Hard Numbers

300: It will cost $300 billion to rebuild Syria, according to the UN. Even as the carnage continues, Iran and Russia are already quietly waging an uncivil war to get in on those lucrative construction contracts.


55: A majority of global executives (55%) say protectionist policies would benefit domestic businesses by helping them compete against global rivals. In part this reflects increased competition from Chinese firms, which are advancing globally with firm state backing that businesses in other countries often lack.

7: Railway police in China nabbed 7 criminal fugitives since beginning the use of facial-recognition glasses to screen passengers during the Lunar New Year travel rush. Developers of the glasses say they can identify individuals from a database within one-tenth of a second. Would you trade a ticket scan for a facial scan?

2.6: South Korea will pay $2.6 million to cover travel, lodging, and cheerleading expenses for North Koreans attending the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Money well spent? Maybe not. South Koreans are lukewarm on the North-South Olympic goodwill show, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un will still want a nuclear ICBM after closing ceremonies.

Zero: Not a single US state saw improvement in its physical, financial, or social health last year, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. Red states and Blue States are both seeing gray these days — and that will play in the mid-term elections this fall.

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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