News Update for Wednesday, November 29


Russian Brexit Meddling

Source: The New York Times

Facebook said it had been contacted by the British election regulator about Russian activity during the Brexit campaign, and would share its response with lawmakers. Credit: Justin Tallis/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Not only did Russia try to use social media to influence the U.S. 2016 election, they have also been suspected of meddling in last year’s bitterly divisive referendum in Britain, in which the country voted to leave the European Union. More than 150,000 Russian-language Twitter accounts posted tens of thousands of messages in English urging support for the withdrawal, known as Brexit, in the days before the vote on June 23, researchers have found. Facebook and Twitter have promised to cooperate with the investigations of these suspicious activities.

North Korea Fires a Ballistic Missile

Source: The New York Times

KCNA, via European Pressphoto Agency

North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday that flew both higher and longer than previous such launches, a bold act of defiance against President Trump after he put the country back on a list of state sponsors of terrorism. Observers said there were technical advances in the 53-minute flight. “It went higher than any previous shot they’ve taken,” said the U.S. secretary of defense, Jim Mattis. “It is a ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace, and certainly, the United States,” Mr. Mattis declared. Can North Korea actually hit the United States with a Nuclear weapon?

Germany Economy not Shaken by Political Crisis

Source: The New York Times

John Macdougall/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Although talks to form a new German government broke down last week, there was no panic among the European business elite. The euro actually rose against the dollar. German business confidence is at its highest level ever. This is due to the strength of both the German and European economies.

However, the twin pillars of German industry, precision machinery and automobiles, are facing record levels of technological change and new competition from places like China and Silicon Valley. European governments need to respond by, for example, building charging networks to encourage an electric car industry.

Despacito on the verge of Grammy history

Source: The Los Angeles Times

Luis Fonsi, left, and Daddy Yankee, seen performing in Florida in April, have what could be the first non-English song to be named song of the year at the Grammys since 1959. (Lynne Sladky / Associated Press)

The last time a non-English-language composition won the Grammy for song of the year was in 1959. The song was “Volare,” an Italian song from singer Domenico Modugno, and the Grammys in 1959 were a brand-new awards show. Now Despacito is a very strong contender for a non-English-language winner for song of the year, and possibly record of the year.

The tune — performed by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and rapper Daddy Yankee, with a remix guest-verse boost from Justin Bieber — spent 34 weeks on the Hot 100. Its video broke records to become the most viewed YouTube clip of all time (for a version without Bieber in it), and it dominated streaming services, which today can provide the sort of universal outlet previously unavailable to non-English songs.

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