Haute Couture Covers a Curiously Broad Waterfront

PARIS — Maria Grazia Chiuri’s celebrations of women for Christian Dior have most often been spun around the work of a female artist where the inspiration is necessarily more abstract, but the couture collection she showed on Monday was rooted in a real life, that of entertainer, activist and Black icon Josephine Baker and it was all the stronger for it. Chiuri’s starting point was a trove of old photos of Baker performing in New York in the 1950s, dressed in Dior, but the designer drew a narrative thread back to the 1920s, when Baker first arrived in Paris and created a sensation at the Revue Nègre and, later, the Folies Bergère. Sinuous metallic sheaths and flapper dresses fringed with crystal evoked the Jazz Age, undergarments wrapped in velvet robes suggested loungewear for backstage dressing rooms. A clutch of spectacularly simple columnar evening gowns in glistening satin and decadently toned crushed velvet — all of them crumpled, lived in — sang to the single spotlight of the cabaret star.

A good half of the collection was made up of daywear: tailored suits, coats, dresses, some in the men’s fabrics favoured by Monsieur Dior. Lengths were a sober mid-calf, which loaned a vintage flavour compounded by the hair, the makeup and the footwear (embroidered velvet shoes with a hunky mid-heel). But it was quite a pleasing effect. Chiuri said she was drawn to Baker because she understood the power of dress to confront racial stereotypes, and confound expectations of gender roles, like another famous Dior customer, Marlene Dietrich. Those women resonated with her, to the point where Chiuri picked the tuxedo coat as a personal favourite from her new collection. (Baker and Dietrich did almost as much for a man’s tuxedo as Fred Astaire and Cary Grant.) “That’s what I like for myself, really clean and timeless,” she added. And maybe it was that intimate personal resonance that gave this collection its subtle kick. It had soul.

Of course, it was also a Christian Dior show so it demanded some extravagant contextualising. American artist Mickalene Thomas created 13 photo-based collages in her signature style, celebrating Baker and a dozen other Black women who had blazed trails in their worlds, among them Dorothy Dandridge in movies, Nina Simone and Lena Horne in music, Donyale Luna in modelling. They were reproduced in giant embroidered wall-pieces executed by the Chanakya School of Craft in Mumbai. “Women — and great women artists — don’t celebrate themselves enough,” Chiuri said emphatically. “I’m obsessed with pushing women.” As usual, I was wondering where these remarkable pieces of contemporary art would end up when the music stops.

There was more contemporary art at the Chanel show on Tuesday morning in the sculptural animal forms created from cardboard, wood and paper by Xavier Veilhan to accompany a show designer Virginie Viard imagined as “a spontaneous village festivity.” Midsommar, or The Wicker Man, maybe? There was something of those cult classics in the giant abstracted creatures that were wheeled into an oddly shadowy show space. There were models concealed within, a hint of Spinal Tap perhaps, that was made more emphatic when an elephant trundled onstage at show’s end. From this giant structure, Anna Ewers emerged, a virgin bride in a veil embroidered with swallows.

It was klutzy and kultish, like a cross between a Trojan horse and a child’s horsey, and in an odd way, it was a perfect distillation of the collection itself. As much as it embodied haute couture in the extraordinary techniques that made the clothes, it also ensured that those clothes had a sparkly, frothy fairytale naivete that seemed bizarrely at odds with couture’s expression of a fundamentally adult sophistication. The same artistic sophistication, in fact, that shaped the original bestiary in Gabrielle Chanel’s apartment on Rue Cambon, the Coco ur-zone which Viard introduced Veilhan to at the beginning of their collaboration.

So back to the clothes. Viard liked the idea of majorettes, the kind that might lead a small-town parade of Americana in their flaring skirts or shorts, their laced booties, maybe even an abbreviated swing coat. There were top hats and bowties, as though the models were ringmasters in the circus of abstract animals that awkwardly filled the arena. When that hat and tie combo accompanied the transparent, tiered formality of the black grouping towards the end of the show, it took on a Girls-of-Guns n’ Roses edge. I’ve always maintained that Virginie Viard’s rock chick heart will ultimately define her tenure at Chanel. Here was a whisper of that future. Mind you, she covered her bases by embedding a Corgi picked out in pearls on classic Chanel tweed. Playing to the Palace, perhaps?

