August 3rd – International News Round-Up (Part I)

Society

Jezebel

Dave Chappelle is famous and was up until recently pretty well loved by liberals. Good life. At least it felt like that. What the article talks about isn’t really new though. I think Anita Sarkeesian put out a video on how being transgender is the butt of many jokes in movies that are today considered close to many people’s hearts (90s movies and that kind of stuff). I also think this makes people really question the fact that the celebrities, sport players and musicians that they love are complex characters and are going to have divergent views from you. Though it is also a fact that people like Chapelle are opinion makers and the fact that they are this widely viewed in society means that their actions and words have a normalizing effect on the transphobia that undoubtedly exists.

Dave Chappelle (Image Source: Flickr)
Dave Chappelle (Image Source: Flickr)

AI

Motherboard

Deep Blue beat Kasparov way back in 1997. Looking back, maybe people were too enthusiastic on how AI would turn out and the pace at which this would continue. Starting with the basic name that we have given to it, Artificial Intelligence. Kasparov feels that calling out AI is a bit of a stretch. Playing against Deep Blue apparently didn’t feel like you were playing against an intelligent player. Instead, it felt like brute force. How much do neural networks rely on brute force algorithms to induce deep learning? Is it a fraction of it? Is it all of it in some cases?

Bitcoin

Motherboard

Bitcoin split into two different versions. One is the standard one, and the other one is called Bitcoin Cash, which is apparently a more populist alternative, according to another Motherboard article. I’m not sure what that means though. Anyway, I want to step away from the implications of this financially in the world right now and concentrate on what this presents in terms of a consensus on how value should be stored. I mean, this was literally a bunch of people who owned a certain “thing” who decided on how best to handle a situation that might have wrecked it. Instead, they came out pretty much unscathed and inspired enough confidence to send Bitcoin to new heights.

Genetics

Motherboard

Has this never happened before? I don’t believe that for a second. Also, the scientist quoted in the article goes out of his/her way to use terminology that does not imply any genetically modification/ enhancement. This is just “editing” apparently. Okay then.

Alt-Right/ Neo-Nazi

Bare Naked Islam

Right wing website which shared a CAIR video with the message that Castle Rock, Minnesota did not want the Muslim Cemetery in the first place. The message is this: you have been warned.

July 26th – International News Round-Up (Part III)

Right Wing/ Conspiracy Theorist

Stefan Molyneux on Info Wars

Stefan Molyneux and Alex Jones have a talk on what to do about the world. That’s actually the general topic of discussion. It’s actually pretty confusing what they stand for. Molyneux, I remember from a documentary about cults. From what I recall, Free Domain Radio was all for “unshackling” their kids from their parents. In this interview however, Stefan proudly says that he is in fact a father and that he is working with other members of the alternative media to create a better world for his child. It’s difficult to tell where these guys come down on various subjects. They conflate globalization, communism and socialism. There’s a very real fear of the left. I think you would have to be American to understand where they’re coming from here, and I don’t mean to agree with them, I just mean to understand them. Though, in many ways the idea of large scale narratives explaining certain phenomena that we see isn’t new to me. You see the same kind of fear when people talk about Love Jihad and the wiping out of Hindu’s in India. We don’t mind smaller narratives to explain why we scraped our knee or why we fell off the bike, but I think when it comes to explaining larger phenomenon, like why our daughter won’t pray or why half my son’s friends are brown, we might resort to bigger explanations.

United Kingdom

LSE Blog

It’s been such a roller coaster in the UK. From Brexit to the partial rejection of Theresa May. Article explores the political currents that have shaped the fact that conservative party in Scotland has been putting up a solid performance at the ballot box. The author think that this is a combination of the fact that the conservatives were able to market themselves as unionists but also as those who believed in the devolution of powers. While the idea of being Scottish might be different from the idea of being British, they funnily enough are both euro-sceptics.

Media

Ritholtz

Earthquakes are the most covered natural disasters. 33% of the media coverage that natural disasters get in the media are focused on earthquakes. Couple of reasons for this, I think. Earthquakes affect urban centers much worse than they affect rural areas. At least in terms of casualties. Putting aside the idea of it being a “disaster” only if it takes human life. Storms are 14%. I think the American east coast accounts for a huge portion of this. It is also the country that produces the most amount of media. Again, I could be dead wrong. I haven’t bothered to check if I’m right on this one. Let me know.

