Readabee

Every two weeks, I pick interesting articles that I’ve read and compile them for my GP students free-of-charge. I’ve done this for three years and this year, I’ve decided to make it freely available online for all who are interested.

Some articles may be locked behind paywalls. If you are a student using this purely for educational purposes and you wish to receive the PDF version with the full text of all the articles, send me an email at [email protected]

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Regular Issues
Singapore

Readabee 16th September 2019

1. President Trump Can’t Block Twitter Users, Federal Appeals Court Rules

America – Free Speech | Wall Street Journal

Tuesday’s ruling stems from a 2017 lawsuit filed by Columbia University’s Knight First Amendment Institute on behalf of seven people who had been blocked by the president’s @realDonaldTrump account. In an opinion for the three-judge panel, Judge Barrington D. Parker of the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals wrote that a public official who uses a social-media account for official purposes can’t block users because he disagrees with their posts. “The First Amendment does not permit a public official who utilizes a social media account for all manner of official purposes to exclude persons from an otherwise‐open online dialogue because they expressed views with which the official disagrees,” wrote Judge Parker, who was nominated to the appeals court by President George W. Bush. (800 words)

2. Who Will Design the Future?

Artificial Intelligence | Nautilus | August 1th, 2019

Its developers should be, too. Ada Lovelace was an English mathematician who lived in the first half of the 19th century. (She was also the daughter of the poet Lord Byron, who invited Mary Shelley to his house in Geneva for a weekend of merriment and a challenge to write a ghost story, which would become Frankenstein.) In 1842, Lovelace was tasked with translating an article from French into English for Charles Babbage, the “Grandfather of the Computer.” Babbage’s piece was about his Analytical Engine, a revolutionary new automatic calculating machine. (5100 words)

3. Big data won’t build a better robot

Artificial Intelligence – Robots | The Straits Times | April 24th, 2019

Some enthusiastic computer scientists even think we will find a “master algorithm” that will fix our politics and make lives “longer, happier and more productive”. In the grandest of these visions, smart computing machines could automate all of scientific discovery. But many scientists think such promises are overblown, and even a little dangerous, naively creating false confidence in highly fallible technologies. And quite a few researchers now applying AI – in physics, biology, chemistry and finance – think machines will continue to depend on human intelligence for a very long time. (800 words)

4. A Duty to Shareholder Value

Business – CSR | New York Times | April 16th, 2015

Suppose the board of directors of a company is considering closing an obsolete plant. The closing will harm the plant’s workers and the local community, but it will benefit shareholders, creditors and new employees (and their surrounding community) at a more modern plant to which the work is transferred. Let’s further assume that the latter groups (the shareholders, creditors and new employees) cannot gain except at the former employees’ expense. By what standard should the board make the decision to close or keep the obsolete plant? (500 words)

5. Opinion | Can States Just Say No to Corporate Giveaways?

Business – CSR | New York Times | July 9th, 2019

More than 100 companies and more than 12,000 workers have moved to new offices, some headed east, some headed west. Missouri poached Swiss Re and Applebee’s; Kansas got JPMorgan Chase and AMC Entertainment.The net result? No increase in economic activity; no improvement in the lives of workers. Just a few more jobs in Kansas, a few less in Missouri — and a big loss of tax dollars. Corporate tax incentives are a dubious business. The giveaways frequently serve no higher purpose than rewarding businesses for moving where they already plan to move or creating jobs they already plan to create. (1200 words)

6. Schoolchildren in China work overnight to produce Amazon Alexa devices

Business – CSR | The Guardian | August 8th, 2019

Interviews with workers and leaked documents from Amazon’s supplier Foxconn show that many of the children have been required to work nights and overtime to produce the smart-speaker devices, in breach of Chinese labour laws. According to the documents, the teenagers – drafted in from schools and technical colleges in and around the central southern city of Hengyang – are classified as “interns”, and their teachers are paid by the factory to accompany them. Teachers are asked to encourage uncooperative pupils to accept overtime work on top of regular shifts. (1600 words)

7. Jack Ma is wrong: 12-hour days are no ‘blessing’

Capitalism – Labour | The Straits Times | April 23th, 2019

He recently praised China’s “996” practice, which refers to those who put in 12-hour days – 9am to 9pm – six days a week. This is not a problem, he said in a recent blog post, but a blessing. The response from others in China was swift. “If all enterprises enforce a 996 schedule, no one will have children,” one person argued on the same platform. “Did you ever think about the elderly at home who need care, the children who need company?” It even prompted a response from Chinese state media, which reminded everyone: “The mandatory enforcement of 996 overtime culture not only reflects the arrogance of business managers, but is also unfair and impractical.” (900 words)

8. China’s ‘Belt and Road’ Plan in Pakistan Takes a Military Turn

China – Belt And Road | New York Times | December 19th, 2018

The confidential plan, reviewed by The New York Times, would also deepen the cooperation between China and Pakistan in space, a frontier the Pentagon recently said Beijing was trying to militarize after decades of playing catch-up.All those military projects were designated as part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a $1 trillion chain of infrastructure development programs stretching across some 70 countries, built and financed by Beijing.Chinese officials have repeatedly said the Belt and Road is purely an economic project with peaceful intent. (2800 words)

9. China is thinking twice about lending to Africa

China – Corruption | The Economist | June 29th, 2019

Kenyans feigned concern on Twitter, using the hashtag #FindPresidentUhuru. A missing-person poster appealed for information on the whereabouts of a five-foot-eight African male last seen in Beijing. A government spokeswoman sought to reassure the public: Mr Kenyatta had been in his office “meditating”. But others speculate that the president was in a funk after his trip to China failed to yield a new loan for the next phase of Kenya’s ambitious $10bn railway.Mr Kenyatta could be forgiven for feeling piqued. (1000 words)

10. China is waging war on Western names for buildings and places

China – Culture | The Economist | June 29th, 2019

Posh resorts line the island’s shore. It is also on the front lines of a culture war. In June Hainan’s government published a list of 53 places and buildings, including many hotels, with names that “worship foreign things and toady to foreign powers”. It said these names must be “cleaned up and rectified”—ie, changed.Many of the offending names use Chinese characters that, put together, sound like foreign words: Kaisa for Caesar, for example (used in a hotel name), or Weiduoliya for Victoria (the name of a residential area in the capital, Haikou). (300 words)

