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Every human generation fights for survival, demanding from the earth all the means and resources it needs to thrive and evolve. This is not a conscious or coordinated effort, and it does not follow any specific or secret road map. Life on this planet commands some kind of instinctive response and human development is but one among countless other possible outcomes. And yet, our century in particular seems to position us in direct opposition to the future, our mechanical growth patterns somehow drafting the rules of engagement in a cold and poisonous war with posterity. Climate injustice and mass migrations, irreversible and ecosystemic damage, the painful splintering of fact-based reality: how much more injury can be inflicted before some meaningful antagonist steps onto the scene? Authoritarian coalitions and mainstream paranoia, the seasonal decline of global solidarity and compassionate policies: how long do we have before the future fights back?

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Climate migration

on Sep 06, 2020 12:39 pm

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Sea level rise, sweltering temperatures, parching drought, intense wildfires, catastrophic flooding, powerful hurricanes—the effects of climate change are widespread and varied across the globe. These events, which are becoming more severe, don’t just threaten animals and plants that are rapidly going extinct. They threaten humans, too, and are expected to have devastating impacts on some of the most populous parts of the world, including places humans have called home for millennia. Climate change could trigger the largest human migration to have ever occurred. In fact, it’s already begun.

Some experts and policymakers are starting to plan for this new reality of mass migration. But will new destinations be ready when the migrants show up?

Fast fashion, slow destruction: this is the price other people pay for the cheap clothes we buy

on Sep 06, 2020 12:39 pm


For years, C&A and other large clothing companies contributed to the erosion of the garment industry in Bangladesh. When trade suddenly came to a standstill as a result of Covid-19 and companies were forced to cancel orders, it immediately became clear what this continuous demand for cheap and fast production had led to.

At first glance, the sudden cancellation of the orders leaving the workers out in the cold might seem to be the scandal here – a big corporation abandoning the people who make their products, despite beautiful words in mission statements about “taking care” of people and the planet.

But the cancellation itself actually isn’t the scandal. The real scandal is that the gradual erosion of the clothing industry that lies behind it has been decades in the making and has now come to bear more vividly than ever before.

Chinese-Made Smartphones Are Secretly Stealing Money From People Around The World

on Sep 06, 2020 11:39 am

It’s the latest example of how cheap Chinese smartphones take advantage of the world’s poorest people. Current security concerns about Chinese apps and hardware have largely focused on potential back doors in Huawei’s 5G equipment. More recently, people have focused on how user data collected by TikTok could be abused by the company and the Chinese government. But an overlooked and ongoing threat is the consistent presence of malware on cheap smartphones from Chinese manufacturers and how it exacts a digital tax on people with low incomes.

Gram by gram

on Sep 06, 2020 11:39 am

Meet the next generation of digital black markets for illegal drugs: fully decentralized, pay-by-crypto, and end-to-end encrypted bazaars.

When Israel decriminalized recreational marijuana use in 2017, Silver and a team of coders and managers transferred their service to the Russian messaging platform Telegram. The app is popular with activists and journalists around the world because of its end-to-end encryption, which means that the cryptographic keys needed to decrypt a message are stored with only the sender and receiver. This makes it essentially impossible for anyone, even the app maker, to decode an intercepted message. Thanks to this built-in anonymity, buying drugs through Telegrass became as easy as ordering a pizza. Unlike traditional drug cartels, Telegrass leadership doesn’t profit from individual deals; instead, to advertise their wares, dealers pay 420 shekels ($122.25) for access to the platform. Unscrupulous sellers are kicked off and get their names posted on a “wall of shame.”

When Telegrass arrived in Ukraine in 2017, its operators found conditions perfectly suited to running a black-market business. A permissive legal landscape and weak rule of law — as well as the large number of visiting Israelis — made it a natural candidate for Telegrass’ expansion. Additionally, while most countries mandate some form of identity verification to purchase a SIM card and register a phone number, Ukraine — along with Israel and the United States — does not, making it impossible for law enforcement to trace Telegram accounts registered under a phone number.

Google Maps 101: How AI helps predict traffic and determine routes

on Sep 06, 2020 11:39 am

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Every day, over 1 billion kilometers are driven with Google Maps in more than 220 countries and territories around the world.

