In a disturbing ruling for democracy, a lower court in United Kingdom announced today that the detainment of journalist Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was lawful under the Terrorism Act, despite the fact that the UK government knew Miranda never was a terrorist. This disgraceful opinion equates acts of journalism with terrorism and puts the UK on par with some of the world’s most repressive regimes. Miranda has vowed to appeal the ruling.
Glenn Greenwald has much more on what this means for press freedom, but I’d like to expand on one particular point:
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It's been nearly four years since Kathe Koja's amazing novel "Under the Poppy" was published, plunging readers into a dark world of eros, war, and puppetry (seriously). Koja is a chameleon of a writer, whose career began with grotesque, lascivious, splatterpunk horror novels like The Cipher, then transitioned into spare, quietly brilliant YA novels like Buddha Boy, and then emerged in the entirely indescribable territory of Under the Poppy, to which she has now returned with a new novel called The Mercury Waltz.
When Brian Wood's brilliant America-at-war comic DMZ completed its six-year run in 2012, I wished for Vertigo to bring out a single edition collecting the whole series. They haven't quite gotten there, but with tomorrow's release of DMZ: The Deluxe Edition Book One, they're getting close. The large, beautifully produced, gorgeous hardcover collects the first 12 issues of the comic -- the equivalent of the first two trade paperback collections. A followup collection, due in June, picks up issues 13-28. At this rate, the whole thing will end up in four-to-six books, suitable to being drunk down in one long, engrossing, chilling, thrilling draft.
Here's my synopsis of the setup from my review of the final volume (which was nothing less than brilliant -- Wood really nailed the ending):
If you're just tuning in, DMZ is the story of an America caught in the midst of so many "elective" overseas military adventures that the nation itself crumbles and is gripped in a civil war between a guerrilla force of the "Free United States" and the military-industrial complex, mostly in the form of vicious, private military contractors. NYC is the place where the two forces clash, the "DMZ" where there are many civilians, but no innocents. Matty Roth, the story's hero, is a helper with a news crew for Liberty News, the hyper-patriotic, semi-state-owned propaganda news service. As he arrives in New York, his helicopter is shot down, and he finds himself catapulted into a new role as a boy reporter. From those beginnings, the story unrolls, as Roth discovers the truth of war, becomes the story he is reporting on, and finally falls too deep.
If you're looking for a perfect way to tune into one of the best comics of the 21st century, this volume is it.
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Geoff from BLDGBLOG sez, "A few years ago, I interviewed novelist Sol Yurick, author of The Warriors, for BLDGBLOG -- but a variety of circumstances meant it just sat in my hard drive for the past four years. But after rediscovering the interview in my old files, and after Yurick himself passed away back in January, it seemed like there was no time like the present to publish this, finally."
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Three years after it was discovered, Stuxnet, the first publicly disclosed cyberweapon, continues to baffle military strategists, computer security experts, political decision-makers, and the general public. A comfortable narrative has formed around the weapon: how it attacked the Iranian nuclear facility at Natanz, how it was designed to be undiscoverable, how it escaped from Natanz against its creators' wishes. Major elements of that story are either incorrect or incomplete. That's because Stuxnet is not really one weapon, but two. The vast majority of the attention has been paid to Stuxnet's smaller and simpler attack routine -- the one that changes the speeds of the rotors in a centrifuge, which is used to enrich uranium. But the second and "forgotten" routine is about an order of magnitude more complex and stealthy.
Exclusive: Joe Sacco's The Great War, documentary on the creation of an extraordinary graphic history
Joe Sacco is a spectacular political comics creator, and has earned a well-deserved reputation for his work on war and conflict with books on Sarajevo and Bosnia, Gaza and Palestine and other modern militarized zones.
But now he's created The Great War, a wordless, gate-folded work on World War One. It's gorgeous and haunting, and beautifully presented in a slipcased hardcover. His publisher, WW Norton, prepared a short documentary on the book and we've got it exclusively (for now). I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
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A Daily Beast story about Taliban’s ruling council meeting for peace talks in Pakistan “violates the basic principles of journalism” and is "nonsense," according to the Afghan Taliban. That's not as bad as having your news organization banned on Reddit, but it's still gotta hurt.
The Taliban's critique, below, in full:
Drone strike survivors from Pakistan speak to Congress; only five lawmakers bother to show up (video)
In the video above, Rafiq ur Rahman, a drone strike survivor from Pakistan, speaks at a congressional briefing in Washington, DC convened by Rep. Alan Grayson (FL-09). The primary school teacher spoke with his daughter Nabila (9) and son Zubair (13). One year ago, they were injured in the same drone strike that killed their 67-year-old grandmother, Rafiq's mother, as she was tending crops in her garden.
Kevin Gosztola of Firedog lake attended the briefing, and writes: "It is heart-wrenching to hear a 13-year-old boy say, 'Congressman Grayson, I no longer love blue skies. In fact, I now prefer gray skies. The drones do not fly when the skies are gray,' because this is one of the few times he is not afraid he will be targeted by a drone."
