The future of digital rights in the UK will start at ORGCon 17, London, Nov 4-5

There has never been a moment in which digital rights in the UK were more up for grabs, between Brexit, sweeping new surveillance powers, and the accelerating drumbeat of the digitisation of every aspect of life and society. Read the rest

Coming to Europe: a lecture tour with Garnet "Disobedient Electronics" Hertz

Garnet Hertz is the designer/scholar/provocateur behind the amazing Disobedient Electronics project ("Building electronic objects can be an effective form of social argument or political protest"); though he is normally based at British Colombia's Emily Carr University, he's currently touring Europe with the Disobedient Electronics book on a Disobedient Electronics protest tour, with stops in London, Southampton, the Hague, Brussels, Paris, Berlin and Madiera. Read the rest

London bans Uber; firm can stay while it appeals

Citing its failure to disclose serious crimes and the use of "Grayball" software to evade regulatory oversight, London banned Uber today.

The company has 21 days to appeal the loss of its license to operate cabs, during with Uber is permitted to continue doing business.

London's Licensed Taxi Drivers Association praised the decision. “Since it first came onto our streets Uber has broken the law, exploited its drivers and refused to take responsibility for the safety of passengers,” a spokesman told the Independent.

Uber's London manager vowed to challenge the decision, arguing that it would hurt 40,000 Uber drivers in the city. "To defend the livelihoods of all those drivers, and the consumer choice of millions of Londoners who use our app, we intend to immediately challenge this in the courts," he said.

There's no love whatsoever in London for traditional cabbies, but Uber's such a vile company that this is likely to bring it to heel as it did in other European cities. That said, never underestimate the political power of consumer convenience—especially in a city whose leaders don't seem to understand why Uber is so successful. Read the rest

20% of Manchester police systems run Windows XP

Manchester boasts England's second-largest police-force (after London) and some of the nation's shittiest IT. Read the rest

There's an 820-foot-long fatberg clogging an east London sewer

The latest fatberg (a hardened mass of condoms, nappies, wet wipes, fat, and other things that people insist on flushing down their toilets) (previously) to clog London's sewers is the Whitechapel whale, measuring 820 feet long, weighing 130 metric tonnes (as much as 11 double-decker buses) (this is a standard measure of fatbergs). Read the rest

Mat Ricardo's next juggling show will feature a trick you think he can't do

Mat Ricardo (previously) writes, "After 30 years of being the undisputed go-to guy for performing feats of dexterity live on stage, I've got a problem - I think I've done all the tricks I can think of. So, in what could be the dumbest move of my career, or the most fun, I'm issuing an open challenge for my next one man show." Read the rest

Mafia money-launderer listed his profession as "fraudster" with UK companies register

The UK is one of the easiest places in the world to set up a shady company, which is why accused Mafia money-launderer Antonio "Tonino the Blond" Righi set up his shell company Magnolia Fundaction UK with Britain's Companies House, giving an address in Soho. Read the rest

London house-purchase volume falls off a cliff

In May 2014, 259 Islington homes changed hands; in May 2016, 139 houses were sold in the Borough: this May, it was 89. Read the rest

Crash ahoy! London real-estate prices stagnate

In a world of expensive urbanization where the spiraling cost of basic shelter has forced ever-more people into debt and fuelled a speculative global bubble of criminal money-launderers who use luxury housing as empty safe-deposit boxes in the sky, London is ground zero. Read the rest

New hedge-fund HQ will have "Champagne" buttons for the traders' desks

Any time a trader at Enstar Capital's new London Soho offices fancies sushi and Champagne delivered to their desk, they can press a dedicated "Champagne" button that's being installed at each workplace, as a kind of grotesque, guillotine-inspiring homage to Amazon's Dash button, which lets mere mortals order laundry detergent. Read the rest

London van rams worshippers at mosque, authorities investigating attack as terrorism

In London, an attacker drove a van into pedestrians outside a mosque in London, killing one person and injuring ten or more others.

Read the rest

London fire: just last year, Tory landlord-MPs rejected Labour's tenant safety law

The death-toll on London's Grenfell Tower fire continues to mount, it's worth remembering that there are no "natural disasters," only human disasters, created by people who weigh different interests in the balance and create policies based on the way the scales come up. Read the rest

At least 12 dead after fire guts London high-rise where residents complained about safety for years

London's Grenfell Tower, built in the 1970s, is 27 stories tall and the subject of years of desperate complaints by its residents concerning safety. Last night it was completely consumed by fire, claiming the lives of at least twelve residents and sending hundreds more to hospital. Witnesses report that they heard no alarms and saw no sprinklers, despite a recent "renovation."

Eyewitnesses described people trapped in the burning Grenfell Tower, in north Kensington, screaming for help and yelling for their children to be saved.

Firefighters rescued "large numbers", but London Mayor Sadiq Khan said "a lot" of people were unaccounted for.

The 24-storey block, which is still on fire, looks at risk of collapsing.

During the night, eyewitnesses said they saw lights - thought to be mobile phones or torches - flashing at the top of the block of flats, and trapped residents coming to their windows - some holding children.

The Grenfell residents association's blog amounts to years of postings, desperately pleading with local government and the Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation for their lives, in full knowledge that they would soon lose them. It's disgusting and terrifying.

A baby was caught by a member of the public after being dropped from Grenfell Tower as it was engulfed with flames, a witness said.

Samira Lamrani said she saw a woman try to save a baby by dropping it from a window "on the ninth or 10th floor" to waiting members of the public below.

"People were starting to appear at the windows, frantically banging and screaming," she said.

Read the rest

Newspeak House: East London's den of civic hackers

Newspeak House (AKA NWSPK) is a co-working space (with a few bedrooms!) in East London that houses an eclectic mix of civic hackers: people working to make British (and global) democracy more responsive, more representative, and more transparent. Read the rest

Multiple attacks in London described as ‘Potential Act of Terrorism’

Multiple attacks in London tonight are being described as a coordinated 'potential act of terrorism' by British Prime Minister Theresa May. London police confirm that more than one person was killed as a van plowed into a crowd of people at the London Bridge. One man was seen leaving the van, then running toward Borough Market, carrying a large knife. Reports of stabbings followed soon after.

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London! I'll be at Pages of Hackney tonight with Olivia Sudjic! (then Liverpool, Birmingham, Hay...) (!)

Last night's sold-out Walkaway tour event with Laurie Penny at Waterstones Tottenham Court Road was spectacular (and not just because they had some really good whisky behind the bar), and the action continues today with a conversation with Olivia Sudjic tonight at Pages of Hackney, where we'll be discussing her novel Sympathy as well as Walkaway. Read the rest

London! I'll see you tonight on the Walkaway tour! (then Liverpool, Birmingham, and Hay...) (!)

Last night's kick-off event for the UK Walkaway tour was brilliant, thanks to the magic combination of the excellent Tim Harford, the excellent people of Oxford, and the excellent booksellers at Blackwells. Read the rest

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