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

No Deal Brexit will lead to "putrefying stockpiles of rubbish" and "slurry"

If the UK does not secure a Brexit deal, it will lose its export license for "millions of tonnes of waste," meaning that the British Isles will have to find somewhere to stockpile all that waste, with concomitant "odours" and "runoff of leachates, causing secondary pollution." Read the rest

RIP, Jeremy Hardy, one of the UK's funniest lefty comedians

I first encountered Jeremy Hardy as a panelist on Radio 4's News Quiz, where he frequently reduced me to tears of hysterical laughter; I went on to buy the full back-catalogue of his old Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation shows and devoured them, going back for several re-listens. Read the rest

Local council seeks additional funds for Thatcher statue to pay for a tall anti-vandal plinth

Margaret Thatcher is one of history's great monsters, a kind of slow-motion Stalin whose ideological extremism plunged Britain into decades of decline and inequality, and whose sympathy for genocidal tyrants like Pinochet were a key factor in the wholesale slaughter of political dissidents: so, of course, her hometown of Grantham is putting up a statue in her honour (Stalin's hometown also has a statue!). Read the rest

Tory voters: are you happy with your purchase?

British political satirist Jonathan Pie (previously) has a pointed question for Tory voters on the eve of the omnishambolic Brexit collapse: "Are you happy with your purchase? "Because this is what you get when you vote Tory." Read the rest

Cambridge Analytica pleads guilty, faces the first in a probable series of criminal convictions

EU privacy rules force European companies to surrender data they hold on anyone, anywhere; and that includes SCL Elections, which owned Cambridge Analytica, the notorious Facebook data-miner and election-manipulator that extravagantly claimed to have won the election for Donald Trump. Read the rest

Official UK investigation of $100 billion laundered through Scottish Limited Partnerships ignores all evidence

Scottish Limited Partnerships are notorious financial secrecy tools that have been used to launder an estimated $100 billion on behalf of ex-Soviet gangster-oligarchs. Read the rest

London cops are subjecting people in the centre of town to facial recognition today and tomorrow

People in Soho, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square are being told by the London Metropolitan Police to submit to a trial of the force's notoriously inaccurate, racially biased facial recognition system, which clocks in an impressive error-rate of 98% (the system has been decried by Professor Paul Wiles, the British biometrics commissioner, as an unregulated mess). Read the rest

Company behind the Grenfell Tower fire says it could have been put out with a simple fire extinguisher

It's been a year and a half since London's Grenfell Tower burned and at least 72 people died. Read the rest

Theresa May faces a no confidence vote today

Today, in a debate scheduled to run between 18h-20h GMT (10AM-12PM Pacific), Theresa May's Conservative Party will vote on whether she will remain leader of the party and thus Prime Minister. Read the rest

British Member of Parliament publishes 250 pages of damning internal Facebook documents that had been sealed by a US court

Damian Collins chairs the UK Parliament's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee; it was he who ordered the Parliamentary Serjeant at Arms to drag a visiting US tech executive named Ted Kramer out of his hotel to surrender his laptop to Parliament so they could see the internal Facebook documents that a US federal judge had ordered sealed. Read the rest

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