Hard Numbers

200,000,000: Americans give each other around 200 million roses on Valentine’s Day, a majority of which are grown just outside the Colombian capital Bogota. Q’hubo mi amor… Feliz Valentine’s Day!


50: Since a landmark Chinese funded rail line linking landlocked Ethiopia to the port of Djibouti opened last month, more than 50 animals have been killed along the line. Fifteen camels were killed in a single incident. Chinese capital isn’t welcomed by everyone — desert quadrupeds, and their owners, are among the least enthused.

33: As of this year, Venezuela’s economy will have shrunk by 33 percent since President Nicolas Maduro took power in 2013. Part of that is lower oil prices, but most of it is awful economic policy. If, and how, Venezuela’s horrific humanitarian and political crises end is the most acute transnational issue for South America this year.

3.6: Traffic jams in Cairo cost Egypt’s economy more than 3.6% of GDP every year. Cairo is particularly bad, but across the developing world, rising wealth and rapid urbanization are outstripping cities’ infrastructure. That’s not only a daily headache and a national economic drag — lousy transport can also become a political issue fast, as Brazil learned in 2013.

3: In the past week, aircraft from three foreign countries — Israel, Turkey, and Russia — have been brought down as a result of the conflict in Syria. With ISIS largely defeated, things are heating up as the major parties to the conflict try to maximize their leverage ahead of any peace settlement.

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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