From Kevin's report:
Rick Kleffel interviewed Ian Tregillis, author of the amazing alternate history Milkweed books, about Nazi X-Men fighting a secret war against British warlocks. Tregillis describes the process by which he came up with the premise, and especially -- and most interestingly -- how he came up with his brilliant treatment for Gretl, a precognitive villain who is pretty much evil personified (MP3).
If you enjoy the irony in the fact that the great East Coast blackout of 2003 was largely caused by a few untrimmed trees, then you're going to love Jon Mooallem's account of how America's squirrels are wreaking havoc on America's electricity system.
Using a Google news alert, he's cataloged 50 squirrel-caused power outages in 24 states — and that's just since Memorial Day. These aren't small outages either. Several of them have cut power to thousands of people at a time. Back in 1994, a squirrel took out the Nasdaq. These are kamikaze raids and they've led to an interesting phenomenon — technology developed specifically to protect our infrastructure from furry, tree-hopping rodents.
Jaimie Mantzel, creator of the Attacknid hexapod robot toys, is kickstarting a kit version that you build and decorate yourself. It looks like a really fun project, and there's an optional toolkit with soldering iron, screwdrivers, etc. The final robot is an RC attack-bot with all kinds of shooting stuff (darts, balls, etc) as well as a custom crane that isn't available for Attacknids. He needs a minimum order of 5,000 robot kits at $77 (and up, depending on options) to get into production.
Journalists and bloggers covering closing arguments in the military trial of Wikileaks source Bradley Manning are reporting a far more intense security climate at Ft. Meade today, as compared to the past 18 months of pre-trial hearings and court proceedings.
@carwinb, @kgosztola, @nathanLfuller, and @wikileakstruck have tweeted about armed guards standing directly behind them as they type into laptops in the designated press area, being "screamed at" for having "windows" open on their computers that show Twitter in a browser tab, and having to undergo extensive, repeated, invasive physical searches.
I visited the trial two weeks ago. While there were many restrictions for attending press that I found surprising (reporters couldn't work from the courtroom, mobile devices weren't allowed in the press room), it wasn't this bad. I was treated respectfully and courteously by Army Public Affairs Officers and military police, and was only grumped at a few times for stretching those (silly) restrictions. I was physically searched only once, when entering the courtroom, and that's standard for civilian or military trials.
But the vibe is very different today in the Smallwood building where reporters are required to work, about a quarter mile away from the actual courtroom. Tweets from some of the attending journalists are below; there are about 40-50 of them present and not all are tweeting. Internet access is spotty today. Oh, wait; as I type this blog post, I'm now seeing updates that they're being told they are not allowed to access Twitter at all. Why has the climate changed so much in the final few days of the trial? What is the Army afraid of?
Inside a small courthouse on the Army base in Fort Meade, Maryland, Army prosecutors are presenting closing arguments in their case against Pfc. Bradley Manning, who leaked hundreds of thousands of government documents to Wikileaks.
According to Maj. Ashden Fein today, the 25-year-old former intel analyst betrayed his country’s trust and handed government secrets to Julian Assange in search of fame and glory, knowing that in doing so, the material would be made visible to Al Qaeda and its then-leader Osama bin Laden.
Brian K Vaughan is best known for creating the wonderful apocalyptic adventure-comic Y: The Last Man. His new project, Saga, is a significant departure from Y in setting and tone, but it is every bit as great -- and a little bit better, if you ask me.
The setup is that two posthuman species -- a moon-dwelling tribe of horned magic-users and a planet-based race of high-tech winged people -- are locked in an endless war that spills out across the galaxy, embroiling all the races of all the planets in a series of vicious, permanent proxy-wars. In the midst of this, Marko and Alana, soldiers from opposite sides of the war, fall in love, desert and have a baby, and kick off a sprawling space-opera as they flee from their respective armies and the bounty hunters they hire.
Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples let their imaginations run wild with this story, giving us a galaxy populated by creature-shop aliens that are somewhere between Duchamp and Disney, a Mos Eisley Cantina times a million. Vaughan weaves a splendid romantic adventure around this, with sweet Nick-and-Nora dialog that never feels forced. But the story transcends mere pace-pounding, and manages moments of sweetness, sorrow, and sentiment that will have you daubing your eyes between laughing and gasping over audacious battles. It's like The Incal, but with a more straightforward (and more self-disciplined) storyline, and it's a reminder that as a visual medium, science fiction has tricks that are just stupendous.
I've just read the first two collections in a single sitting, and they are spectacular. Best of all, they're from Image Comics, who just announced a DRM-free comics store, so you can keep up with the book in print or online without surrendering your right to actually own the comics you buy.
I can't say enough about the visual style deployed in Saga -- check out some of my favorite panels and pages after the jump.
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They show US troops opening fire on a Viet Cong sniper who was firing on the US soldiers with an AK47 automatic rifle. Hensinger kept these photographs private for four decades; he chose to publish them online to commemorate Memorial Day in the US.