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Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel appears on a billboard in Hollywood as preparations continue for the 96th Academy Awards Awards Los Angeles, California U.S., March 6, 2024.

REUTERS/Mike Blake

Hard Numbers: Oscars go global, Congress does its job, Peru revives the Senate, Mauritania gets migration money

10,500: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (the folks behind the Oscars this weekend) has expanded its member rolls to over 10,500 individuals in over 75 countries, which may help account for the rise in international nominees. However, they still have a long way to go to diversify the Academy’s membership as just 34% of members are women and 18% are from underrepresented ethnic and racial communities.
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Ships are anchored near the construction site of a new Chinese mega port, in Chancay, Peru, as seen here in August 2023.

REUTERS/Angela Ponce

Hard Numbers: Chinese mega port to open in Peru, Bitcoin funds debut with a bang, Femicide alarm raised in Kenya, Germany’s East-West gender gaps

3.5 billion: A $3.5 billion Chinese state-owned port is set to open in Chancay, Peru, later this year, giving Beijing a direct gateway to Latin America’s bounteous natural resources – and cementing its status as the region’s largest trade partner. The port is expected to handle major volumes of copper and soy, and it could reduce shipping times to China by as much as two weeks for some of the region’s exporters.

1.9 billion: In the first few days after US regulators approved exchange-traded funds linked to Bitcoin, investors poured $1.9 billion into the new funds. The ETFs give people exposure to Bitcoin without having to actually own any. Some analysts think that as investor confidence in the funds grows, they could attract as much as $100 billion by year’s end.

4: At least four Kenyan women were killed in the first three weeks of the year, with at least two cases of them being targeted by gangs of men using dating apps to extort and rape their victims. The slayings follow a marked increase in femicide last year, in which at least 152 women were murdered (the real number is likely far higher according to experts), according to the NGO Femicide Count Kenya, which is calling on the government to investigate.

18: Women in Germany earn approximately 18% less than men, according to the latest data from the Federal Statistics Office, a stubborn plateau that has now held since 2020 after years of decreases. Experts largely attribute the persistent gap to women taking time away from work for childcare, which causes them to be overlooked for promotions or raises. Interestingly, the gap was less than half as broad in former East Germany, where women earned just 7% less than men.

Peru's President Dina Boluarte

REUTERS/Angela Ponce

Political drama consumes Peru, per usual

Political turmoil – seemingly a national pastime in Peru – is again rearing its ugly head. Top prosecutor Patricia Benavides is blaming President Dina Boluarte – who came to power a year ago after President Pedro Castillo was removed from office by Congress – for a number of deaths at anti-government protests.

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An Afghan man works in a poppy field in Nangarhar province in 2016.

REUTERS/Parwiz/File Photo

Hard Numbers: Afghans' fewer poppies, Trump's lead in key states, Lake Titicaca’s lower water level, New Delhi's smog, Japan's new frigates, Swifties' tents

95: Once the world’s top opium supplier, Afghanistan has slashed its cultivation of opium poppies by a whopping 95%, according to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime. The drop follows a Taliban edict banning opium cultivation.

5: Former President Donald Trump is leading in five of six battleground states in the run-up to the 2024 presidential election, according to new polls by The New York Times and Siena College. The numbers indicate that Biden is trailing among registered voters in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. The president remains ahead in Wisconsin by the smallest of margins: two percentage points.

29: Over the past seven months, Lake Titicaca’s water level at the Peru-Bolivia border has fallen 29 inches to near-record lows. According to scientists, climate change is exacerbating this year’s El Nino phenomenon, layering heat on top of heat in South America’s largest freshwater lake.

471: In more bad environmental news, primary schools in New Delhi have been closed through Nov. 10 due to high pollution levels. On Sunday, the capital recorded an Air Quality Index reading of 471, a level considered hazardous.

12: The Japanese Ministry of Defense will acquire a total of 12 new Mogami class frigates over the next five years. The vessels will be used to defend the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China and Taiwan.

5: Die-hard Taylor Swift fans have been camped out in tents for 5 months for a chance at front-row seats to the singer’s Eras Tour concerts in Buenos Aires on Nov. 9, 10, and 11. Some Bad Blood has been reported between the tent dwellers and locals who say the Swifties should get jobs rather than spend days waiting for their idol – but despite the potentially Delicate situation, fans appear able to Shake it Off.