11. How much is your education worth? Depends on how much you make

Education – Inequality | The Straits Times | April 6th, 2019

For years people have talked about the idea of selling shares in one’s own talent, in the hope of attracting funds and assistance from others. Now it seems that this idea is happening at scale, through the Lambda School in California. The Lambda School teaches information technology skills online, and it charges zero tuition and offers stipends to select students. The deal is that students pay back 17 per cent of their income from the first two years of work, if earnings exceed US$50,000 (S$67,700) a year, with a maximum payment of US$30,000. (700 words)

12. Shortages of rare earth elements could limit clean energy development

Environment – Smartphones | Salon | October 26th, 2018

There are even cancer treatments requiring rare earth elements. Contrary to their name, however, rare earth metals are not actually rare. Or at least, not exactly. On average, they’re about as common as copper or nickel in the Earth’s crust. But unlike copper or nickel, rare earth elements don’t occur in mine-able pockets, meaning that obtaining them is a lot more expensive and labor-intensive. On top of that, when you do find them in ores they’re all mixed together and separating them can be a challenge: they’re all about the same size, have similar melting points, and tend to form trivalent cations (meaning they also look identical electrochemically). (800 words)

13. Cambridge Analytica a year on: ‘a lesson in institutional failure’

Facebook – Cambridge | The Guardian | March 17th, 2019

It was a report that drew on hours of testimony from Cambridge Analytica directors, Facebook executives and dozens of expert witnesses: 73 in total, of whom MPs had asked 4,350 questions. And its conclusion? That Silicon Valley’s tech platforms were out of control, none more so than Facebook, which it said had treated parliament with “contempt”. And it’s a measure of how much hasn’t changed that this was a news story for just two hours on a Monday morning before the next Westminster drama – the launch of the Independent Group – knocked it off the headline slots. (4000 words)

14. The Cambridge Analytica scandal changed the world – but it didn’t change Facebook

Facebook – Privacy | The Guardian | March 18th, 2019

It took five full days for the founder and CEO of Facebook – the man with total control over the world’s largest communications platform – to emerge from his Menlo Park cloisters and address the public. When he finally did, he did so with gusto, taking a new set of talking points (“We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you”) on a seemingly unending roadshow, from his own Facebook page to the mainstream press to Congress and on to an oddly earnest discussion series he’s planning to subject us to at irregular intervals for the rest of 2019. (1400 words)

15. North Korea Accuses Expelled Australian Student of Spying

Geopolitics – North Korea | New York Times | July 6th, 2019

Sigley, 29, a graduate student in Korean literature at Kim Il-sung University in Pyongyang, was freed in North Korea on Thursday and deported on the same day. Until now, neither Mr. Sigley nor the North’s government had publicly explained why he had been detained.On Saturday, North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, using the initials for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, said Mr. Sigley was caught on Tuesday while “committing anti-D.P.R.K. incitement through the internet.”“He honestly admitted his spying acts of systematically collecting and offering data about the domestic situation of the D.P.R.K. (800 words)

16. The Gulf of Guinea is now the world’s worst piracy hotspot

Geopolitics – Piracy | The Economist | June 29th, 2019

Two layers of razor wire snake around its deck. Two life-sized human dummies in orange jumpsuits are perched on the ship’s bridge, posing as crew members keeping watch. Serving as a reminder that such precautions are prudent in Africa are the mangled steel and concrete remains of a jetty. It was blown up a decade ago by militants with a sideline in piracy.The Gulf of Guinea, on west Africa’s southern coast, is the world’s most pirate-infested sea. The International Maritime Bureau (IMB) reports 72 attacks last year on vessels at sea between Ivory Coast and Cameroon—up from 28 in 2014. (1800 words)

17. Opinion | A Hong Kong Protester’s Tactic: Get the Police to Hit You

Hong Kong – Protests | New York Times | June 30th, 2019

I took part in the two mass marches earlier this month, the June 12 protest that turned violent and the blockade of police headquarters on June 21. Today I am among the tens of thousands of protesters on the streets outside of the Legislative Council and I witnessed a group of them storm the building.I am not optimistic that we can get what we are asking for. The government’s response has been robotic, and it still refuses to completely withdraw, instead of just suspending, the extradition bill we oppose. (1300 words)

18. What Is Hong Kong’s Extradition Bill?

Hong Kong – Protests | New York Times | June 10th, 2019

Here’s the key background.Is Hong Kong part of China?Yes, but it’s not that simple.Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997 under a policy known as “one country, two systems,” which promised the territory a high degree of autonomy. The policy has helped preserve Hong Kong’s civil service, independent courts, freewheeling press, open internet and other features that distinguish it from the Chinese mainland.Demonstrators marched on Sunday against a government proposal to allow extraditions to mainland China. (1000 words)

19. Why Hong Kong needs to press ahead with its extradition Bill

Hong Kong – Protests | The Straits Times | June 15th, 2019

They will enable Hong Kong to return fugitives, on a case-by-case basis, to other parts of China, as well as to over 170 countries with which it currently has no extradition agreements. Such case-based approaches are used in other jurisdictions, and are of obvious utility where long-term surrender arrangements are not yet in place. Given the existing vacuum, many fugitives from other places have obtained sanctuary in Hong Kong, some from elsewhere in China, others from around the globe. We know that over 300 fugitives from other parts of China are currently enjoying safe haven in Hong Kong, including at least one alleged murderer, as well as businessmen already convicted of corruption and money laundering. (2000 words)

20. How to fix the problem in Hong Kong

Hong Kong- Politics | The Straits Times | July 21th, 2019

Rental is high in Hong Kong and customers are obliged to share tables in small eateries like the one I was in. Once eagle-eyed restaurant owners spot the conclusion of a meal, patrons are swiftly handed their bills, subtly suggesting they leave the premises to make way for incoming customers. Otherwise, they’d earn short shrift from irate staff. Life is hard in Hong Kong and most residents feel that it has become much harder. Retired civil servants complain of promotions bypassing them because the top posts were reserved for whites under British colonial rule. (1300 words)

