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The Snowden Files

the-snowden-files-by-luke-harding

In the final week of 2014 North Korea’s internet and 3G mobile network came to a standstill. Before their official news agency released racist outrage against the US President, we can imagine an image of their own leader taking off his khaki cap as he got down to reboot a router before speaking to a call centre handler in another country, suspiciously called Kim, who asked him if he tried turning it off and on again. Eventually the penny must have dropped. To the delight of the rest of the free world, Barack Obama had appeared to deliver on his promise and flexed a muscle against the censorship of satire.

The official US response against the hacking of Sony Pictures came with sanctions but there should be little doubt how much control they have in the world of telecommunications, as every reader of Luke Harding’s The Snowden Files will know. The book will also explain to anyone who in the last week has had a fear that their private emails, online chats, SMS message and calls may suddenly become accessible to the secret services with further surveillance laws to be introduced following the horrific terror attacks in Paris this month, that this already the case, unless they are already encrypting their communications.

It was the realisation of this, between 2009 and 2012, coupled with the fact that workers at these agencies were looking at and circulating private images of ordinary citizens for their own titillation, which spurred the right-leaning Republic libertarian Edward Snowden, an IT contractor who worked for America’s National Security Agency (NSA), to reveal the secrets of the secret services. Continue reading…

Gordon is a Moron

English professional football has a mix of talents in the game. But the consistent talent of Gordon Taylor to undermine both the profession and trade unions at same time is unique. Continue reading…

New Year’s Day

New Years Day Spurs 5  Chelsea 3

The unpredictable nature of  football meant the New Year got off to a great start. Against the odds and the cynical predictions of players turned pundits, Spurs fans went through the second day of 2015 with a Ready Brek glow and an instinctive smile, while Jose Mourinho continued to turn himself into a caricature, with even once fawning journalists now talking about his usual deflection tactics, as his scapegoating of the media and the officials no longer hide his own failings as well as he thinks.

At an event in East London two weeks ago, Greatcoats for Goalposts, which reflected on the significance of the football inspired truce during the First World War, one hundred years on, the writer David Goldblatt noted that football is one of the few remaining areas that regularly brings masses of ordinary people together. It’s true. The Unions have largely been dispersed and working man’s clubs now only have a broad reach when Channel 5 show re-reuns of Chas and Dave specials from the early eighties, but the people’s game still attracts hundreds of thousands of people into football grounds every week.

On New Year’s Day every English Premier League club played, Gary Lineker trumpeted the best Match of the Day of the season “by a distance” and the beautiful game captured the imagination again. Nowhere more so was this the case than at White Hart Lane. An old ground, built not at an out-of-town shopping complex, but in amongst residential terraced homes, schools, community centres and small shops. The stadium still holds over thirty-six-thousand in the all-seated age without losing the wonderful night-game atmosphere that comes from the stands close to the touchline and the home team playing as their tradition and history demands, as was the case on Thursday evening. Continue reading…

Books of 2014

From Cooking to American Crime novels, via Cycling, the Revolution and the retelling of ancient Italian stories for children, Mark Perryman recommends his Books of 2014 as contenders for late Christmas presents.

101 Damnations - Books of 2014

NOT A LOT OF PEACE. TOO MUCH ILL WILL. A GOOD SEASONAL READ NEEDED.

Bah! Humbug? Well, not exactly but in a world of not much peace and plenty of ill-will what do you buy for those in your life clinging on to the ideal that the point is to change it? Here’s my top ten, not guaranteed to cheer them up mind. Continue reading…

The Secret Footballer’s Guide to the Modern Game

The Secret Footballer Guide to the Modern Game

 

The third book from The Secret Football takes a different approach from his first two, almost deliberately light, seemingly designed as a stocking filling with a mixture of short bursts of gossip, analysis and opinion. Continue reading…

Sports Books 2014 Q4

Taking Our Ball Back cover

Mark Perryman of Philosophy Football picks out the best final batch of sports books 2014.

I’m sorry but you won’t find here the just-in-time-for Christmas sports autobiography blockbusters. With just enough manufactured controversy to ensure blanket coverage when they are launched. even a skim read will reveal that on the contrary they tell the reader very little they didn’t either know or suspect already.

Instead I would recommend a weighty volume of this sort, A Companion to Sport edited by David Andrews and Ben Carrington. The range of coverage, from Monty Panesar to football’s 2010 World Cup, is matched by the variety of insights, sport as a contested space being the overarching theme. As an academic book scandalously expensive, but any well-stocked library. should have a copy. Continue reading…

Mega Bottle Ride

A Football Column following on from Emmanuel Adebayor’s comments deflecting Tottenham Hotspur’s poor home performances onto the atmosphere at White Hart Lane.

Tottenham’s fourth home defeat from just six Premier League games has been followed by more excuses, with Emmanuel Adebayor claiming that the pressure of playing at home is too much for the players. Once again, as a profession, football is unique when a well remunerated failing performer looks first to blame the paying customer for their own shortcomings. Continue reading…

Nightcrawler

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Juliet Kidd’s first piece for The Substantive looks at the film Nightcrawler.

Director Dan Gilroy has taken all the bits of LA we never see and simply turned the lights off, creating a further sense of disorientation that mimics the personality of Lou Bloom.

Lou is a loner in his late 30s. His appearance is thin, beige and greasy and there’s an odd intensity about his personality. We see him easily inspired by freelance cameraman taking footage of a bloodied car crash and thats where his obsession starts. Continue reading…

Hack Attack

Hack Attack How the truth caught up with Rupert Murdoch

Nick Davies’ Hack Attack: How the Truth Caught Up with Rupert Murdoch is one of the most important stories of this century so far. The hardback book is a big tome and the weight of evidence contained with it is compelling. It tells of a six-year long effort which succeeded in exposing the widespread criminal activities taking place in the newsrooms of Britain’s best selling newspaper, despite attempts to scupper the investigation by the public corporation that owned the paper, the police and the official press complaints body.

The News of the World hacked voicemails of the families of dead soldiers, victims of crime and terrorist attacks, dead school children, members of the public who happened to be associated with people in the public eye, politicians who both did and didn’t hold sensitive information to the state, royalty and people who just happened to have be famous due to their profession or the way the media wind blew. They didn’t just pounce on those who didn’t change their voicemail pass codes, their private investigators changed passwords through employees in mobile phone operators. They hacked emails. And they had private investigators listen into phone calls and disrupt police investigations.

And for years they got away with it until this investigation finally broke through numerous walls of denial and obstruction to expose not just the News of the World, but the abuse of power by its owners.

Continue reading…

Boardwalk Empire: Finale

Boardwalk-Empire- A recap

A day trip to Atlantic City at the turn of the Millennium was nothing special; the arcades and casinos had plenty of senior citizens in jogging bottoms staring intently into slot machines where they poured their dimes, while outside the boardwalk was full of seagulls shitting as if they were on a bombing raid. Boardwalk Empire took us back to a time when that strip was a base for a power struggle, adapting the story of the real life sheriff turned political operator who ran the city in the 1920’s, Enoch Johnson, into Steve Buscemi’s Enoch Thompson (Nucky) as the centre piece of the times. And it was the delivery of the fictional characters and their stories amidst some obnoxious narcissistic figures and gratuitous violence, which produced moments of television of the highest quality. Continue reading…



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