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Fracking’s Threats to Drinking Water Call for a Precautionary Approach

Fracking’s Threats to Drinking Water Call for a Precautionary Approach | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
 At least one aspect of fracking’s risks to drinking water became a little clearer this week.
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"A study led by Rob Jackson of Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that drinking water wells located within 1 kilometer of a shale gas well in a region of northeastern Pennsylvania are at high risk of contamination with methane.The research team analyzed 141 drinking water wells in northeastern Pennsylvania’s gas-rich Marcellus shale region and detected methane in 82 percent of them.  For homes within 1 kilometer of a gas well, the average methane concentration was six times higher than in water wells located further away. Nearly 1 in 11 of the household wells analyzed had methane concentrations above the threshold level set by the U.S. Department of Interior for immediate remediation; all but one of those drinking water wells was within 1 kilometer of an active shale gas well."
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Fort McKay: the Canadian town that sold itself to tar sands

Fort McKay: the Canadian town that sold itself to tar sands | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
This tiny Alberta town is one of the world’s single biggest sources of carbon pollution. The community grew rich on oil, and was wrecked by oil. So local Cece Fitzpatrick decided to run for chief, promising to stand up to the industry that came there 50 years ago
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A third of Europe’s birds under threat, says most comprehensive study yet

A third of Europe’s birds under threat, says most comprehensive study yet | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Deteriorating natural habitats and declining wildlife populations found in wide-ranging survey of Europe’s countryside
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One in three European birds is endangered, according to a leaked version of the most comprehensive study of Europe’s wildlife and natural habitats ever produced.

The EU State of Nature report, seen by the Guardian, paints a picture of dramatic decline among once common avian species such as the skylark and turtle dove mainly as a result of agricultural pressures, and also warns that ecosystems are struggling to cope with the impact of human activity.

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Advertising turned anti-consumerism into a weapon – Adam Corner – Aeon

Advertising turned anti-consumerism into a weapon – Adam Corner – Aeon | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The more we hate it, the more it agrees with us. How advertising turned anti-consumerism into a secret weapon
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Society: Don't blame the mothers

Society: Don't blame the mothers | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Careless discussion of epigenetic research on how early life affects health across generations could harm women, warn Sarah S. Richardson and colleagues.
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We urge scientists, educators and reporters to anticipate how DOHaD work is likely to be interpreted in popular discussions. Although no one denies that healthy behaviour is important during pregnancy, all those involved should be at pains to explain that findings are too preliminary to provide recommendations for daily living.

Caveats span four areas. First, avoid extrapolating from animal studies to humans without qualification. The short lifespans and large litter sizes favoured for lab studies often make animal models poor proxies for human reproduction. Second, emphasize the role of both paternal and maternal effects. This can counterbalance the tendency to pin poor outcomes on maternal behaviour. Third, convey complexity. Intrauterine exposures can raise or lower disease risk, but so too can a plethora of other intertwined genetic, lifestyle, socio-economic and environmental factors that are poorly understood. Fourth, recognize the role of society. Many of the intrauterine stressors that DOHaD identifies as having adverse intergenerational effects correlate with social gradients of class, race and gender. This points to the need for societal changes rather than individual solutions.

Although remembering past excesses of 'mother-blame' might dampen excitement about epigenetic research in DOHaD, it will help the field to improve health without constraining women's freedom

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Elon Musk's Grand Plan to Power the World With Batteries | WIRED

Elon Musk's Grand Plan to Power the World With Batteries | WIRED | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Tesla's Elon Musk has revealed his plan to sell huge batteries for homes and businesses, and it could change how we consume energy.
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If Tesla’s right, consumers and businesses will be able to save money by holding onto electricity they produce, thanks to a not-so-big white (or black, or blue, or red) box stuck onto their garage wall. The rest of us will benefit too, from a world in which the aging electric grid is less strained, and in which we power our cars not by burning fuel, but by taking advantage of the sun.

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The Untold Story of Silk Road | WIRED

The Untold Story of Silk Road | WIRED | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
How a 29-year-old idealist built a global drug bazaar and became a murderous kingpin.
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by Joshua Bearman

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Crowdfunded Science Is Here. But Is It Legit Science? | WIRED

Crowdfunded Science Is Here. But Is It Legit Science? | WIRED | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
More and more scientists are turning to crowdfunding to get money to run their experiments.
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A crowdfunding CAMPAIGN FOR A brain imaging studyclosed Monday after raising almost $80,000 toward a unique goal: the first functional magnetic resonance images of the brain on LSD. The Beckley Foundation, a UK-based charitable trust that promotes research and awareness of psychoactive drugs, will use the money to scan volunteers who’ve dropped acid. Such are the sacrifices people will make for science.

