Hard Numbers

10,000: Over the past year, 10,000 Afghan security forces were killed, making it one of the most violent periods for the war-torn nation. About 10 civilians were killed every day on average in the first 9 months of 2017, according to the UN. Fifteen years on from the US intervention there, the country remains wracked by violence and instability, with slim prospects of improvement.

716: The Trump administration plans to request a $716 billion dollar defense budget for 2019, a 13 percent increase from 2017. To put that in perspective, the US will spend more on defense than the next dozen countries combined. In fact, the proposed increase between 2017 and 2019 alone, $82bn, is more than Russia’s entire defense budget.

48: As many as 48 million of Twitter’s active users — nearly 15 percent of the Twitterverse — are automated accounts designed to simulate real people. The company claims that number is far lower, but the point remains: social media has become a decisive platform for commerce and politics — and its increasingly defined by people who aren’t even people.

34: Thirty-four percent of Latin Americans were considered middle classin 2015, the latest year for which data is available, up from 21% in 2003. The heightened expectations of this group — in terms of clean government, economic growth, and public safety — are both a driving and disruptive force in a massive election year for the region.

0: North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un has met zero world leaders since taking power in 2011. He hasn’t even had a sit-down with his closest ally, Chinese President Xi Jinping. When thermonuclear war is on the agenda, a little face time could go a long way.

Microsoft has a long-standing commitment to child online protection. First and foremost, as a technology company, it has a responsibility to create software, devices and services that have safety features built in from the outset. Last week, in furtherance of those commitments, Microsoft shared a grooming detection technique, code name "Project Artemis," by which online predators attempting to lure children for sexual purposes can be detected, addressed and reported. Developed in collaboration with The Meet Group, Roblox, Kik and Thorn, this technique builds off Microsoft patented technology and will be made freely available to qualified online service companies that offer a chat function.

Read more at Microsoft On The Issues.

Vladimir Putin has ruled Russia for twenty years, but he has a problem: his current presidential term ends in 2024, and the constitution prevents him from running for re-election then.

As a result, the question of what he'll do in 2024 has been on the minds of Russia's oligarchs, spooks, bureaucrats, and a lot of ordinary folks, as well. After all, over the past two decades, Putin has made himself, for better and for worse, the indispensable arbiter, boss, and glue of Russia's sprawling and corrupted system of government. As the current speaker of Russia's legislature once said, "Without Putin, there is no Russia." Not as we currently know it, no.


Since Martin Luther King Jr delivered his iconic "I have a dream" speech in August 1963, the number of Black Americans elected to the United States Congress has dramatically increased. Still, it wasn't until last year, more than half a century later, that the share of Black members serving in the House of Representatives reflected the percentage of Black Americans in the broader population —12 percent. To date, only six states have sent a Black representative to serve in the US Senate, and many states have never elected a Black representative to either house of Congress. Here's a look at Black representation in every US Congress since 1963.

It's been nine years since Libya's long-time despot Muammar Qaddafi was killed in a violent uprising, bringing the oil-rich country to the brink of civil war. That conflict entered a new stage last year when violence between warring factions competing for territory intensified around Tripoli, Libya's capital, leading to the displacement of some 300,000 civilians. In recent weeks, fighting has intensified again, and ceasefire talks have failed. Here's a look at who's who and how we got here.


Nicholas Thompson, editor-in-chief of WIRED, discusses combating cyberbullying, CCPA and tech "fashion":

What is a "troll score" and is it a realistic way to combat online bullying?

Something that Kayvon Beykpour, head of product at Twitter and I talked about, and the thought was: Twitter doesn't give you a lot of disincentives to be a jerk online. But what if there were a way to measure how much of a jerk someone is and put it right in their profile? Wouldn't that help? I think it's a pretty good idea. Though, you can see the arguments against it.