21. How to make people pay high taxes happily

Inequality – Taxes | The Straits Times | July 28th, 2019

The person I was having coffee with said he wasn’t just happy to do so, he had once called in to a British radio talk show years ago to explain why. That programme on air had been over what made people happy, and he responded when the host of the show had laughed off the idea that there were people who gave away half their salaries happily. He is from Denmark, where the top tax rate of 56 per cent kicks in at a relatively low annual income of US$77,000 (S$105,450). The Danes are also often ranked one of the happiest people in the world. (1100 words)

22. World’s eight richest people have same wealth as poorest 50%

Inequality – Wealth | The Guardian | January 15th, 2017

New information shows that poverty in China and India is worse than previously thought. In a report published to coincide with the start of the week-long World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Oxfam said it was “beyond grotesque” that a handful of rich men headed by the Microsoft founder Bill Gates are worth $426bn (£350bn), equivalent to the wealth of 3.6 billion people. The development charity called for a new economic model to reverse an inequality trend that it said helped to explain Brexit and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election. (1000 words)

23. World’s richest 0.1% have boosted their wealth by as much as poorest half

Inequality – Wealth | The Guardian | December 14th, 2017

The richest 1% of the global population captured 27% of the world’s wealth growth between 1980 and 2016. The World Inequality Report, published on Thursday by French economist Thomas Piketty, warned that inequality had ballooned to “extreme levels” in some countries and said the problem would only get worse unless governments took coordinated action to increase taxes and prevent tax avoidance. Share of global wealth by income groupsThe report, which drew on the work of more than 100 researchers around the world, found that the richest 1% of the global population “captured” 27% of the world’s wealth growth between 1980 and 2016. (800 words)

24. Opinion | Kill Section 230, You Kill the Internet

Internet – Free Speech | Wall Street Journal

Will it happen again? In October 1994, an anonymous poster on Money Talk, a bulletin board run by the early online service Prodigy, accused Long Island brokerage firm Stratton Oakmont of fraud. Yes, that Stratton Oakmont, of Leonardo DiCaprio and “Wolf of Wall Street” movie fame. Fraud central. But in 1995 Stratton Oakmont sued Prodigy for defamation. The firm claimed the online service was liable as a publisher because Prodigy posted content guidelines that human “board leaders” enforced and deployed software that screened for offensive language. (1000 words)

25. Prosecution calls for woman who scammed love scammer to get jail instead of treatment order

Singapore – Crime | Channel News Asia | July 16th, 2019

She then ignored the man who was trying to scam her, and transferred parts of the cash to help another scammer she was in love with, as well as a third scammer. For her actions, the prosecution on Tuesday (Jul 16) called for her to be sentenced to three months’ jail, despite a mandatory treatment order report recommending that she undergo treatment for 18 months. The defence urged the court to sentence 63-year-old Christina Cheong Yoke Lin to the recommended mandatory treatment order instead, saying that she did not go looking to commit fraud. (800 words)

26. Commentary: Singapore’s bold bet on seniors and valuable years of life experience

Singapore – Elderly | Channel News Asia | August 22th, 2019

While the retirement age will be raised from age 62 to 63 in 2022, and 65 by 2030, the re-employment age will be raised from 67 to 68 in 2022, and 70 by 2030. Manpower Minister Josephine Teo moved quickly to announce details of the changes to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) rates for older workers the following day, to help them build up their retirement nest egg. But the current CPF withdrawal ages remain unchanged. This has been warmly welcomed by most workers who want to continue to have the option of enjoying the fruits of their labour early. (1200 words)

27. The Big Read: Taking the climate fight beyond straws and tote bags — individual actions that matter

Singapore – Environment | Channel News Asia | September 8th, 2019

The 31-year-old civil servant practises what he calls a “minimalist lifestyle”. He rarely shops, and has only bought four items for himself this year – a water bottle, socks, lenses for his sunglasses and a motorcycle plate number. What sparked the decision? Mr Leow said it happened early last year when he was packing his belongings for his return to Singapore from Australia, where he had been living with his wife for two years because of work. I got a bit fed-up as I was packing … There were many boxes. (4200 words)

28. Media Literacy Council apologises for ‘confusion’ after labelling satire as an example of fake news

Singapore – Fake News | Channel News Asia | September 9th, 2019

“We acknowledge that the post and infographic gave the wrong impression that satire was fake news, which was not the intent. We are sorry for the confusion and will review our material,” MLC said. The Protection from Online Falsehoods and Manipulation Act Bill, which was passed earlier this year, does not cover opinion, criticism, satire or parody. In its initial Facebook post on Sep 5, MLC said that fake news could take many forms and includes: False context, imposter content, manipulated content, misleading content, clickbait and satire. (400 words)

29. Win, lose or draw: Analysing the extension of the two casinos’ duopoly

Singapore – Gambling | The Straits Times | April 20th, 2019

Several analysts, including Morgan Stanley’s, quickly declared the Government as the big winner; and JP Morgan decried the “unnecessary large investments” in the decision to extend the duopoly concession to 2030 in return for an additional investment of $9 billion by the two operators. Both casino operators – Las Vegas Sands and Genting – have cheered in reciprocal official statements about not having to worry about a third entrant into the Singapore casino market for the next 11 years, and about the increased allotment of hotel rooms, gaming machines and casino floor space. (1600 words)

30. Why Singapore won’t take chances in safeguarding social peace: Shanmugam

Singapore – Hate Speech | The Straits Times | April 3th, 2019

It can fall into different categories and be on different platforms. For example, religious hate speech can be very powerful. Political hate speech can be very powerful, especially if the politician is charismatic. It can be in general discourse, in the mass media. It can be as part of entertainment, like in music and theatre. This list is illustrative; it is not intended to be exhaustive. What impact can hate speech have? Hate speech leads to social divides. Repeated hate speech increases people’s prejudices, feelings of being threatened, and propensity to violence. (5600 words)

31. HIV-positive man who avoided taking test, possibly infecting others, gets jail

Singapore – Health | Channel News Asia | September 5th, 2019

The 35-year-old Malaysian started engaging in sexual activity with other men in Singapore in 2003, the court heard. Although he suspected that he could have been exposed to HIV or infected with it, he decided not to get tested after 2008, as he was afraid of losing his permanent residency status in Singapore if he tested positive for HIV. According to the person who reported him to the Ministry of Health (MOH), at least six other men who had sex with him were later diagnosed with the human immunodeficiency virus, which could lead to Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). (900 words)