Now, it’s little surprise scientists studying the effects of illicit drugs must sometimes find unconventional benefactors—or that thousands of people would invest in seeing the brains of volunteers tripping balls. But in recent years, crowdfunding has grown increasingly popular among researchers in nearly every field. Successful campaigns have explored drought tolerance in Spanish and Indian oak species, attempted to explain jokes with math, and worked to discover exoplanets in the far reaches of space. The first crowdfunded experiments popped up on traditional platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo; now sites like Petridish, Experiment, andWalacea cater specifically to scientific fundraising.

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Should we be suspicious of the Anthropocene? – Jedediah Purdy – Aeon

Should we be suspicious of the Anthropocene? – Jedediah Purdy – Aeon | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The Anthropocene idea has been embraced by Earth scientists and English professors alike. But how useful is it?
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The shape of the Anthropocene is a political, ethical and aesthetic question. It will answer questions about what life is worth, what people owe one another, and what in the world is awesome or beautiful enough to preserve or (re)create. Either the answers will reproduce and amplify existing inequality or they will set in motion a different logic of power. Either the Anthropocene will be democratic or it will be horrible.

A democratic Anthropocene would start from a famous observation of the economics Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen: no minimally democratic society has ever suffered a famine. Natural catastrophes are the joint products of natural and human systems. Your vulnerability to disaster is often a direct expression of your standing in a political (and economic) order. The Anthropocene stands for the intensifying merger of ecology, economics and politics, and one’s standing in those systems will increasingly be a single question.

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Climate Change vs. Conservation

Climate Change vs. Conservation | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Has global warming made it harder for environmentalists to care about conservation?
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Rarely do I board an airplane or drive to the grocery store without considering my carbon footprint and feeling guilty about it. But when I started watching birds, and worrying about their welfare, I became attracted to a countervailing strain of Christianity, inspired by St. Francis of Assisi’s example of loving what’s concrete and vulnerable and right in front of us. I gave my support to the focussed work of the American Bird Conservancy and local Audubon societies. Even the most ominously degraded landscape could make me happy if it had birds in it.

And so I came to feel miserably conflicted about climate change. I accepted its supremacy as the environmental issue of our time, but I felt bullied by its dominance. Not only did it make every grocery-store run a guilt trip; it made me feel selfish for caring more about birds in the present than about people in the future. What were the eagles and the condors killed by wind turbines compared with the impact of rising sea levels on poor nations? What were the endemic cloud-forest birds of the Andes compared with the atmospheric benefits of Andean hydroelectric projects?

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Editor quits journal over pay-for-expedited peer-review offer

Editor quits journal over pay-for-expedited peer-review offer | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Authors can pay open-access journal extra to get reviewed in less than 3 weeks
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With a tweet yesterday, an editor of Scientific Reports, one of Nature Publishing Group’s (NPG’s) open-access journals, has resigned in a very public protest of NPG’s recent decision to allow authors to pay money to expedite peer review of their submitted papers. “My objections are that it sets up a two-tiered system and instead of the best science being published in a timely fashion it will further shift the balance to well-funded labs and groups,” Mark Maslin, a biogeographer at University College London, tells ScienceInsider. “Academic Publishing is going through a revolution and we should expect some bumps along the way. This was just one that I felt I could not accept.”

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The Real Politics of a Virtual Society

The Real Politics of a Virtual Society | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The massive multiplayer online game EVE has its own elected officials, and they’ve created a political structure that is influential offline, too.
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Although I had been interested in EVE and its stalwart community prior to reading about what has come to be known as “gaming’s most destructive battle ever,” it wasn’t until I saw game-maker CCP erect a physical monument in Reykjavik for those lost in battle that I got hooked. That was the first time I had seen any physical commemoration of an in-game event by any game company. This type of recognition of the EVE community is not rare for CCP, though, and emphasizing the devotion of their player base is important to the lifeblood of their product. The monument is not the only physical manifestation of the gaming universe that reflects the passion of the EVE community. There is also the Council of Stellar Management, or the CSM. Formally established in 2008, the CSM claims to be is the only example of a game-based deliberate democratic organization meant to represent a virtual society.

Formed by EVE players elected by their peers, the CSM is primarily a platform for individuals to provide direct feedback to CCP developers working on bettering the game. But it’s more parts representative democracy than it is a focus group. Currently the ninth council is comprised of 14 members and frequently conducts conference calls in order to discuss a myriad of topics involving product releases, changes in gameplay, and other matters of like player protest regarding unsatisfactory updates to New Eden (the sandbox-style game world where EVE takes place).

