Terrorists don’t scare city cyclists. We already have to deal with cars.

“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

Don’t feel sorry for refugees—believe in them

“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

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.

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

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

Airport security — this house believes that changes made to airport security since 9/11 have done more harm than good

“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

Sebastian Junger remembers Tim Hetherington

“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

Passagierselektion macht es Terroristen leicht

“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

Is aviation security mostly for show?

“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

Welcome to the Police Academy state

“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

Robin Cook is dead

youtube.com

Robin Cook, one of few political figures to command my lasting respect, has suddenly died on August 6, 2005. If you are only ever going to read one political statement made to the House of Commons, read Robin Cooks’s resignation speech from 18 March, 2003.

A minute of silence

Last week I got caught up in the traffic jam that followed the killing of an innocent man at Stockwell tube station. Today, I passed the same spot again. This time I stopped.

Remembering Jean Charles de Menezes one week after he was shot and killed by police at Stockwell tube station in London. What did the ubiquitous CCTV cameras record that morning?

Update: Reports are now emerging that Jean Charles de Menezes had already been restrained by an officer when he was shot in the head seven times.

Echoes of war

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.”

2nd Prize in the category General News Singles, World Press Photo 2005.
© David Robert Swanson, USA, The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Reproduced with kind permission.