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In the News 06.12.14 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 06.12.14 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets


Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

 


 

1. The Chinese Century

“When the history of 2014 is written, it will take note of a large fact that has received little attention: 2014 was the last year in which the United States could claim to be the world’s largest economic power. China enters 2015 in the top position, where it will likely remain for a very long time, if not forever. In doing so, it returns to the position it held through most of human history.”

 
Read the rest of this article at Vanity Fair

 


 

2. Inside Facebook’s Plan To Wire The World

Zuckerberg has been thinking about Facebook’s long-term future at least since the site exceeded a billion users in 2012. “This was something that had been this rallying cry inside the company,” he says. “And it was like, O.K., wow, so what do we do now?” (It’s tempting to clean up Zuckerberg’s quotes to give them more gravitas, but that’s how he talks.) One answer was to put down bets on emerging platforms and distribution channels, in the form of some big-ticket acquisitions: the photo-sharing app Instagram for $1 billion (a head snapper at the time, but in hindsight a steal); the virtual-reality startup Oculus Rift for $2 billion; the messaging service Whats App for $22 billion (still a head snapper). But what about the bigger picture—the even bigger picture? “We were thinking about the first decade of the company, and what were the next set of big things that we wanted to take on, and we came to this realization that connecting a billion people is an awesome milestone, but there’s nothing magical about the number 1 billion. If your mission is to connect the world, then a billion might just be bigger than any other service that had been built. But that doesn’t mean that you’re anywhere near fulfilling the actual mission.

 
Read the rest of this article at Time

 


 

3. The case against human rights

At a time when human rights violations remain widespread, the discourse of human rights continues to flourish. The use of “human rights” in English-language books has increased 200-fold since 1940, and is used today 100 times more often than terms such as “constitutional rights” and “natural rights”. Although people have always criticised governments, it is only in recent decades that they have begun to do so in the distinctive idiom of human rights. The United States and Europe have recently condemned human rights violations in Syria, Russia, China and Iran. Western countries often make foreign aid conditional on human rights and have even launched military interventions based on human rights violations. Many people argue that the incorporation of the idea of human rights into international law is one of the great moral achievements of human history. Because human rights law gives rights to all people regardless of nationality, it deprives governments of their traditional riposte when foreigners criticise them for abusing their citizens – namely “sovereignty” (which is law-speak for “none of your business”). Thus, international human rights law provides people with invaluable protections against the power of the state.

 
Read the rest of this article at the guardian

 


 

4. Who Should Own the Internet?

It is now a journalistic cliché to remark that George Orwell’s “1984” was “prophetic.” The novel was so prophetic that its prophecies have become modern-day prosaisms. Reading it now is a tedious experience. Against the omniscient marvels of today’s surveillance state, Big Brother’s fixtures — the watchful televisions and hidden microphones — seem quaint, even reassuring.

 
Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

 


 

5. Places Apart

The shift in population from countryside to cities across the world is often called the “great urbanisation”. It is a misleading term. The movement is certainly great: the United Nations reckons that the total urban population in developing countries will double between 2010 and 2050, to 5.2 billion, while the rural population will shrink slightly. But it is nothing like as obviously urban. People may be moving towards cities, but most will not end up in their centres. Few cities are getting more crowded downtown; between 2001 and 2011 Chennai added just 7% more people while Chengalpattu swelled by 39%. In developed and developing worlds, outskirts are growing faster than cores. This is not the great urbanisation. It is the great suburbanisation.

 
Read the rest of this article at The Economist

 


P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

 

 

[image : Somerset House, London via pinterest]

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