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Japan's Disposable Workers: Net Cafe Refugees

Internet cafes have existed in Japan for over a decade, but in the mid 2000’s, customers began using these spaces as living quarters. Internet cafe refugees are…
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How the Biggest Fabricator in Science Got Caught - Issue 24: Error - Nautilus

How the Biggest Fabricator in Science Got Caught - Issue 24: Error - Nautilus | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
In April of 2000, the journal Anesthesia & Analgesia published a letter to its editor from Peter Kranke and two colleagues that…
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Over the next two years, it became clear that he had fabricated much of his research—most of it, in fact. Today he stands alone as the record-holder for most retractions by a single author, at a breathtaking 183, representing roughly 7 percent of all retracted papers between 1980 and 2011. His story represents a dramatic fall from grace, but also the arrival of a new dimension to scholarly publishing: Statistical tools that can sniff out fraud, and the “cops” that are willing to use them.

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Space, Inc - corporations and space exploration

Space, Inc - corporations and space exploration | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it

What happens when corporations go in search of profits in the unregulated territory that is space?

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The American government is no longer exerting its space supremacy. NASA’s annual budget has been cut by more than $1bn since 2010. The space shuttle programme has been mothballed. International Space Station resupply missions are being put out to private tender.

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http://www.geeksaresexy.net/2015/05/16/shutting-down-your-computer-before-going-to-sleep-comic/

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A Sharp Spike in Honeybee Deaths Deepens a Worrisome Trend

A Sharp Spike in Honeybee Deaths Deepens a Worrisome Trend | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Deaths rose sharply last summer, a survey by the Bee Informed Partnership reported, and beekeepers who rent hives to farmers were hit especially hard.
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Grooveshark, bowing to RIAA, shuts down and apologizes for “serious mistakes”

Grooveshark, bowing to RIAA, shuts down and apologizes for “serious mistakes” | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
"We apologize. Without reservation.”
Artur Alves's insight:

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Grooveshark, the free online music streaming service that allowed users to upload their own songs, announced on Thursday that it was shutting down.

Josh Greenberg and Sam Tarantino founded the streaming service in 2006, and the site attracted tens of millions of users. Grooveshark called itself "the world’s largest on-demand and music discovery service." But the service not only allowed users to upload any song; the founders also apparently demanded that employees upload popular songs in an effort to expand the site's music library.

The service came under fire in recent years for allowing copyrighted material on the site. Several record companies, including Warner Bros., Sony, and Universal Music Group, sued Grooveshark in 2011. Now the record companies have come to an agreement with Grooveshark under which it shut down the site and removed all copyrighted songs.

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Patriot Act Faces Revisions Backed by Both Parties

Patriot Act Faces Revisions Backed by Both Parties | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
The push for reform is the strongest demonstration of a shift from a focus on national security at the expense of civil liberties to a new balance in the post-Edward J. Snowden era.
Artur Alves's insight:

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After more than a decade of wrenching national debate over the intrusiveness of government intelligence agencies, a bipartisan wave of support has gathered to sharply limit the federal government’s sweeps of phone and Internet records.

On Thursday, a bill that would overhaul the Patriot Act and curtail the so-called metadata surveillance exposed by Edward J. Snowden was overwhelmingly passed by the House Judiciary Committee and was heading to almost certain passage in that chamber this month.

An identical bill in the Senate — introduced with the support of five Republicans — is gaining support over the objection of Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, who is facing the prospect of his first policy defeat since ascending this year to majority leader.

The push for reform is the strongest demonstration yet of a decade-long shift from a singular focus on national security at the expense of civil liberties to a new balance in the post-Snowden era.

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Inside the Mildly Dystopic World of a Manhattan Security and Surveillance Expo | VICE | United States

Inside the Mildly Dystopic World of a Manhattan Security and Surveillance Expo | VICE | United States | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
I was in the belly of the 25th Annual ASIS NYC Security Conference and Expo, a peek into the near-future of surveillance aided by the people who were really amped about it. A salesman for SafeRise and I played with Minority Report–like cameras that scan your face and can detect if you're "unauthorized." A few young guys from a company called Total Recall Corporation told me their big-box cameras are scattered across Times Square. This was the sort of place where naming your company after a dystopic sci-fi film appeared to be a selling point.
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“Sharing lies”: five lies about the Sharing Economy | P2P Foundation

“Sharing lies”: five lies about the Sharing Economy | P2P Foundation | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Under the “sharing” and the “co-whatever,” there hides a wide minefield of concepts and phenomena mixed together.
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1. Platforms are communities. That’s a lie.

