What We’re Watching: Constitutional Crisis and the Embassy of Fast Food

An American Constitutional Crisis – A "constitutional crisis" arises when a confrontation among branches of government can't be resolved by existing law. The US Constitution gives Congress the responsibility of oversight of the president and his administration, and it grants the president certain privileges, as well. Some Democrats now argue that the Trump administration's refusal to provide congressional committees with access to requested witnesses and documents, including the unredacted Mueller Report and President Trump's tax returns, has created such a crisis. But the Constitution provides for three branches of government. Congress is already taking Trump to court on multiple issues. If the president or Congress refuses to comply with coming court rulings, then the US will face a true constitutional crisis. We're not there yet, but the danger is growing.

Austrian McDonald's – On Tuesday, we told you about Burger King's new plan to deliver fast food to motorists stranded in traffic jams in Mexico City. Here's some good fast-food news for US citizens travelling in Austria who have lost their passports and are craving a milkshake. The US Embassy in Vienna announced this week that McDonald's restaurants across Austria will serve as mini embassies for American tourists, who can receive limited consular services there.

What We're Ignoring: Guatemala's Dirty Politics and a Tidal Wave of Euro-Kitsch

Guatemala's Presidential Field – Guatemala's Constitutional Court has ruled that Zury Ríos cannot compete in the country's June 16 presidential election because she's the daughter of former military dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, the world's first former head of state to be charged with genocide in his own country. Guatemalan voters can still choose between former first lady Sandra Torres, who faces charges of embezzlement, perjury and tax fraud, and former attorney general Thelma Aldana, who is under investigation for campaign finance irregularities.

Eurovision – We're ignoring Europe's famed song contest because it takes place in non-European Israel, non-European Australia is among the favorites to win, some of the performances give kitsch a bad name, and because the Russians don't consider the voting important enough to hack. And as we've seen, Russians will hack anything.

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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