Antisocial Behaviour…

execution Anastasia CIupac. Full copyright

execution Anastasia CIupac. Full copyright

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I used #BBCAskThis…

… to bring up issues I think have been as yet overlooked in the campaign leading up to the UK general elections. I have no idea whether the questions will be considered – I made them out in writing and the BBC said they should be in cute, video selfie format, which I don’t do.

Journalism is proving a harder addiction to shake off than I previously imagined.

I digress. Here they are, in case anyone’s wondering what a Romanian immigrant with no right to vote believes are important political issues:

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Clarkson bubbles

The BBC is public sector, right? Original photo from  Tony Harrison, via Flickr (creative commons).

The BBC is public sector, right? Original photo from Tony Harrison, via Flickr (creative commons). Cartoon by Matei Rosca

The dullard, out-of-touch communists from the BBC have saved my boss and most of my colleagues from an ass-whooping to end all whoopings today. But not for long, I suspect. There is something boiling in us all, just under the surface, and nobody will be able to hold us back much longer.

I was ready to go in tomorrow and unleash some country gumption on the snotty bastards back at the company where I work, in order to get a promotion. Now I can’t for lack of precedent.

I wish the BBC didn’t fire Clarkson. More, I wish there was widespread workplace violence across the board. A new dawn in labour dynamics. A new HR ethic, fit for the 21st Century.

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Profiling Guccifer

Some more material and a few shreds of thought on the story and the hacker himself…

The other day of San Francisco published my big feature on the Romanian hacker Guccifer, real name Marcel Lazar-Lehel. He is a fascinating character and a totally atypical hacker. This was a wonderful assignment. People seem to have liked it too, as it held the front page of the US edition of the Huffington Post for two days.

He hacked politicians and military brass, bureaucrats and executives, spies and diplomats, rich and powerful, actresses, footballers, singers – and sometimes their families and friends. In a twisted and inconsistent way he sought poetic justice against the NSA policies of mass surveillance, becoming a “vigilante of the Internet,” as his prosecutor Viorel Badea called him.

Anastasia Ciupac and I took these pictures of the penitentiary and of the village of Sambateni (see below). I think they evoke the hacker’s hopeless condition, his superstitions, and his misguided ambition to overcome his rural surroundings. Both his wife and him are spiritual but not necessarily in a Christian way. Many people from these parts hold faith in witchcraft, scarcely-defined divinity, astrology, the magic power of priests and combined forms of supernatural, mythology and folklore.

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No Land’s Man or How Not to Do an Election

The 2014 presidential elections were a pyrrhic victory for Western values in post-Communist Romania.

Note: a Romanian language version of this article was published by Gazeta de Romania, a London-based newspaper for Romanian expats. Read it here.

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Thousands of Romanians living abroad have been disenfranchised in the presidential elections in which the prime minister and candidate Victor Ponta first came in on a ten percent lead from the runner-up, Klaus Iohannis, who won by about the same margin after two rounds, meaning Ponta lost over twenty percent of the voting population in two weeks. Here’s what happened:

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The Medianett saga: adventures in mercenary churnalism

“Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme…” – John Milton, Paradise Lost, 1667

Cub reporters: beware of marketing agencies employing investigative journalists. These wrongens* will likely try to corrupt you.

Initially I wanted to be the source instead of the reporter on this story because I was involved directly, but then again I might as well do all the work myself.

Caption: Faces of media corruption. The pictures above were sourced from the public Twitter accounts of the three.

Back in August 2014 I was desperate for a job. I had just moved in with my girlfriend and freelancing wouldn’t cut it, so I started applying to every reporting job available, without checking out the potential employers beforehand. One ad sounded particularly good:

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The Reformed

Execution by Anastasia Ciupac

Execution by Anastasia Ciupac

The Balkans have a very rich history of the little guy getting fucked over.

Choosing a life of crime is one way to fight against oppression. Of course, it will ultimately prove a false battle because the criminal eventually becomes an oppressor himself.

The cat’s head is a symbol of the bona fide criminal in East European underworld subcultures.

The eye in the mouth represents the criminal’s reformation through art.

Like the gangster rappers in the United States of America, he saw another way of living through expressing himself.

From an article written by Roberto Saviano in issue 17 (2010) of The Drawbridge literary newspaper:

“Art becomes your life, not because it brings everything together but because only your art can keep you alive and guarantee your future. There is no alternative to fall back on.”

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Nursing a crisis

Rod_of_asclepiusIn light of news earlier this month that the NHS is seriously overspending on agency staff, Rotherham Hospital provides a glimpse into how the dogma of outsourcing often achieves the exact opposite of its intended purpose which is to save money.

Absurd practices continue nearly a year after The Yorkshire Post revealed a damning report portraying Rotherham Hospital as chaotic and dysfunctional. That report, which the hospital fought in court to keep secret and lost, found financial mismanagement, staff feeling intimidated and harassed and possible conflict of interest in the board.

This came after a new digital patient record system pushed by the trust’s brass turned out useless for patients and ran over budget to the tune of £10m, having initially sucked out £30m in 2013, almost bankrupting the organisation. Rotherham General Hospital is now running a deficit of £31m, according to its most recent accounts.

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by Fluke Mafaldo

I’m a drunken fool, baby –
A fever-sick dog for you.

Let’s hit the road one morning, but let’s take the books with us too.

We’re losing it all here, anyway
And there’s not much about it
We can do.

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Rave heads, revisited. Revisited.

Photo taken by Frantzesco Kangaris at an illegal rave in east London, circa February 2014.

Photo taken by Frantzesco Kangaris at an illegal rave in east London, circa February 2014.

The Cable nightclub in London Bridge and the Vibe bar in Brick Lane – raving institutions both – were forcibly shut down within a year or so of each other and now the authorities put the squeeze on Fabric, conditioning its license on getting sniffer dogs.

No surprise then that people are flocking back to illegal raves!

Illegal raves are a part of British culture that’s gained mythical status around the world. Starting with the second summer of love and ecstasy all the way through to 2014, illegal raves are a staple of the Kingdom’s otherwise heavily-regulated nightlife. In a country where most pubs shut at midnight and you need a council license to put on a block barbecue on a Sunday, illegal raves are the result of a unspoken agreement between the cops and the more hardcore punters, acknowledging “some people need to let their hair down properly” – with seriously powerful drugs, seriously powerful music and bouncers that are there to actually keep security instead of spoil the fun. And no curfew.

When I took my girlfriend to her first illegal rave (in Hackney Wick) the bouncer stopped her at the door to search her bag. She told him she had no drugs, to which he replied – ‘I don’t give a monkey about your drugs, but you have to drink that bottle of cider outside. There’s no glass allowed.’

In February I had unprecedented, all-in access to a crew that puts on illegal raves in East London and I spent every weekend with them over a couple months, looking at how it works and going to their parties. One night Frantzesco, a Guardian photographer joined me to get some snaps, and he expressed surprise at how “overground” it all seemed. The doormen even gave us wristbands, like at licensed parties. “Was it really illegal? What makes it illegal?” he asked. The editors asked the same thing just before the story ran, to make sure we had our bearings right. It wasn’t immediately obvious. The loud music, the squatted building, the semi-residential area, the drugs, the laughing gas, the lack of toilets, the booze, the lack of any official license at all, I explained.

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