2. The “sharing economy” creates conscious consumption. That’s a lie.

3.The “sharing economy” is a new mode of production. That’s a lie.

4. The businesses of the “sharing economy” promote economic activity that displaces capitalism and promotes a new use of the city. That’s a lie.

5. The activity of the businesses of the “sharing economy” strengthens community bonds and helps resist the social effects of the crisis. That’s a lie.

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The Meme as Meme - Issue 23: Dominoes - Nautilus

The Meme as Meme - Issue 23: Dominoes - Nautilus | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Why do things go viral, and should we care?By Abby Rabinowitz
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From the perspective of serious meme theorists, Internet memes have trivialized and distorted the spirit of the idea. Dennett told me that, in a planned workshop to be held in May 2014, he hopes to “rehabilitate the term in a very precise kind of way” for studying cultural evolution.

According to Dawkins, what sets Internet memes apart is how they are created. “Instead of mutating by random chance before spreading by a form of Darwinian selection, Internet memes are altered deliberately by human creativity,” he explained in a recent video released by the advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi. He seems to think that the fact that Internet memes are engineered to go viral, rather than evolving by way of natural selection, is a salient difference that distinguishes from other memes—which is arguable, since what catches fire on the Internet can be as much a product of luck as any unexpected mutation

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Digital rights and freedoms: Part 1

Digital rights and freedoms: Part 1 | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Under the rubric of state security on
the one hand and commercial openness on the other, we are being lulled into an
online world of fear and control where our every move is monitored in order to
more efficiently manage us. See Part 2.
Artur Alves's insight:

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The rapidity of technological change has vastly outpaced the development of our laws, institutions and regulatory systems, along with the articulation of the ethical categories and principles with which to understand and evaluate them. Under the rubric of state security on the one hand and commercial openness on the other, we are being lulled into an online world of fear and control where our every move is monitored in order to more efficiently manage us.

It is a far cry from the utopianism of the early internet era. The open architecture of the internet still offers fantastic possibilities for human liberation. It has provided new tools with which citizens can organize to contest power and challenge official narratives. 

As with any new technology however the internet was introduced into a society already marked by economic and social hierarchies. In the absence of countervailing forces, dominant groups have largely determined the direction in which the technology has developed and as a result it has reinforced the dominant neoliberal paradigm of unfettered markets and property rights buttressed by increasingly authoritarian states.

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Digital rights and freedoms: Part 1Guy Aitchison 31 March 2015

Under the rubric of state security on the one hand and commercial openness on the other, we are being lulled into an online world of fear and control where our every move is monitored in order to more efficiently manage us. See Part 2.

Anti-CCTV graffiti on the wall of the British Library. Wikicommons/ Oxyman. Some rights reserved.

This article launches a new section of the Great Charter Convention dedicated to debate and analysis of democracy, politics and freedom in the digital age. It is clear that we are at a crucial historical juncture. The issues around state power and surveillance raised by Edward Snowden’s revelations should be an important theme in the upcoming general election, while the symbolic double anniversary of Magna Carta (aged 800) and the web (aged 25) offers an opportunity for critical reflection on how to upgrade fundamental liberties in response to new threats and re-imagine how technology can serve the common good.

We are to a great extent playing catch-up. The rapidity of technological change has vastly outpaced the development of our laws, institutions and regulatory systems, along with the articulation of the ethical categories and principles with which to understand and evaluate them. Under the rubric of state security on the one hand and commercial openness on the other, we are being lulled into an online world of fear and control where our every move is monitored in order to more efficiently manage us.

It is a far cry from the utopianism of the early internet era. The open architecture of the internet still offers fantastic possibilities for human liberation. It has provided new tools with which citizens can organize to contest power and challenge official narratives. 

As with any new technology however the internet was introduced into a society already marked by economic and social hierarchies. In the absence of countervailing forces, dominant groups have largely determined the direction in which the technology has developed and as a result it has reinforced the dominant neoliberal paradigm of unfettered markets and property rights buttressed by increasingly authoritarian states.

Faced with this reality, how do we protect and enhance human freedom? Is it enough to apply earlier claims of rights to new circumstances? Or does the current regime of power and surveillance demand that earlier ethical categories have to be rethought or even entirely replaced? What are the collective institutions and structures required for an internet based not solely on profit but on human flourishing?

