The British Hacker’s Fight for His Life

Lauri Love is charged with masterminding a 2013 attack by Anonymous on US government websites. He has not protested his innocence – he only points out that, without seeing the evidence, which the US Department of Justice refuses to reveal until he is on US soil, he cannot say one way or the other. But he had the means, motive and opportunity to carry out the crimes of which he stands accused. Even if Love is guilty, however, there are important legal and moral questions about whether he should be extradited to the US – a nation that has prosecuted hackers with unrivalled severity, and one where Love could be sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Had Love been allowed to stand trial in the UK following his initial arrest, and had he pled guilty to every charge, he would have spent a maximum of 18 months in prison. Four years after his initial arrest, Love has nearly exhausted his legal options. His extradition to the US is now perilously close. In September 2016, a district judge refused to block Love’s deportation.

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads

 

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Britain Divided: 1642-2016

The perils of politics in Britain. In his latest book, “The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics”, David Goodhart looks at the new division: between the mobile ‘achieved’ identity of the people from Anywhere, and the more marginalised, roots-based identity of the people from Somewhere. For the last few decades Anywhere interests have dominated in everything from mass higher education to mass immigration and the EU. Tables are turning.

The playwright Richard Bean reaches back to another time of internal conflict, the beginning of the English Civil War, and finds humour in the desperate attempts of one man to retain power. Teach them a lesson.

Machiavelli is associated with unscrupulous scheming, but his latest biographer Erica Benner argues that, believe it or not, he was a man devoted to political and human freedom.

Start the Week – BBC Radio 4

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Alan Yentob: the Last Impresario

For decades, Alan Yentob was the dominant creative force at the BBC – a towering figure in British culture. So why did many applaud his very public slide from power?
“…there has been, over the years, something borderline obsessive – and therefore something sociologically revealing – about the pursuit, and eventual toppling of Yentob. No one I spoke to for this article wanted to be the first to mention antisemitism, but pretty much everyone did in the end. “A posh Jew poncing around at the public expense,” said his friend Hanif Kureishi, the writer. “What is not to hate?”
Beyond that, however, there is also a sense that outsized figures such as Yentob, paid for by the nation to make culture for the nation, may simply not be welcome in British society any more. The stitching that once held them in place has gone. Political and social faith in public broadcasting is in decline. Subsidy of the arts and education is much weaker than it was a generation ago. People who work in those sectors find themselves assailed by market forces, low-grade ministers and a sceptical rightwing media all at the same time.
Seen from the end of 2016, the reason for Yentob’s resignation and disgrace – the closure of Kids Company, a charity he chaired for 12 years – appears oddly contrived, hysterical even. Watching him interrogated by MPs and paraded before the media, colleagues at the BBC, outside the news division anyway, smelled an air of retribution for crimes that were understood but never quite spelled out.”
Written and read by Sam Knight. Produced by Simon Barnard

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 16th January 2017

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The Cult of the Expert – and How It Collapsed

Led by a class of omnipotent central bankers, experts have gained extraordinary political power. Will a populist backlash shatter their technocratic dream?

When the history is written of the revolt against experts, September 2008 will be seen as a milestone. The $85bn rescue of the American International Group (AIG) dramatised the power of monetary gurus in all its anti-democratic majesty. The president and Congress could decide to borrow money, or raise it from taxpayers; the Fed could simply create it. And once the AIG rescue had legitimised the broadest possible use of this privilege, the Fed exploited it unflinchingly. Over the course of 2009, it injected a trillion dollars into the economy – a sum equivalent to nearly 30% of the federal budget – via its newly improvised policy of “quantitative easing”. Time magazine anointed Bernanke its person of the year. “The decisions he has made, and those he has yet to make, will shape the path of our prosperity, the direction of our politics and our relationship to the world,” the magazine declared admiringly.
Written by Sebastian Mallaby, read by Alice Arnold and produced by Simon Barnard
Photo: Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before Congress in October 2011, by Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 11th November 2016

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Trust Me

trust_me_3Societies where people trust one another are healthier and wealthier. “This is a more powerful predictor of future national growth rates than, for example, levels of human capital or skills in the population… Having someone or feeling that other people can be trusted or people you can rely on in your life… has roughly the same positive effect, in a series of studies, as giving up smoking.”

Countries range from, the ones like Brazil where less than 10 percent of people would say that most others could be trusted to countries like Norway where more than 70 percent of people would say most others can be trusted. U.S. and the U.K. are halfway in between, typically 30-40 percent of people say others can be trusted.” Worryingly, in the U.S. and the U.K. social trust has been falling for decades.  What is the way to restore it?

Freakonomics Radio | 10th November 2016

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The Man Who Brought You Brexit

the-man-who-broughtBritain’s vote to leave the EU was the grand finale of a 25-year campaign by a lonely sect of true believers.
“…you don’t get to Brexit without someone dreaming up the window – the remedy of leaving – in the first place. And during those long years inside the European project, that was the work of the right wing of the Conservative party. To be specific, a small, somewhat esoteric part of that wing: a flash of feathers, almost, a sect of true Eurosceptic believers who dreamed and schemed for this moment for the last 25 years. Most worked for little else, with no reward, and with no sign that they would ever prevail. “Like the monks on Iona,” as one of their former parliamentary researchers told me, “illuminating their manuscripts and waiting for the Dark Ages to come to an end.” And no one in that group worked with more devotion than Daniel Hannan, a Conservative member of the European parliament for south-east England.”
Written and read by Sam Knight. Produced by Simon Barnard

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 28th October 2016

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The Very Quiet Foreign Girls Poetry Group

“It all came from Priya’s poem, and Priya’s poem came from – well, I had no idea. It was an unlikely thing to turn up in a pile of marking. Yet there it was, tucked between two ordinary effusions, typed in a silly, curly, childish font, a sonorous description, framed with exquisite irony, of everything she couldn’t remember about her “mother country”. This was the opening:

I don’t remember her
in the summer,
lagoon water sizzling,
the kingfisher leaping,
or even the sweet honey mangoes
they tell me I used to love.”

Written and read by Kate Clanchy and produced by Simon Barnard.

Illustration by Eleanor Shakespeare

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 5th August 2016

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Offshore in Central London: the Curious Case of 29 Harley Street

The house No 29 on Harley Street is currently home to 2,159 companies, for which it operates as a large, ornate and prestigiously located postbox and answerphone. A company named Formations House, which, since it was founded in 2001, has made a business out of conjuring corporate vehicles from the West End air. Why has this prestigious address been used so many times as a centre for elaborate international fraud?
Written and read by Oliver Bullough, produced by Simon Barnard.
Illustration by Michael Kirkham.

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 6th May 2016

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Economics of Migration

economics-of-migrationAre the British people worse off because of the immigrants? When in 2013 the Royal Statistical Society did a survey and asked people to name a percentage of the United Kingdom population that are not born in the UK, the average response was 31%, more than double the actual number – 12.5%. The talk starts with a description of change in migration levels and attitudes to it in the UK and other countries then focuses on the labor market impact of immigration. Do not wish for clear-cut answers!

The Department of Economics at LSE | 12th January 2016

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The Fall of Jersey: How a Tax Haven Goes Bust

Jersey bet its future on finance but since 2007 it has fallen on hard times and is heading for bankruptcy. The government is left with a “black hole” in the annual budget. “Filling it will take the equivalent of shutting down every school in the island, laying off every teacher, letting the parks turn into overgrown jungles and having our roads literally fall apart.” Who are the winners?
Written by Oliver Bullough, read by Andrew McGregor and produced by Simon Barnard

The Guardian’s Audio Long Reads | 11th January 2016

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