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In the News 29.05.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 29.05.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
In the News 29.05.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
In the News 29.05.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

The Bank Robber

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A few days before Christmas in 2008, Hervé Falciani was in a meeting at his office, in Geneva, when a team of police officers arrived to arrest him. Falciani, who was thirty-six, worked for H.S.B.C., then the largest bank in the world. He was on the staff of the company’s private Swiss bank, which serves clients who are wealthy enough to afford the minimum deposit—half a million dollars—required to open an account. Falciani had been at H.S.B.C. for eight years, initially in Monaco and then in Geneva. He was a computer technician who helped supervise security systems for the handling of client data. He had grown up in Monaco, where as a young man he had worked as a croupier at the Casino de Monte-Carlo, and developed an excellent poker face. As the Swiss police escorted him from the building, he insisted that he had done nothing wrong.

Officers questioned Falciani at a nearby station. They were investigating a data theft from the bank. Since 1713, when the Great Council of Geneva banned banks from revealing the private information of their customers, Switzerland had thrived on its reputation as a stronghold of financial secrecy. International élites could place their fortunes beyond the reach of tax authorities in their own countries. For Swiss wealth managers, who oversaw more than two trillion dollars in international deposits, the promise to maintain financial privacy was akin to a religious vow of silence. Switzerland is the home of the numbered account: customers often specify that they prefer not to receive statements, in order to avoid a paper trail. In light of these safeguards, the notion of a breach at H.S.B.C. was shocking.

Read the rest of this article at The New Yorker

Why Gawker Versus Peter Thiel Isn’t Just About Gawker

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Roger Askew/REX/Shutterstock (4735070c)
Peter Thiel
Peter Thiel at the Oxford Union, Britain - 30 Apr 2015
Peter Thiel, co-founder of Paypal, speaking about death and ageing

The geniuses of Silicon Valley are hacking every aspect of society to make it better — that’s what they constantly tell us, anyway.

From how we consume music and TV and news to how we get around, there’s almost no aspect of modern life that tech companies haven’t changed, sometimes radically. And there’s no doubt that many of these changes have brought about positive results for many people. 

But now it appears one Silicon Valley titan is hacking democracy — hacking it to pieces, that is.

In recent days, tech billionaire Peter Thiel was revealed as the man funding a series of lawsuits against Gawker, a news site that is engaged in a lawsuit with Terry Bollea, a.k.a. Hulk Hogan. Thiel’s deep pockets not only ensured that Bollea’s case got as far as it did, his money also provided the backing for an array of lawsuits that look as though they’re designed to leave a smoking crater where the network of Gawker sites used to be.

Today’s the day Donald Trump apparently clinched the number of delegates he’ll need to be the Republican nominee. But right now, I’m more afraid of Thiel and his ilk. We all should be.

Chances are Trump won’t win in November. He is a threat to many things the majority of Americans hold dear, if the polls are to believed. But rampaging magnates like Thiel are an even bigger threat to democracy itself.

Let’s get one thing clear: I have no particular love for Gawker. Last year, like almost every other media person on the planet, I vociferously condemned one story in particular that I won’t rehash here because the rationale that allowed it to be published in the first place still nauseates me. That non-story embodied everything journalism should avoid, not embrace, in my opinion. And there have been a number of other pieces Gawker and its affiliated sites have published that I have found deeply troubling or misguided over the years. So I’m not here to tell you Gawker founder Nick Denton is an innocent lamb being led to the slaughter.

That said, Gawker funds and publishes a lot of really good, smart writing and worthy, tough-minded journalism as well, and it has done so since it snarked its way onto the media scene in the early aughts. It also has an array of blind spots and problematic practices, some of which Thiel and others have every right to object to, but every media company makes mistakes, sometimes big ones.

But the punishment Thiel clearly has in mind — the scorched-earth destruction of the entire company — in no way fits the crime he thinks it has committed. It’d be like you crashing into your neighbor’s car not once but two or three times, and in response, your neighbor, instead of lobbing some valid complaints and filing an insurance claim, burns down your house and runs over your dog. And then moves away and drops a bomb on the neighborhood.

Read the rest of this article at Vanity Fair

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Is Everything Wrestling?

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The charms of professional wrestling — half Shakespeare, half steel-chair shots — may never be universally understood. Every adult fan of the sport has encountered those skeptics who cock their heads and ask, “You do know it’s fake, right?”

Well, sure, but that hasn’t stopped pro wrestling from inching closer and closer to the respectable mainstream. Last year, World Wrestling Entertainment announced a partnership with ESPN, leading to straight-faced wrestling coverage on “SportsCenter.” The biggest action star in the world, Dwayne Johnson, known as the Rock, got his start as an eyebrow-waggling wrestler. When the “Today” show needs a guest host, it enlists the WWE star John Cena to don a suit and crack jokes. No less an emblem of cultivated liberal intelligentsia than Jon Stewart recently hosted wrestling’s annual Summerslam, his first major gig since leaving “The Daily Show.” Wrestling may never be cool, but it is, at the very least, no longer seen as the exclusive province of the unwashed hoi polloi.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

How Instagram’s New Feed Will Impact Brands and Influencers

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LONDON, United Kingdom — Back in March, Instagram announced that “in the coming months” it would implement an algorithm that, instead of ordering posts in users’ feeds in reverse-chronological order, will order them based on “the likelihood you’ll be interested in the content,” using signals such as likes, comments and searches.

Instagram says that users miss on average 70 percent of their feeds, so the change will ensure they see the content that matters to them. The company also tried to reassure its 400 million users that they would be told when the feed was rolled out and that at least initially, no posts will be removed from feeds — they will just be shown in a different order.

Still, the announcement caused Insta-chaos. Twitter and Instagram were soon awash with angry posts from users, while bloggers and influencers, worried they would disappear from people’s feeds, flooded the photo-sharing app with posts asking followers to “turn on notifications” to receive an alert every time they post something new.

Read the rest of this article at BOF

A Guide to the Ancient,
Now Thriving, City
Where Picasso Was Born

Málaga, Spain was for centuries a strategic site for the
various conquerors who laid claim to it. We can see why.

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“It takes a long time to become young,” Pablo Picasso once said. He was talking about the kind of art he wanted to create, but he may as well have been speaking of his birthplace, Málaga. The southern Spanish port town is one of the oldest cities in the world, occupied at various points through its 2,800-year history by the Phoenicians, the Romans and the Arabs, all of whom left behind their own distinctive architecture and design, the most spectacular of which is the 11th-century Moorish Alcazaba, made of a series of formidable ramparts of buff-colored stone overlooking the Alboran Sea.

And while those empires may have fallen and the seats of power may now be elsewhere, Málaga itself is newly relevant — not for nation-builders, but for culture-seekers, who throng its medieval streets visiting its surplus of museums. Along with, of course, the Museo Picasso Málaga, there’s the striking Centre Pompidou Málaga, the Iberian branch of the famous Parisian museum of modern art — partly a huge, playful cube of multicolored glass that catches the sun; the year-old outpost of the Russian Museum, housed in a former tobacco factory; a satellite of Madrid’s Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum; and the CAC Málaga (Centro de Arte Contemporáneo). In addition, there’s also the MAUS (Málaga Arte Urbano Soho) project in the city’s not-very-originally named Soho district. Here, a clutch of renowned international artists, such as Kenny Scharf and the Madrid-based painter Abraham Lacalle, have been invited by Fernando Francés, the director of the CAC Málaga, to use the city’s walls as their canvas; most of the contributions to date are by local artists.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M. // Top images: @rumineely, @elice_f, @silviabraz