Hard Numbers

72: Although trust in specific technology and social media companies is falling, 72 percent of Americans polled still say technology has a net positive effect on society, according to a new survey by our friends at Axios. Is there an algorithm that separates babies from bathwater?


10: The Malaysian government has proposed a 10-year jail term for publishing “fake news,” and the law covers articles published abroad. As elections approach — in which Prime Minister Najib Razak is keen to avoid reminders of the massive corruption allegations against him — the proposal has raised fears of a press crackdown ahead of the vote.

6: Since 1979, only six cabinet-level US officials, and no sitting presidents, have visited Taiwan, out of respect for Beijing’s “One China” policy. But that number could rise now that Trump has signed a bill meant to boost high-level exchanges with the island. China isn’t pleased.

3.3: There are currently about 3.3 billion people living under political systems considered autocratic, according to the latest annual report by the Bertelsmann Stiftung, a research institution. That’s the highest number registered since they began regular surveys in 2006. Still, 4.2 billion people live in democracies.

0: The number of tweets that @realdonaldtrump has written about Stormy Daniels, the porn star who says she had an affair with Mr Trump in 2006. Well, my spiritual adviser Willis Sparks pointed out that the only people Donald Trump is afraid of offending are Vladimir Putin and a porn star. So there’s that.

The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace launched in 2018 with the commitment of signatories to stand up to cyber threats like election interference, attacks on critical infrastructure, and supply chain vulnerabilities. Last week, on the first anniversary of the call, the number of signatories has nearly tripled to more than 1,000 and now includes 74 nations; more than 350 international, civil society and public sector organizations; and more than 600 private sector entities. These commitments to the Paris Call from around the world demonstrate a widespread, global, multi-stakeholder consensus about acceptable behavior in cyberspace.

Read More at Microsoft On The Issues.

What changes now that the U.S. softened its position on Israeli settlements?

Well, I mean, not a lot. I mean, keep in mind that this is also the administration that moved the embassy to Jerusalem, from Tel Aviv. Everyone said that was going to be a massive problem. Ultimately, not many people cared. Same thing with recognition of Golan Heights for Israel. This is just one more give from the Americans to the Israelis in the context of a region that doesn't care as much as they used to about Israel - Palestine.

More Show less

Bolivia's polarizing interim president: After Bolivian president Evo Morales and his deputies were pushed out of office for rigging last month's presidential election, little-known opposition Senator Jeanine Añez took office as interim leader. Añez has promised to guide the country toward a "national consensus" ahead of new elections in January, but she's already risked deepening political divides. On day one, she lugged a giant bible into office, in a perceived swipe at Morales, who had elevated popular indigenous traditions that the ultra-conservative Ms. Añez once called "satanic." She's also abruptly reoriented the country's foreign ties toward Latin America's conservative governments. On her watch, at least eight pro-Morales protesters have been killed by the authorities. Morales himself, exiled in Mexico, says he's the victim of a coup and wants to run in the elections. Añez says he's barred, but his MAS political party still controls both houses of congress and has to be a partner for any smooth transition. Some compromise is necessary, but things don't seem to be going that way.

More Show less

2,887: Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has now broken a century-old record to become the longest serving PM in Japan's history, at 2,887 days. It's a stunning feat for a premier who made a political comeback after quitting in 2007 due to a series of embarrassing scandals.

More Show less