Sale of the century: the privatisation scam

“But the gap where the economic rationale for privatising council houses should be becomes a window through which it becomes possible to see beyond the individual privatisations to the meta-privatisation, and its one indisputable success: that it put more money into the hands of a small number of the very wealthiest people, at the expense of the elderly, the sick, the jobless and the working poor.” In an article that should be regarded as compulsory reading for citizens everywhere, James Meek looks back at 35 years of privatising UK industries.
www.theguardian.com

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

The Piketty Panic

“But how do you make that defense if the rich derive much of their income not from the work they do but from the assets they own? And what if great wealth comes increasingly not from enterprise but from inheritance?” After reviewing Capital in the Twenty-First Century by french professor Thomas Piketty, Paul Krugman reflects on why this particular book is reshaping the debate on wealth and inequality.
www.nytimes.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

Brainwashed by the cult of the super-rich

“The rich are not merely different: they’ve become a cult which drafts us as members. We are invited to deceive ourselves into believing we are playing for the same stakes while worshipping the same ideals, a process labelled ‘aspiration’.” Priyamvada Gopal does not regard vast economic inequalities as either natural or just.
www.theguardian.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

How Starbucks avoids UK taxes

“Over the past three years, Starbucks has reported no profit, and paid no income tax, on sales of 1.2 billion pounds in the UK.” Tom Bergin explains how Starbucks makes certain that we are #allinthistogether.
www.reuters.com

Thankfully, a recent investigation provides sufficient evidence to conclude that the UK government has got this covered. Not.