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Good Reads: From a Van Gogh find, to undocumented students, to Web memory

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The company hires voice actors to record lines that are then broken down into their phonetic parts and reassembled into any English word. Teeple says the same software could also record the speakers of endangered languages, digitally protecting their culture.

Nobody likes a snoop

This year, leaked classified documents revealed that the National Security Agency has secretly collected the online communications of foreigners. The PRISM program has gathered data from nine American tech companies, including Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. Setting aside the legal and moral arguments against such a program, Glenn Derene writes in Popular Mechanics that spying on foreigners could hurt the US economy.

“Collecting vast quantities of user data from American-based multinational companies could end up poisoning their reputations and harming their business,” he says. It forces foreign firms to question whether they want to work with American companies, and raises national security questions for other governments thinking about contracting US firms.

The irony here is that PRISM is effective because American companies dominate information technology. By snooping around in their servers, could the government have ruined the companies’ competitive edge – and its own?

From a floating tire to the Ivy League

“The first time he arrived in the United States, three-year-old Juan Cerda ... was on a truck tire floating across the Rio Grande river,” writes Yanan Wang in the Yale Daily News. “All in all, Cerda has spent just four years of his life in Mexico – three as a toddler, and one as a child waiting for his mother to receive cancer treatment. But for almost all of the 16 years he has lived in America, Cerda has had no permission to live in this country.”

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