• The United Arab Emirates is hoping to deliver public services using drones.
  • Mitochondrial replacement was developed in the UK, but it might be lost to the US because of government procrastination.
  • Wondering what will happen now that the Swiss have backed immigration quotas? Take a look at our Q&A on the topic.
  • Gideon Rachman looks at what it means now that two German institutions have registered objections to the policies underpinning the euro. He has also mulled over whether the EU should take punitive action over the Swiss vote – prompting quite some debate.
  • Australian authorities have published a graphic novel, seemingly aimed at deterring asylum seekers.
  • The New York Times looks at the conflict faced by Palestinians who opt to take jobs in Israeli companies in the occupied West Bank.
  • Some Russians are mourning the pre-Putin, pre-Olympic Sochi of their childhoods.

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  • Banks that cheat people pay fines, but people who cheat banks do time: Gary Silverman profiles Carl Cole, who helped turn Bakersfield into one of the home foreclosure capitals of the US.
  • Egypt’s government is letting exiled billionaires and convicted Mubarak cronies buy their way back into the country.
  • The fallow period is over for Russia – after a decade without any top-level women’s figure skaters, it now has more than it can use and one of them, Julia Lipnitskaia, is stealing the show at Sochi.
  • Vegas Tenold recounts his journey to Sochi in a Niva, “an automotive version of the Russian soul”.

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The great and the good are gathered at Davos this week and “committed to improving the state of the world”. But what else could they have done with the money spent on entry to this exclusive event?

The average cost of Davos entry, at $20,000, buys…

  • Forget the “Fragile Five”: the list of countries exposed as central banks tighten monetary policy is longer than the moniker suggests.
  • A German man, estranged from his father, may still face a €9,000 bill for the father’s care costs in a legal case that has sparked debate across a nation obsessed with its ageing population and how to pay for its welfare.
  • Businesses in Germany worry about the impact of introducing a minimum wage.
  • In Sudan, economic problems and fears for South Sudan are destabilising Omar al-Bashir’s rule.
  • Sébastien Valiela discusses how he managed to get the infamous photographs of François Hollande .
  • The New York Times documents how a young woman was lured to North Dakota from the west coast by a job in the oil industry, only to find a land dominated by men, lower pay than expected and a high cost of living.

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  • François Hollande, under pressure about his private life, tried to steer the media towards his plans for the economy. See also Le Monde’s take on how he has shaken the left and disoriented the right.
  • Martin Wolf argues that it is the failure of the elite, both historically and today, that creates disaster and leads to the collapse of political order.
  • Policy should focus less on the jihadis and more on the conditions that engender them, argues David Gardner.
  • See what it is like to seek refuge in Europe with this Guardian interactive.
  • European intelligence agencies secretly met Bashar al-Assad’s delegates to share information on European extremists operating in Syria, the Wall Street Journal reports.
  • Executives from some of France’s biggest companies will fly to Tehran next month – signaling a wave of corporate interest as the west eases sanctions.
  • A “whirlwind of reversals, about-faces, and false starts has locked Egypt into a revolving cycle, if not a downward spiral”, say Peter Harling and Yasser El Shimy.

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♦ Borzou Daragahi ventured into Libya’s badlands: a combination of guns, trafficking and inter-ethnic conflict.
♦ The winner of the Bodley Head/FT Essay Prize is an account of being a British Muslim soldier.
♦ John Plender argues that the real driver of income inequality over the past decade or so has been top pay and this is unlikely to change.
♦ Juan Carlos, the King of Spain, is fighting for his legacy.
♦ The National Review looks at the deep poverty among masses of white working class people in the US heartlands.
♦ Gamal Essam El-Din at Ahram Online has put together a comprehensive nuts and bolts guide to Egypt’s constitutional referendumRead more

♦ Iraq’s prime minister is fighting a fire in Fallujah that he helped to start, says Roula Khalaf.
♦ People who once would have been gangsters can now be found in the darker corners of finance, writes Gary Silverman.
♦ US intelligence experts were worried that Osama bin Laden would be reincarnated in an “immortal” form: as a virtual avatar.
♦ The presence of international observers monitoring Egypt’s constitutional referendum could lend legitimacy to a flawed and undemocratic process, says Michele Dunn, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
♦ A small town near Antwerp has been taking the mentally ill and disabled into their homes and offering an alternative to regular treatment with community care.
♦ The bee shortage is going to become a catastrophe. It hasn’t already because “wild pollinators” have picked up the strain so far.
♦ The Simpsons paid tribute to Hayao Miyazaki, who announced his last feature recently. Read more

Chinese exports increased by 4.3 per cent in December compared to the same month last year, while imports rose by 8.3 per cent. That gave China a total of $4.16tn in combined exports and imports in 2013, a figure that the US will find difficult to match. This leaves no doubt that China, the world’s second-biggest economy, is now the world’s biggest trading nation on an annual basis.

Chinese and US trade values were similar in 2012, slightly larger for China according to their respective national data but slightly bigger for the US according to the World Trade Organisation and the International and Monetary Fund. Read more

Sir Run Run Shaw, the Hong Kong media mogul credited with inventing the kung fu movie and who set up Hong Kong’s first television station, has died aged 107.

Shaw Studios produced 760 films over the course of 40 years, pioneering new genres and featuring famous directors and film stars. Here is a taste of the work that came from the Shaw brothers.

The One-Armed Swordsman – often called the first kung fu movie and the first of many swordplay films to come

 

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If you follow a certain section of the internet, over the last day your news feed has probably been buzzing with obscure clues to cryptography, William Blake’s poetry, transcendentalism and of course Cicada images.

If not, you’d be forgiven for wondering what this is all about.

So what is it this all about?

Back in January 2012, on one the biggest websites you’ve probably never heard of, there was a clue. The /x/ (paranormal) board of 4chan, an anarchic image posting forum, featured an image, with simple white on black text declaring:

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