32. What can the US health system learn from Singapore?

Singapore – Healthcare | The Straits Times | April 24th, 2019

When we published the results of an Upshot tournament on which country had the world’s best health system, Singapore was eliminated in the first round, largely because most of the experts had a hard time believing much of what the nation seems to achieve. It does achieve a lot. Americans have spent the last decade arguing loudly about whether and how to provide insurance to a relatively small percentage of people who don’t have it. Singapore is way past that. It is perfecting how to deliver care to people, focusing on quality, efficiency and cost. (1800 words)

33. Commentary: How should maid abusers be punished?

Singapore – Justice | Channel News Asia | September 1th, 2019

A firm response to their acts – and similar acts by others – is entirely warranted. But in determining what our response is, we must not forget that “the only justice that can be attained by mortals, who are fallible and are not omniscient, is justice according to law; the justice which flows from the application of sure and settled principles to proved or admitted facts”, as English judge William Bagnall put it. Paradoxically, even as criminal law embodies society’s revulsion at certain crimes, it must do so in a dispassionate, principled manner. (1200 words)

34. Man fined for repositioning toy grenade near Istana to see public reaction

Singapore – Justice | Channel News Asia | July 23th, 2019

For his threatening behaviour, 59-year-old Elankovan Marimuthu was fined S$4,500 on Wednesday (Jul 24). The court heard that Elankovan’s work involved cleaning Istana Park and the surrounding areas. He was doing so at about 7am on Nov 3, 2017, when he came across a toy grenade lying on its side near a fire hydrant along Penang Lane. He decided to position the grenade in an upright manner, said Deputy Public Prosecutor Thiagesh Sukumaran, and used a pair of tongs to do so before leaving the scene. (700 words)

35. Preetipls video: Shanmugam acknowledges racism exists in Singapore, but says situation is improving

Singapore – Justice | Channel News Asia | August 4th, 2019

“You look at the regular discussions on race, issues – this is a basic fact. But the situation now is much better than before, improving over the years,” he said on the sidelines of a temple event in Woodlands. “We want to build a cohesive society, but racism corrodes and deepens the fault lines in society,” he said, adding that Singapore does “a lot” to counter it. In Singapore, racism is discussed “openly”, studied and reported in the media, he said, pointing to surveys done by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) as examples. (700 words)

36. Up to S$5,000 fine for those who flout PMD ban at void decks: PAP town councils

Singapore – PMDs | Channel News Asia | September 1th, 2019

The ban, which took effect on Sunday, prohibits PMDs like e-scooters and skateboards, as well as bicycles and e-bikes from void decks and all common areas of housing estates run by the 15 PAP town councils. Public paths where PMDs are allowed under the Active Mobility Act are exempted from the ban. Also exempted are personal mobility aids such as motorised wheelchairs and mobility scooters. During the two months, offenders will be issued a warning letter for the first offence. Thereafter, the town councils will take “strict enforcement action”, he said. (400 words)

37. How commuting times affect HDB flat prices

Singapore – Transport | The Straits Times | April 9th, 2019

A Commuting to work is often time-consuming, expensive and stressful, even on the good days. No wonder most people dread it. Economists dislike commuting as much as anyone and have studied how commuting patterns affect many economic outcomes, such as productivity, where businesses choose to locate and pollution. One particular area of interest has been the trade-off between choosing where to live and the price of housing. Many empirical studies have found that one of the reasons why housing farther away from employment centres such as the Central Business District (CBD) sells for a lower price is the long commutes that residents must endure. (700 words)

38. Bold moves in infrastructure: Thinking big pays off for Singapore planners

Singapore – Urban Planning | The Straits Times | February 4th, 2018

A natural reaction to that would be, “What Long Island Project?” Over time, it has become largely forgotten. But decades ago, urban planners envisioned building an island using reclaimed land off East Coast Park for recreation and with beautiful waterfront housing. But this plan – known as the Long Island Project – has since been put aside as there was little demand for it, reveals the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) chief planner, Ms Hwang Yu-Ning, in an interview with Insight. “People love East Coast Park, so do we really want to commit to the plan if we don’t need it? (2300 words)

39. Section 230 Was Supposed to Make the Internet a Better Place. It Failed

Tech – Regulation | Bloomberg | August 7th, 2019

A tiny federal statute in 1996 transformed the web into a wildly lucrative business, and became Big Tech’s favorite liability shield. It’s now under attack from all sides. By Felix Gillette @felixgilletteOne afternoon in July, Ted Cruz banged a gavel on the dais, calling to order a hearing of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution. The day’s first witness was Karan Bhatia, a top policy adviser for Google. He gazed up at the panel of senators, alarm creeping into his expression, like a 10-point buck hearing the sudden crack of gunfire.When elected officials start appending the prefix “big” to the name of an industry, it’s never a good omen. (3000 words)

40. Playing Video Games Makes Us Fully Human

Video Games | Nautilus | June 27th, 2019

I have an agonizing decision to make. Should I save a governing body that has never done a thing for me? It doesn’t even contain a single person from my race. The aliens of the galactic Council decided long ago that my people should not be trusted, that we were aggressive, entitled, and short-sighted. I’m a soldier engaged in a fight to save the entire galaxy. And now the Council wants my help to destroy their assailants? My companion Ashley is against it. “You can’t sacrifice human lives to save the Council!” she yells. (2500 words)

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Readabee 2nd September 2019

1. Two Economists Fuel Democratic Debate Over How Far Left to Go

America – Economics | Wall Street Journal

They criticized mainstream economists and politicians for failing to address racial inequality, and touted more radical remedies of their own. Now, with the 2020 presidential campaign under way and liberal Democrats ascendant, the two economists are in the spotlight, thrust into the middle of an intraparty debate over how much to embrace big government and a race-oriented message. Their signature ideas—guaranteed jobs for all adult Americans seeking them, government-backed trust funds for American babies and reparations for slave descendants—are being talked about on the campaign trail and, in the case of reparations, during a raucous congressional hearing in June. (2500 words)

