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The best thing you can do for democracy in Trump’s America is read

The 2016 US presidential election has left many Americans worn out. It was the most bizarre election in modern American history, and it laid bare the polarization that currently affects national politics, both in the US and in other countries around the world. To this we have to add the …

Democracy

The full lineup of speakers and presenters at Trump’s 2017 inauguration ceremony

There have been fewer than 60 US presidential inaugurations in history, and for all of the drama and money swirling around this one, the 58th, the program for the official ceremony is about as traditional as it gets.<p>After the United States Marine Band concludes its rendition of “The President’s …

Religion

Childhood landscapes influence the way we lead—so what does Queens say about Trump?

The geography of our childhood helps shape our understanding of the world. The place where we grow up is the starting point of our identity and perception, our first context for reality.<p>If we look at our identity from the vantage point of geography, our world is shaped by the feel, characteristics, …

John F. Kennedy

In the final push for presidential pardons by Obama, some big names failed to make the cut

In his last week as US president, Barack Obama offered clemency to several hundred people, both through commuting sentences and granting pardons. While some high-profile names such as Chelsea Manning made the cut, some, like Edward Snowden or Marcus Garvey, did not.<p>But most of those who received …

Edward Snowden

Rich Americans are really optimistic about President Trump

Donald Trump promised to be a president for “the forgotten man and the forgotten woman” but those really looking forward to him taking office are America’s wealthiest.<p>Swiss bank UBS surveyed 2,000 of its richest US investors, those with at least $1 million in investable assets, and found they are …

Finance

Doctors say repealing the Affordable Care Act would devastate the trans community

As Republicans look to partially or wholly dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), 22 million Americans risk losing this vital safety net. Among the most vulnerable populations are transgender and gender-nonconforming people.<p>The agony in the community at the possibility of an ACA repeal is …

Health

Why 2017 is the year of the bot

In the 2013 movie <i>Her</i>, Theodore Twombly, a lonely writer, falls in love with a digital assistant designed to meet his every need. She sorts emails, helps get a book published, provides personal advice, and ultimately becomes his girlfriend. The assistant, Samantha, is AI software capable of learning …

Automation

Conservative Christian legislators really want to legalize weed in the US

More than half of US states—28—have legalized medical marijuana. Sixty percent of Americans support legalization, according to an October 2016 Gallup poll—including 42% of Republicans. Some of these cannabis supporters live in conservative states, and some are even in their state’s legislature, …

Marijuana

In Davos, the view is that we may have already reached Peak Trump

Davos<p>The tweets, the outbursts, the threats against formidable world leaders all continue. But business leaders both American and otherwise gathered here to say not to worry—incoming US president Donald Trump either will himself resist such antics and become more traditionally presidential, or, if …

Davos

A linguist explains how to write protest signs that everyone will remember

Language can be used to persuade, amuse, insult, and mobilize action. Few formats can accomplish these goals as ably or succinctly as the protest sign.<p>When you make a protest sign, you’re working with considerable linguistic constraints: Space is limited by what you (and your friends) can carry, …

Linguistics

As a diplomat, Rex Tillerson would face off with Beijing over gas projects he steered as a Big Oil CEO

If Donald Trump’s choice for US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is confirmed—and we’ll find out next week whether he is—he’ll face a potentially awkward situation off Vietnam’s coast in the South China Sea (among many others).<p>For years ExxonMobil, with Vietnam’s blessing and Tillerson as CEO …

China

A theory from two Harvard professors explains why American voters prefer incompetence

Do voters want competence from their elected officials?<p>In an intriguing new paper (pdf), a pair of Harvard business professors argue that a certain segment of voters—primarily lower educated and rural—will choose incompetent candidates over competent ones<i>,</i> in order to protect themselves from …

Psychology

Neuroscience shows that stress can actually make you better at your job

Helen felt a thumping in her chest and a knot of tension in her stomach. She had been dreading this meeting—but she simply had to confront her boss about her impossible workload.<p>Her boss was not a man suffused with empathy and compassion for his underlings. She feared the consequences of speaking …

Mental Health

To deal with cash envelopes and other Lunar New Year spending, China is letting banks hold fewer reserves

Chinese families usually take huge amounts of cash out of banks ahead of the Lunar New Year, a tradition that bothers Beijing to no end because it severely squeezes money supply in the markets. The cash ends up in little red envelopes given as gifts, and is also spent on booze, food, travel, and …

China

Obama’s approval rating from his first day to his last, in charts

US president Barack Obama will leave office with an approval rating of 57% according to a survey from the polling firm Gallup taken from Jan. 9-15, 2017. Obama’s exiting approval rating is 23 percentage points higher than former US president George W. Bush’s when he left office, but nine points …

Barack Obama

Ernest Hemingway has a cocktail recipe for days when you’ve had just enough of the world

Eighty years ago, Ernest Hemingway invented the perfect cocktail for the times.<p>“Death in the Gulf Stream,” as he called it, was Hemingway’s salve for 1937—a dark year marked by an economic recession in the US, Joseph Stalin’s wrenching Purge Trials, a new war between China and Japan, and the …

