“If there’s one group of road users virtually immune to being cowed by a lowly act of terrorism involving a motor vehicle, it’s cyclists. We’re reminded every day—through rolled-down car windows, on too-narrow roads, via social media—that we “share” the roads with people who actively hate us and that our interests (including safety) come behind theirs. Every one of us knows what it’s like to stare death in the grille. Daily riders have all had drivers aim their cars at us as if they were about to plow us down, whether because of run-of-the-mill inattention or out-and-out road rage. This reality is priced into our decision to ride.” Eben Weiss alias Bike Snob NYC offers the urban cyclist’s perspective on the latest terrorist threat. www.washingtonpost.com
“We take in so few refugees worldwide. We resettle less than .1 percent. That .1 percent benefits us more than them. It dumbfounds me how the word refugee is consided something to be dirty, something to be ashamed of. They have nothing to be ashamed of. We have seen advances in every aspect of our lives except our humanity. There are 65.3 million people who have been forced out of their homes because of war. The largest number in history. We are the ones who should be ashamed.” Luma Mufleh www.ted.com
“I don’t know why, but it felt like a good time to reflect on what happens when the United Kingdom makes a huge political decision without fully comprehending the consequences.” Banksy talking to Channel 4 News on the 100th anniversary of Great Britain assuming control of Palestine. www.channel4.com
“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.
“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
“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
“Spending billions to force the terrorists to alter their plans in one particular way does not make us safer. It is far more cost-effective to concentrate our defences in ways that work regardless of tactic and target: intelligence, investigation and emergency response.” Bruce Schneier debates the former head of the Transportation Security Administration, Kip Hawley, on airport security. This is from the first of Schneier’s three statements on the topic.
www.economist.com 20 March, 23 March, 28 March
“You and I were always talking about risk because she was the beautiful woman we were both in love with, right? The one who made us feel the most special, the most alive? We were always trying to have one more dance with her without paying the price.” Sebastian Junger writes after the death of photojournalist Tim Hetherington in April 2011. www.vanityfair.com
“Natürlich müssen wir uns darum bemühen, die Kontrollen an den Flughäfen effektiver zu machen. Profiling nach Herkunft und Religionszugehörigkeit aber ist eine schlechte Idee, die das Fliegen weder bequemer noch sicherer macht.” Peter Neumann believes that the use of passenger profiling would actually have detrimental effects on aviation security. www.spiegel.de
“Despite fearful rhetoric to the contrary, terrorism is not a transcendent threat. A terrorist attack cannot possibly destroy a country’s way of life; it’s only our reaction to that attack that can do that kind of damage.” In the wake of last week’s failed bombing of an airplane over Detroit, Bruce Schneier asks us to leverage the inherent strengths of our democracies. edition.cnn.com
“The war on drugs has been a disaster, creating failed states in the developing world even as addiction has flourished in the rich world. By any sensible measure, this 100-year struggle has been illiberal, murderous and pointless. That is why The Economist continues to believe that the least bad policy is to legalise drugs.” www.economist.com
“Like it or not, I fear it will not only be the cartoonists and impressionists who will miss the easy target in the White House when he has gone”, writes Mick Hume on the day George W Bush leaves office. spiked-online.com
I was just following the swearing-in of Barack Obama as the 44th President and listening to his Inaugural Address. It appears to me that, at long last, the United States of America have got a class act to lead them. www.youtube.com
“Sir Ian Blair captured the febrile nature of this climate, giddy on nightmares, when he said that de Menezes was killed in the ‘fog of war’. Given that this fog engulfed those giving the orders, little wonder officers stopped behaving rationally.” Tim Black reflects on what the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes tells us about the institutions of the British state. spiked-online.com
“It would have been nice to let Bush’s two terms marinate a while before invoking Herbert Hoover and James Buchanan from the cellar of worst presidents. But then—over the last two weeks—he completed the trilogy of national disasters that will be with us for a generation or more.” Timothy Egan assesses the Bush Presidency. egan.blogs.nytimes.com
“We did not go into Iraq to impose representative government on the Iraqis. We went there to manage a threat to our own safety.” Richard Perle explains why, in his view, the United States of America had to invade Iraq and topple Sadam Hussein. commentisfree.guardian.co.uk
World Press Photo is the largest and most prestigious press photography contest in the world. Every year, the exhibition is visited by more than a million people in over 40 countries. Today I got a chance to see the Winners Gallery 2005 in Hamburg. Of all the images on display, that of Private Eric Ayon had the biggest impact on me.
“Private Eric Ayon of Echo Company of the Second Battalion, Fourth Regiment of the US Marines stares through the windshield of a Humvee ambushed at Ar Ramadi in Iraq on April 6, 2004. Eight out of the nine marines on board were killed. Ayon himself died in an ambush at the same intersection only three days later. During its tour of Iraq, Echo Company suffered the worst casualties of any US company since Vietnam.”