News Burst 11 March 2020
- Wikipedia is generally thought of as an open, transparent, and mostly reliable online encyclopedia. Yet upon closer inspection, this turns out not to be the case. Moreover, studies have shown that 80% of all Wikipedia content is written by just 1% of all Wikipedia editors, which again amounts to just a few hundred mostly unknown people. Obviously, such a non-transparent and hierarchical structure is susceptible to corruption and manipulation, the notorious “paid editors” hired by corporations being just one example. Indeed, already in 2007, researchers found that CIA and FBI employees were editing Wikipedia articles on controversial topics including the Iraq war and the Guantanamo military prison. Also in 2007, researchers found that one of the most active and influential English Wikipedia administrators, called “Slim Virgin”, was in fact a former British intelligence informer.
- In what is likely the most epic story to come out of China as a result of the coronavirus. While schools have been suspended, teachers have been using an app called DingTalk to assign their students online lessons and homework. Students figured out eventually that if they had enough users spam the app with one star ratings, they could get it kicked off of the app store, which would then in turn prevent them from having to do homework. As a result, “thousands of reviews” flooded into and DingTalk saw its app rating fall from 4.9 to 1.4 overnight.
- The Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission to Mars recently produced some unexpected results, providing researchers with some rather interesting data about the nature of the Red Planet. Scientists established that the magnetic field at the site where the InSight lander had touched down is actually ten times stronger than originally anticipated, “and fluctuates over time-scales of seconds to days”.
- Researchers at Brandon University in Canada have made progress in understanding the nature of a tiny worm that can apparently survive on a diet of plastic. This species of worm, which normally lives in beehives and eats wax, with another 60 frens were able to eat more than 30 square centimeters of a plastic bag in less than a week, excreting glycol, “a form of alcohol”, in the process.
- Vietnam announced a program on popularizing smartphones to 100 percent of the population. Under the program, mobile network operators, app developers and manufacturers will join forces in a subsidy project to lower prices of certain smartphones from the current $45-$50 to $20.
- Now that both OPEC+ and OPEC no longer exist, and it’s a free-for-all of “every oil producer for themselves” and which Goldman described as return to “the playbook of the New Oil Order, with low cost producers increasing supply from their spare capacity to force higher cost producers to reduce output”, the key question is just how long can the world’s three biggest producers – shale, Russia and Saudi Arabia sustain a scorched-earth price war that keep oil prices around $30 (or even lower). While we hope to get an answer on both Saudi and US shale longevity shortly, and once the market reprices shale junk bonds sharply lower, we expect the US shale patch to soon become a ghost town as money-losing US producers will not be solvent with oil below $30, assuring that millions in supply will soon be pulled from the market, moments ago we got the answer as far as Russia is concerned, when its Finance Ministry said on Monday that the country could weather oil prices of $25 to 30$ per barrel for between 6 and 10 years.
- Vietnam imported nearly 66,000 tonnes of meat in the first two months of this year. Of which, pork imports reached 13,816 tonnes, an increase of 150 per cent over the same period of 2019. The largest pork import volume was from Canada, accounting for 33.06 per cent of the total pork imports. Following was Germany (accounting for 25.4 per cent), Brazil (16.1 per cent), Poland (15.8 per cent) and the US (7.8 per cent). Meanwhile, the nation imported 12,459 tonnes of beef and 12,934 tonnes of buffalo meat during the first two months. All buffalo meat imports came from India and beef was imported mainly from the US, Australia and Canada. It bought 26,656 tonnes of poultry meat from abroad in the first two months, mainly from the US, South Korea and Brazil. In 2019, the country imported over 280,000 tonnes of meat, a year on year increase of 17 per cent, mainly from the US, South Korea, the Netherlands, Poland, Brazil and Canada.
- President Xi Jinping on Tuesday inspected the COVID-19 outbreak epicenter in central China, pledging a continuous fight toward victory as prevention and control efforts have “turned the tide.” The inspection to Wuhan, Hubei Province, took the president to a hospital treating severely ill COVID-19 patients and a residential community. He visited patients, medics, community residents and workers, police officers, military personnel, officials and volunteers who have been fighting the novel coronavirus. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, called for firm, solid and meticulous prevention and control efforts to defend Hubei and Wuhan. Xi said thanks to hard work, the situation in Hubei and Wuhan has shown positive changes with important progress, but the task of prevention and control remains arduous.
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