Brazil to go ahead with impeachment of president; PC shipments fall to lowest since 2007; Women will thrive in accelerated age

1 Brazil to go ahead with impeachment of president (BBC) Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff has suffered a blow to her hopes of staving off impeachment proceedings, after a committee voted they should go ahead. The 65-member congressional committee voted 38 to 27 to recommend impeachment over claims she manipulated government accounts to hide a growing deficit.

All eyes will now be on a full vote in the lower house on 17 or 18 April. The issue has divided Brazil, with police preparing for mass protests in the capital, Brasilia. The vote took place amid chaotic scenes with supporters and opponents of President Rousseff shouting slogans and waving placards.

The committee’s vote, while largely symbolic, was being watched as a measure of how much support there is for the impeachment process ahead of the crucial vote in the full lower house of Congress. There, 342 votes in favour are needed to send the matter on to the Senate. The latest opinion poll by the Estadao daily suggests 292 are in favour, 115 against and 106 undecided.

2 PC shipments fall to lowest since 2007 (Straits Times) Worldwide personal-computer shipments have slid to their lowest quarterly total since 2007, signalling another challenging year ahead for an industry staggered by a sluggish economy and changing consumer tastes.

Dell dethroned HP as the top PC seller in the US for the first quarter – something that hasn’t happened this decade, according to market researcher Gartner Inc. Dell’s focus on business customers and HP’s refusal to chase business with just low prices switched the top two players.

Globally, shipments dropped 9.6 per cent in the period, the sixth consecutive decline. IDC reported similar worldwide results. PC makers, which have already weathered four straight years of falling shipments, remain under pressure as potential customers delay – or skip – purchases of desktops and laptops, opting for increasingly powerful smartphones.

“Because of the economy issues and other issues it doesn’t look like those people who purchased smartphones are going to buy any other devices any time soon,” said Ms Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner.

Manufacturers shipped 64.8 million machines in the period compared with about 71.7 million a year earlier, Gartner said. US shipments declined 6.6 per cent to 13.1 million. Lenovo Group retained its hold on the top spot in the global market with 19.3 per cent of first-quarter shipments. Apple was No. 5 with 7.1 per cent – up from 6.4 per cent a year earlier.

3 Women will thrive in the accelerated age (Robert Colvile in The Guardian) We’ve all had the sense that life is speeding up, that even as our computers get faster, our attention spans get shorter. For some, this phenomenon – what I call “the great acceleration” – is a source of wonder. For others, it’s closer to terror.

One of the best examples of the unbalanced nature of acceleration comes in its different effects on men and women. For example, there’s a wonderful experiment that shows how addicted we’ve become to receiving a stream of information via our mobile phones. Researchers asked people to spend just 15 minutes alone in a room with their thoughts: more than half confessed to not enjoying the experience.

For a variety of biological and social reasons, women appear to be more prone to suffering from stress, anxiety and depression – conditions that have a huge impact on your physical as well as mental health, and which can be promoted by an accelerated environment, with its ceaseless demands.

It’s not just about biology. An accelerated economy offers ever-increasing rewards to the highly skilled and highly educated. This has contributed to the rise of ultra-intensive parenting in an effort to equip our children with every tool they may need to compete – the burden of which, in traditional families, often falls on the female partner.

Acceleration therefore tends to increase the pressures and stresses on professional women more than on professional men. Among young people, the pattern is the same. A new book by Nancy Jo Sales, American Girls, sets out the part played in this by social media: for girls especially, life on Instagram or other social networks is “like being a contestant in a never-ending beauty pageant”.

Yet there’s a powerful argument that, over the longer term, it’s women who will thrive in an accelerated age, and men who will fall behind. For one thing, the confessional culture of the online age is also one that privileges sharing and sympathy and emotional literacy – skills that are not exactly associated with men in general, let alone teenagers.

For another, all the scare stories about robots taking our jobs gloss over the fact that the jobs they will take are mostly male. Overwhelmingly, it is the traditionally male positions – taxi drivers, truckers, construction workers – that are likely to be lost. That’s because computers are not so good at reading intentions or emotions, or coping with the unpredictable, in the way required in female-dominated professions such as nursing or teaching.


About joesnewspicks

This blog captures interesting news items from around the world for those strained by information overload and yet need to stay updated on global events of significance. The news items displayed are not in order of merit. (The blog takes a weekly off — normally on Sundays — and does not appear when I am on vacation or busy.) I am a journalist for nearly three decades.
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