The Weekly Wrap-Up

| February 15, 2015
Image: bbc.co.uk

Image: bbc.co.uk

Obama wants government hackers, Curious art fraud, Americans save their pennies, and Bad news for English insects.

Words by Ryan Grice

During a recent White House cybersecurity conference held in Silicon Valley US president Barack Obama has urged private tech firms to share more information with the government and with each other in order to avoid major hacks like the one that occurred at Sony pictures at the end of 2014. Unfortunately tension still exists about government surveillance following the release of classified information by former NSA contractor turned whistleblower Edward Snowden. “Just as we’re all connected like never before, we have to work together like never before, both to seize opportunities but also meet the challenges of this information age. Government cannot do this alone. But the fact is that the private sector can’t do it alone either because it’s government that often has the latest information on new threats,” Obama said.

Image: dulwichpicutregallery.org.uk

Image: dulwichpicutregallery.org.uk

Having noticed significant decline in the popularity of art in recent years, gallery director of the Dulwich Picture Gallery, Ian Dejardin, together with conceptual artist Doug Fishbone, have come up with a rather curious idea that he has marketed to patrons; one of their Old Master paintings has been replaced with a replica and its up to them to work out which one is the fake. The replica was commissioned to an oil painting export company in Southern China for a cost of $120 and its identity will be revealed to the public in April. “In the West, we see replicas as very problematic, as ‘fakes’ perhaps, whereas in China the notion of copying cultural artefacts is seen totally differently,” said Fishbone.

Image: uqam.ca

Image: uqam.ca

It seems that in light of oil prices recently plummeting, Americans are surprisingly choosing to save their extra money. The United States consumer sentiment, measured by the index at University of Michigan, fell from 98.1 to 93.6, showing a significant decrease in spending, which is a low not experienced in over 11 years . The result does not seem to have consequences for the financial market thus far, but it will be interesting to see if this trend holds as the 2016 election, and the promise of a new president looms. Consumer spending accounts for more than two thirds of the United States’ economic activity.

The Blue Stag Beetle, already extinct in the UK Image: naturfoto.cz

The Blue Stag Beetle, already extinct in the UK
Image: naturfoto.cz

35 species of leaf beetles have been added to the ‘red list’ of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature after a recent Species Status Assessment carried out by Britain’s government agency for conservation, Natural England, found that due to pollution and habitat loss the species are likely to become extinct. Seven species are currently critically endangered, with three having already become extinct in the last 100 years. “These reports will put a strong spotlight on those species that will become extinct over the next few decades unless we take positive action and try to reduce the many threats facing them,” said Steve Falk of the invertebrate charity Buglife.

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Category: FEATURED, Serious Section, Uncategorized

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