Hard Numbers

0 and 0 and 0: The State Department has spent zero of the $120 million that has been allocated since late 2016 to counter foreign efforts to meddle in US elections or sow distrust in democracy. Furthermore, zero of the 23 analysts working in the department’s Global Engagement Center — which has been tasked with countering Moscow’s disinformation campaign — speak Russian. A departmental hiring freeze means zero of the computer experts needed to track foreign cyber-activity will be hired any time soon. Unless this is some kind of judo move or Jedi mind trick, it’s hard to see how this bolsters US defenses against election meddling in this fall’s midterm elections or beyond.


13: German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who over the weekend secured a fresh mandate as head of a grand coalition, has been in power for 13 years. During that time Japan has had eight prime ministers, Italy has had seven, and Australia six. France, Argentina, and South Africa have each elected four different presidents during that span, while the US, Turkey, and Brazil have each gone through three. If there is a single German word for “outlasting your political counterparts” we would like to learn it.

58: Since the electoral season in Mexico officially began last September, 58 politicians have been assassinated, or nearly 10 every month. Security is a critical issue as Mexicans head to the polls for a pivotal presidential election this summer.

82: In a Pew survey conducted last fall, 82% of Italians said they distrust parliament, and an equal share said the national economic situation is bad despite recent improvements. About three-quarters of Italians said politicians don’t care what ordinary people think — not surprisingly, the anti-establishment parties did molto bene in the elections over the weekend.

1 billion: Chinese venture capital investment into Latin America jumped to $1 billion this year, up from a paltry $30 million in 2015, according to data collected by Preqin, a market research firm. China’s investment in Latin America has until now focused overwhelmingly on infrastructure and natural resources, but startups, particularly in tech, are a new focus as China’s state and private investors expand their economic presence in the region.

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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