2. Opinion | Can Ilhan Omar Overcome Her Prejudice?

America – Politics | Wall Street Journal

It was 2006 and I was a young native of Somalia who’d been elected to the Dutch Parliament. The American Jewish Committee was giving me its Moral Courage Award. I felt honored and humbled, but a little dishonest if I didn’t own up to my anti-Semitic past. So I told them how I’d learned to blame the Jews for everything. Fast-forward to 2019. A freshman congresswoman from Minnesota has been infuriating the Jewish community and discomfiting the Democratic leadership with her expressions of anti-Semitism. (2000 words)

3. Corporations Don’t Have to Maximize Profits

Business – Profit Maximization | New York Times | April 16th, 2015

But this belief is utterly false. To quote the U.S. Supreme Court opinion in the recent Hobby Lobby case: “Modern corporate law does not require for-profit corporations to pursue profit at the expense of everything else, and many do not.”The Hobby Lobby case dealt with a closely held company with controlling shareholders, but the Court’s statement on corporate purpose was not limited to such companies. State codes (including that of Delaware, the preeminent state for corporate law) similarly allow corporations to be formed for “any lawful business or purpose,” and the corporate charters of big public firms typically also define company purpose in these broad terms. (600 words)

4. The moral peril in the meritocratic race

Education – Meritocracy | The Straits Times | April 9th, 2019

They got out of school, began their career, started a family and identified the mountain they thought they were meant to climb – I’m going to be an entrepreneur, a doctor, a cop. They did the things society encourages us to do, like make a mark, become successful, buy a home, raise a family, pursue happiness. People on the first mountain spend a lot of time on reputation management. They ask: What do people think of me? Where do I rank? They’re trying to win the victories the ego enjoys. These hustling years are also powerfully shaped by our individualistic and meritocratic culture. (1600 words)

5. Opinion | The Problem With Greta Thunberg’s Climate Activism

Environment – Activism | New York Times | August 2th, 2019

Caldwell is the author of “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West.”Climate activists in Western Europe had already been radicalizing for some time when record heat engulfed the Continent last month. The high reached 109 degrees in Paris two Thursdays ago. Yet many environmentalists have come to believe that extreme weather alone will never spur Europeans to give up fossil fuels. Nor will talking about it. Provocations and disruption are needed.The problem is not that Europeans think like Americans, 13 percent of whom say human activity is “not responsible at all” for global warming. (1300 words)

6. The Bill-Melinda Gates romance started with a rejection

Gender – Inequality | The Straits Times | April 26th, 2019

When she was still Melinda French and a young employee working at Microsoft in 1987, Bill Gates flirted with her in the carpark and asked if she would go out with him in two weeks. She turned him down. “That’s not spontaneous enough for me,” she told him. “Ask me out closer to the date.” An hour or two later, Bill Gates phoned her and invited her out for that evening. “Is this spontaneous enough for you?” he asked. And then they lived happily ever after. Actually, not exactly. Melinda Gates has written a smart new memoir, The Moment Of Lift, recounting how she ended up a feminist – and arguing that the American workplace needs a makeover. (800 words)

7. China’s Belt-and-Road Initiative Puts a Squeeze on Pakistan

Geopolitics – Belt And Road | Wall Street Journal

Instead, Pakistan is now enmeshed in an economic crisis, putting the brakes on new building, with less than half of $62 billion of Chinese projects carried out. The Chinese infrastructure, all built by Chinese state-owned companies, required the Pakistani government to guarantee repayments to Beijing. Pakistan is now asking China to step up with a different kind of initiative: some $1 billion in development aid and the establishment of factories from the Chinese private sector in the country. Pakistan also recently needed a $2.1 billion emergency loan from China—along with even more from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—to stave off a balance-of-payments crisis long enough to negotiate a bailout, expected within weeks, from the International Monetary Fund. (1100 words)

8. Xi Jinping’s China seeks to be rich and communist

Geopolitics – China | The Straits Times | April 11th, 2019

If China were to achieve this, it would transform a world in which all large, high-income countries are currently democratic. It would reshape the global balance of power, not just economically and militarily, but also politically and ideologically. This is what President Xi Jinping expects to happen. But how likely is it, in fact? Today, China is not quite exceptional. True, the number of countries ruled by a party that calls itself communist is far smaller than it was before 1991. Yet there remain a few others, notably Vietnam. (1000 words)

9. Breaking the nuclear deal ratchets up the conflict between Iran and America

Geopolitics – Nuclear | The Economist | June 29th, 2019

Only the anti-aircraft guns hint at what goes on eight metres (26 feet) underground. For over a decade Iranian scientists there have fed uranium hexafluoride into centrifuges that spin at twice the speed of sound so as to sift out uranium-235, the isotope capable of sustaining a chain reaction in a nuclear power plant or bomb. The “raw” uranium that goes in is 0.7% 235U; the stuff that comes out is 4% 235U.In 2015, as part of the nuclear deal between Iran, the permanent-five nations on the UN Security Council and Germany, Iran promised that it would not enrich any uranium beyond this 4% level, nor hold stocks of more than 300kg of such low-enriched uranium (LEU). (2500 words)

10. Ignore the fad diets – sugar in fruit doesn’t make it unhealthy

Health – Sugar | The Straits Times | April 21th, 2019

“What is going on?” one of them posted on a dietitian Internet mailing list. What is going on is that the current crop of fad diets, such as paleo, keto, carnivore and pegan – have persuaded a lot of people that fruit is a dietary taboo. There was a time when we did not question if fruit was good for us, when we more or less took “eat your fruits and veggies” to heart. Today, many people are worried that fruit is too high in carbohydrates, sugar and calories. One of my patients would not eat any fruit other than blueberries because she had bought into the myth – again, promoted by fad diets – that blueberries are the only “safe” fruit to eat because they are “low glycaemic” (in other words, they do not cause your blood sugar to spike). (900 words)

