Cultureteca 06.03.16


Home Office Publishes Revised Investigatory Powers Bill

On Tuesday the Home Office in the United Kingdom published a revised Investigatory Powers Bill, meant to address some of the criticisms and recommendations made by the Intelligence and Security Committee of parliament and by a Joint Select Committee which held sessions across December and January.

Home Secretary Theresa May put the draft Investigatory Powers Bill before parliament last November. In its original form, it would have required Communications Service Providers to store for 12 months records of the websites visited by every UK citizen, and for the first time would have authorised equipment interference and the bulk collection of personal communications data, as well as targeted data interception, and bulk data interception relating to individuals outside of the UK.

Contrary to the recommendation of the Intelligence and Security Committee, the revised bill in fact bolsters the right of the authorities to engage in equipment interference, allowing warrants to be issued urgently in cases of ‘imminent threat to life or serious harm’. Rather than limiting requests to communications services and illegal material, it effectively allows the authorities to apply for access to all website browsing data. Concerns regarding encryption and a proper process of review have been ignored. And a contested passage justifying state surveillance for the protection of Britain’s ‘economic well-being’ remains intact.

The revised bill does reaffirm a commitment to a ‘double-lock’, making judicial commissioners responsible for approving data and interference requests. And the Home Office have as promised published a full ‘codes of practice’. The scrutiny process from this point forward remains unclear, but could include another select committee.

While Theresa May praised the revised bill as ‘both clearer and stronger in protecting privacy’, the executive director of the Open Rights Group Jim Killock said:

‘On first reading, the revised Bill barely pays lip service to the concerns raised by the committees that scrutinised the draft Bill. If passed, it would mean that the UK has one of the most draconian surveillance laws of any democracy with mass surveillance powers to monitor every citizen’s browsing history.’

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Comedians Sitting on Vibrators Getting Coffee

Given the roaring success of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee, it’s a surprise that the internet isn’t already buzzing with imitations. Stand-up comic Nikki Glaser looked to set that right with a segment from the latest episode of Not Safe with Nikki Glaser, the sex-themed television series which premiered last month on Comedy Central. The segment’s title is self-explanatory, ‘Comedians Sitting on Vibrators Getting Coffee’ starring Glaser as she attempts to muster more than stimulating conversation seated across from fellow stand-up Sara Schaefer.

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Tiger Woods Witnesses First Hole-in-one at The Playgrounds

The first golf course designed by Tiger Woods in the United States, Bluejack National in Montgomery, Texas opened last November. Besides from the 18-hole championship course, Bluejack also hosts ‘The Playgrounds’, a 10-hole par-3 course which is targeted at a more casual audience, the flow of play left to the imagination as it hopes to entice couples and friends post-dinner and drinks, or grandparents teaching the nuances of the game to their grandkids. On Wednesday Woods attended to witness the inaugural round at The Playgrounds, only to find himself surely something approaching awestruck as 11-year-old Taylor Crozier hit a hole-in-one with the very first shot.

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Nina Simone Estate Reignites Controversy Over Biopic Choice Zoe Saldana

The upcoming Nina Simone biopic has already endured a long and controversial gestation. Production was initially scheduled to begin in September 2010, but financial issues and cast changes prolonged shooting for more than two years, and the choice of Zoe Saldana for the title role has been widely criticised owing to the actress’s perceived lack of singing experience and slight physical resemblance to soul’s ‘High Priestess’. In a 2012 interview with The New York Times, Simone’s daughter Lisa Simone Kelly said,  ‘My mother was raised at a time when she was told her nose was too wide, her skin was too dark. Appearance-wise this is not the best choice’.

Now Nina Simone’s estate has renewed its condemnation of the actress, in response to Saldana’s posting of a Simone quote on Twitter. The film is due for release on 22 April.

