Spend Some Time With: A spliff of history, an actual newspaper, an Ethio-Pioneer

My weekly three recs for escaping the hell of breaking news and views.

See: As cannabis legalization spreads, Grass is Greener, a smoky and spectacular new Netflix documentary by visual artist and hip-hop legend Fab 5 Freddy, surveys the history and future of the plant in America by looking at a hundred years of popular music, racial discrimination, and the destructive legacy of the "War on Drugs."

Read: An "Urgent Quest for Slower, Better News" in which The New Yorker's online editor Michael Luo goes on a "media diet," argues that profit and principle are at odds in today's digital journalism, and wonders what we might do about it.

Hear: Ethiopia has lately become an optimistic story of political reform and renewed openness, but you may also know it as the birthplace of Mulatu Astatke, who half a century ago pioneered a bewitching blend of Afro-Latin rhythms, melancholy soul grooves, and Ethiopian scales that came to be known as Ethio-Jazz. New York-based readers can catch him in concert in May. I'll be there.

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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