TPM Longform

Football fans threw smoke bombs on İstiklal Caddesi

The orange smoke billowed upwards, blocking out the buildings of Istanbul's grandest boulevard. Riot cops lined up in front of a water cannon. The protesters could not go forward. They would not go back.

Fans of Istanbul's three main football teams- Galatasaray, Fenerbahçe, and Beşiktaş – have shared enmity nearly since the clubs were formed. But since the 2013 Gezi protests, which came to symbolize the battle against state authoritarianism, they've united. They share one enemy now, the police.

It’s April 20th, I'm with them on the streets of Turkey's largest city, as they protest a new e-ticketing system for games. Now, to buy a ticket, a fan must first purchase a special debit card displaying his or her photo and identifying information. If he chants political slogans, he can be tracked. Surveillance sold as convenience. Passolig, the company that came up with this gem, is owned by a friend of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Used to battling cops at games, football fans formed Gezi's frontlines. Now, the police are so afraid they plead with protestors to please disperse. “Children of whores,” the fans chant back. It's a sweet change from the last few years of New York demonstrations, where cops often forced demonstrators into pens, beat them, and arrested them like cattle. Next to hundreds of football fans spoiling for a fight, I finally feel safe from the police.

I dive to the front. Amidst the A.C.A.B. (All Cops Are Bastards) scarves and E-ticket fuck no graffiti spray-painted on the sidewalks, a masked boy holds up a flare. It burns neon. From Galatasaray gates, fans have hung a banner emblazoned with the words “There is no description for our love.” Flyers fluttered like ten thousand birds.

The riot cops advance. The fans flee, pursued by special sports police. In the smoke, a water-cannon rolls forward. It aims, fires, dripping water like a spent cock.

A street-cleaning vehicle follows, sucking up flyers. Except for the parked water cannon, within a half hour, not a trace of the protest remains.

Read More →

Driving from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, there is little to see across the flat expanse in the desert east of Barstow, California. Head to the state line and there are few gas stations and fewer towns. Most of the action happens underground: alongside I-15, near the Nevada border, in a tiny blink-and-you'll-miss-it town called Mountain Pass, more than 350 people work around the clock to mine and process the rare earth elements essential to the smartphones and computers which run our world.

Mountain Pass is operated by a company called Molycorp. It's part of an exclusive club - one that holds the key to a problem that vexes the tech industry, the military, and governments the world over: How to keep rare earth metals affordable.

Read More →

The February filibuster of Chuck Hagel was the last straw for Harry Reid.

In the eyes of the Democratic majority leader, Republicans had just shattered a mere three-weeks-old agreement to avoid a drastic change to the Senate rules. Not only was the Hagel vote the first time in U.S. history the Senate filibustered a nominee to be secretary of defense, but the minority party took an unprecedented step and rebuked one of their own: Hagel was a former red state Republican senator who also happened to be a decorated war veteran.

In the days that followed, a few things crystallized in the Nevada senator’s mind. The re-election of President Barack Obama and Republican promises of a "new day" in the Senate were all for naught. It became clear that the GOP was not going to change its practice of obstruction, which was rendering dysfunctional not only the legislative branch but also the executive and judicial branches by thwarting presidential nominations.

Read More →

This past July, the highest profile hacker conference in America - known as DEFCON - made a show of publicly disinviting all federal employees from attending. It was a shock, and a reversal: Last summer not only were the Feds in the audience, they were on the stage: National Security Agency chief General Keith Alexander was the keynote speaker; he had come, he said, to "solicit" support for cybersecurity. "You have the talent," he said, and called for more sharing between private companies and the government. (He also denied that the NSA keeps a file on every U.S. citizen.)

Only a few found outside of a paranoid fringe found Alexander's remarks terribly controversial at the time. That has now changed.

Gen. Alexander's appeal came from a deep understanding that the NSA cannot get very far without technologically savvy, innovative people designing secure systems, breaking encryption, and creating offensive cyberweapons. Some call them hackers: people who are obsessed with problem solving, and who love to take apart technology to see how it works and, if they're really good, how it can work better. The world of hackers - or coders, to use a softer term - can be difficult for outsiders to understand - an obsession with cryptography, Linux and homemade bespoke software, and a preference for cleverness over user-friendly design doesn't exactly endear them to mainstream America. There's another problem hackers have with the government - they tend to believe there is a right and a wrong way to do things, a mix of mindset and ideology, that doesn't fit well into Washington's or the Intelligence Community's very grey, sometimes dark, world.

Read More →

TPMLivewire