Economist 2/26/14

  1. Mr Jerrim analysed the OECD’s Programme for International Assessment of Adult Competencies and measured the quality of education of migrants from those countries who came to Britain between 1964 to 2011. Focusing on the numeracy scores that are divided into quartiles, Britain lost 684,000 highly skilled people in those years, but this was cancelled out by an equal number of highly skilled immigrants coming in. In addition though, Britain also took in a large number of immigrants with lower numerical skills. The result was that almost four times more immigrants came from the lowest quartile compared with the highest. The countries that benefit most from British emigrants with the highest numerical abilities are those that have the tightest entry requirements. Australia, Canada and the United States took in twice as many who were ranked in the top quartile compared with the lower three quartiles.
  2. On February 15th Islamic State (IS) released a typically horrific video of the decapitation of 21 Egyptian Copts. What alarmed Italians was the title, “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross”, and a warning that the jihadists are “south of Rome”. Italians knew their capital, the papal seat, was a target. Commenting on IS’s advance, the foreign minister, Paolo Gentiloni, said that, if a UN peace initiative failed, “the issue needs to be raised with the United Nations to do something more.” Wholly out of character with Italy’s cautious attitude to military involvement, such statements reflect pent-up frustration over the failure of Italy’s allies to address the deteriorating situation in Libya.The threat from IS is linked to a surge in immigration from Libya of asylum seekers and others. More than 6,000 people have fled from north Africa so far this year, twice as many as a year ago.
  3. BORIS JOHNSON, the mayor of London, is British-American by birth—and by temperament. Yet Mr Johnson  is so fed up with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that he is renouncing his US citizenship. The number of Americans giving up their passports has shot up, from less than 1,000 a year in the late 2000s to a record 3,415 in 2014. A new spur is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) of 2010, which makes it a lot harder for Americans overseas to get (or keep) bank accounts, pensions and mortgages, because foreign financial firms don’t want the administrative hassles that FATCA throws up. The law also increases filing requirements for citizens—and thus stokes fears that honest mistakes will be punished.
  4. Today two billion phones are in use worldwide, and this number is expected to double by the end of the decade.To get an idea how much time people will then spend on their smartphones it helps to look at today’s young people: the chart shows that they report much more use during all times of the day than older generations. In total, according to Ofcom, the British telecoms regulator, those aged between 16 to 24 years use their device nearly four hours a day; those aged between 55 to 64 only half as much.
  5. Smartphones have also penetrated every aspect of daily life. The average American is buried in one for over two hours every day. Asked which media they would miss most, British teenagers pick mobile devices over TV sets, PCs and games consoles. Nearly 80% of smartphone-owners check messages, news or other services within 15 minutes of getting up. About 10% admit to having used the gadget during sex.The greater fear is over privacy.Many app vendors, who know a great deal about you, sell data without proper disclosure; mobile-privacy policies routinely rival “Hamlet” for length. And if leaked documents are correct, GCHQ, Britain’s signals-intelligence agency, has managed to hack a big vendor of SIM cards in order to be able to listen in to people’s calls (see article).
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