‘Where the fuck is the government?’ posters on Waterloo Bridge said. A road sign at the northern end flashed: ‘Global warming at work.’ A van was parked across the bridge, blocking the traffic. Dozens of people were sitting on the ground or walking among potted trees. Similar scenes unfolded at other sites around London yesterday afternoon: Parliament Square, Oxford Circus and Marble Arch have also been occupied by Extinction Rebellion since Monday.

18 April 2019

Sudan after Bashir

Alex de Waal

During his last years in office, Bashir used his formidable political talents simply to stay in power, and did nothing for the country. Anti-government protests erupted last December, first against the high prices of bread and fuel, and then against Bashir’s endless rule and the corruption that accompanied it. Despite weekly demonstrations in Khartoum and other cities, Bashir imagined he could outlast the protesters. He thought they lacked leadership and would be easily divided, bought off or demoralised. He was wrong. On 6 April the biggest ever crowds surrounded the Ministry of Defence and military HQ, and refused to disperse.

18 April 2019

Remember Oluwale

Tom Overton

Pages from the ‘Yorkshire Evening Post’

David Oluwale drowned in the river Aire on 18 April 1969. His body was recovered near Knostrop Sewage works on 4 May, and buried in a paupers’ grave at Killingbeck cemetery with nine others.

17 April 2019

Assange and Political Thinking

James Butler

Assange’s initial info-optimism looks fragile in an age newly sensitive to encroachments into the private realm by states and digital corporations, and when set next to his own sloppiness of redaction and politicised publication choices. The problem has never been just that there is a secret body of knowledge reserved to the state, but that our capacity to interpret and act on it is catastrophically limited. Mere facts do not suggest their own solution. Transparency is not an intrinsic good: the disgorgement of secrets may paralyse as much as catalyse. Only one person was prosecuted because of the video that Wikileaks released under the title Collateral Murder: its leaker, Chelsea Manning.

17 April 2019

Indonesia’s Queer Panic

Krithika Varagur

According to Human Rights Watch, Indonesia’s queer panic began in January 2016, when several prominent politicians, including the vice-president, issued strong anti-LGBT statements. They were reacting to queer student activism at the University of Indonesia but the discourse rapidly took on a life of its own. Indonesians went to the polls to elect a new president today. Neither the incumbent, Joko Widodo, nor his opponent has a significant track record of supporting LGBT rights. Queer activists have been at the forefront of the voter abstention movement. Early counting suggests Widodo will serve another five years in office.

16 April 2019

Sky-Scraping Gothic

The Editors

Notre-Dame as it was in 1830, by Feodor Hoffbauer (1870s).

From John Sturrock’s introduction to his 1978 Penguin Classics translation of Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame de Paris:
 

Notre-Dame is meant in part as a redemption of an architecture in eclipse. 

15 April 2019

Fire Underwater

Rachel Connolly

Which face is real? *

Earlier this year, researchers announced a new Artificial Intelligence system, GPT-2, that can finish people’s sentences. The resulting text is relatively coherent but, as the researchers note, far from perfect. Word repetition is one problem; describing the impossible (such as a fire underwater) is another; and sentences are prone to strange topic changes.

Read More