Hard Numbers

0 and 0 and 0: The State Department has spent zero of the $120 million that has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in US elections or sow distrust in democracy. Furthermore, zero of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speak Russian. A departmental hiring freeze means zero of the computer experts needed to track foreign cyber-activity will be hired any time soon. Unless this is some kind of judo move or Jedi mind trick, it’s hard to see how this bolsters US defenses against election meddling in this fall’s midterm elections or beyond.


13: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who over the weekend secured a fresh mandate as head of a grand coalition, has been in power for 13 years. During that time Japan has had eight prime ministers, Italy has had seven, and Australia six. France, Argentina, and South Africa have each elected four different presidents during that span, while the US, Turkey, and Brazil have each gone through three. If there is a single German word for “outlasting your political counterparts” we would like to learn it.

58: Since the electoral season in Mexico officially began last September, 58 politicians have been assassinated, or nearly 10 every month. Security is a critical issue as Mexicans head to the polls for a pivotal presidential election this summer.

82: In a Pew survey conducted last fall, 82% of Italians said they distrust parliament, and an equal share said the national economic situation is bad despite recent improvements. About three-quarters of Italians said politicians don’t care what ordinary people think — not surprisingly, the anti-establishment parties did molto bene in the elections over the weekend.

1 billion: Chinese venture capital investment into Latin America jumped to $1 billion this year, up from a paltry $30 million in 2015, according to data collected by Preqin, a market research firm. China’s investment in Latin America has until now focused overwhelmingly on infrastructure and natural resources, but startups, particularly in tech, are a new focus as China’s state and private investors expand their economic presence in the region.

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