Meet Germany’s next chancellor

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Jens Spahn and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer are at the front of the starting grid in the race to succeed Angela Merkel. By MATTHEW KARNITSCHNIG Politico He’s a sharp-tongued thirtysomething metrosexual, the standard-bearer of Germany’s conservative youth. She’s the middle-aged apple of Angela Merkel’s eye, a churchgoing mother of three with down-home charm. If few outside of Germany have ever heard of either Jens Spahn or Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, that’s about to change. Merkel has recently elevated both to prominent political roles, putting ... Read More »

Should you send a text or email? Here’s some advice from Aristotle

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Suppose you want to get in touch with a friend. Once, your options for doing so might have been sparse: pick up the phone or write a letter. Alexis Elder The Conversation But these days, you have to decide: Should you call or text, use Snapchat, or reach out on Twitter, Messenger or Skype? Other considerations, whether it’s an old friend or new acquaintance, or whether you’re asking a favor or checking in, as well as your own conversational tendencies ... Read More »

Theresa May’s Brexit speech: our writers give their verdict

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Four writers react to the prime minister’s latest Brexit plans, unveiled in London today Polly Toynbee, Katy Balls, Maya Goodfellow and John Redwood The Guardian Polly Toynbee: The same conundrums, but no new answers No one waited with bated breath for Theresa May’s speech once we knew the cabinet had vetted it. Anything that the “team” that has stuck us in the verbal bog of “managed regulatory divergence” all agree on can never take us forward. Unify the country? Show us a united cabinet first. Her ... Read More »

Human intelligence can’t be transferred to machines

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Technologists across the world have frantically embarked on the quest to create a new species in our own image — general artificial intelligence with superior computational brain power. Nathan Gardels The Washington Post But we are only just beginning to understand the foundations of human intelligence and consciousness that cannot be captured in an algorithmic formula divorced from the functions of the body and the long evolution of our species and its microbiome. As the celebrated neuroscientist Antonio Damasio argues in a ... Read More »

Putin’s Foreign Policy: Nuclear Blackmail Of The West

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“You didn’t listen to our country then… Listen to us now.” Vladimir Putin, announcing that Russia has developed and is testing a new line of strategic nuclear-capable weapons Gary Cartwright EU Today Looking to bolster his image with the electorate prior to Russia’s impending Presidential elections, Vladimir Putin’s has chosen the tried and tested route for such leaders – create an enemy for the people to worry about, and to focus their minds. Putin has very little to offer the ... Read More »

Mineral deficiency exposes 19 million babies a year to brain damage risk

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Scientists warn lack of iodine leaves 14% of newborns vulnerable to impaired mental development Hannah Summers The Guardian A lack of iodine in pregnancy and early childhood puts nearly 19 million babies around the world at risk of permanent but preventable brain damage every year, a new report has warned. Insufficient iodine during pregnancy can adversely affect neurological and psychological development, reducing a child’s IQ by eight to 10 points. More broadly, widespread iodine deficiency can diminish the… Mineral deficiency ... Read More »

Steven Pinker Continues to See the Glass Half Full

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Book Review Enlightenment Now The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress By Steven Pinker Optimism is not generally thought cool, and it is often thought foolish. Sarah Bakewell The New York Times The optimistic philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote in 1828, “I have observed that not the man who hopes when others despair, but the man who despairs when others hope, is admired by a large class of persons as a sage.” In the previous century, Voltaire’s “Candide” had ... Read More »

Turkey Is Turning Into the Next Pakistan

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The U.S. should make clear to ersatz allies that betrayal has consequences. Eli Lake Bloomberg There isn’t much that Turkey’s president can do these days to further debase his reputation in the West. Recep Tayyip Erdogan has crushed peaceful protests at home and abroad, closed newspapers, threatened American soldiers, and collectively scapegoated Kurds. But over the weekend, Erdogan managed to go even lower. At a rally at Kahramanmaras, the Turkish leader brought a trembling 6-year-old girl on stage dressed in military garb and told her she ... Read More »