When people navigate with Google Maps, aggregate location data can be used to understand traffic conditions on roads all over the world. But while this information helps you find current traffic estimates —whether or not a traffic jam will affect your drive right now—it doesn’t account for what traffic will look like 10, 20, or even 50 minutes into your journey. This is where technology really comes into play.

To predict what traffic will look like in the near future, Google Maps analyzes historical traffic patterns for roads over time. For example, one pattern may show that the 280 freeway in Northern California typically has vehicles traveling at a speed of 65mph between 6-7am, but only at 15-20mph in the late afternoon. We then combine this database of historical traffic patterns with live traffic conditions, using machine learning to generate predictions based on both sets of data.

Kagame: “On Judgement Day, I will get better marks than those who criticise us over human rights”

on Sep 06, 2020 10:39 am

From the struggle against the coronavirus, to the relationship with France and with the neighbours, and the state of human rights in Rwanda, an interview with Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

“Wakanda is real”, said one breathless blogger after visiting Rwanda in February, and seeing the growth of the Kigali Innovation City, an effort to crowd in technology, biotech and higher education investment.

The country will be leaning into its digital headstart in the economic reset post pandemic; other sector like tourism will no doubt struggle. There are still calls for more political renewal within Rwanda itself, though President Kagame hits back at critics of human rights, saying their accusation are motivated by historical guilt.

WeChat (Part 1/2): A Not So Brief History

on Sep 06, 2020 10:39 am


WeChat (Wēixìn/微信), developed by the Chinese internet giant, Tencent, is a SuperApp with origins as a messaging app. Today, WeChat contains messaging, social features, payments, travel booking, virtual doctors, and so much more.

WeChat is one of the most used applications in the world. WeChat has more than 1 billion daily active users, putting it into the highest tier of social apps. For a social app, WeChat’s active user count is only surpassed by, WhatsApp, Facebook messenger, and YouTube.

Remote Work Is Killing the Hidden Trillion-Dollar Office Economy

on Sep 06, 2020 10:39 am


In the five months since the coronavirus forced a lockdown of U.S. businesses, economists have focused much attention on the devastation of mom-and-pop businesses, brick-and-mortar shops, bars and restaurants, and massive chains. But they have mostly overlooked a looming threat to a vastly larger and more consequential galaxy of businesses, one worth trillions of dollars a year in GDP and revolving around a single, much underappreciated economic actor — the white-collar office worker.

These workers shopped at small businesses like Silva’s shoe repair shop: dry cleaners, gyms, food carts, florists, and pharmacies. But they were also among the most vital customers and source of revenue for a slew of larger, less obvious businesses — food delivery companies like Grubhub and Uber Eats, and companies like Xerox, the maker of printing supplies. Amid Covid-19, workwear destinations Brooks Brothers and J.Crew have filed for bankruptcy protection, with Brooks Brothers selling itself last month. And, on its quarterly earnings call in late July, Starbucks attributed the loss of some $2 billion year on year to deserted urban office corridors. Starting off their day at home, remote workers are simply not queueing up in the same numbers for a morning venti latte.

China Secretly Built A Vast New Infrastructure To Imprison Muslims

on Sep 01, 2020 07:39 pm

China has secretly built scores of massive new prison and internment camps in the past three years, dramatically escalating its campaign against Muslim minorities even as it publicly claimed the detainees had all been set free. The construction of these purpose-built, high-security camps — some capable of housing tens of thousands of people — signals a radical shift away from the country’s previous makeshift use of public buildings, like schools and retirement homes, to a vast and permanent infrastructure for mass detention.

In the most extensive investigation of China’s internment camp system ever done using publicly available satellite images, coupled with dozens of interviews with former detainees, BuzzFeed News identified more than 260 structures built since 2017 and bearing the hallmarks of fortified detention compounds. There is at least one in nearly every county in the far-west region of Xinjiang. During that time, the investigation shows, China has established a sprawling system to detain and incarcerate hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other Muslim minorities, in what is already the largest-scale detention of ethnic and religious minorities since World War II.

China rounded up so many Muslims in Xinjiang that there wasn’t enough space to hold them. Then the government started building. This project was supported by the Open Technology Fund, the Pulitzer Center, and the Eyebeam Center for the Future of Journalism.


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