Underground London: adventures in the secret city beneath our feet

“Today, we’ve been so inculcated with fear and distracted by obligations and consumer junk, we can’t even be bothered to ask why numerous miles of warm, fluorescently lit tunnels under Chancery Lane are laying mothballed while people with no homes freeze to death on the streets above them—forced to sleep in hypothermic conditions by anti-homeless spikes installed on ledges outside shops, luxury flats and offices.” Bradley Garrett regards urban exploration as an apathy killer, spreading stories that help us perceive worlds other than the ones presented to us.
www.theguardian.com

David Simon on why he created The Wire¹

“Collective responsibilty without personal freedom or without personal liberty is tyranny, it’s totalitarianism. Conversely, personal freedom and personal liberty without a collective responsibility where we have a shared sense that you are part of society and that you owe it to society to participate fully and to seek utilitarian solutions to society’s problems—that’s just selfish. That’s just bad citizenship. That’s a recipe for a second rate society. [sic]” David Simon speaking at the Observer Ideas festival 2014 in London.
www.theguardian.com

1. “Despite only receiving average ratings and never winning major television awards, The Wire has been described by many critics as one of the greatest TV dramas of all time.”

The most wanted man in the world

“The question for us is not what new story will come out next. The question is, what are we going to do about it?” James Bamford interviews Edward Snowden, who regards the use of strong encryption in your everyday communication as a viable means to end mass surveillance.
www.wired.com

Also watch United States of Secrets, a two-part series detailing how the US government came to monitor and collect the communications of millions around the world.

Secrecy concerns around TTIP

“Shrouded in secrecy, our world leaders are currently negotiating a deal that will let multinational corporations wield power over national governments; lower environmental and safety standards across the EU; bring workers’ rights down to appalling US levels; and threaten the NHS as we know it.” Jim Sheridan expresses his concerns about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and its implications for the United Kingdom. Similar anxieties exist in Germany. Is Europe about to be sold down the river?
www.huffingtonpost.co.uk

Now then

“What Amazon and many other companies began to do in the late 1990s was build up a giant world of the past on their computer servers. A historical universe that is constantly mined to find new ways of giving back to you today what you liked yesterday—with variations.” Adam Curtis highlights the mechanisms that help to narrow and simplify our experiences to the point that we are in danger of getting stuck in a static, ever-narrowing version of ourselves, locked into place, “perpetually repeating the past and terrified of change and the future”.
www.bbc.co.uk

World processor

“Such are the perverse rewards we reap when we permit tech culture to become our culture. The profits and power flow to the platform owners and their political sponsors. We get the surveillance, the data mining, the soaring inequality, and the canned pep talks from bosses who have been upsold on analytics software.” Jacob Silverman critically examines today’s employment practices using past issues of Processed World as a guide to the great digital reorganization of work.
www.thebaffler.com

David McCoy on The Lancet Commission

“In contrast to the easy cross-border flow of capital, commodities and profits, the Commission notes the lack of freedom for ordinary people to migrate in pursuit of a safe and secure life, and it deplores the plight of undocumented migrants who are denied essential health care in spite of international treaties that are supposed to guarantee universal rights and entitlements.” After correctly identifying the undemocratic and unequal distribution of power as an underlying cause of health inequities, David McCoy sees The Lancet-UiO Commission on Global Governance For Health Commissioners falling disappointingly short in its recommendations.
www.medact.org

Wenn die Maschinenstürmer doch recht behalten

In German
“Einerseits steige die Verfügbarkeit von digitalisierbaren Dingen und Diensten dramatisch, bei immer weiter sinkenden Preisen. Andererseits kämen die Erträge der neuen Produktionsweisen nur wenigen zugute, was in einer potenziell extremen Polarisierung von Einkommen und Entfaltungschancen resultiere.” Henrik Müller sieht uns einem verarmenden Produktivitätswachstum ausgeliefert.
www.spiegel.de

