So You're Having Trouble with the Americans? Merkel and Putin Meet

Just last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that with American protection of Europe no longer assured, it was time for Europe to craft its own foreign policy. Today, she will get her first shot at showing what that might look like when she meets Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi.


Merkel’s relationship with Putin has been a mercurial one over the past 15 years. Their shared upbringing behind the Iron Curtain and fluency in each other’s languages gave them a special bond early on, but they broke over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, and things haven’t been the same since.

Now Trump’s loveless treatment of Europe has pushed Merkel to seek out renewed possibilities with Russia. Their meeting will likely focus on…

  • salvaging the Iran deal without the US, because neither Merkel nor Putin wants Iran to bolt from the deal now and foment a regional nuclear arms race, but she is particularly concerned about the fate of German companies now potentially exposed to renewed US sanctions on Iran.
  • exploring peace options for Syria — Merkel has drawn closer to Moscow on this recently, calling for European-Russian cooperation to broker a solution to the civil war and pointedly sitting out the US-led airstrikes on Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapons facilities last month. This gives Merkel more credibility as an interlocutor with Moscow on this issue than any other European leader.
  • energy ties — the $10 billion Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project would increase flows of Russian gas to Germany, already one of the largest energy relationships in the world. The US government, which opposes the project, said this week that scrapping the pipeline was one way for Germany to win permanent exemptions from the Trump administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs.

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 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