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Elon Musk Wants Twitter For The Big Data, Not The Free Speech

Oligarchs of the ‘Second Gilded Age’ in the like of Elon Musk are already able to influence the public's minds through media ownership. But getting a hand on Twitter means having access to its users' data and exploiting it for financial purposes.

During the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, and the early decades of the 20th century, U.S. captains of industry such as William Randolph Hearst and Jay Gould used their massive wealth to dominate facets of the economy, including the news media. They were, in many ways, prototype oligarchs — by the dictionary definition, “very rich business leaders with a great deal of political influence.”

Some have argued that the U.S. is in the midst of a Second Gilded Age defined — like the first — by vast wealth inequality, hyper-partisanship, xenophobia and a new crop of oligarchs using their vast wealth to purchase media and political influence.

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Le Weekend ➡️ A Social Media Journey, From Tunisia To Ukraine To The Ego Of Elon Musk

April 30-May 1

  • A different kind of disaster near Chernobyl
  • Russian cartoon propaganda
  • Progressive fashion
  • … and much more.
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Moscow-Washington War Of Words, Kim Jong-un’s Nuclear Threat, World’s Oldest Person Dies

👋 Kia ora!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where there’s an escalation of rhetoric between Russia and Washington, Kim Jong-un issues a nuclear threat and the world’s oldest person dies at age 119. Meanwhile, news website Livy Bereg looks at past examples of economic recoveries in countries that were destroyed by war, to see what lessons could be drawn for Ukraine.


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In The News
Lisa Berdet, Lila Paulou and Emma Albright

Russian Warship Damaged, U.S. Weapons To Ukraine, Musk Bids To Buy Twitter

👋 Tere!*

Welcome to Thursday, where a major Russian warship has been seriously damaged in the Black Sea, South Africa’s flooding toll tops 300, and Elon Musk bids to buy (all of) Twitter. Meanwhile, from the Netherlands, Frieda Klotz chronicles the eventful history of the Dutch clinic that’s been at the forefront of transgender medical care for kids.


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In The News
Anne-Sophie Goninet, Bertrand Hauger and Jane Herbelin

Libya PM Targeted, Russia-Belarus Drills, Gazpacho Tactics

👋 Bonjou!*

Welcome to Thursday, where Libya’s prime minister survives an assassination attempt, Belarus and Russia start joint military drills and a Republican congresswoman spills her gazpacho. Fasten your seatbelts, we’re also looking at the world of private jet travel, a means of transportation that soared during the pandemic.

[*Haitian Creole]

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In The News
Jane Herbelin and Jeff Israely

Clashes On Polish-Belarus Border, South Africa’s de Klerk Dies, 600 In Space

👋 سلام*

Welcome to Thursday, where overnight clashes are reported at Poland's border with Belarus, South Africa's last white president died and history links Yuri Gagarin and Elon Musk. We also look at how COVID may be the tipping point to push cities into a bicycle-centric future.

[*Salam - Arabic]

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Eduardo Barajas Sandoval

The New Conquistadors? What To Make Of The Billionaire Space Racers

Bezos, Branson, Musk. The billionaires throwing untold resources into private space travel may prove, in the end, to be visionaries. But they're also blind, it would seem, to real-world problems here on planet Earth.


There is no shortage of people hailing the tycoon-space-adventurers Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk as modern-day equivalents of Christopher Columbus, Americo Vespucci and Ferdinand Magellan. Only in this case, the quest to cross new frontiers comes against a backdrop of climate change and a global pandemic.

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Anne Bauer

Exclusive: SpaceX Accuses Europe's Ariane Of Unfair Competition

Elon Musk’s company has asked Washington to intervene about its top European competitor receiving public subsidies. It's an odd twist in the larger trade battle, as well as the evolving world of space business.

PARIS — In a less tense geopolitical and commercial context between the US and Europe, the situation might generate a hearty laugh. SpaceX, the rocket manufacturer revolutionizing the space sector with its partially reusable rockets, is complaining to Washington about unfair competition from the longstanding European program Arianespace. SpaceX submitted a letter dated in December to a top U.S. trade official, of copy of which was recently obtained by Les Echos, denouncing subsidies from the EU and the French government, which it says artificially reduce the price of Arianespace's launch services on the international market.

While Europeans are busy worrying that Ariane 6 rockets will lose out against SpaceX's products, the company founded by Elon Musk has taken aim at the financial aid allocated by the European Spatial Agency (ESA). In the letter, addressed to Edward Gresser, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Trade Policy and Economics, the Californian company values the total subsidies between 1988 and 2012 at 13.2 billion euros. It also questions the public financing of the Kourou spaceport in Guyana, estimating that it allows Arianespace to exclude infrastructural weight in its commercial offerings.

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Kathrin Werner

Robot Brains Need Human Rules

Artificial intelligence is too useful and advanced and to ignore. But it also comes with huge risks, and should be limited accordingly.


MUNICH — If you want a good scare, take a look at the artificial intelligence on display at this year's South By Southwest festival in Texas. Scientists there report that people can control prostheses with their brains. Artificial Intelligence will soon control artificial body parts while robotic brains will hire workers, predict crime, control drones and manage health data.

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Yann Verdo

Enrico Fermi To Elon Musk, An Eternal Search For Life On (And Off) Earth

PARIS — Ever heard of the Fermi paradox? In 1950, in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Enrico Fermi, the famed Italian physicist and father of the first nuclear reactor, estimated the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way, based on the number of stars in our galaxy with a planetary system gravitating around them.

Physicist Mathieu Agelou wrote about the "paradox" in the introduction to a book on aliens recently published by the French National Center for Scientific Research.

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Julien Nocetti*

Artificial Intelligence, The New Chess Piece Of Geopolitics

China, Russia and the U.S. see potential and risks. And for now, there's still no form of governance to oversee AI development — technology moves faster than diplomacy.


PARIS — Artificial Intelligence is now an open topic of geopolitical debate. Russian President Vladimir Putin recently said that "whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world." Back in March, France's then President François Hollande expressed the same idea: "The nations that master AI will be the powers of tomorrow." Elevated to a strategic priority by Silicon Valley and Industry 4.0, AI is about to shake up international politics.

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