A Big Brazilian Shakeup

Brazil’s topsy-turvy presidential race just got even wilder as nationally-renowned former Supreme Court President Joaquim Barbosa is set to throw his hat in the ring.


Barbosa’s personal story is as compelling as they come. Born into poverty, his first job in a courtroom was as a janitor. But he rose to become Brazil’s first black supreme court justice, achieving fame by overseeing the massive corruption trial that ensnared the government of former-president Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva. (The Car Wash corruption scandal that would bring down Lula’s successor, Dilma Rousseff, would come later.)

In a mad-as-hell election cycle defined above all by frustration with the status quo, Barbosa will have broad appeal as a blunt-spoken anti-corruption crusader untainted by electoral politics.

What’s more, his progressive social views and humble origins will help him poach votes from current front-runner, Lula, who may in any case be behind bars before the voting even begins.

Importantly, in a country where more than half the population identifies as black or mixed race, a strongly competitive black candidate would mark a political and social watershed. If he wins, he’d be the country’s first black president.

Still, it’s a long way from here to election day in October. Brazilian party politics are brutal business, and Barbosa’s inexperience may sink him before then. But for now, his entry could mark an extraordinary turning point in one of this year’s most pivotal elections.

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.

More

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.

More

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.

More