Hard Numbers: American shoppers set new records

126: Marking the Year of Return – the 400th anniversary of the beginning of the US slave trade– Ghana granted citizenship to 126 African Americans and Afro-Caribbeans last week as part of an effort to encourage slaves' descendants to return. Three quarters of the West African slave "dungeons" that held slaves before their forced journey to the Americas were based in what is now Ghana.


18: The death toll from a capsized boat carrying Libyan migrants last week has risen to 18 after five more bodies were discovered Sunday in the waters off the Italian coast. More than 1,100 migrants have died or gone missing this year while trying to make the perilous journey across the Mediterranean by boat.

9.4 billion: American consumers are projected to have spent $9.4 billion on "Cyber Monday" purchases, the highest on record and an 18.9 percent jump from a year ago, according to a retail tracking report. That's on top of the record $7.4 billion spent on "Black Friday" in the US. What were Friday's biggest selling items? Frozen 2 toys, FIFA 20 video games, and L.O.L Surprise Dolls.

400,000: Boats carry 90 percent of global trade, and a quarter of the world's 1.6m commercial seamen hail from just one country: the Philippines. The 400,000 Filipinos who ply the high seas send home about $6 billion in remittances every year. (This NYT profile of the seamen has some amazing photographs, plus you'll learn what bolitas are.)

Scientists, engineers and technologists are turning to nature in search of solutions to climate change. Biomimicry is now being applied in the energy sector, medicine, architecture, communications, transport and agriculture in a bid to make human life on this planet more sustainable and limit the impacts of global warming. New inventions have been inspired by humpback whales, kingfishers and mosquitoes.

Learn more at Eniday: Energy Is A Good Story

The drumbeat for regulating artificial intelligence (AI) is growing louder. Earlier this week, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google's parent company, Alphabet, became the latest high-profile Silicon Valley figure to call for governments to put guardrails around technologies that use huge amounts of (sometimes personal) data to teach computers how to identify faces, make decisions about mortgage applications, and myriad other tasks that previously relied on human brainpower.

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January 27 marks 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi extermination camp. But even as some 40 heads of state gathered in Jerusalem this week to commemorate the six million Jews who were killed, a recent Pew survey revealed that many American adults don't know basic facts about the ethnic cleansing of Europe's Jews during the Second World War. Fewer than half of those polled knew how many Jews were killed in the Holocaust, and close to a third didn't know when it actually happened. Here's a look at some of the numbers.

1: The Greek parliament has elected a woman president for the first time since the country's independence some 200 years ago. A political outsider, Katerina Sakellaropoulou is a high court judge with no known party affiliation. "Our country enters the third decade of the 21st century with more optimism," Greece's prime minister said.

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A quarantine in China– Local authorities have locked down the city of Wuhan, the source of the outbreak of a new and potentially deadly respiratory virus that, as of Thursday morning, had infected more than 540 people in at least six countries. Other nearby cities were also hit by travel restrictions. Rail and air traffic out of Wuhan has been halted. Public transportation is shut, and local officials are urging everyone to stay put unless they have a special need to travel. Wuhan is a city of 11 million people, many of whom were about to travel for the Chinese New Year. We're watching to see whether these extraordinary measures help stem the outbreak, but also to see how the people affected respond to the clampdown.

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