On Grenfell's second anniversary, 60,000 Britons are still living in firetraps clad in the same deadly, decorative materials

It's been two years since the Grenfell tower block in north Kensington burned, killing at least 72 people: the blaze revealed deep corruption and indifference among Britain's richest people and the millionaire Conservative politicians who do their business in Parliament, from the fact that the highly flammable cladding responsible for the blaze was added so that the building would be more attractive to rich people in nearby luxury tower blocks, to the fact that the fire came five years after Tory PM David Cameron declared war on "safety culture" to the fact that Tory politicians (overwhelming landlords themselves) had voted down a bill to require landlords to ensure that the properties they rented were safe and "fit for human habitation", to the fact that local Tory councillors had deliberately chosen a more fire-prone cladding to save 5.7% on the cost of materials -- the same local government that forced Grenfell survivors to bid against each other for new homes and then paid the same company that installed the flammable cladding to replace it. Read the rest

Leaked UK military "Extreme Right Wing" checklist: "using the term 'Islamofascism'", adding "-istan" to place names

The UK Ministry of Defense has confirmed the authenticity of a leaked copy of its 2017 leaflet, "Extreme Right Wing (XRW) Indicators & Warnings," provided to senior defense staff to help them identify and root out far-right extremists in the ranks. Read the rest

Boris Johnson may be the UK's next Prime Minister, but he's up on criminal charges for Brexit "Battle Bus" lies

Boris Johnson (previously) is the racist, cowardly serial liar whose Old Etonian wealth and privilege warped and corrupted him into the kind of man who smashed up restaurants in acts of wanton, drunken vandalism, the sort of man who could never win a general election in the UK. Read the rest

The world's preeminent cryptographers can't get visas to speak at US conferences

Ross Anderson (previously) is one of the world's top cryptographers; the British academic and practitioner was honored by having his classic, Security Engineering, inducted into The Cybersecurity Canon; however, he was not able to attend the awards gala himself because the US government sat on his visa application for months, and ultimately did not grant it in time. Read the rest

Lawyer involved in suits against Israel's most notorious cyber-arms dealer targeted by its weapons, delivered through a terrifying Whatsapp vulnerability

NSO Group is a notorious Israeli cyber-arms dealer whose long trail of sleaze has been thoroughly documented by the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab (which may or may not be related to an attempt to infiltrate Citizen Lab undertaken by a retired Israeli spy); NSO has been implicated in the murder and dismemberment of the dissident Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi (just one of the brutal dictatorships who've availed themselves of NSO tools), and there seems to be no cause too petty for their clients, which is why their malware has been used to target anti-soda activists in Mexico. Read the rest

British jury ignores judge and frees self-represented climate activists based on the "necessity defense"

In 2017, climate activists Roger Hallam and David Durant painted the words "divest from oil and gas" on a wall at King’s College London in chalk paint; they were facing £7,000 in fines and up to 18 months in prison, and did not qualify for a legal aid lawyer. Read the rest

UK cops are secretly harvesting all data from the phones and cloud accounts of suspects, victims and witnesses and insecurely storing it forever

Privacy International's blockbuster Digital Stop and Search report details how British police forces have quietly procured phone-searching tools (including mobile "kiosks" that let them probe devices in the field), often from companies with a track-record of abetting some of the world's worst human rights abusers, and they use these in secret to capture all the data they can from phones taken from suspects, victims and witnesses. Read the rest

1% of England owns half of England

Guy Shrubsole is the author of Who Owns England? a forthcoming book that reports out a paintstaking researched data-set laying out, for the first time, a comprehensive view of the land ownership in England, finding that half of the country is owned by 1% of its people: a mere 25,000 aristocrats, oligarchs and corporations. Read the rest

London cops switch off wifi in the tube to make it harder for climate protesters to organise

This morning, the British Transport Police has ordered Virgin Media to switch off the wifi to some undisclosed London Underground stations in a bid to make it harder for climate protesters to organise their activities. Read the rest

The Chinafication of the internet continues as the UK proposes blocking any service that hosts "illegal" or "harmful" material

Last year the US Congress passed SESTA/FOSTA, an "anti-sex-trafficking bill" that has resulted in the shuttering of all the services formerly used by sex workers to vet their johns, massively increasing the personal physical risk borne by sex-workers and reinvigorating the dying pimping industry, as sex workers seek out protectors. Read the rest

Edward Snowden to keynote London's ORGCON!

ORGCON19 is the annual conference put on by the UK Open Rights Group (disclosure: I co-founded ORG and volunteer on its advisory board); it is "the UK’s largest human and digital rights conference," and this year's conference -- held on July 13 in central London -- is centred on "Data and Democracy, Digital Privacy, Online Censorship & the Role of Algorithms," so it only follows that the whistleblower Edward Snowden as its keynote speaker! Read the rest

London developer makes last-minute changes to lock poor kids out of "communal" playground

Henley Homes got permission to build a 149-home development on the site of the Baylis Old School complex on Lollard Street by promising to include some subsidised, below-market-rent units and "a network of courtyards and open spaces ... which will provide attractive areas for informal play. This will emphasise the sense of community within the scheme stressing that the common areas are there for the use of all the residents." Read the rest

Majority of London's newly built luxury flats are unsold, raising the spectre of "posh ghost towers"

Property developers in London built more than 1,900 luxury flats in 2018, the majority of which have so far failed to sell; all told, there are 3,000 luxury flats on the market, a high-water mark for a city whose property market was hijacked by offshore oligarchs and criminals who converted much of the housing stock into empty safe-deposit boxes in the sky. Read the rest

Former Archbishop of Canterbury cheers on students who are walking out to demand action on climate change

Months of student strikes have roiled the UK as pupils across the country have refused to go to class while demanding action on climate change, inspired by Swedish student Greta Thunberg's one-person strike at the Swedish Parliament. Read the rest

London councils plan to slash benefit payments with an "anti-fraud" system known to have a 20% failure rate

BAE developed the London Counter Fraud Hub, which uses machine learning systems to detect benefit fraud; after trials in the boroughs of Camden, Ealing, Croydon and Islington, the system has been approved for regular use, despite an admitted 20% failure rate. Read the rest

Tim Maughan's Infinite Detail: a debut sf novel about counterculture, resistance, and the post-internet apocalypse

Tim Maughan has long been one of the most promising up-and-coming, avante garde UK science fiction writers, whose post-cyberpunk short fiction mixed radical politics with a love of graffiti and a postmodern filmmaker's eye: now, with his debut novel Infinite Detail, Maughan shows that he has what it takes to work at longer lengths, and can sustain a first-rate adventure story that grabs and never lets go, without sacrificing the political and technological insights that give his work depth that will stay with you long after the book is done. Read the rest

London's awful estate agents are cratering, warning of a "prolonged downturn" in the housing market

London's estate agents were notorious profiteers of the property bubble, listing on the stock exchanges and rewarding investors with soaring share-prices that reflected the human misery of a city where life got harder and more expensive every day, where communities were shattered, and where subprime lending and other sleazy financial practices helped to destroy the global economy in 2007-8, triggering more than a decade of crisis from which we have yet to recover. Read the rest

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