already promised to be a testy one – but with the global economy slowing, the impact of Trump's increasingly nasty trade war with China will add fresh tensions to the occasion.

So where are we in the trade war now? Here is an updated list of what measures each side has imposed to date, and what's next. Both sides have a lot at stake, but from the looks of it, the list isn't going to get shorter any time soon.

When Donald Trump first started talking about buying Greenland last week, we figured it was a weird story with less legs than a Harp seal.

Signal readers, we were wrong. President Trump was so serious about purchasing the autonomous Danish territory that this week he abruptly cancelled a trip to Denmark after the country's prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, labelled the idea "absurd."

More Show less

The Amazon in flames – More than 70,000 forest fires are burning in Brazil right now, most of them in the Amazon. That's up 84% over the same period last year, and it's the highest number on record. This is the dry season when farmers burn certain amounts of forest legally to clear farmland. But critics say Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro's efforts to loosen conservation rules have encouraged farmers, loggers, and miners to set more fires, many of them illegally. Bolsonaro – a science skeptic who recently fired the head of the agency that tracks deforestation – says, without proof, that NGOs are setting the fires to embarrass his government. Meanwhile, the EU is holding up a major trade deal with Brazil unless Bolsonaro commits to higher environmental protection standards, including those that affect the Amazon.

More Show less

Over the past fifty years, the Amazon rainforest has shrunk by an area equal to the size of Turkey. In the 1960s and 1970s, the Brazilian government supported settlement of the sparsely populated region for security reasons. Since then, huge swaths of the forest -- which is crucial for limiting the world's greenhouse gasses -- have been cleared for farmland used to feed Brazil's population and support its massive agricultural exports. Greater awareness of the environmental impacts in the 1990s produced tighter conservation regulations, though plenty of illegal clearing continues. In recent years, the annual deforestation rate has begun to rise again, and Brazil's new president Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to weaken regulations further in order to support businesses.