These are the broad questions we will explore. Though it would be foolish to pretend a document drawn up by feudal barons contains the answers, the Magna Carta furnishes a rich tradition of resistance to arbitrary power to inspire and orientate contemporary struggles. It has, as Peter Linebaugh reminds us, always been a ‘work in progress’ with a symbolic vitality that animated the later democratic demands of the Levellers in the English civil war, campaigns against slavery and anti-imperial struggles in America and elsewhere. Despite appeals to self-evident and timeless truths, rights have always been a historical project, expanded from below by political struggles that radicalised the core principle of human freedom and applied it to new political subjects in new domains.

Now the inventor of the web Tim Berners Lee has challenged digital citizens to help draft a ‘Magna Carta for the web’ as part of the wider Web we Want campaign. The group hopes to mobilise global public opinion around a set of core principles of free expression, accessibility, privacy, openness and network neutrality. They are showcasing their campaign with a series of festivals at London’s South Bank (with the next one in May), adding to the excellent work of Open Rights Group, Privacy International and other established campaign for digital rights and freedoms.

The call for a new set of safeguards is the very opposite of Tory proposals for a ‘British Bill of Rights’ to replace the Human Rights Act. The ruling party’s view is based on a reactionary and minimalist view of Magna Carta as ‘enough’. This is antithetical to the document’s radical historical tradition and the role it played in shaping the modern idea of human rights, including Article 8 on the right to privacy in the European Convention on Human Rights that can be traced back to the right for respect for one’s home in English law.

The parliamentary assembly of the European Court has called the scale of GCHQ’s spying ‘stunning’ and found it in violation of rights to privacy, free expression and a fair trial. If a future Tory government carries out its plan, and withdraws from the European Convention, the UK government would be embracing pariah status; the first worldwide to introduce a new bill of rights with the aim of providing fewer rights to its citizens. If a future Tory government carries out its plan, and withdraws from the European Convention, the UK government would be embracing pariah status; the first worldwide to introduce a new bill of rights with the aim of providing fewer rights to its citizens. Without the protection of European human rights law, UK citizens will be left systematically vulnerable. Ed Miliband has at least committed to retaining the ECHR yet he has typically fudged the issue of mass surveillance and failed to take a principled line, despite initial promises he made to reverse the authoritarian inheritance of New Labour.

Naturally, any debate about state power and the role of technology cannot be divorced from wider arguments about the kind of politics and society we wish to create.  The legal scholar Julie E. Cohen points out the parallels with the era of industrialisation where transformations in technology and the accompanying social upheavals brought with them new threats to human freedom. Violent processes of enclosure robbed peasants of their traditional way of life and subjected them to new humiliations and cruelties in the factories. It took years for workers to develop effective forms of organisation through trade unions and to name and diagnose the harms that underscored moral claims to limits on the working day, decent pay and conditions, and later to a social minimum from the surplus they produced. We now find ourselves in a new industrial revolution – the second machine age. We now find ourselves in a new industrial revolution – the second machine age.

The net offers novel threats and organisational challenges, as well as new possibilities for human flourishing. With the spying agencies and corporations pushing through a new infrastructure of social control in pursuit of state power and limitless accumulation, it is up to us, as digital citizens, to fight back and define a new regime of protections and entitlements. There are a number of themes to this debate that we aim to explore, drawing on the insight of the many excellent campaigns and experts working in these areas.

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NSA-grade spyware is up for sale, and the world's worst dictatorships are buying

When Bahraini activist Moosa Abd-Ali Ali was granted asylum in the UK, he thought he'd found refuge. But then the Bahraini government targeted Moosa with a secretive spyware tool, and took over his digital existence.
Artur Alves's insight:

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Upon his arrival in London, Moosa had become an unofficial archivist for his activist community, obsessively documenting every protest and broadcasting his videos to a large group of YouTube followers. Whenever something happened back in Bahrain, he’d receive a flurry of images and video footage from contacts and disseminate the content online and to media outlets. Now, whoever was behind the hack had access to all of his accounts, emails, documents, and a massive trove of videos. They could even control his computer’s webcam and microphone.

An investigation would later reveal that Moosa’s online life was hijacked for eight months. All signs pointed to Bahrain as the culprit, and FinFisher, a mysterious spyware for-hire tool, as the weapon of choice.

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Despite Wave of Data Breaches, Official Says Patient Privacy Isn’t Dead

Despite Wave of Data Breaches, Official Says Patient Privacy Isn’t Dead | Gentlemachines | Scoop.it
Yet another health insurer reported a massive data breach this week, affecting the financial and medical information of 11 million people. We asked the head of the federal agency tasked with investigating these issues whether the notion of patient privacy was outmoded.
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