11. Opinion | Hong Kong Has Nothing Left to Lose

Hong Kong – Protests | New York Times | July 2th, 2019

Ms. Lim, the author of “The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited,” is writing a book about Hong Kong.阅读简体中文版閱讀繁體中文版HONG KONG — After breaking into Hong Kong’s legislature, protesters left a message for Carrie Lam, the city’s top government official, spray-painted on a pillar: “It was you who taught me that peaceful protests are futile.”To the young activists, the storming of the Legislative Council was an act of desperation. Three times in the past month, tremendous numbers of Hong Kongers — at one point estimated to be more than two million — marched peacefully to protest against a controversial extradition bill with China, which they fear would undermine Hong Kong’s judiciary and its freedom. (1100 words)

12. Opinion | What the Hong Kong Protests Are Really About

Hong Kong – Protests | New York Times | July 1th, 2019

This gives moral force to our way of life. Mr. Lai is the founder and majority owner of Next Media, which publishes the Apple Daily newspaper and Next Magazine in Hong Kong and Taiwan.阅读简体中文版閱讀繁體中文版When hundreds of thousands of my fellow Hong Kongers took to the streets to demonstrate last month, most of the world saw people protesting provocative legislation that would allow extraditions to mainland China.But the Chinese government, which supported the extradition measure, had a much broader view of the protests. (900 words)

13. Disneyland and the fight for fairer pay in America

Inequality – Pay Gap | The Straits Times | April 25th, 2019

The thread went viral, partly because of my name. But I suspect it would be far harder to get that reaction if my last name were Procter or Gamble. That’s because the Disney brand occupies a special place in America’s economic landscape. Its profits are powered by emotion and sentiment and, yes, something as fundamental as the difference between right and wrong. I believe that Disney could well lead the way, if its leaders so chose, to a more decent, humane way of doing business. I had to speak out about the naked indecency of chief executive Robert Iger’s pay. (800 words)

14. Do we need an IMF to regulate the Internet?

Internet – Regulation | The Straits Times | April 19th, 2019

They assumed back then that monitoring money was crucial for fostering peace and building growth. No surprise there, perhaps: After the war there was an urgent need to restart the global economy, via institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). And, for all the bumps in subsequent decades, that is what happened. When the IMF and the World Bank held their spring meetings this month, downtown Washington was adorned with posters hailing “75 years of cooperation”. But amid the celebrations, it is worth asking: Is it time for the IMF to think beyond money? (1000 words)

15. The New Ways Your Boss Is Spying on You

Privacy – Work | Wall Street Journal

The tone of your voice in a meeting. How often you’re away from your desk. How quickly you respond to emails. Where you roam in the office. What’s on your computer screen. To be an employee of a large company in the U.S. now often means becoming a workforce data generator—from the first email sent from bed in the morning to the Wi-Fi hotspot used during lunch to the new business contact added before going home. Employers are parsing those interactions to learn who is influential, which teams are most productive and who is a flight risk. (2400 words)

16. Three Hours of Work a Day? You’re Not Fooling Anyone.

Privacy – Work | Wall Street Journal

Brian Dauer kicks off his by checking which websites his colleagues have browsed. Mr. Dauer works at Ship Sticks, a West Palm Beach, Fla., company that ships sports gear and other luggage, which last year installed software to monitor its workers. It tracks the websites employees visit minute-by-minute, and has the ability to take remote screenshots of workers’ computers. “We’re not the Big Brother type,” says Mr. Dauer, the director of operations. But as Ship Sticks has expanded rapidly—growing to about 80 employees since 2011—the software, ActivTrak, has been invaluable in helping boost productivity, he says. (1300 words)

17. Would You Return This Lost Wallet?

Psychology – Honesty | New York Times | June 20th, 2019

But according to a clever new study involving thousands of people in 40 countries, what most of us assume about human nature is wrong.The three-year study, possibly the largest real-world test of whether people behave honestly when given incentives not to, found they are actually more likely to return lost wallets containing money. And the more money, the better the chances people will return it.Experts say the study, published Thursday in the journal Science, suggests that policymakers and businesses might better prevent dishonest behaviors like lying on tax returns by using moral carrots instead of punitive sticks.“It shows that when we make a decision whether to be dishonest or not, it’s not only ‘What can I get out of it versus what’s the punishment, what’s the effort?’” said Nina Mazar, a behavioral scientist at Boston University who was not involved in the study. (1300 words)

18. The idea of reparations for slavery is morally appealing but flawed

Race – Politics | The Economist | June 29th, 2019

But when asked last week whether he thought African-Americans should receive restitution for slavery and the decades of lawful discrimination that followed it, the Republican Senate leader’s response was sound. He was against the idea, he said, in part for practical reasons—for how would the recipients of compensation be selected? He also objected in principle: if African-Americans received reparations, what about the other victims of discrimination, including America’s many “waves of immigrants”? (1000 words)

19. Singapore’s first on-demand driverless shuttle buses to ferry passengers around Sentosa from Aug 26

Singapore – AI | Channel News Asia | August 20th, 2019

The autonomous vehicles – comprising two minibuses and two smaller shuttles – will ply popular destinations along a 5.7km route, including Siloso Point, Beach Station, Palawan Beach, Tanjong Beach and Sentosa Golf Club. Passengers will be able to hail an autonomous shuttle via the “Ride Now Sentosa” mobile app or kiosks along the 5.7km route, said the Ministry of Transport (MOT), Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) and ST Engineering in a joint release on Tuesday. The service will operate for four hours on weekdays, from 10am to 12pm and from 2pm to 4pm. (400 words)

20. 3 kittens found sedated, hidden under carpet in car at Woodlands Checkpoint

Singapore – Animal Rights | Channel News Asia | August 23th, 2019

During a vehicle check on Tuesday, ICA officers noticed that the vehicle’s passenger appeared “nervous and avoided eye contact”. The animals were observed to be have been sedated, ICA said. Two men – the 21-year-old Singaporean driver and his 20-year-old Singaporean passenger – were referred to the National Parks Board (NParks) for investigation. “The kittens are now under the care and quarantine of NParks, and will be rehomed,” ICA said in a Facebook post. “The poor conditions and manner under which animals are smuggled would cause them unnecessary suffering and even death,” ICA said. (200 words)

21. Commentary: Climate change in Singapore and what the future brings

Singapore – Climate | Channel News Asia | August 31th, 2019

Many Singaporeans who have paid only cursory attention to environmental issues may be surprised by the gravity of this message. Sure, there are the occasional flash floods and yes, we do remember the days when the island was shrouded in haze. But have we come to the point where the climate has turned into such a monstrosity that our city-state has to “go to war” against this gargantuan enemy for generations ahead? First, the observation and scientific understanding of climate change, especially how headline global trends compare in relation to Singapore. (1100 words)

