Will a member of David Cameron's cabinet agree to live on $11.42 per day?

After his appearance on a BBC radio program Monday, British Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith probably wishes he could eat his words -- because now he may not be eating much of anything for a year. Smith said in the interview that he could survive on £53 ($80) a week -- the amount one welfare recipient complained he was forced to survive on after his housing stipend was cut -- and now Britons are asking him to prove it. As of Wednesday morning, roughly 350,000 people had signed a petition on urging the secretary to make good on his pledge.

The petition calls on Smith to stick to the budget for "at least one year," thereby helping to "realise the conservative party's current mantra that 'We are all in this together.'" Doing so would require him to take a 97-percent salary cut while living in London, one of the world's most expensive cities.

Smith has been less than enthusiastic about the petition, which he called a "complete stunt" in an interview with the Wanstead & Woodford Guardian. The demand "distracts attention from the welfare reforms which are much more important and which I have been working hard to get done," he said.

If he warms to the idea, however, Smith won't be the first politician to take a trial run on the dole. In 2012, Jagrup Brar, a member of British Columbia's Legislative Assembly, spent a month living on $610, the province's welfare rate for a single, unemployed adult. After the last night of the month, which he spent "couch surfing," Brar was 26 pounds lighter and $7 in debt -- even after selling his backpack to buy a train ticket home.

Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J. pulled a similar stunt several months later, living on the equivalent of food stamps for a week. The mayor was forced to cut caffeine out of his diet, eat "singed" yams for lunch, and consider "making a meal out of mayonnaise and salsa."

As appealing as it sounds, Smith may not be interested in the politics of empathy, having already gone through two real periods of unemployment in the 1980s. As he said in an interview Tuesday, "I know what it is like to live on the breadline."

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Foreigners make up a tiny fraction of the Syrian opposition

Despite repeated Syrian government claims that opposition forces are predominantly "foreign terrorists," a new comprehensive report by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation finally puts numbers to the nagging question of just how many foreign fighters exist in Syria. The short answer: Not many. The long answer: Not many, but it depends on how generous you want to be.

ICSR's most liberal estimate for the total number of foreign fighters over the course of the two-year conflict is 5,500, while the most conservative estimate for the current size of rebel forces is 60,000. If you crunch the numbers, that means foreigners make up less than 10 percent of the total rebellion and "the actual figure is likely to be lower," says the group, which is a partnership of King's College London, the University of Pennsylvania, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, the Jordan Institute of Diplomacy, and Georgetown University. We graphed the data below:

According to the report's methodology, the "estimate is based on more than 450 sources in the Western and Arab media as well as the martyrdom notices that have been posted in jihadist online forums. As with previous conflicts, the picture is far from complete and will probably remain so for years to come. There is no 'true census' of foreign fighters, and publicly available sources are inevitably incomplete."

The report does not tally the number of Americans fighting abroad, but you can bet the number is much smaller given the geographic barriers to entry. The most prominent American that fought in the opposition, Phoenix native Eric Harroun, has been charged with "conspiring to use a destructive device outside the United States," which carries up to a lifetime prison sentence. Those in the United States who view that charge as heavy-handed might agree with a finding in the report: Not all jihadist groups are linked to al Qaeda and not everyone who joins a jihadist group is motivated by the jihadist worldview.

"The most commonly cited reasons for joining rebel forces are the horrific images of the conflict, stories about atrocities committed by government forces, and the perceived lack of support from Western and Arab countries," reads the report. "In many cases, these individuals fully adopt the jihadist doctrine and ideology only when they are on the ground and in contact with hardened fighters." Sounds like a good report for Harroun's lawyers to keep on hand.