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World Trade Center Transportation Hub Opens In Lower Manhattan

On Thursday the World Trade Center Transportation Hub opened partially to the public. Replacing the temporary station which has functioned in Lower Manhattan since 2003, it connects PATH rail services with the New York City Subway system, and provides indoor passageways which stretch from the Trade Center towers to the Fulton Center and Battery Park City Ferry Terminal. The station’s mezzanine is connected to an above-ground station house called the Oculus, with a distinctive ribbed wing design that hovers over the eastern edge of the World Trade Center site.

The project by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava was unveiled in 2004, but has suffered numerous delays and spiralling costs. The total cost now stands at $3.9 billion, almost double the original estimate, making the World Trade Center Transportation Hub the most expensive train station in the world. While Calatrava has suggested his building can become one of New York’s iconic structures, critics have condemned the price and questioned elements of the design. The vast oval hall beneath the Oculus’s wings, with marble floors and wrapped in steel and glass, will eventually house a shopping mall, scheduled to open in August. Once the interior of the building is completed, the station is expected to serve more than 200,000 daily commuters.


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Kendrick Lamar Releases untitled unmastered.

On Friday Kendrick Lamar unexpectedly released a new album, the follow-up to last year’s wildly acclaimed To Pimp a Butterfly. Called untitled unmastered., Lamar clarified via Twitter that the record is made up of To Pimp a Butterfly demos. The eight tracks include songs Lamar has performed previously on The Colbert Report and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, and feature production from Thundercat, Sounwave, Adrian Younge, A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Egypt, the five-year-old son of Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz.

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Devon Welsh and Matthew Otto of Majical Cloudz Move On to Separate Projects

Via a post on tumblr, Devon Welsh confirmed this week that he and Matthew Otto are heading their separate ways, leaving last year’s excellent Are You Alone? as the final Majical Cloudz record. With Welsh the singer-songwriter and Otto providing the hypnotic ambient loops, Majical Cloudz released three full-length albums – the first on Arbutus before a move to Matador – and a couple of EPs. Their second album Impersonator was longlisted for the 2013 Polaris Music Prize.

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Turkey’s Zaman Publishes Final Edition Before Seizure

Alleging links to the Hizmet movement and Fethullah Gülen – a close ally of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan until late 2013, when corruption allegations against the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) effectively severed their relationship – on Friday the Turkish authorities seized control of the newspaper Zaman. A daily with a circulation of around 650,000, since 2013 Zaman has been increasingly critical of Erdoğan and the AKP government.

A court ruling earlier on Friday set the stage for the seizure, determining that the newspaper should be taken over by state administrators. But despite being raided by the police, Zaman‘s editors still managed to publish the already-completed Saturday edition of their paper, writing ‘The Turkish press has experienced one of the darkest days in its history’. Prime Minster Ahmet Davutoğlu responded by calling the move ‘legal, not political’, as protesters outside of the Zaman offices were steadily dispersed.

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UFC 196: A Tale of Two Chokes

The co-main events at UFC 196 on Saturday, which emanated from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, both ended in shock results. In Holly Holm’s first bantamweight title defence after stunning Ronda Rousey and the world last November, the former professional boxer struggled with Miesha Tate’s ground offense, barely making it through the second round. And towards the end of a back-and-forth contest, with just 90 seconds remaining in the fifth and final round, another rear-naked choke from Tate forced a technical submission as Holm was rendered unconscious.

While a jump of two weight classes perhaps ought to have made Conor McGregor the underdog heading into his fight against Nate Diaz, the brash-talking featherweight champion – who was making his debut at welterweight, having previously gone unbeaten in seven bouts at featherweight in the UFC – was odds-on to beat the late replacement for Rafael dos Anjos. But it was Diaz who prevailed, withstanding McGregor’s left hand in the first round, before responding in the second with a series of punches of his own. And when a shaken and spent McGregor tried desperately for a takedown, Diaz swiftly took advantage, making him tap in a rear-naked choke.

In the other three fights on the card, Ilir Latifi beat Gian Villante, Corey Anderson beat Tom Lawlor, and Amanda Nunes defeated Valentina Shevchenko, all after three rounds by unanimous decision. The win for Nunes moves her closer to a shot at Tate’s newly-won bantamweight belt.