Mongolia

Mongolia Focus

Article on the state of Mongol-Turkish relations at the moment. Turkey has long considered Mongolia to be a neighbor to him they have deep ethnic linkages. The Turks are seen to have originated in the general region. The author doesn’t really talk about the state of relations as much as mention that Turkey could use a friend right now and that the friend is not coming from the west, which Turkey has pissed off enough this year alone.

AI

Daily Dot

China is using AI to predict and preempt crime. The system works by putting together various points of data that can span days or even weeks. It then creates a pattern out of this, along with the individual and predicts crime. The article also mentions that the United States is attempting to do this in Chicago. It would be very interesting to see how that turns out. How would you predict gang violence?

Cambodia

The Cambodia Daily

The CPP heavy constitutional council passed amendments to the constitution on Tuesday. This will pass on to the National Assembly and the Council of Ministers (who will both approve it) before it will have to be signed by the king. He of course, isn’t home. Funnily enough he left as soon as the opposition kicked up a fuss about the law. According to law, in the absence of the king, the acting head of state (The Senate President) can sign legislation into law.

France

SPERI

Article on the awful performance by the French Socialist party in the recent elections which saw the French public deliver the throne to one Emmanuel Macron.

China

South China Morning Post

The Honk-Kong and Mainland China railroad link throws up some interesting legal questions about whose jurisdiction various parts of the station and train belong to. For example, a baby born on the train counts as a citizen of mainland China and will not be granted residency in Honk Kong.

The high-speed rail link is set to be completed by 2018. It’s been delayed quite a few times, is projected to cost almost twice as much as it was supposed to and resulted in the demolition of 200 homes. That’s the price to pay for high speed connectivity, right?

United States

Breitbart News

Trump is making enemies out of some of his best friends. I’m not sure how this is sustainable. Almost every conservative worth his/her salt has stood behind Sessions. He is seen as a respectable figure who stood behind Trump from the very beginning. Immigration policy and immigration cities are seen as some of his biggest talking points in his job as AG. Does all this come down to the fact that Trump really wants to go behind Clinton? After all this time?

Jeff Sessions being sworn in (Image Source: Wiki Commons)
Jeff Sessions being sworn in (Image Source: Wiki Commons)

July 24th – International News Round-Up (Part II)

Economics

MPRA

Study that explores the empowerment of women by various means and how this affects the child birth decision.

Egypt and Palestine

Daily News Egypt

The League of Arab States is to meet to decide how best to handle the escalating situation at the Al- Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

“On Friday, Egypt called on Israel to immediately stop the violations and security measures against Palestinians in Jerusalem after three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces at the compound of Al-Aqsa Mosque.”

In a separate incident, Omar Abdel Razek, a Hamas lawmaker was arrested.

Al Aqsa Mosque
Al Aqsa Mosque (Image Source: Pixabay)

Artificial Intelligence

Motherboard

Google researchers, Hui Fang and Meng Zhang, tried to test if they could write an algorithm, that could mimic the composition skills of a professional photographer. They started by defining the different aesthetic aspects of “good” photographs and then tried to make the program learn to do it in an automated manner. Apparently, it turned out semi-professional.

Sociological/Political

Aeon

Essay on the permeating effect of cold war philosophy and the big red scare of the post- WWII years in the United States.

Alt-Right

Daily Stormer

Where will the alt-lite fall? Is occupying the grey space in-between the resistance and the alt-right really worth the effort?

Society

Vogue

Tamara Shopin on growing up in New York City, the curious characters and how it shaped her.

“Whatever the opposite of helicopter parents, that’s what my parents were,” Shopsin remarks. Her childhood was refreshingly free-range; the Shopsin kids soaked up the magic of The Store—the only rule was don’t touch the meat slicer—bounced around the neighborhood, and consorted with its many characters. “Things the rest of the country found odd or disgraceful were welcomed with open arms in the Village,” she writes. “It became a symphony of oddities, and acted as a magnet for the country’s fringe people.”

Tech

Fair Observer

Basic productivity tools have not changed much over the past 2 decades. Soundcloud discussion and article on the state of productivity and what can be done to improve it.

Iran

RT

Iran and Iraq have signed an MoU that will improve military cooperation and also help the countries battle against extremism and the threats of terrorist violence. The Iraqi defense minister also praised the Iranian Popular Mobilization Forces and stressed their legitimacy.

“The main credit [in the Mosul victory] goes to the Iraqi soldiers, people’s militia, Iraqi air force,” al-Maliki underlined.

He added that he “regrets and denies [Americans] claiming the victory [in Mosul] is their achievement” which Washington now plans to use as a way to establish military bases on Iraqi territory in order to maintain influence in the region.”