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Columnists

The criminalization of dissent in the U.S.

Early in the morning on Friday, September 24, FBI agents in Chicago and Minnesota's Twin Cities kicked in the doors of anti-war activists, brandishing guns, spending hours rifling through their homes. The FBI took away computers, photos, notebooks and other personal property. Residents were issued subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in Chicago. It was just the latest in the ongoing crackdown on dissent in the U.S., targeting peace organizers as supporters of "foreign terrorist organizations."

Columnists

The G20's symbolic violence

This week's mass processing inside (and outside) a Toronto courthouse helped clarify June's Jailapalooza festival during the G20, the largest mass arrest in our history. Of 1,100 detained, all but 227 had the charges dropped or were never charged. Most had no links to burning police cars or battered bank machines. They were picked up while protesting peacefully or looking on.

Why? Police say they wanted to prevent recurrences, after the dramatic events. Some intimate they were embarrassed by criticisms of their earlier inaction, and overreacted. Why had police gone missing at the crucial time? There's been no clear answer. One possibility: to justify the vaulting security costs via shocking images of violence.

| September 12, 2014
Columnists

A world of fear: Tracking 'terror' in Tunisia

Photo: Chasing Donguri/flickr

While I was visiting my family and friends in Tunisia this summer, I came across a new feeling, or maybe it is an impression -- a feeling or impression that I never encountered before in the country that is proud today to be called the sparkle of the "Arab Spring."  

I grew up there in the '80s. I remember seeing in people's eyes the fear of authority, humiliation, loss of dignity, the sorrow of poverty, suspicion, but I didn't see the "fear of terrorism." Even in the darkest hours of the country, during the '80s, when there were violent incidents attributed to Islamist militants, I didn't hear from people around me that they were afraid.

Columnists

Thirteen years into the War of Terror

While facilitating a youth workshop recently, I realized that this generation is completely shaped by the events and politics of 9/11. Though few of the youth were able to define terrorism (beyond "blowing things up"), most of them were quick to normalize surveillance, military occupation, online tracking, CCTV cameras, extraordinary rendition, torture, deportations and incarceration.

| August 14, 2014

To the Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World -- book launch with Vincent Mosco

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 - 7:00pm - 9:00pm

Location

Octopus Books at 25One Community
2nd floor, 251 Bank St.
Ottawa, ON
Canada
45° 24' 58.86" N, 75° 41' 48.9732" W

In the wake of revelations about National Security Agency activities—many of which occur “in the cloud”—this book offers both enlightenment and a critical view. Cloud computing and big data are arguably the most significant forces in information technology today. In clear prose, To the Cloud explores where the cloud originated, what it means, and how important it is for business, government, and citizens. It describes the intense competition among cloud companies like Amazon and Google, the spread of the cloud to government agencies like the controversial NSA, and the astounding growth of entire cloud cities in China.

| July 19, 2014

Surveillance, empire and the future

No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State

by Glenn Greenwald
(Metropolitan Books,
2014;
$27.00)

Way back in July 2000, the Wall Street Journal, reporting on revelations and rumors about NSA snooping, offered the following: 

"The granddaddy of all bogus fears, though, is Echelon. If you believe some European Union parliamentarians, the United States and Britain operate an international network that monitors virtually all communications, and extracts choice nuggets with powerful computers that recognize key phrases in messages like 'assassination,' 'terrorist attack' or 'industrial secret.'"

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| July 7, 2014
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