Friday, 20 June 2014

Number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide has, for the first time in the post-World War II era, exceeded 50 million people and other news and views for Friday 20 June

  • World Refugee Day: Global forced displacement tops 50 million for first time in post-World War II era - The UN refugee agency reported today on World Refugee Day that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people worldwide has, for the first time in the post-World War II era, exceeded 50 million people. UNHCR’s annual Global Trends report, which is based on data compiled by governments and non-governmental partner organizations, and from the organization’s own records, shows 51.2 million people were forcibly displaced at the end of 2013, fully 6 million more than the 45.2 million reported in 2012.
This massive increase was driven mainly by the war in Syria, which at the end of last year had forced 2.5 million people into becoming refugees and made 6.5 million internally displaced. Major new displacement was also seen in Africa – notably in Central African Republic and South Sudan.
  • Supreme Court Rules Against Patents For Abstract Ideas - “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that using a computer to implement an abstract idea does not make that invention eligible for a patent. At issue in the case, Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International: Do software inventions get the same kind of patent protections as other inventions? The justices, in their decision, upheld a lower court ruling that invalidated Alice Corp.’s patents, which were challenged by CLS International. But, as SCOTUSblog notes: “[T]he Supreme Court leaves room for software patents, just not those that take an abstract idea and provide for a computer to implement it.”
  • Why Icelanders are wary of elves living beneath the rocks - Plans to build a new road in Iceland ran into trouble recently when campaigners warned that it would disturb elves living in its path. Construction work had to be stopped while a solution was found.
  • Wrestling With Heartache in a Birthplace of Soul - Sam Smith Gets His Chance at the Apollo -”At the encore, the R&B titan Mary J. Blige quietly came out onstage to reprise her duet with him, “Stay With Me,” a face-off in which Mr. Smith, ceding his stage to his guest, chose awe over pride, and Ms. Blige respectfully tried not to out-emote her host. Like the Apollo, Ms. Blige is a symbol for Mr. Smith, and given the opportunity to see her up close, he embraced it tentatively and with care. In return, she nourished him.”
  • Up in Arms Over ‘Soccer’ vs. ‘Football’ - With World Cup in Headlines, a Debate Continues on What to Call the Game – “The latest analysis of this issue came in a much commented-upon academic paper published recently by Stefan Szymanski, an economist who is a professor of sport management at the University of Michigan and the co-author of ‘Soccernomics.’ In his analysis, Szymanski points out that the word soccer actually began in Britain and continued to be used there happily — right alongside ‘football’ — until at least the 1970s, when a surge of bad temper and anti-Americanism made it virtually radioactive.”
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