Hard Numbers

315 million: Profits at a Chinese utility company have increased by $315 million since it began monitoring its employees’ brainwaves with special hats in 2014. The technology allows managers to use AI programs to detect emotional spikes and stress and to change staffing appropriately.


65: Oil prices have risen 65% since last June, touching a four year high of $75 a barrel last week. Three things are driving up prices: ongoing production restraint from Russia and Saudi Arabia, dwindling production in Venezuela and Libya, and the prospect that US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal will mean fresh sanctions on Iranian oil exports.

50: South Koreans’ trust in North Korean leader Kim Jong-un surged by 50 percentage points as a result of the historic Koreas summit last Friday. On the day of the summit, 64.7 percent of those surveyed said they thought the enigmatic North Korean dictator would denuclearize and lay the groundwork for peace on the peninsula, up from 14.7 percent before it, according to the research agency Realmeter.

31: Washington’s Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley says that UN member states voted against the United States 31 percent of the time last year, even though Uncle Sam accounts for 22 percent of the international organization’s budget. “This is not an acceptable return on our investment,” she said, detailing a list of countries that vote against Washington most often.

6: The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees is currently running an appeal for $46 million to assist Venezuelan refugees who have fled to neighboring countries. But a spokesperson said just 6 percent of the appeal has so far been raised, and many observers believe the target figure is far too low to begin with.

We're used to seeing electric, gas and wood-burning ovens, but can you imagine baking pizza in a solar-powered oven? That technology was invented in the latest episode of Funny Applications, where Eni's budding researchers imagine new uses for technology.

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It looks like China's leadership has finally had enough of Hong Kong's pro-democracy movement.

In a speech on Thursday to the national people's congress, a symbolic confab of the country's ruling elite, Premier Li Keqiang announced a new national security law that would outlaw secessionist activity and criminalize foreign influence in Hong Kong. The measure, an explicit response to recent pro-democracy protests there, would also permit mainland China's security agencies to operate openly in the city.

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Indonesia becomes an epicenter: Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, is now considered an epicenter of the pandemic, after it suffered its biggest daily surge in cases Thursday with over 900 new infections. The country of 260 million has the largest outbreak in Southeast Asia, recording about 20,000 cases and 1,300 deaths, though a recent study suggested that as few as 2 percent of the country's coronavirus infections may have been reported. When pressed on why Indonesia is experiencing a surge in cases while the curve appears to be flattening in neighboring countries, Indonesian health authorities blamed the public's flouting of social distancing guidelines. But critics say the government has sent wishy-washy messages on how to stop the disease's spread, as demonstrated by the fact that only four of Indonesia's 34 provinces have applied widespread social-distancing restrictions. Meanwhile, as the country's 225 million Muslims prepare to celebrate the end of Ramadan this weekend, popular markets have been overwhelmed by shoppers buying food and clothing, with little guidance or enforcement of large-scale social distancing measures. Indonesia's public health system is grossly underfunded, and experts warn that given the shortage of hospital beds, medical equipment and staff, the situation could deteriorate fast in the coming weeks.

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This is not the 2020 that Vladimir Putin had in mind.

As the year started, Russia's president was crafting plans for changes to the constitution that would permit him to stay in power for (at least) another 16 years. A rubber stamp public referendum was to be held in April. Then, in May, he was to welcome foreign leaders to Moscow for a grand celebration (parades, concerts, fireworks, and a reviewing stand atop Lenin's Mausoleum) marking the 75th anniversary of the Soviet Union's triumph over Nazi Germany in the Great Patriotic War.

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Have you ever read a major op-ed and thought to yourself, "no! no! no! That's just not right!" Us too. This week, Ian Bremmer is joined by analysts Kelsey Broderick and Jeffrey Wright to take the Red Pen to former World Bank president Robert B. Zoellick's Wall Street Journal op-ed.

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