A police officer gets his shoes shined as he and fellow officers stand outside the prosecutor's office before the arrival of Peru's President Dina Boluarte, in Lima, Peru March 7, 2023.

REUTERS/Gerardo Marin

Hard Numbers: Peru declares crime emergency, EU cuts Somalia aid, Chinese weddings dwindle, McCarthy tests his majority, oil prices surge

160,200: Peruvian President Dina Boluarte declared a state of emergency in two districts of the capital, Lima, and one in the northern city of Talara amid a devastating wave of violent crime. Lima police collected 160,200 crime reports last year, up 33% from 2021, part of a larger spike in violence in South America.

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A person wearing a protective suit sits in the Beijing Railway Station after China lifted its COVID-19 restrictions in Beijing, January 20, 2023.

REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Hard Numbers: China zeroes out zero, German tanks run low, Turkey jails a journalist, Greek train crash, police find ‘spiritual girlfriend’ in Peru

0 x 0: Remember China’s zero-Covid strategy? No you don’t, at least not if you’re the Chinese Communist Party, which is now aggressively zeroing out public mentions of the draconian lockdowns that kneecapped the country’s economy and provoked rare widespread protests against Xi Jinping. Here’s our own portrait of zero-Covid life from last spring.

62: Despite promising to give tanks to Kyiv, Germany and other NATO allies have struggled to rustle up enough of them — 62 to be precise — to fill two Ukrainian battalions worth. Part of the problem is that no one on the continent has planned for a major European land war in 30 years, so tanks, parts, and trainers are limited.

10: Turkey has sentenced a journalist to 10 months in prison for posting an unsubstantiated allegation that police officers and soldiers had sexually assaulted a young girl. This is the first jail term handed down under a new law meant to combat disinformation that critics fear will be used to stifle criticism of the government.

36: A train collision has killed at least 36 and injured dozens more near the city of Larissa in northern Greece. Railway employees reported that there were issues with electric coordination of traffic control, despite recent modernization of Greece’s railway system, which is operated by Italy’s state-owned railway company Ferrovie dello Stato Italiene.

1.5: The sentence you are about to read does not end the way you think it will: Police searching a delivery man who was acting drunk at a Peruvian archaeological site found in his backpack a 1.5-meter tall pre-hispanic mummy named “Juanita.” He said the mummy, which once belonged to his dad, lives with him as “a kind of spiritual girlfriend.” We love this LatAm remake of "Fin de Semana at Bernie’s.

A protester interacts with police during a demonstration against Peru's President Dina Boluarte in January 2023.


Chaos is the only winner in Peru

If it seems like Peru’s last few governments can’t catch a break, you’re not far off. Peruvian governments collapse like you fall asleep: slowly ... and then all at once.

Last year’s chaos under President Pedro Castillo showed us that, and the new Dina Boluarte administration will likely suffer a similar fate. Under Castillo, a string of efforts to oust him on the basis of “moral incapacity” and criminal investigations into him and members of his inner circle chipped slowly away at his mandate for a year and a half, only for it to entirely crumble in a matter of hours. In one day, Castillo attempted to illegally dissolve Congress, got ousted by Congress, was arrested and transferred to preventive detention, and was succeeded by his vice president.

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US President Joe Biden, Mexican President AMLO and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau arrive for a joint news conference at the conclusion of the North American Leaders' Summit in Mexico City.

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

What We’re Watching: Three Amigos huddle, Peruvian violence, East Asia travel curbs

Three Amigos talk and ... that's all, folks

Well, some progress is better than none at all — at least among “friends.” At their “Three Amigos” summit on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden, Canadian PM Justin Trudeau, and Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador — known as AMLO — announced a slew of agreements on things like moving some US production of semiconductors to Mexico, cutting methane emissions to fight climate change, and installing EV charging stations on shared borders. But they failed to make significant headway on the thorniest issues: the record numbers of asylum seekers entering the US from Mexico; Mexican-made fentanyl causing a public health catastrophe for los gringos; and USMCA-related trade disputes such as Mexico's energy reforms or Canadian grumbling at the Biden administration's EV subsidies. Indeed, perhaps the best thing to come out of the summit is that Biden and AMLO — who had tense exchange on Day 1 — showed that despite their lack of personal chemistry, maybe they can be compadres after all.

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