The secret government rulebook for labeling you a terrorist

“This combination—a broad definition of what constitutes terrorism and a low threshold for designating someone a terrorist—opens the way to ensnaring innocent people in secret government dragnets. It can also be counterproductive. When resources are devoted to tracking people who are not genuine risks to national security, the actual threats get fewer resources—and might go unnoticed.” Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux report on the Obama administration’s expansion of the terrorist watchlist system.
firstlook.org

OS X Mavericks forces iOS calendar, contact syncing into iCloud

“Basically, iCloud is appallingly insecure, and Apple has just dramatically increased the volume of information that’s about to start flowing through it—names, email addresses, home addresses, and phone numbers in droves, not to mention your doctor’s visits.” Molly Wood does not regard Apple’s iCloud a safe place for her data.
themolly.com

How the NSA betrayed the world’s trust—time to act

“And whoever tells you that they have nothing to hide simply haven’t thought about this long enough. ‘Cause we have this thing called privacy. And if you really think that you have nothing to hide, please make sure that’s the first thing you tell me because then I know, that I should not trust you with any secrets because obviously, you can’t keep a secret [sic]”
Mikko Hypponen
www.ted.com

The danger of fetishizing BlackBerry Messenger security

“I would suggest that it is more useful to take a holistic democratic accounting of lawful access laws and their implications. Where such laws are prospectively damaging to the fabric of the democracy, perhaps by threatening rights of free speech, association, and limitations of governmental search powers, then those are the areas that we as citizens, journalists, and commentators must focus our attention. Such democratic narrative can be supported by technological and legal facts and opinions, but critically the basic narrative is not on corporate products, whiz-bang technologies, nor legal minutia, but the very principles of a democracy.” Christopher Parsons in 2012, more than one year before Edward Snowden, is right on the money pinpointing the implications of unrestrained government surveillance.
www.christopher-parsons.com

What the fluck!

“I think there is an equally diffuse malaise today—waiting for a new kind of journalism to bring it into focus. Like with McClure’s it won’t be just a catalogue of shocking facts—it will be an imaginative leap that pulls all the scandals together and shows how they are part of some new system of power that we don’t fully comprehend.” Adam Curtis attempts to define the point at which journalism fails and modern power begins.
www.bbc.co.uk

How the NSA threatens national security

“Our choice isn’t between a digital world where the agency can eavesdrop and one where it cannot; our choice is between a digital world that is vulnerable to any attacker and one that is secure for all users.” Bruce Schneier regards ubiquitous surveillance as a quixotic undertaking that does nothing to keep us safe and does everything to undermine the very societies we seek to protect.
www.theatlantic.com

This structure of surveillance will stop us doing things which are right

“We now face the greatest threat to our liberties since the second world war. We are sleepwalking into despotism. Because of the amount of material that is being collected, because these databases, which are not about tiny items of information, will be used and not just by governments. Snowden was working for a corporation. They will be accessed by others in government and because, that’s most important of all, people will start to self-censor. We will find that the very fact of the total surveillance of our activities means that we are going to sort of … it’s not a question, as the foreign minister said, of ‘if you haven’t done anything wrong you have nothing to fear’. [sic] This structure of surveillance will stop us doing things which are right, that we know we should be doing.” Anthony Barnett appearing on yesterday’s Newsnight programme.
youtube.com

In praise of pessimism

“We do not arrive at any idea of what is best for the collective unless we are prepared to seize the day and practise it on our own behalf. Most mature individuals understand what this means in respect of themselves—it’s just all those feckless others that they don’t trust to act appropriately.” Things may be for the worst in a less-than-perfect-world, but Will Self is determined to hold on to his idealism.
www.newstatesman.com

The special dread of terrorism for Muslims in the west

“Contrary to some hyperbolic depictions of Muslim minorities as a nefarious fifth column within society, the average Muslim has about as much control of, or connection to, the vile actions of terrorists as the average white American does to school shootings or movie theater massacres”, contends Murtaza Hussain.
www.guardian.co.uk

Seeing terror risk, US asks journals to cut flu study facts

“Ever since the tightening of security after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, scientists have worried that a scientific development would pit the need for safety against the need to share information. Now, it seems, that day has come.” Denise Grady and William Broad report on moves by the US government to effectively censor influenza research.
www.nytimes.com