Colonizing the Western Mind

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In Christopher Nolan’s captivating and visually dazzling film Inception, a practitioner of psychic corporate espionage must plant and idea inside a CEO’s head. Jason Hirthler CounterPunch The process is called inception, and it represents the frontier of corporate influence, in which mind spies no longer just “extract” ideas from the dreams of others, but seed useful ideas in a target’s subconscious. Inception is a well-crafted piece of futuristic sci-fi drama, but some of the ideas it imparts are already deeply ... Read More »

Microsoft president Smith: World must ‘wake up’ to benefits and perils of artificial intelligence

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Citing the enormous power of artificial intelligence to benefit but also disrupt society, Microsoft President Brad Smith on Thursday, March 1, called for standards of accountability and a “Hippocratic oath” among technologists to do no harm with the emerging tools. Steven Schultz Princeton University “Will we ensure that machines remain accountable to people? Will we ensure that the people who design these machines remain accountable to other people?” asked Smith, a Princeton University alumnus and trustee, speaking to a packed audience ... Read More »

Italy’s Messy Politics Are No Longer Local

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The extremists get louder, the center struggles, and all of Europe will feel the effects. Rachel Donadio The Atlantic MILAN—The same day that left-wing groups and parties held an anti-fascist rally in Rome, protesting the apparent rise of the hard-right in Italy, the piazza in front of the Milan cathedral was filled with energized supporters of Matteo Salvini, the leader of Italy’s League party. The party is best known for its xenophobia and its flirtation with the idea of exiting ... Read More »

The Syrian ‘hell on earth’ is a tangle of power plays unlikely to end soon

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Once again, unfortunate civilians are trapped in the “hell on earth” that the Syrian civil war has become. Mehmet Ozalp The Conversation This time it is the turn of the 400,000 residents of Eastern Ghouta, ten kilometres east of the capital Damascus. Latest reports put civilian casualties at 520 and thousands wounded under the heavy assault launched by President Bashar al-Assad’s ground forces supported by Russian air strikes. It seems conditions in Syria are getting worse, and there is no ... Read More »

‘Crazy for books’: How Thomas Hardy understood the transformative power of reading

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The English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy may be overshadowed in schools today by writers such as Shakespeare, Roald Dahl and J.K. Rowling. Angelique Richardson The Conversation But in times of widespread education cuts it is worth remembering what he had to teach us about access to education – and his belief in the power of books to change lives. Writing in the American symposium-based journal Forum in 1888, Hardy outlined the benefits of reading as “alleviating the effects of ... Read More »

Why the daunting economics of elder care are about to get much worse

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My sister Carol loves movies, but she hasn’t been out to see one in years. When she tries to watch one at home, she’s frequently interrupted. Patricia Smith The Conversation She shrugs this off, saying “Who needs to see movies when you’re living one?” You see, my sister is living the plot from the movie “Groundhog Day.” She takes care of our mother, who suffers from dementia. Our mom asks the same questions over and over and only wants to ... Read More »

Why you should vote for a woman in 2018

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This year, women are poised to make great gains in congressional representation. Across the country, women are running for office in greater numbers than ever before, in particular for seats in Congress. Authors: The Converstion Including both incumbents and challengers, more than 500 women are running for seats in the House and the Senate. Currently, only about 20 percent of all members of Congress are women – 22 of the 100 U.S. senators are female, as are 84 of the ... Read More »

Turkey has invested $35 bln in defense industry in 15 years: PM Yıldırım

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State investment in the defense industry has exceeded $35 billion in the past 15 years, Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has said. Hurriyet “We have made investments worth $35 billion over 15 years and we are now an exporter country in the field of the defense industry. The volume of our exports is over $2 billion,” Yıldırım said in an address at the National Defense University on March 2. “Our state continues to provide all sorts of technological opportunities for the ... Read More »