In 2017, then-US President Trump rallied against NATO, complaining that European member states weren't pulling their weight to bolster the alliance, whose cornerstone is that an attack on one member is considered an attack on all. NATO was formed in the wake of World War II as a counterweight against Soviet dominance in Europe and beyond. But this week, when US President Biden met fellow NATO members in the UK, the emphasis was on how to adapt the alliance to counter China's increasing belligerence. Indeed, disagreements over sharing the cost of maintaining military readiness have caused frictions in recent years, and as a result, the bloc agreed that all member states would spend at least 2 percent of GDP on defense by 2024. So, how are they tracking? Here's a look at who pays what.
In response to an influx of migrants arriving at the US southern border in recent months, the Biden administration has tried to incentivize Central American governments to stop the flow of migrants. Biden recently pledged to invest $4 billion in Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador over four years. But these sorts of gestures from the White House often come with strings attached. China, on the other hand, has steadily tried to up its investment in Central America in recent years, and — unlike the Americans — doesn't demand human rights and rule of law reforms in exchange for cash. We take a look at China's direct foreign investment in Central American countries since 2007.
US inflation is now at its highest level since the 2008 financial crisis, and (as always) economists are divided as to why that is, and what to do about it. Conservative deficit hawks blame big spending by the Biden administration, while liberals who defend Biden's economic agenda believe it's more likely caused by short-term pandemic-related bottlenecks in supply chains. Meanwhile, there's also growing concern that the Federal Reserve is overheating the US economy by keeping interest rates low despite rising inflation, but the Fed is betting that the current spike will be short-lived. Whatever you think, we compare US inflation and interest rates over the past half century, a period in which America has suffered double-digit figures more than once.
China is no stranger to using social media networks to influence public opinion. But as Chinese foreign policy becomes increasingly assertive, they are doing a lot more to win foreign hearts and minds on Facebook and Twitter. A joint investigation by the AP and the Oxford Internet Institute has revealed how Chinese diplomats and state media outlets are coordinating on social media to strategically amplify messages from Beijing — which are then further amplified by an army of fake accounts that Facebook and Twitter keep playing whack-a-mole with. We take a look at China's public diplomacy activity, reach, and engagement on Facebook and Twitter over the span of a few months since mid-2020.
COVID has officially killed almost 3.5 million people around the world since the beginning of the pandemic. But some public health experts believe that the real number could be more than twice as high, because of challenges to accurately reporting the death toll in many countries around the world. A new study from the University of Washington contends, for example, that actual deaths are nearly 60 percent higher than reported in the US, almost triple as high in India, more than five time as high in Russia... and a staggering ten times higher than the official tally in Japan. Here's a look at how official figures compare to actual estimated deaths in the 20 countries where COVID has claimed the most lives.
Immigration has been a major challenge for the nascent Biden administration, testing the new US president's ability to placate moderates on both sides of the aisle, as well as the progressive wing of his own party. Biden initially pledged to keep the US' annual refugee cap at 15,000 — a "ceiling" set by the Trump administration, the lowest in US history. But after that move sparked swift backlash, Biden this week reversed course: 62,500 refugees will now be allowed to enter the US over the next six months. How does this compare to policies set by previous US administrations? We take a look at refugee admittance numbers since 1980.
COVID-19 is ravaging India. Makeshift crematoria are popping up to accommodate piling-up bodies, while oxygen and hospital bed shortages have led to a string of otherwise avoidable deaths. The images coming out of the country are haunting, prompting the Biden administration to reverse course and agree to send equipment and vaccine ingredients. But while India descends further into catastrophe, in large part because of a host of political missteps, the approval rating of nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi remains steady. We take a look at whether Modi's approval rating has changed against the backdrop of a deepening COVID crisis.
As the price of Bitcoin has skyrocketed in recent months, so has the amount of energy that procuring it hogs. Research shows that Bitcoin "mining" now uses 80 percent more energy than at the start of 2020. Billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates recently sounded the alarm on crypto, saying that he would not invest in Bitcoin because mining for the digital currency requires huge amounts of energy, much of which is powered by fossil fuels that harm the environment. So where does Bitcoin rank in electricity consumption compared to nations?