Southbound: US Influence in Latin America

No region in the world has soured more quickly on President Trump than Latin America, where approval of the US President has tumbled to just 16%, according to a recent Gallup poll. It’s easy to see why.


Trump seems to speak of the region almost uniquely as a source of drugscriminalsunwanted refugees, and US job losses. If the Bush and Obama administrations showed Latin America a frustrating but benign neglect, Trump has swept in with a new, malign attention — looking to upend trade deals, slash immigration, and cut security cooperation.

At the same time, a new power has emerged in the region. In recent years, China has displaced the US as the top trade partner for Brazil, Peru, and Chile, and it’s now Latin America’s number two commercial partner overall. Chinese state banks have poured tens of billions of dollars into industries and infrastructure across the continent, often on friendlier terms than US-backed lenders, and with few political or human rights requirements. Beijing plans a further quarter-trillion dollars of investment in the coming years, and is courting the region to be part of its global “Belt and Road” infrastructure network.

That commercial presence has shifted regional attitudes towards Beijing. Among Latin America’s largest countries, Colombia is the only one where the US is still seen more favorably than China. On the eve of his trip, Tillerson warned of a new Chinese imperialism in the region — but inexplicably applauded the policy that underpinned the old American imperialism there.

Whether Beijing’s influence is preferable to Washington’s is for Latin America’s own people and governments to decide. China’s rapid entry has certainly raised concernsabout land purchaseslabor displacement, and human rights. But as President Xi Jinping follows through on his pledge to make China a global superpower, can — or will — the US push back in its own neighborhood?

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