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SPOTLIGHT: FACEBOOK, POWER + HEAT

By virtually any measure, Facebook appears to be an unstoppable force of both business and culture dominance. Not only has quarterly income nearly tripled to $1.5 billion, but Mark Zuckerberg's company can now boast that its record 1.65 billion users spend an average of 50 minutes a day on the network. Meanwhile Facebook Live promises to take over video streaming, as the FB-owned WhatsApp and Instagram networks continue to explode.


But with power comes responsibility. This past week has seen an outcry over reports that Facebook workers were routinely asked to filter out conservative-leaning news from users' feeds. If the company that so dominates our attention is imposing its slant on what we see (and not left, as we've been told, to the neutral whims of an algorithm), fundamental issues concerning democracy and the concentration of power are at stake. As the Internet changes the way information is produced and delivered, The Atlanticnotes, Facebook now effectively serves the functions of both media and public utility. Zuckerberg (and friends) continue to preach their social gospel of radical sharing and global connections — and, by now, it's hard to see how the force of this particular network effect might ever slow down. But there was another story told this week that might offer a possible answer. Rahul Bhatia looked back at what The Guardian calls "Facebook's biggest setback," the attempt by Zuckerberg's company to bring what it hailed as "free Internet" to millions of people who could not afford it in India. But the "Free Basics" program, which included only a FB-dominated portion of the Internet, ultimately ran into perhaps the one force that stands in the way of the social network: state power. It's worth a read — and sharing with your friends.


WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY (& WEEKEND)

  • US President Barack Obama welcomes leaders from Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Iceland to discuss, among other things, the Nordic model on social welfare and innovation
  • French President Francois Hollande will meet African leaders at a Nigeria summit on Saturday to discuss a response to militant groups in the region


APPLE POURS $1 BILLION INTO UBER RIVAL IN CHINA

The smartphone giant passed over Uber in favor of rival Didi Chuxing, the top ride-hailing service in China, a country where Apple has otherwise struggled. Company chief Tim Cook told Reuters that the move would help Apple better understand the Chinese market.


BRAZIL'S NEW GOVERNMENT OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Brazil's interim president Michel Temer, who replaced suspended Dilma Rousseff, moved quickly to steer Latin America's biggest country toward more market-friendly policies. He trimmed down the cabinet, which Folha de S. Paulonoted is the first in decades in Brazil to include no women.


— ON THIS DAY Pope John Paul II and Formula 1 made news on May 13 in the past. See our 57 seconds of history.


TRUMP MAKES NICE WITH GOP

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was on his best behavior on a trip to Capitol Hill to make Republicans back his bid for the White House. But Politico reports that a deep rift remains between Trump and the GOP, and they still have to agree to a joint fundraising deal.


SOUTHEAST TURKEY ERUPTS IN VIOLENCE

Eight Turkish soldiers and 22 Kurdish militants have been killed in clashes over the last two days in the largely Kurdish southeast of the country, a region that has seen some of its worst fighting in recent decades after a ceasefire collapsed between the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the Turkish government last July.


— WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO

In our latest "Rue Amelot" essay series, Paris-based writer Moira Molly Chambers asks why, with the advances of the feminist movement, housework and child care has remained so firmly in the hands of women. "Perhaps it is because the feminist agenda has covered and continues to cover so much territory that so few people focus on the inequity surrounding both paid and unpaid domestic work. The subject simply lacks the urgency of issues such as female genital mutilation, rape, domestic violence, abortion, sexual harassment, prostitution or the gender pay gap. It's not so much a civil rights issue needing legislation, but more like an ancient custom that must be collectively unlearned. Read the full article: Domestic Work, That Insidious Worldwide Bastion Of Sexism


— MORE STORIES, EXCLUSIVELY IN ENGLISH BY WORLDCRUNCH

BATTERY POWERED

A child swallows a battery every three hours. Gulp. Now there's a solution for this common problem: A pill-sized origami robot to remove them.


— Crunched by Sruthi Gottipati

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Can machines be ironic?

Charles Barbour

What was your first reaction when you heard about Blake Lemoine, the Google engineer who announced last month the AI program he was working on had developed consciousness?

If, like me, you’re instinctively suspicious, it might have been something like: Is this guy serious? Does he honestly believe what he is saying? Or is this an elaborate hoax?

Put the answers to those questions to one side. Focus instead on the questions themselves. Is it not true that even to ask them is to presuppose something crucial about Blake Lemoine: specifically, he is conscious?

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Writing contest - My pandemic story
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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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