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Security Theatre: what next?

Posted by on Jul 7, 2011 in Attacks On Our Democracy, Surveillance State | 0 comments

We’ve written before about the ineffectiveness of full body scanners, along with the health and privacy risks they carry. In the US, in particular, there is a groundswell of popular opinion against them — perhaps in part because they are used so much more frequently there than they are in the UK. Perhaps because the country’s libertarian ethos makes a strange cacophony when played in concert with machines that show security personnel naked images of travellers. That distaste...

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Afghanistan: Civilian casualties and conscientious objection

Posted by on Jul 5, 2011 in Afghanistan, Asia, Worldwide Conflict | 0 comments

Two stories about Afghanistan have particularly caught our eye this week. The first is the revelation, in the Los Angeles Times, of the incredibly high numbers of civilians who are dying in the country: 30 in one 48-hour period. According to the article: The Taliban and other insurgents often plant bombs close together, in hopes of killing troops and those who try to help victims. While the callousness of this strategy beggars belief, it gives a horrifying insight into the nature of the...

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Libya: A Week of Indignity

Posted by on Jun 29, 2011 in Arab Spring, Blog, Middle East, Worldwide Conflict | 0 comments

Gaddafi is a war criminal. That much seems a fair assessment. In that context, the International Criminal Court warrant that authorises his arrest seems welcome. On the other hand, it’s highly debatable whether Gaddafi is alone in the commission of such atrocities. Current violence in Syria, for example, could equally draw sanction. Even more poignantly, as Lindsey German highlights, how likely is it that Tony Blair or George W. Bush will ever be indicted for their parts in leading the...

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D is for Database: We Know Where You Live (What You Had For Dinner, Which Websites You Visit Most … )

Posted by on Jun 29, 2011 in Attacks On Our Democracy, Database Society | 0 comments

You might be forgiven, after all the hullabaloo surrounding the cancelling of ID Cards shortly after the Coalition took power last May, for thinking that we’d entered an age of a more enlightened approach to data collection. Surveying the recent rash of revelations about the info various companies (we’re looking at you, Microsoft, Google, Facebook) already have about us, however, you’d be hard-pressed to take such a forgiving attitude. Microsoft acknowledged earlier this week...

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Libya: which way forward?

Posted by on Jun 24, 2011 in Arab Spring, Middle East, Worldwide Conflict | 0 comments

And so the efforts to unseat Muammar Gaddafi continue. As former US ambassador to Morocco, Marc Ginsberg, writes in the Huffington Post, the current strategy — keep up a heavy barrage on Gaddafi’s fortress in Tripoli, and hope that something gives — is hardly looking like an impressive solution. NATO has flown more than 12,000 missions over Libya since March, to little real effect. That’s if we even accept that removing Gaddafi by force is a legitimate aim. Nor does the...

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Afghanistan: making sense of the madness

Posted by on Jun 23, 2011 in Afghanistan, Asia, Worldwide Conflict | 0 comments

The US and the UKĀ  have now been embroiled with the war in Afghanistan for ten years. To mark this less-than-glorious anniversary, BBC2 yesterday screened John Ware‘s film Afghanistan: War without End? Tom Sutcliffe, writing in today’s Independent, calls it “not a good choice as an anti-depressant, obviously” and goes on to say that “even after you’d made allowance for that the film still managed to lower the spirits.” Apparently, the major mistake made...

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Public sector cuts: lost arts

Posted by on Jun 15, 2011 in Attacks On Our Democracy, Government Reforms | 0 comments

It can be tough to ascertain the true impact of public sector spending cuts. Amidst the constant rhetoric assuring us of their necessity, voices that explain, in measured tones, quite how destructive our government’s approach really is, are often drowned out. Hence our interest in the Lost Arts website — an initiative designed to catalogue the extent of cuts to the arts and highlight the social, cultural, and economic cost to the country — as detailed by this Guardian...

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Internet privacy: who’s reading your emails?

Posted by on Jun 13, 2011 in Attacks On Our Democracy, Internet Freedom, Surveillance State | 0 comments

We’ve become used to thinking of the internet as a space in which new norms of relationship — norms that make more sense than the kind of authoritarianism we’re used to from governments — apply. Norms such as reciprocity, egalitarianism, free speech, consideration (give or take the odd flamer), that bind communities together rather than tearing them apart. Norms, in fact, that used to be taken as read in the way we related to one another. In that sense, they’re old...

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Full body scanners: the next generation?

Posted by on Jun 6, 2011 in Attacks On Our Democracy, Surveillance State | 0 comments

Dubious though we are about full body scanners at airports, they do at least have the benefit of being optional (in the US, where you can opt instead for a pat-down that has been described as tantamount to sexual abuse) or administered randomly (in the UK, where you don’t have the option of refusing them unless you’d rather not catch your flight). A rather complimentary article in The Telegraph today describes a new development in the world of airport security — a prototype of...

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Libya: what happens next?

Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Arab Spring, Middle East, Worldwide Conflict | 0 comments

It appears that this phase, at least, of the conflict in Libya is reaching its denouement. South African president Jacob Zuma has met with Gaddafi, and reports that the latter is interested in negotiating a truce. The ‘roadmap’ that he is apparently prepared to implement, however, has already been rejected both by NATO and by the Benghazi-based rebel army on the grounds that it would not require him to relinquish power. Meanwhile, eight senior officers — apparently including...

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