News Digest 7th July 2017

What was I reading this week?

 Politics

Of course, North Korea has dominated the headlines. In the most tumultuous twelve months in living history, this has to be the most worrisome, threatening development. Vox has provided a useful list of the options now facing Trump. If you need an introduction to what’s going on, check out my video on the situation!

Great article in the New York Times that looks at the relationship between Uber drivers and black-cabbies in London. Ultimately, it sees this tension as reflective of what’s wrong in Britain at the moment, from the underlying racism to the challenges of globalization and the threat of automated knowledge.

As the G20 rolls in, some might ask how Germany staved off the spread of populism. Well, it’s a question with many answers in this article from The Atlantic, and perhaps the most intriguing answer has been their treatment of the middle classes, who have been adversely affected by globalisation and technology.  Another point in this article that struck me was that the Germans “do not confuse having skills with having a college degree.” This seems a particularly pertinent point when compared with attitudes towards education in the UK, which also found a way into the news this week – for more, see what I wrote yesterday.

Tech & Media

Silicon Valley’s interest in biotechnology is slowly filtering into the mainstream media: this article in The Guardian discusses the pitfalls of the Immortalist Movement (spearheaded by the charming Peter Thiel) and its lack of empathy for the ongoing crisis in American healthcare. Living forever is a brighter idea when you can afford to keep your 100 year old body alive.

This article on The Ringer tells of the ongoing and widespread “pivot to video” happening across many media sites online at the moment. This follows news on Wednesday that MTV laid off many of its digital writers in order to focus more on video content. This is another blow for writers the world over, who seem not to be just questioning their own existence any more, but the very existence of words themselves.

The New Republic published an interesting insight into Donald Trump’s relationship with the US tabloid industry (specifically the National Enquirer) and how he uses such publications as political weapons.

Culture

Interestingly, there were several articles this week about the cracks that are beginning to show in the Hollywood franchise model. Movies like The Mummy and Transformers have had bad returns for the first time ever in China, which usually acts as a kind of saviour for movies in free fall across the US & Europe. This summer’s ‘break out’ movies have been more low budget (think Baby Driver) and non-sequels. The best overview I read on this topic is from The Atlantic.

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