Books

We’ve done the math on the thousands of port-o-potties set up for Trump’s inauguration

Washington DC, USA<p>For the past week, the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) has been tirelessly preparing the National Mall for the swearing-in ceremony of president-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20. That includes setting up barriers, conducting sound checks, and installing port-a-potties for the …

Outdoors

Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh has until noon to resign from office before being ejected by ECOWAS troops

The clock is ticking for Yahya Jammeh, the longtime president of the Gambia. After 22 years in power, Jammeh has until noon local time to cede power to Adama Barrow, winner of the Dec. 1 elections. Barrow was inaugurated as the new Gambian president in a makeshift ceremony at the country’s embassy …

Africa

East Africa’s biggest retailer has sold a 25% stake to an international investor

Cash-strapped Kenyan retailer, Nakumatt is set to receive $75 million from a foreign investor to service its mounting costly debt and to settle suppliers, which have weighed down its operations.<p>The unnamed investor would hold a quarter of the company if the deal closes, valuing the overall business …

Africa

China’s official 2016 GDP number is in, and the government promises it’s “authentic”

China’s economy expanded 6.8% in the fourth quarter of 2016, the latest official data (link in Chinese) show. For the full year, China’s GDP grew 6.7%, the slowest in 26 years—but within the government’s target range of 6.5% to 7%.<p>In each of the first three quarters of 2016, China posted a …

Chinese Economy

Mexico handed over El Chapo Guzman just in time for Donald Trump’s inauguration

Drug kingpin Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán has been extradited to the US, Mexican authorities said on Thursday (Jan. 19).<p>President Barack Obama’s administration has been pushing for the transfer for months, and it comes less than a day before president-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office.<p>Mexico’s …

Mexico

Doppler Labs wants to put two extra brains in your ears

I sit down across from Laura Cisneros, Doppler Labs’ resident Spanish speaker, and put in the company’s early-prototype earbuds. Between us is a landscape of open circuitry—Bluetooth transmitters and circuit boards. Under the table sits a suitcase packed with two computers and a nest of wiring. …

Headphones

Luis Vuitton once sued Supreme for stealing its logo. Now it’s borrowing the streetwear label’s logo

When the iconic French label Louis Vuitton—the “LV” in LVMH, the world’s largest luxury conglomerate—showed its latest menswear collection in Paris today, fashion onlookers went absolutely bonkers. The show, as had been rumored beforehand, included a wide-ranging collaboration with Supreme, one of …

Fashion

The EU is exploring legal personhood for robots

“We don’t serve their kind here.”<p>For the time being, robots don’t need civil rights—they have a hard enough time walking, let alone marching—but the European Union doesn’t expect that to be the case forever. The European Parliament’s committee on legal affairs is considering a draft report, written …

Robotics

From dictatorship to LGBT paradise: Taiwan’s road towards marriage equality

Taipei, Taiwan<p>Thirty years ago, Taiwan was under martial law. Today, it is inching towards becoming the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage. A draft bill is on its way to the legislature and could become law in the next few months.<p>That’s not to say the move is uncontroversial. Polls …

Taiwan

How to attend Trump’s inauguration if you don’t want to attend Trump’s inauguration

Can’t quite fit Donald Trump’s US presidential inauguration festivities in Washington into your plans this week? Boycotting it on purpose? Couldn’t find a dress before the DC shops all sold out?<p>Whatever your reason for skipping the inauguration in person—fear not. There are actually a myriad of …

Music

The US says Oracle is encouraging Indians to hire others Indians—and it’s killing diversity

Indians have quite the presence in tech. Two of the industry’s most powerful executives—Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella—are Indian, as are Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen and NokiaCEO Rajeev Suri. Even in the startup world, $2 billion grocery-delivery platform Instacart was …

Recruitment

Nintendo might have pirated its own game and sold it back to consumers

Nintendo, perhaps more than any other videogame outfit, has perfected the art of selling nostalgia. The company’s Mario, Zelda, and Donkey Kong franchises—to name a few—have enthralled gamers for decades, and Nintendo consistently re-ups popular games on new platforms. In the case of the Wii, …

Nintendo

Kristen Stewart (yes, that Kristen Stewart) just released a research paper on artificial intelligence

Hollywood has used the concept of artificial intelligence in films for decades. Now, one A-lister is trying to use AI to make art, instead of just inspire it.<p>Kristen Stewart is most well-known for her star role in the massively successful (and massively mocked) <i>Twilight</i> movies. Less well-known is …

Computer Science

Skipping Saturday’s protests could be the most ethical choice Trump opponents can make

As luminaries from Jon Voight to the Riverdance guy descend on Washington DC for the inauguration of Donald J. Trump, many critics of the next US president are planning protests closer to their homes.<p>An estimated 1 million people are expected at anti-Trump demonstrations in all 50 U.S. states and …

U.S. Supreme Court