22. Commentary: How effectively can Singapore adapt to sea level rise?

Singapore – Climate | Channel News Asia | August 25th, 2019

Several other coastal cities and small islands also face this hazard, and lessons can be drawn from how they plan for and adapt to it. Recent research shows three general approaches can be considered when dealing with the threat of sea level rise. First, accommodate the threat, which includes flood-proofing existing buildings and infrastructure, or designating areas that would be allowed to flood during high tide. Second, retreat from the threat, which includes the removal and reallocation of key infrastructure and assets to areas that the sea cannot inundate. (1300 words)

23. Engineering solutions to tackle rising sea levels important but more research vital: Experts

Singapore – Climate | Channel News Asia | August 19th, 2019

This follows Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech on Sunday (Aug 18), during which he highlighted that Singapore is susceptible to the effects of climate change and vulnerable to rising sea levels. As part of strengthening the Republic’s coastal defences, Mr Lee explained that one solution could be a reclamation method known as empoldering. Polders are created by first building a seawall in the water, before pumping out the water behind the seawall to create dry land. This land can be lower than the sea level, but water has to be continually pumped out. (900 words)

24. Commentary: Singapore’s ivory trade ban tackles elephant in room but work ahead a mammoth task

Singapore – Conservation | Channel News Asia | August 16th, 2019

Over the last six months, Singapore authorities seized an unprecedented amount of 38 tonnes of pangolin scales and almost 10 tonnes of elephant ivory worth more than S$170 million – with some close to the largest seizures the world has seen. Led by the National Parks Board (NParks), these acts of enforcement were a true testament of the country’s zero-tolerance to illegal wildlife trade. Just two days after the most recent seizure of 15 baskets containing 815 birds over the National Day weekend, Singapore announced the latest highlight of our fight against illegal wildlife trade: An ivory ban. (900 words)

25. Singapore police’s new anti-scam centre wants to hit scammers where it hurts

Singapore – Cybercrime | Channel News Asia | August 29th, 2019

That’s the message the Singapore Police Force (SPF) wants to convey as it introduced new tools such as a new dedicated “nerve centre” for scam-related crimes, as well as partnering industry players to more effectively stop stolen money from falling into the perpetrators’ hands. On Friday (Aug 30), the police revealed that the new Anti-Scam Centre (ASC) was set up within the Commercial Affairs Department on Jun 18 this year and its focus is to disrupt scammers’ operations and help mitigate victims’ losses. (1600 words)

26. Commentary: Careful with photos you post online. You may be putting your digital identity at risk

Singapore – Cybersecurity | Channel News Asia | August 22th, 2019

The photo filtering app which has been around since 2017, had only recently become the latest social media craze as photos with its filter that transform one’s look younger or older had gone viral. It was all good fun until users and experts began to notice the red flags. One point he alluded to is the potential criminal use of users’ personal data. In this incident, that data refers to images of users’ faces. But as more solutions leverage biometric data – which includes our facial features – for authorisation and authentication, careless sharing can put people at risk of identity-based attacks. (900 words)

27. Asia Times article on Shanmugam ‘spreading disinformation’ about drug policy is ‘quite inaccurate’: MHA

Singapore – Drugs | Channel News Asia | August 2th, 2019

In the article published on Jul 17, Ms Gen Sander wrote that Mr Shanmugam “continues to make poorly informed and inflammatory claims on drug policy”, despite Malaysia announcing plans to decriminalise drug addiction and drug possession for personal use. She also wrote that Singapore has failed to provide transparent data on the effectiveness of the death penalty as a deterrent. “Although officials have repeatedly affirmed that Singapore has one of the lowest rates of drug use in the world, the government has consistently failed to provide transparent data,” she said. (600 words)

28. Who guards the bodyguard? The ethics of care for older adults

Singapore – Elderly | The Straits Times | April 7th, 2019

Will the photographs survive the move to his new, but much smaller, residence? Once a bodyguard to Mr Lee Kuan Yew, 90-year-old Tong’s contributions to nation-building have not gone unnoticed. Together with more than 450,000 of his contemporaries born before 1950, he forms the Pioneer Generation currently entitled to additional healthcare subsidies. Tong, however, is struggling. His health is deteriorating, his mobility is limited. He has to borrow money just to buy food, which eats at his self-worth and dignity. (2400 words)

29. Allowing racist rap video could normalise offensive speech: Shanmugam

Singapore – Free Speech | Channel News Asia | August 22th, 2019

Speaking at the CNM Leaders Summit organised by the National University of Singapore on Thursday (Aug 22), Mr Shanmugam expanded on why the Government acted to remove the rap video by YouTuber Preetipls and her brother Subhas Nair, which came in response to a controversial “brownface” advertisement. In the advertisement, Chinese actor Dennis Chew appeared in “brownface” to portray an Indian man. He also cross-dressed as a Malay woman and a Chinese woman. The rap video by the Nair siblings was laced with vulgar language targeting the Chinese community. (600 words)

30. Commentary: What’s the problem with a cheer about ‘kukubirds’?

Singapore – Gender | Channel News Asia | August 28th, 2019

Tale number 1. About a week ago, a video of a group of students riotously chanting “kukubird” (a reference to the penis) while making thrusting hip gyrations was shared on Instagram. Believed to have been filmed during a freshman orientation camp at Nanyang Technological University, this sparked a significant amount of online censure, with blogger mrbrown aka Lee Kin Mun calling out this behaviour and netizens quickly joining in to express outrage. Ostensibly, such a crude cheer is offensive and unbecoming of university students. (1100 words)

31. Will China allow a different system in Hong Kong? Wishful thinking, says Singapore’s Shanmugam

Singapore – Hong Kong | Channel News Asia | August 11th, 2019

That is “wishful thinking replacing reality” by some protesters, said Singapore’s Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam. In an interview with South China Morning Post and Lianhe Zaobao – the transcript of which was released on the Ministry of Law’s website on Sunday (Aug 11) – Mr Shanmugam addressed questions about his views on the situation in Hong Kong. Solutions have to be found, both for the socio-economic and ideological issues that Hong Kong is facing, he said. To solve the problems, Hong Kong needs a supportive China, and the solutions need to work for both Hong Kong and China, he added. (700 words)

