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In the News 06.04.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

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In the News 06.04.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
In the News 06.04.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets
In the News 06.04.16 : Today’s Articles of Interest from around the Internets

How Reporters Pulled Off the Panama Papers, the Biggest Leak in Whistleblower History

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WHEN DANIEL ELLSBERG photocopied and leaked the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971, those 7,000 pages of top secret Vietnam War documents represented what was then the biggest whistleblower leak in history—a couple dozen megabytes if it were contained in a modern text file. Almost four decades later, WikiLeaks in 2010 published Cablegate, a world-shaking, 1.73 gigabyte collection of classified State Department communications that was almost a hundred times bigger.

If there’s some Moore’s Law of Leaks, however, it seems to be exponential. Just five years have passed since WikiLeaks’ Cablegate coup, and now the world is grappling with a whistleblower megaleak on a scale never seen before: 2.6 terabytes, well over a thousandfold larger.

Read the rest of this article at Wired

How Shakespeare Lives Now

John Martin: Macbeth, circa 1820

Shakespeare’s death on April 23, 1616, went largely unremarked by all but a few of his immediate contemporaries. There was no global shudder when his mortal remains were laid to rest in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford. No one proposed that he be interred in Westminster Abbey near Chaucer or Spenser (where his fellow playwright Francis Beaumont was buried in the same year and where Ben Jonson would be buried some years later). No notice of Shakespeare’s passing was taken in the diplomatic correspondence of the time or in the newsletters that circulated on the Continent; no rush of Latin obsequies lamented the “vanishing of his breath,” as classical elegies would have it; no tributes were paid to his genius by his distinguished European contemporaries. Shakespeare’s passing was an entirely local English event, and even locally it seems scarcely to have been noted.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Review of Books

How to Hack an Election

Februrary 26, 2016. Bogotá, Colombia. Ándres Sepúlveda (31) lives  at an undisclosed maximum-security building of the General Attorneys office (Fiscalia Nacional) in Bogotá, Colombia; where he is serving a 10 years sentence for hacking and spying on the government and elected officials. Photo Credit: Juan Arredondo for Bloomberg BusinessWeek.

It was just before midnight when Enrique Peña Nieto declared victory as the newly elected president of Mexico. Peña Nieto was a lawyer and a millionaire, from a family of mayors and governors. His wife was a telenovela star. He beamed as he was showered with red, green, and white confetti at the Mexico City headquarters of the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, which had ruled for more than 70 years before being forced out in 2000. Returning the party to power on that night in July 2012, Peña Nieto vowed to tame drug violence, fight corruption, and open a more transparent era in Mexican politics.

Two thousand miles away, in an apartment in Bogotá’s upscale Chicó Navarra neighborhood, Andrés Sepúlveda sat before six computer screens. Sepúlveda is Colombian, bricklike, with a shaved head, goatee, and a tattoo of a QR code containing an encryption key on the back of his head. On his nape are the words “</head>” and “<body>” stacked atop each other, dark riffs on coding. He was watching a live feed of Peña Nieto’s victory party, waiting for an official declaration of the results.

Read the rest of this article at Bloomberg

The New Astrology

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Since the 2008 financial crisis, colleges and universities have faced increased pressure to identify essential disciplines, and cut the rest. In 2009, Washington State University announced it would eliminate the department of theatre and dance, the department of community and rural sociology, and the German major – the same year that the University of Louisiana at Lafayette ended its philosophy major. In 2012, Emory University in Atlanta did away with the visual arts department and its journalism programme. The cutbacks aren’t restricted to the humanities: in 2011, the state of Texas announced it would eliminate nearly half of its public undergraduate physics programmes. Even when there’s no downsizing, faculty salaries have been frozen and departmental budgets have shrunk.

Read the rest of this article at aeon

The New Europeans

As refugees stream into Europe, and terror attacks spark
security fears, one Bavarian village grapples with newcomers
— and with the question of what it means to be German.

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It was on a Friday in September 2014 that Thomas Kamm, the mayor of Siegsdorf Municipality, an affluent cluster of villages in the foothills of the Bavarian Alps, learned that the world refugee crisis would be coming to his town. He was barbecuing for his wife’s birthday when he received a call from the German Interior Ministry. Four hundred asylum seekers, who recently arrived in the European Union on the Italian island Lampedusa, were being transported to Germany, the ministry official informed him. A vacant bungalow resort located in one of the villages under the mayor’s jurisdiction — Eisenärzt, population, 1,300 — had been determined a suitable place to house them temporarily. Kamm, a thin, middle-aged former mechanical engineer and a singer in a local a cappella group, managed to negotiate down the number of asylum seekers his town would host, to 200 from 400. The villagers, he told me, were wary of hosting a large number of foreigners from places like Syria and Afghanistan; 400 of them would be “absolutely a no go.” The first migrants arrived on buses two days later. Kamm said he would never forget the looks on their faces. “Pure exhaustion, pure fear,” he said, exhaling so deeply that his lips flapped together. Each of his parents lived through World War II, he told me, but they never said much about their experiences. “I can understand why after seeing those refugees.” That Sunday, Kamm went to local churches to inform the citizenry. “No one was happy,” he said. Still, most people recognized the need to help: “Humanity stood in the foreground.”

This amalgam of alarm and empathy was once again evident last June, when Kamm returned to church to inform the villagers of Eisenärzt that more asylum seekers were on the way. By then, the original 200 migrants had been resettled elsewhere, but many more asylum seekers from places like Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan were arriving on Greece’s Aegean Islands in perilously overcrowded boats, then forging a grueling path through the Balkans toward the security and prosperity of Northern Europe and, most often, Germany. Bavaria was the first German state they encountered along the way. Migrants were showing up in train stations or emerging from the backs of smugglers’ trucks, and it often fell to local officials, people like Kamm, to find somewhere to house them. Asylum seekers ended up in school gymnasiums, shuttered big-box stores and crowded tent encampments.

Kamm told the people of Eisenärzt that an order of Franciscan nuns living in the village would be leaving town. In their place, 100 Syrians would be moving in. The Mallersdorfer Sisters, based in a convent in northern Bavaria, had maintained a presence in Eisenärzt for 85 years. The village, with its forested hills and alpine air, served as the sisters’ vacation spot and retirement home. On Monday evenings in May — when area Catholics in this heavily Roman Catholic part of the country observe Maiandacht, a time of devotion to Mary — the sisters would gather outside the newly built chapel on a grassy hill by the train station, not far from the crystalline flow of the White Traun River, and sing lilting Bavarian hymns. By 2015, though, Germany’s declining birthrate and declining religiosity had taken its toll on the sisterhood. The once-crowded residence, constructed in the late 1960s, was mostly empty, and the two dozen sisters who remained, many of them in their 80s, had agreed to sell their residence to the municipality for the purpose of housing asylum seekers.

Read the rest of this article at The New York Times

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.