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Showing posts from March, 2016

The Crisis in Capital Cruelty: How Europe is Slowly Banning the American Death Penality

When I was a child we used to play a gruesome game. Of a weekend you would often find me, my siblings and the occasional honoured guest, lined up on the wall of our back garden. Whoever was ‘It’ would go down the line and ask, in a tone hardened with menace, ‘What do you want to be killed by?’ Each child would choose a method of execution and the executioner would shoulder a rifle, fling some daggers, jazz up a flamethrower or what have you, ‘killing’ the person in question. The convicted would then dramatically perform their death with all the ham and trimmings they could muster. The winner was the best die-er.
I was particularly good at this game. I could really throw myself into a poisoning. If you tried to stab me, you had a West Side Story jazz-fight on your hands, before the inevitable up-to-the-hilt in my gut and down I would go. The elegance of my firing squad, almost Beckettian in its reduced action, was deemed powerful and intense. Boy could I writhe on our small, sparse la…

Graphic Images of Brussels Terror Attacks: Twittersphere Says No Thanks!

Graphic Images of Brussels Terror Attacks: Twittersphere Says No Thanks!

As Twitter resists the sharing of graphic images of the Brussels Attack, is the Twittersphere finally developing a real social conscience?


An interesting moral and ethical debate is emerging on Twitter over the broadcast of graphic images of the Brussels terror attacks.  Within minutes of logging on this morning, as you might expect by now, I was able to see multiple images of severely wounded people and watch videos of the panic and fear of the aftermath of the blast.  
Two women sit stunned on a bench, the shoe of one missing, her foot dripping.  A man lies on the ground, his legs outstretched before his incredulous regard.  They are framed in red and the angle appears odd, wrong somehow.  A woman flees the airport wearing white jeans with scarlet, bloodied knees.  A man's head pours with blood as someone tries to staunch it with an item of clothing, a scarf I think.  
Yet under the heading “graphic images” there are probably twice as many tweets condemning the sharing of those ima…

Banksy Mugged by Invasive Geoprofiling

Banksy Mugged by Invasive Geoprofiling

Recent geoprofiling has confirmed the identity of Banksy. But more importantly it has opened up a new method of criminalising protests under the guise of the war on terror.
Tagging Banksy A recent article published in the not-oft-perused Journal of Spatial Science caught the attention of the world’s press.  Well, a couple of the quality papers and one or two blogs picked up on it anyway.  The piece is called “Tagging Banksy” punning, I presume, on the practice of tagging or signing your name intrinsic to street art, at the same time as the mode of digital surveillance that we all submit to when we allow our pics to be tagged on Facebook. I say I presume the title is punning as the paper itself is devoid of wit, drear of irony.
Making it sound much more exciting than it actually is, let’s say the paper tells the story of how four maverick scientists got together and decided to use a process called geographic profiling, normally the preserve of criminology and the study of infectious dis…

Perpetual Parole: Cameron's Prison Reforms are Less Liberal than they Seem

David Cameron's Prison Reform Speech appears to show his liberal side. But look closer and he is advocating a new form of punishment, a kind of perpetual parole.
Cameron the Liberal!David Cameron’s recent prisons speech on February 8th left many left-wing commentators wrong-footed.  Touted as the first proposal of full-scale prison reform for a generation, Cameron came over at the podium all concerned, empathetic, and sociological—although he retained his rather smug and rubicund natural demeanour throughout. We lefties didn’t know what to make of it all really.  The Guardian’s John Crace, for example, had to invent a whole new malady, the Odysseus complex, to describe the way the Cameron keeps being blown of course.  The problem was not so much the tone of the speech, Cameron only has one tone, slightly exasperated verging on tetchy then suddenly emollient, but the content of which, surprisingly for one of his speeches, there was a worrying abundance.
The shocking headline is tha…

Uneasy Lies the Head: The ISIS Decapitations

LAST OCTOBER I WAS STANDING IN MY KITCHEN, waiting for espresso to trickle from the spout of our imposing machine. I kept glancing out of the window, anxious that one of the military helicopters which often overfly the estate was, at that very moment, hovering above. Surveillance is in the air after all, at least figuratively. But there was nothing, no movement whatsoever, save a red kite ‘turning and turning in the widening gyre’. It seemed an apt, apocalyptic image, but as for the bird itself, I dismissed it. Kites aren’t even real birds of prey, but scavengers that survive on road-kill, picking at the corpses of precipitous pheasant and hesitant deer.
Temporarily satisfied that I was unobserved, I made my way up through the house to my attic office. But once I reached it my anxiety resurfaced, and I closed the blinds on the dormers before sitting down at the desk. For a moment, distracted, I fiddled with the fabric fraying on the arms of my swivel chair; then, after downing the co…