32. More HDB flats in the CBD?

Singapore – Housing | The Straits Times | April 11th, 2019

This question of whether new public housing flats will be built in the Central Business District (CBD) has emerged after the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) launched its Draft Master Plan last month. A key part of the plan were incentive schemes to nudge developers to turn ageing offices into homes and hotels. The URA revealed plans to add 20,000 homes in the Central Area, which the CBD is a part of. This is almost 40 per cent more than the current 51,706 homes there, which also includes the Outram, River Valley and Orchard areas. (1500 words)

33. Man charged with burning Singapore flag in Woodlands

Singapore – Nationalism | Channel News Asia | August 8th, 2019

Elson Ong Yong Liang is accused of using a lighter to burn a Singapore flag along the common corridor on the 13th floor of Block 774 Woodlands Crescent. The incident happened on Sunday at around 6am to 6.15am, according to court documents. This also resulted in seven other flags, which were tied vertically across seven floors, to be damaged. Ong, who is Singaporean, appeared in court via video link. His case will be mentioned again next Thursday. In a statement on Wednesday, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said they were alerted to the incident at around 12.40pm on Sunday. (200 words)

34. PMDs: Give pedestrians right of way on paths

Singapore – PMDs | The Straits Times | July 18th, 2019

“The childcare centre is five minutes’ walk from our flat. The PMD came from nowhere. I didn’t see it coming. The next thing I knew, there was a loud piak (snapping sound) from my left knee and I was on the ground,” she said. When I visited her at her home last week, she called out to me to wait as she hobbled slowly to the door. She recounted how her family took her to the emergency department at Changi General Hospital the morning after the accident on May 3, when the pain from her fall set in and she could not get out of bed. (2100 words)

35. Ambulance driver who shared photo of hanged maid fined

Singapore – Social Media | Channel News Asia | September 10th, 2018

Shaik Haziq Fahmi Shaik Nasair Johar, 30, who has since lost his job, pleaded guilty to one charge under the Official Secrets Act. He was an emergency ambulance vehicle driver with Unistrong, a company contracted to respond to medical emergencies. On Feb 1 last year, Haziq was on duty at the Marine Parade Fire Post when he and his team were dispatched to a room where a maid was found hanging from a fan. His team members carried out the necessary procedures to search for signs of life. The co-accused, Nurizzah Afiqah Hussain, a 27-year-old Unistrong emergency ambulance paramedic, pronounced the woman dead. (500 words)

36. Technology can displace lawyers, warns Chief Justice as he urges profession to adapt to new reality

Singapore – Tech | Channel News Asia | August 27th, 2019

“The future of the legal profession, like that of our nation, hangs on the ability and willingness of its members to reskill and relearn,” he said. “Technology is already beginning to displace lawyers from areas of practice, especially those involving the more routine areas which are more susceptible to automation.” Speaking at the annual Mass Call at the Supreme Court auditorium, Chief Justice Menon gave the example of a free online service recently launched by OCBC that can generate a will in less than 10 minutes. (600 words)

37. 2 Singaporeans detained under ISA for intending to join Islamic State in Syria

Singapore – Terrorism | Channel News Asia | July 25th, 2019

The ministry’s full press release is reproduced below: In two separate cases, Singaporeans Kuthubdeen Haja Najumudeen (Haja) and Suderman bin Samikin (Suderman) were detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in May and July 2019 respectively. Investigations established that they were radicalised and had harboured the intention to make their way to Syria to join the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Kuthubdeen Haja NajumudeenHaja, a 36-year-old licensed money-changer, was a follower of Sri Lankan radical preacher Zahran Hashim (Zahran). (600 words)

38. Commentary: How the new Point-to-Point Transport Industry Bill levels the playing field for ride-hailing operators

Singapore – Transport | Channel News Asia | August 23th, 2019

Gone are the days of waiting for a taxi to come by and hoping no one in front of you flags the cab down first. More private-hire cars have spilled onto the scene as apps like Grab, Go-Jek and at one point, Uber, ignited demand. Although their arrival has been welcomed by commuters and drivers, the future of ride-hailing has sparked fresh concerns about competition, fairness and the protection of the public interest. In this context, Parliament’s recent passing of the Point-to-Point Passenger Transport Industry Bill will change how taxis and ride-hailing services are regulated in Singapore to the benefit of commuters and drivers. (1300 words)

39. Commentary: Road safety and the case for regulating private-hire car operators

Singapore – Transport | Channel News Asia | August 13th, 2019

Consumers generally want some level of protection, but businesses are wary of too much regulation stifling innovation and growth. However, the recently passed Point-to-Point (P2P) Passenger Transport Industry Bill that will take affect from June 2020 is long overdue. What started out as just a ride-sharing app, private-hire car companies have pretty much taken up many aspects of our daily lives from commuting, eating, shopping, and even banking. Should you do it? I remembered when Uber exited the Singapore market, the prices of Grab rides went up almost immediately. (1200 words)

40. Facebook, YouTube Overrun With Bogus Cancer-Treatment Claims

Social Media – Fake News | Wall Street Journal

Now, the companies say they are taking steps to curb such accounts. Facebook last month changed its News Feed algorithms to reduce promotion of posts promising miracle cures or flogging health services, a move that will reduce the number of times they pop up in user feeds, the company says. Some of the affected posts involve a supplement salesman who promotes baking-soda injections as part of cancer treatment. “Misleading health content is particularly bad for our community,” Facebook said in a blog post announcing the moves. (1500 words)

41. Where female athletes are more popular than male ones

Sports – Gender | The Economist | June 27th, 2019

This was no shock upset. The Stars and Stripes are the most successful side in the history of women’s football, having won the World Cup three times and Olympic gold four. This year they romped through the group stages with an aggregate score of 18-0, a total inflated by their record-breaking 13-0 drubbing of lowly Thailand.This on-pitch success, however, is marred by controversy in court. The members of the United States women’s team marked International Women’s Day on March 8th by filing a class-action suit against their employer, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF). (600 words)

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