By Wenzel Michalski and Ben Wagner, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Wenzel Michalski is the Germany director at Human Rights Watch. You can follow him @WenzelMichalski. Ben Wagner is a researcher at the European University Institute and a visiting academic fellow at Human Rights Watch. The views expressed are their own.
The Arab uprisings have been a poignant reminder of how the Internet can promote free expression and assembly, but also how governments can try abuse it. The medium used by demonstrators to organize protests and bring medical supplies to Tahrir Square, for example, was also used by the government to pinpoint human rights defenders for arrest, harassment, and even torture.
This reality will likely be on the minds of policymakers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, who are meeting in Vienna to discuss how to advance media freedoms, and who will be fully aware that while the Internet is a catalyst for popular protest, it is also targeted by governments to stifle those same voices.
For more Last Look watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS" this Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET.
Ethiopia has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world, and the village of Wonchi is no exception. Nobody there can read or write. That’s why I was astonished when I saw what Nicholas Negroponte’s One Laptop per Child organization did there.
They dropped 20 Motorola tablets, preloaded with mostly literacy apps in the village with no instructions. Within four minutes, one boy had found the on/off switch – an unknown entity in these parts – and he then taught the others. In a few days, they were each using about 50 apps each.
Watch the video for the full Look.
By A. Greer Meisels & Mihoko Matsubara, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: A. Greer Meisels is associate director and research fellow at the Center for the National Interest. Mihoko Matsubara is a cybersecurity analyst and was previously a research fellow at the Pacific Forum CSIS. The views expressed are their own.
The United States and its allies count technological innovations and critical infrastructure among their strategic resources and, as such, their military and economic strategies increasingly rely on information and communications technology. Unfortunately, as a recent U.S. congressional report on Chinese telecommunication equipment heavyweights Huawei and ZTE suggested, these technologies are now threatened by cyber espionage and sabotage.
After reading the congressional report, it’s hard not to breathe a sigh of relief that a general like Sun Tzu did not have cyber instruments in his arsenal. The report declared Huawei and ZTE potential threats to U.S. national security given their alleged ties to the Chinese government and its military, which some believe might increase the risk of their engaging in espionage and sabotage activities.
By Enrico Moretti, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Enrico Moretti is professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Infrastructure and Urbanization Program at the International Growth Centre (London School of Economics and Oxford University). He is the author of ‘The New Geography of Jobs.’ The views expressed are his own.
The economic map of America today does not show just one country – it shows three increasingly different countries. At one extreme are America’s brain hubs – cities like Seattle, Raleigh-Durham, Austin, Boston, New York and Washington DC – with a thriving innovation-driven economy and a labor force among the most creative and best paid on the planet. The most striking example is San Francisco, where the labor market for tech workers is the strongest it has been in a decade. At the other extreme are cities once dominated by traditional manufacturing – Detroit, Flint, Cleveland – with shrinking labor force and salaries. In the middle there is the rest of America, apparently undecided on which direction to take.
Historically, there have always been prosperous communities and struggling communities. But the difference was small until the 1980’s, and has been growing dramatically since then. In 1980, the salary of a college educated worker in Austin was lower than in Flint. Today it is 45 percent higher in Austin, and the gap keeps expanding with every passing year. The gap for workers with a high school degree is a staggering 70 percent by some estimates. It is not that workers in Austin have higher IQ than those in Flint, or work harder. The ecosystem that surrounds them is different. The mounting economic divide between American communities – arguably one of the most important developments in the history of the United States of the past half a century – is not an accident, but reflects a structural change in the American economy.
By CNN Global Public Square
For more “What in the World,” watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS" on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET
Silicon Valley has been a key driver of U.S. growth in the last two decades. Just look at the rise of Apple, Google, and Facebook, and all the jobs and opportunities and new communities they’ve created. But the “secret sauce” behind this success might be running out.
A new book caught my eye this week. It’s called The Immigrant Exodus by Vivek Wadhwa, a former tech entrepreneur who now studies and lectures on immigration. He has some fascinating findings. Wadhwa says between 1995 and 2005, more than a half of all Silicon Valley tech companies were founded by immigrants. But when Wadhwa updated his findings to 2012, he found the proportion of immigrant-founded companies had dropped by a sixth – from 52 percent to 44 percent.
By Jennifer Granick, Special to CNN
Editor’s note: Jennifer Stisa Granick is director of civil liberties at the Stanford Law School Center for Internet and Society. Previously, she was counsel with the internet boutique firm Zwillgen, and civil liberties director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The views expressed are her own.
Top Obama administration officials have been pressing the U.S. Congress hard for legislation to improve network security for the computer systems that run the nation’s critical infrastructure. The House passed the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), while the White House supported the 211-page Cybersecurity Act, which failed to get a vote in the Senate before legislators went on recess. Citizens now have the summer to ask some important questions before supporting any such legislative effort.
The big question, of course, is what problem are we trying to solve? Administration officials justify cybersecurity legislation by coining words like “cybergeddon” and telling tales of terrorists shutting off the nation’s electricity or causing dams to malfunction, flooding our communities.
