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.