Weekend Roundup: Where There Is Connectivity, There Is Surveillance


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

The great paradox of the internet age is that ever-greater connectivity also means ever-greater capacity for surveillance — both by governments and the private sector digital companies.

In an exclusive interview with director Oliver Stone about his new movie, “Snowden,” we discuss the intrusion of intelligence agencies into personal data floating around in cyberspace, as well as what Stone considers the totalitarian creep of “surveillance capitalism” by the likes of Facebook and Google, which monitor and market your online profile.

Stone also agrees with the European approach that seeks to break up digital monopolies and encourage competition, including over the ability to ensure privacy.

The European Union’s tough commissioner for competition, Margrethe Vestager, defends the commission’s recent ruling that Ireland gave a “selective advantage” over competitors in Europe with a generous tax break she calls “illegal state aid.” The EU ordered Apple to pay back taxes to Ireland of $14.5 billion.

Writing from Hong Kong, Chandran Nair looks at tropical cities like Jakarta, Manila or Mumbai where the “heat-island effect” of cities, congested and growing through migration, combines with climate change to make life even more stifling and miserable for the poor. Since the middle class and wealthy can afford air-conditioning, Nair writes, there is little political will to deal with the issue. “These cities are too large and unmanageable to survive in a new climate that makes them too hot to live in,” he concludes. “Only by cooling its drive to urbanize will Southeast Asia cool its sweltering cities.”

Graham Fuller, a former vice-chair of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council, sees Eurasia, bookended by Russia and China with Iran a notable player, becoming among the world’s most powerful regions, a clear challenge to America’s dominant influence of recent decades.

Nick Robins-Early reports on Philippine photographer Raffy Lerma’s intrepid documentation of the casualties of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against drugs. “In one month I’ve seen more killings than in one year,” Lerma tells The WorldPost. Richard Javad Heydarian assesses the tense relationship between that country’s leader Duterte and Washington.

As the United Nations General Assembly gathers in New York, former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd outlines how to fix the U.N. instead of seeing it continually marginalized as the world sinks into chaos. “We are seeing the gradual fracturing of the global order through growing tensions in great power relations, the rise of terrorism and the positive and negative impacts of globalization,” he says. “The international community needs a strong U.N. more than ever before. But rarely has the U.N. been weaker.” He proposes reaffirming the purpose of the U.N. on its 75th anniversary in 2020.

The anti-Brussels and anti-immigrant xenophobic politics in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic — despite generous funding from the European Union — worries Roberto Sommella, who wonders, “if we’re just arming Europe’s enemy.” Writing from Lviv, Ukriane, Ian Bateson contrasts the welcoming embrace of Crimean Tatar Muslims in that former Soviet republic with the rising Islamophobia in parts of Europe and America.

Aras Bacho responds to criticism in German media and on social media that Syrian refugees like himself are taking “vacations” back home. “All we want,” he writes, “is to try to support our relatives. We bring them little trinkets, and show them that we haven’t forgotten them. We were fortunate enough to escape and find safety — our loved ones were not.” WorldPost Middle East Correspondent Sophia Jones talks to hopeful — but wary — residents in the rebel-held areas of Aleppo who are able to breathe a sigh of relief as the latest cease-fire agreement kicks in. “Now, we can go outside,” one man tells her. For the time being, children here are able to play and laugh again and simply be kids.

In Montreal this week, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sat down for a conversation with London’s new mayor, Sadiq Khan, to discuss the challenges of immigration and tolerance in Western societies. Both affirmed that the best way to fight xenophobia is to go beyond tolerance and actively embrace diversity and openness as a key strength of dynamic societies. They spoke at the Global Progress 2016 conference of which The WorldPost was a participant.

In a new podcast, Cobus van Staden and Eric Olander look at another complication that comes with globalization. They discuss the role of Chinese businesses in corruption in Africa and whether Beijing is instigating corruption in Kenya and elsewhere on the continent. The researcher they interview found that while big corporations may be involved in payoffs to officials, small and medium Chinese companies run by new immigrants are as often as not victims of corruption and targets for soliciting bribes because they lack familiarity with the country and connections.

Finally, our Singularity series this week examines the concept of “anticipatory design” in which choices are made for you by AI based upon your previous patterns of behavior.


EDITORS: Nathan Gardels, Co-Founder and Executive Advisor to the Berggruen Institute, is the Editor-in-Chief of The WorldPost. Kathleen Miles is the Executive Editor of The WorldPost. Farah Mohamed is the Managing Editor of The WorldPost. Alex Gardels and Peter Mellgard are the Associate Editors of The WorldPost. Suzanne Gaber is the Editorial Assistant of The WorldPost. Katie Nelson is News Director at The Huffington Post, overseeing The WorldPost and HuffPost’s news coverage. Nick Robins-Early and Jesselyn Cook are World Reporters. Rowaida Abdelaziz is World Social Media Editor.

CORRESPONDENTS: Sophia Jones in Istanbul.

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).


CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Moises Naim (former editor of Foreign Policy), Nayan Chanda (Yale/Global; Far Eastern Economic Review) and Katherine Keating (One-On-One). Sergio Munoz Bata and Parag Khanna are Contributing Editors-At-Large.

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.


The WorldPost is a global media bridge that seeks to connect the world and connect the dots. Gathering together top editors and first person contributors from all corners of the planet, we aspire to be the one publication where the whole world meets.

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