Editor’s note: GPS sits down with Kenneth Rogoff, Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics at Harvard University, to discuss U.S. political gridlock and the cyber threat to the U.S. economy.
The 112th Congress has been dismissed by many as the ultimate do-nothing Congress. How much is the gridlock in Washington hurting the U.S. economic recovery?
It’s hurting a lot and, unfortunately, a lot of things that need to be done aren’t getting done. For example, I would like to see Congress pass a version of the Simpson-Bowles tax reform proposal. By far the most efficient way to collect more tax revenue would be to drastically reduce exemptions (“tax expenditures”) thereby raising more revenue while keeping marginal tax rates at a reasonable level. With private investment weak, this is a good time for the government to undertake high-return infrastructure projects with a compelling cost-benefit ratio. But the rationale is to improve the long-run growth potential of the economy, not to engage in pure Keynesian stimulus. While I strongly favor instituting a carbon tax, there is some urgency in refocusing our energy program to recognize the huge innovations that are allowing the U.S. to harvest unconventional sources of gas and (secondarily oil) that promise to make the United States far less dependent on imported energy. In principle, our low energy prices could even catalyze a return to the U.S. of some types of manufacturing.
Of course, the Congress has been gridlocked for some time. This gridlock didn’t matter so much during the credit bubble; the economy was growing briskly despite – or perhaps because of – limited government intervention or innovation. But we’ve reached a point where there’s been so little reform for so long that it’s a hindrance to growth. And, in the near term, things only seem to be getting worse, with ugly partisanship clearing out the center in both major parties.
Editor's note: Frida Ghitis is a world affairs columnist for The Miami Herald and World Politics Review. A former CNN producer/correspondent, she is the author of "The End of Revolution: A Changing World in the Age of Live Television." The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Frida Ghitis.
Facebook's $104 billion initial public offering comes at a time when the United States is suffering a bout of self-doubt. Many wonder if America is falling behind as other countries are catching up fast. And yet the Facebook phenomenon did not occur in a vacuum.
You might say it could have happened anywhere. But it happened in America. And there was a reason for that. FULL POST
Editor’s Note: Dinesh Moorjani is the Founder and CEO of Hatch Labs, a mobile startup incubator creating new platforms and applications to improve mobility for the wireless generation.
By Dinesh Moorjani – Special to CNN
It’s often perceived in the business world that pursuing an MBA degree is analogous to buying career insurance, especially if you attend a top program.
What many aspiring entrepreneurs have found, however is that earning an MBA can actually momentarily slow down an upward career trajectory, considering the degree typically requires a two-year job hiatus at a full-time program.
The real benefit of this advanced degree may be the parachute it serves in times of economic distress. But for those assessing the risk vs. reward opportunity, the need to consider the likelihood of that parachute opening properly remains paramount. And perhaps the best indicator of that is how well the parachute is packed, or without the laborious analogy, how talented the individual is and how those talents are channeled toward meaningful professional endeavors. FULL POST
Editor's Note: Anne-Marie Slaughter, a former director of policy planning in the US State Department (2009-2011), is Professor of Politics and International Affairs at Princeton University. For more from Slaughter, visit Project Syndicate or follow it on Facebook and Twitter. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Anne-Marie Slaughter.
By Anne-Marie Slaughter, Project Syndicate
On February 1, the United Nations Security Council met to consider the Arab League’s proposal to end the violence in Syria. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton represented the United States. Midway through her remarks, she began speaking not to the Syrian ambassador, who was in the room, or even the Syrian government, but directly to the Syrian people. She said that change in Syria would require Syrians of every faith and ethnicity to work together, protecting and respecting the rights of minorities.
Addressing those minorities, she continued: “We do hear your fears, and we do honor your aspirations. Do not let the current regime exploit them to extend this crisis.” She told Syria’s business, military, and other leaders that they must recognize that their futures lie with the state, not with the regime. “Syria belongs to its 23 million citizens, not to one man or his family.” FULL POST
By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
Last night, my special premiered on CNN: The GPS Road Map for Saving Health Care. Thanks to thousands of you, the hashtag I used to live-tweet the special, #SavingHealthCare, trended on Twitter. I've pasted some of the most re-tweeted tweets below. FULL POST
Editor’s Note: Priya Parker, an expert-in-residence at the Harvard Innovation Lab, is the founder of Thrive Labs, a visioning and strategy advisory firm based in Brooklyn, New York. You can follow Priya on Twitter @priyaparker.
By Priya Parker – Special to CNN
If January is when the old guard gathers in Davos, Switzerland, March is when the new guard descends on Austin, Texas. At a time of crisis in America, Europe, the Middle East and beyond, a group of tech-savvy do-gooders meets, greets and tweets at South By Southwest.
The conference has experienced a surge in popularity in recent years, exploring questions well beyond the sphere of technology. The several hundred panels and featured sessions for this year’s SXSW Interactive tend to reflect the current concerns of the rising elite. In this post, I’d like to add one concern to their list: Can the avid, accomplished doers at SXSW show the way for a rising generation of Millennials who are all too often afraid to fulfill their potential as leaders? FULL POST