Economist 8/19/15

  1. The anonymisation of a data record typically means the removal from it of personally identifiable information. Names, obviously. But also phone numbers, addresses and various intimate details like dates of birth. Such a record is then deemed safe for release to researchers, and even to the public.But the ability to compare databases threatens to make a mockery of such protections.Reporters sifting through a public database of web searches were able to correlate them in order to track down one, rather embarrassed, woman who had been idly searching for single men.People want both perfect privacy and all the benefits of openness. But they cannot have both. The stripping of a few details as the only means of assuring anonymity, in a world choked with data exhaust, cannot work. Poorly anonymised data are only part of the problem. What may be worse is that there is no standard for anonymisation.
  2. UKRAINE’S economy, racked by war, is in free fall. In the second quarter of this year its GDP shrunk at an annualised rate of 15%, after shrinking by 18% in the first. Its public debt is probably worth 100% of its GDP.For months, no one—not even Ukraine’s finance minister, Natalie Jaresko—was entirely sure who owned Ukraine’s debt. It is now known to include Franklin Templeton, a big asset manager, which owns about $9 billion of Ukraine’s bonds, and BTG Pactual, a Brazilian firm.he IMF has kept Ukraine alive with a series of loans, worth about $7 billion in total since last year. The IMF provided the money under the assumption that the government in Kiev will write off $15.3 billion of debt and interest by 2018, and that it will have reduced its public-debt-to-GDP ratio to about 70% of GDP by 2020. The goal is to reduce debt repayments in any given year to no more than 10% of GDP.
  3. One creditor has not taken part in any negotiations—and that creditor owns a $3 billion bond that matures in December. There is a bizarre clause in that particular bond, which allows its holder to force Ukraine to default at any time after its public debt load has passed 60% of GDP. That creditor, unfortunately, is Russia. 
  4. So are travellers tiring of the budget model? The short answer seems to be no. Neither Frontier or Spirit are suffering as a result of complaints. Frontier is profitable, after a long time of not being so, and Spirit’s revenue grew 13% in the second quarter of 2015 compared with a year earlier. In fact the airline industry is enjoying a period of relative prosperity, as falling oil prices and industry consolidation have boosted profitability. Escalating complaints don’t translate into falling passenger numbers. This writer has many times vowed never to travel on Ryanair again after a bad flight, only to return to the fold, seduced by cheap airfares. It seems that, when booking a flight, convenience and price remain the two main considerations.
  5. So it is that virtually every Muslim-majority country has taken some form of ideological countermeasure against IS, from pressing traditional religious authorities to excommunicate the group to encouraging comics to satirise it. A growing number of Western countries, including Britain and America, have joined the propaganda war, too. Some have hired digital scribes to undermine the IS message online, for instance by highlighting its atrocities against fellow MuslimsOne reason may be that since its declaration of a caliphate in Iraq and Syria last year, IS has stood out from terrorist predecessors for the quality of its propaganda. Its video productions are “a generation ahead” of other groups, reckon Cori Dauber and Mark Robinson, media experts at the University of North CarolinaBuilding on well-worn grievances of political Islam, it does not just talk about creating a caliphate but actually does so (sort of). It doesn’t merely speak of eradicating colonial borders but physically bulldozes them.

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