“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.
“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.
“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]”
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“Paradoxically, it was God who created Hell as a place to store evil. He didn’t do a good job of keeping it there, though.”
“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.
“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.
“Whenever a young black man pulls his pants up, the very inner workings of the cosmos immediately realign in his favour.”
“What’s most momentous about the new biology of loneliness is that it offers concrete proof, obtained through the best empirical means, that the poets and bluesmen and movie directors who for centuries have deplored the ravages of lonesomeness on both body and soul were right all along.” Judith Shulevitz concludes that natural selecton favoured people who needed people.
“The other aspect of it is the changing the world part. Directly, it’s put computers into places that could never afford proprietary licensing. Indirectly, it forms part of the first wave of the whole reclamation of culture and production by the people.” Alan Cox talks to Jennifer Cloer.
“Would he ever consider buying a foreign car? Too polite to say no, Schlüter gave a slightly apologetic smile. After decades of industrial neglect and regional decline, Britain has a long way to go before such popular pride in homegrown products goes without saying”, Julian Coman reports. This story captures some of what it should mean to be German.
However, given the current state of the Eurozone, Germany’s outlook might not be so bright after all.
“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.
“We all have the capacity to be quite bad—under the right circumstances.”
“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.
Thankfully, a recent investigation provides sufficient evidence to conclude that the UK government has got this covered. Not.
“Everyone has their own private Steve Jobs. It usually tells you a lot about them—and little about Jobs.” Ben Austen considers what we know about Steve Jobs’ personality, which, depending on who you are, lends itself to vastly different interpretations.
“For fear they might only get one term they are dashing to secure that indelible legacy. The plan is to outsource so much that reconstructing public services will be impossible in future.” Polly Toynbee reports on an epidemic of evidence-free, faith-based policymaking that is creating moral hazard on a grand scale.
“A moral hazard is a situation where there is a tendency to take undue risks because the costs are not borne by the party taking the risk.”