Hard Numbers

1,500: A “refugee caravan” of 1,500 migrants from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador — many of them unaccompanied children — has begun a month-long journey to the United States, where they intend to seek political asylum. The group plans to challenge the more stringent asylum rules put in place by the Trump administration.


1,127: In 2017, 1,127 people were able to defect from North to South Korea. That’s about one third the annual number who survived the crossing before Kim Jong-un came to power in 2011.

200 billion: Estimates of Vladimir Putin’s personal wealth range from $50 billion to $200 billion. Good job, if you can get it.

70: Some 70 percent of guns recovered at crime scenes in Mexico and traced since 2009 were purchased in the US and trafficked across the border. #BuildTheWall

90:The Continental Free Trade Area, the new blockbuster trade deal signed by 44 African leaders, will eliminate tariffs on 90 percent of goods and liberalize services. Nigeria and South Africa, the continent’s two largest economies, are among 11 African governments that haven’t yet signed. Negotiations continue.

On the latest episode of Bank of America's That Made All the Difference podcast, Ken Burns explores the opportunity to come out of this moment as better versions of ourselves — and reveals whether a film about this year is in the cards.

Listen to the new episode here.

The twin explosions at Beirut's port on Tuesday were so powerful that the aftershocks reverberated as far as the Eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus, 150 miles away. The specter of fire and smoke was such that many suggested on social media that Beirut had experienced a nuclear blast.

In the days ahead, more details will come to light about why a deadly cache of materials was haphazardly stashed at a port warehouse, and why Lebanon's government failed to secure the site. So, what comes next for crisis-ridden Lebanon?

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Former Spanish King Juan Carlos I's decision to leave the country after being investigated for corruption has reignited the debate over the future of the monarchy in Spain. Opinions are divided between mostly older Spaniards who defend the institution's role as a symbol of national unity, and the younger generations and nationalist regions who want Spain to become a republic. More than three quarters of the world's countries are now republics, but 44 still have a king or queen as their head of state — among them the 16 Commonwealth countries officially ruled by British Queen Elizabeth II and 5 countries where the sovereign is all-powerful. We take a look at which countries remain monarchies today, and those that sent their royals packing in the post-World War II waves of decolonization and republicanism.

Modi riles up his base: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday set the first stone for a new Hindu temple to be built over the remains of a Mughal-era mosque in Uttar Pradesh state. The site, in the town of Ayodhya, has been disputed for decades by Hindus and Muslims, but the Supreme Court last November ruled, based on archeological findings, that construction of the temple could begin. The ruling dismayed many of India's 180 million Muslims, who worry that Modi — who was accompanied at the ceremony by Mohan Bhagwat, an ultranationalist Hindu activist whose followers helped to destroy the old mosque amid a wave of sectarian violence in 1992 — wants to replace India's secular foundations with his more explicitly Hindu vision of the country's identity. Although months ago Modi saw sizable protests over a controversial new citizenship law that discriminated against Muslims, he has so far proven to be extremely resilient and remains widely popular in India.

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280 million: Democratic candidate Joe Biden plans to spend $280 million on campaign ads in his battle against US President Donald Trump. Although Trump trails the former vice president by 7 points in an average of national polls, the incumbent has set aside less than half that amount for ads of his own.

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