Spyware is used to target dissidents: How would this be a movie?

An answer prompted by a Jon Swaine and Stephanie Kirchgaessner article in The Guardian: UK rights advocate co-owns firm whose spyware is ‘used to target dissidents’

This article is full to the brim with all kinds political intrigue, hypocrisy, big money, hacking, terrorism, repressive governments, dissidents, and the glamour of the art world.

There are a dozen ways to build a plot around what’s on offer. There’s the journalist uncovering a conspiracy version. I have in mind something like The Parallax View (1974) or State of Play (2003). There’s an innocent accused of a crime version. Think Enemy of the State (1998) or The Pelican Brief (1993). There’s a version from inside law enforcement. Something like The International (2009) or Serpico (1973). It could easily be part of the plot for a spy film like Casino Royal (2006) or Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (2011).

My initial thoughts have the husband of an imprisoned dissident kidnap a wealthy art dealer Jill, and hold her hostage. The kidnapper starts to make demands of the art dealer’s husband, Jack. Conspiring with each new demand to expose his corrupt activity. As the plot drips through it becomes apparent it’s actually Jill’s spyware being used to hack Jack’s phone. All kinds of his secrets are exposed to the world. The kidnapper holds one last secret about Jill’s husband. When the two men finally meet to exchange their partners, Jill demands to know the final secret. When the kidnapper finally has his wife, he reveals Jack’s last secret to Jill. The news is so devastating to her, she kills Jack. We are left wondering, never knowing, his secret.

Watched I Am Mother (2019)

This plays like a prequel sequel of The Terminator, if Sarah Connor were to be raised by the T-800 with a female voice. This film is a little more kitchen skink drama than action film, but it manages to hold your attention, and ask some interesting questions.

Watched Peelers (2016)

I have no idea why it’s called Peelers, but it’s all you’d expect from a movie that starts on the image of a strippers nipple. It’s not subtle, nor does it obey any real logic. It’s as grim as the effects created blood splatter, and half eaten woman who gets to meet her baby. In a world where you have to take the rough with the smooth, this is definitely taking a bit of rough.

[We need a human right response to poverty] RSA: Adanna Shallowe: Why we need an emergency response to poverty

I agree with Ms Shallowe that we need radical solutions to the problems of poverty in this country, but I don’t think an “emergency response” is the answer. An emergency response allows the wealthy to think of the poor as lesser citizens, and compromises the much stronger human rights frame she places around her argument. As she writes “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” this government and it’s supporters are engaged in hostile actions against the poorest among us. RSA research in Fife report locals as saying “the system’s out to screw us, keep us in our place.” How’s that possible? Because we are neither free, nor equal.

The reality is we’re born into a very specific set of economic circumstances, into a family, a community, a society, a country, and a world; and those conditions govern our progress from day one. In fact I would argue it goes back beyond day one. The governing factors go back nine months, minus several generations, as far as can be remembered. Those conditions define how we think, and our ability to prosper.

That said, we need to remember, current levels of poverty in this country are a direct result of Tory attempts to dismantle the welfare state; while also making the poorest pay for the sins of the richest. Those at the bottom of the economic pyramid are paying for the greed of a banking industry that crashed the economy in 2008. How can they do this? They do it by treating the poor as “other,” as something over there, to be feared and demonised, a burden to be survived. They think of us as feckless beggars. That’s why I don’t like the idea of an “emergency response” to poverty. We risk falling into a hole dug by the Tories, a bear-trap, that lets them treat the poorest as lesser citizens.

We are not victims of a natural disaster that destroyed a costal village, or flooded a delta, or swept away everything in a tidal wave. We are the product of an economic system that puts the accumulation of wealth above everything else. One that seeks to fatigue “you in every way – physically, mentally, (and) financially.” The emergency response frames poverty as if it were some kind of natural disaster. And disaster relief asks us to give cash so those who have lost everything can be helped. Charity is a short term solution, to an acute problem, and comes with a choice. You can choose not to give. We need solutions that are mandatory.

As Ms Shallowe writes, we need a universal basic income, and legislative recognition of social rights. But to achieve any of this we have to unpick the fabric of society. And that’ll be like unpicking the stitching of our trousers, then remaking them into a skirt, while trying not to flash your arse. It’s not easy but it is possible. The poor of this country are not charity cases deserving of handouts. We are full citizens who should be given the same help as a child born into a wealthy family.

This is a clumsy example but is the clearest way to explain the point. A child born into a wealthy family gets a private education. That child will do better than a child born into a family with no money. The former has a better chance of getting a well paying job, and living a longer life, than the child who lives without the instruction manual. I use the term instruction manual to make the point that the wealthy get to navigate the world they live in. The poor get no such instruction. We must learn for ourselves how to survive. While all the time being told, the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer. As if it’s the natural way of things. It is not.

The narrative of “emergency response” should be replaced with one of equal rights. Poverty isn’t an economic issue, it’s an abuse of our human rights. As citizens of the fifth largest economy in the world we have the right to a fulfilling life. And in this world, the right to a life means having money. We are not poor through choice. We are poor though circumstance. Poverty is not a lack of character, it’s a lack of money. Give it to those who have none and they will use it. They will be happier, and more productive, and the world will be better for it. That’s how we should be judging our society. Not by how much extra you have in the bank. But how your actions improve the rights of the many not just the right of the few?

[Is this one of the reasons for Brexit?] The Guardian: Staff and agencies: UK and territories are ‘greatest enabler’ of tax avoidance, study says

I’m guessing the vested interests pushing for a no deal Brexit are doing it, in part, to weaken the European Union’s hold on The City of London. The EU wants to bring in stricter rules on financial services, and try to stop the kind of enabling, that ranks British territories and its dependencies among the worst offenders. The only people who will benefit from a low tax Britain are the wealthy. For the rest of us less tax means no money for schools, infrastructure, or the health service. If we crash out of the European Union, and stronger regulation, the City will become the perfect host for all kinds of parasitic tax avoiders.

The Independent versus Double Down News

Here are two separate Twitter posts. One from Ms Dearden for The Independent, the other from Ms Mwale for Double Down News. They both relate to the link between knife crime and austerity. One is direct and too the point, the other is not.

The Independent: Lizzie Dearden: Knife crime rise ‘linked to youth service cuts’, parliamentary report finds

Double Down News: Temi Mwale: Austerity Kills: How to stop the rise in knife crime