Weekend Roundup: Subversive Pope Takes Aim at Global Consumer Society


Nathan Gardels is the editor-in-chief of Noema Magazine.

Following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ who overturned the money-changer’s table in Biblical times, Pope Francis has regularly hurled the gospel against the “idolatrous economies” of contemporary global capitalism “that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money.”

This week in South Korea, he took aim at the temple of consumerism. Riding around town in a more-than-modest Kia Soul, he chastised his famously shopaholic flock in the land of Samsung for the “tendency to toy with the latest fads, gadgets and distractions rather than attending to the things that really matter.” He also criticized, “the spirit of unbridled competition which generates selfishness and strife.”

To track the Pope’s impact over what he says are his “two or three [more] years before death,” The WorldPost this week inaugurated a new blog, “Following Francis”, by Sébastien Maillard, Vatican Correspondent for La Croix.

In an interview, “Superintelligence” author Nick Bostrom tells the WorldPost’s Kathleen Miles that “artificial intelligence could cause the end of the human race within a century.”

As the United Nations gears up for a big push on climate change in September, The WorldPost presents the first in a series of short videos, “Green World Rising,” narrated by actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

With the brutal beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State, this week also marks a turning point in the Middle East. WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones reaffirms the spirit of Foley as a fellow journalist bearing witness in that troubled region. Sophia also reports from Diyarbakır, Turkey on the young Kurds flocking from that country to Iraq and Syria to fight. Patrick Cockburn questions why the U.S. supports Baghdad in its battle against ISIS, but not Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus.

Looking at another dark episode in the Middle East, human rights activist and lawyer Amal Alamuddin examines the unfair show trial of Al Jazeera journalists in Egypt.

As the political standoff and deadly skirmishes with Russian-backed rebels continue in Ukraine, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott argues in an interview with The WorldPost that all pretensions should be dropped and we should recognize that “Russia has already invaded Ukraine.”

Writing from Beijing, Yanmei Xie sees second thoughts in Beijing as China’s leaders seem to be taking a step back from confrontation with “a still strong Japan.” Writing from Singapore, former foreign minister George Yeo warns the West that “for the rest of Asia, America might be a friend, but China cannot be an enemy.” Also writing from Singapore, Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, criticizes the big powers for purposely weakening multilateral institutions to preserve their own interests, including the tracking of international flights such as MH370.

In an uplifting story of China-U.S. relations, WorldPost Beijing Correspondent Matt Sheehan reports from the Bay Area, where Chinese millionaires could help salvage San Francisco’s poorest neighborhood.

And in its regular column on “user-generated, censor-chosen keywords” on Chinese Weibo, China Digital Times examines the dissonant chatter over a new 48-episode TV biopic of Deng Xiaoping that leaves out key events, such as the crackdown in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

After briefly quieting down, tempers flared again in Ferguson, Mo. over the killing of an unarmed black teenager by police. The chaos in America once again sparked discussion around the world, with Egypt even weighing in on the protests. Bob Herbert argues that the idea of a “post-racist” America after Barack Obama’s election was a delusion and the country has moved “backwards.” UCLA professor Adam Winkler observes that American police are “trained to live in fear” because so many people have guns in the United States.

Finally, a sad note closer to our digital home. Jehangir Pocha, The WorldPost contributing editor from India, died suddenly of a heart attack at age 45. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “His frank and insightful views on issues will be missed.”

We will also miss him here.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Senior Advisor to the Berggruen Institute on Governance and the long-time editor of NPQ and the Global Viewpoint Network of the Los Angeles Times Syndicate/Tribune Media, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Senior Editor of the WorldPost. Alex Gardels is the Associate Editor of The WorldPost. Nicholas Sabloff is the Executive International Editor at the Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s 10 international editions. Eline Gordts is HuffPost’s World Editor.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul; Matt Sheehan in Beijing.

EDITORIAL BOARD: Nicolas Berggruen, Nathan Gardels, Arianna Huffington, Eric Schmidt (Google Inc.), Pierre Omidyar (First Look Media) Juan Luis Cebrian (El Pais/PRISA), Walter Isaacson (Aspen Institute/TIME-CNN), John Elkann (Corriere della Sera, La Stampa), Wadah Khanfar (Al Jazeera), Dileep Padgaonkar (Times of India) and Yoichi Funabashi (Asahi Shimbun). Sergio Munoz Bata is Contributing Editor-At-Large.

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy) and Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One).

The Asia Society and its ChinaFile, edited by Orville Schell, is our primary partner on Asia coverage. Eric X. Li and the Chunqiu Institute/Fudan University in Shanghai and Guancha.cn also provide first person voices from China. We also draw on the content of China Digital Times. Seung-yoon Lee is The WorldPost link in South Korea.

Jared Cohen of Google Ideas provides regular commentary from young thinkers, leaders and activists around the globe. Bruce Mau provides regular columns from MassiveChangeNetwork.com on the “whole mind” way of thinking. Patrick Soon-Shiong is Contributing Editor for Health and Medicine.

ADVISORY COUNCIL: Members of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council and Council for the Future of Europe serve as the Advisory Council — as well as regular contributors — to the site. These include, Jacques Attali, Shaukat Aziz, Gordon Brown, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Juan Luis Cebrian, Jack Dorsey, Mohamed El-Erian, Francis Fukuyama, Felipe Gonzalez, John Gray, Reid Hoffman, Fred Hu, Mo Ibrahim, Alexei Kudrin, Pascal Lamy, Kishore Mahbubani, Alain Minc, Dambisa Moyo, Laura Tyson, Elon Musk, Pierre Omidyar, Raghuram Rajan, Nouriel Roubini, Nicolas Sarkozy, Eric Schmidt, Gerhard Schroeder, Peter Schwartz, Amartya Sen, Jeff Skoll, Michael Spence, Joe Stiglitz, Larry Summers, Wu Jianmin, George Yeo, Fareed Zakaria, Ernesto Zedillo, Ahmed Zewail, and Zheng Bijian.

From the Europe group, these include: Marek Belka, Tony Blair, Jacques Delors, Niall Ferguson, Anthony Giddens, Otmar Issing, Mario Monti, Robert Mundell, Peter Sutherland and Guy Verhofstadt.


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