Hard Numbers

7,329: A high-profile arm of China’s anti-corruption campaign, run by the oddly Orwellian-sounding Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, set an all-time monthly record by disciplining 7,329 party members in December.


China’s campaign to deal with graft has been a key pillar of Xi’s success and popular appeal to date. As he look to solidify control ahead of a possible third term as president, expect more heads to roll in the Communist Party.

1,400: A former employee of Russia’s now-infamous Troll Factory, which conducted the social media campaign meant to sow division in the US ahead of the 2016 presidential election, says he got a paycheck of $1,400 a week for his labors. To put that in context, the average salary in St Petersburg in early 2016 was just $740 a month. Trolling democracy is good work if you can get it.

87: When dictators die in office, their cliques retain power 87 percent of the time, says a Washington Post study. And even when a death at the top does change things, it leads to democracy only 30 percent of the time. A reminder that nothing is inevitable, least of all liberal democracy.

45: The percentage of Americans who are happy with the US position in the world has hit a 13-year high of 45 percent, according to Gallup. In fact, America’s mood has improved over the past year when less than a third of Americans felt good about position of the US globally. A reminder that for all the international handwringing about US leadership, a significant bloc of voters at home just isn’t concerned.

43: A survey shows that 43 percent of Ital­ians think im­mi­grants rep­re­sent a dan­ger to pub­lic or­der and peo­ple’s safety, up ten points since 2015. This coincides with a rising number of migrants reaching Italian shores. There’s just one problem: the crime rate in Italy has actually fallen by 17 percent in the last two years, ac­cord­ing to the In­te­rior Min­istry. Perception is reality at election time these days, and fear is a powerful emotion as Italians head to the polls.

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