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Sheep grazing near Paris' Eiffel Tower as part of protests by French farmers
Sheep grazing near Paris' Eiffel Tower as part of protests by French farmers
Worldcrunch

Friday, November 28, 2014

OIL PRICES CONTINUE TO FALL
Oil prices continued their slide today after OPEC member states refused yesterday to cut their output to force higher prices, Reuters reports. “It was a great decision,” Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said after yesterday’s talks. Iran and Venezuela, whose economies are badly hurt by the low prices, had backed the idea to slash production. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said he considered $100 per barrel a fair price, a figure far from the current $72.

SNAPSHOT
Some 250 sheep were grazing at the Champ de Mars near Paris' Eiffel Tower, during a protest yesterday by French farmers demanding measures to fight against a rising number of wolf attacks on their flocks.

EGYPT BRACES FOR ISLAMIST PROTESTS
Egypt security forces are on alert today in preparation for possible violence as Islamist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafi Front, have called for a day of protests today after dawn prayers, Mada Masr reports. Security authorities have warned that they will use violence if necessary to calm demonstrations. According to Al Jazeera, one senior army officer was killed while security forces arrested more than 100 people ahead of the protests. They also reportedly defused seven bombs in different governorates around Egypt.

WORLDCRUNCH-TO-GO
Le Temps’ Christophe Catsaros has penned a scathing review of the new Paris modern art museum designed by Frank Gehry. The Louis Vuitton Foundation, as it is called, is a new high-profile cultural offering for the city of lights, but he writes that art's higher calling becomes just a tool of luxury promotion for the ultra-privileged. “Using a cultural project to sell handbags and shoes would not be reprehensible per se if apologists didn't turn it into an ideological act,” the journalist writes. “But that's what's starting to happen. A social mix, education, making knowledge available to the many — all of which are essential components of public cultural policy — are swept aside here in favor of the promotion of splendor and luxury for the ultra-privileged.”
Read the full article, Deconstructing Gehry's Awful New Paris Art Museum.

MEXICO PROMISES POLICE REFORM
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced plans to overhaul local policing in a bid to end rife corruption and to bring calm after the disappearance of 43 students two months ago, The New York Times reports. “These acts of violence demand that we redouble efforts to achieve the full application of rule of law,” Peña Nieto said in a televised address. Hours before, 11 mutilated corpses were found in the same state where the 43 students disappeared and were allegedly massacred.

FAREWELL
Phyllis Dorothy James White, better known as "the queen of crime" for the novels she wrote as P. D. James, died peacefully at her home yesterday in Oxford, England, at the age of 94.

THAI PARLIAMENT BANS SURROGACY
Thailand lawmakers voted overwhelmingly to ban commercial surrogacy, a first step to rein in the country’s largely unregulated surrogate baby industry, AFP reports. The decision comes after a series of scandals involving foreign would-be parents. The most publicized was the story of an Australian couple who left one of two babies born from a surrogate mother because the child had Down’s syndrome.
For more on this topic, we offer this Le Nouvel Observateur/Worldcrunch piece, Brave New World: Inside India's First Bonafide Baby Factory.

BY THE NUMBERS

Pakistani actress and Bollywood star Veena Malik has been sentenced to 26 years in prison for "blasphemy" against Islam, after she acted in a scene loosely based on the marriage of the prophet Muhammad's daughter.

NAMIBIA ELECTION FIRST E-POLL IN AFRICA
Namibian voters go to the polls today to choose a new president and parliament, in what will be the first electronic poll in Africa, the BBC reports. Despite protests from opposition parties arguing that the method could encourage vote rigging, the country’s High Court backed the use of e-voting machines. The current prime minister, 73-year-old Hage Geingob, is widely expected to become the new president.

BEHOLD, THE HORIZONTAL ELEVATOR
Germany’s steel conglomerate ThyssenKrupp has unveiled a new technology that would allow it to build cable-free elevators, which could radically change the design of skyscrapers in the future, the Financial Times reports. By using magnetic linear motors instead of cables, the company will be able to build elevators that move horizontally as well as vertically. Check out this expand=1] video to see how the concept works.

MY GRAND-PÈRE'S WORLD


BLACK FRIDAYYY
The Black Friday craze has hit Britain, and not in a good way. Police officers have been called to supermarkets across the country today, as the American tradition of mass consumerism makes it way across the ocean. “People were behaving like animals,” a 56-year-old woman told The Guardian. “It was horrible.” This series of Vines says it all.

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Future

Robot Artists And Us: Who Decides The Aesthetics Of AI?

Ai-Da is touted as the first bonafide robot artist. But should we consider her paintings and poetry original or creative? Is this even art at all?

Ai-Da at work

Leah Henrickson and Simone Natale

Ai-Da sits behind a desk, paintbrush in hand. She looks up at the person posing for her, and then back down as she dabs another blob of paint onto the canvas. A lifelike portrait is taking shape. If you didn’t know a robot produced it, this portrait could pass as the work of a human artist.

Ai-Da is touted as the “first robot to paint like an artist”, and an exhibition of her work called Leaping into the Metaverse opened at the Venice Biennale.

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