Ultimately, with houses the size of Dior and Chanel, the designers are bound by their ability to deliver the sales at street level. If they’re doing that, haute couture is allowed to become a thin-aired Everest of idiosyncrasy. The invitation for Giorgio Armani’s new Privé show featured a harlequin diamond pattern, which sparked simultaneous dread and curiosity. The dread was instantly consummated on entrance to the venue in the Garde Republicaine, where the French cavalry’s horses usually prance. A harlequin catwalk! So soon to be echoed in the diamond-patterned looks which took to that catwalk.

But then the dread was co-opted by the curiosity. Armani never takes on a theme by halves. If he’s in on harlequins, he’s all in on harlequins. So what did that mean? Harlequin’s home was in the grand Italian tradition of commedia del’arte with its origins in the carnival of Venice. Armani’s palette — aqueous blues and greens, shot through with a wintry sunrise pink — was the palette of Venice at a particular time of year. The sinuous flow of glittering floor-length sheaths duplicated the effect of light on water.

But there was also something fundamentally surreal about Armani’s presentation that made me think about what harlequins meant to Picasso and DeChirico and their peers: the romantic, the prankster. Giorgio clearly still has some tricks up his sleeve.

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Some K-pop fans #SayNoToStreaming, but others aren’t happy

In the K-pop sphere, discussions on what healthy fandom culture is comes and goes. The latest round of heated arguments recently surfaced on Twitter, many K-pop fans’ social media platform of choice, on how excessive music streaming can be. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

In the K-pop sphere, discussions on what healthy fandom culture is comes and goes. The latest round of heated arguments recently surfaced on Twitter, many K-pop fans’ social media platform of choice, on how excessive music streaming can be. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

In the K-pop sphere, discussions on what constitutes healthy fandom culture could be called a naturally occurring phenomenon.
The latest round of heated arguments on the subject recently surfaced on Twitter, many K-pop fans’ social media platform of choice, this time under the hashtag #SayNoToStreaming, shedding light on how labor-intensive K-pop fan culture can be.
Using the hashtag, a string of international K-pop fans called for moderation in streaming. The concept of “excessive music listening” may sound absurd to any unfamiliar with K-pop, but is a key activity among fans of the genre. Many K-pop fans stream their favorite artist’s music or a specific song non-stop — on mute if necessary — in order to boost their rankings on the charts.
Proponents of #SayNoToStreaming described 24-hour streaming as, essentially, unpaid labor, although it may be well-intended and done fully voluntarily to support one’s favorite artist. They advise people to participate in fan activities like streaming as a hobby instead of feeling pressured to do so, like many loyal fans do, to the point of it interfering with their own lives.
Though it may sound like an obvious statement, and though much of it did receive support, the piece of advice was also met with strong backlash.
Streaming maketh the fan?
Discussions about streaming surface frequently among domestic and foreign K-pop fans alike, usually regarding whether it’s acceptable to pressure others in the same fandom to stream. Skeptics of #SayNoToStreaming maintain that a true fan would listen to their favorite band’s music all day because they genuinely enjoy it, and therefore would not refer to streaming as labor.
“If you don’t like listening to your favorite band’s music, it’s because you think their songs are boring,” this school of thought claims.

Television music shows place the most emphasis on the amount of online streaming, above other criteria including physical CD sales and viewer votes, when announcing the No. 1 song of the week. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Television music shows place the most emphasis on the amount of online streaming, above other criteria including physical CD sales and viewer votes, when announcing the No. 1 song of the week. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Some, while in the same breath admitting that streaming certain songs non-stop can be tiring, exhorted that mass streaming is absolutely necessary for artists’ success.
“Don’t call yourself a fan if you won’t even make an effort to support the artist,” argue proponents of 24-hour streaming. “Would you rather see them be unsuccessful?”
High chart rankings, which means more exposure to the general public through streaming platforms, contribute to the group becoming better known. Similarly, the number of streams are one of the top criteria tallied by television music shows. Winning No. 1 on a music show is considered a career milestone that further promotes the group.
So within a K-pop artist’s fandom, fans encourage each other to constantly “stream like you breathe,” especially when new music drops. Numerous social media pages are dedicated to encouraging fans, notifying them which songs to stream and sharing tips on how to stream efficiently so that every listen counts.
This includes streaming overnight when listeners of other songs are asleep — which explains why many K-pop idols’ songs enter domestic charts late at night but aren’t seen during the day. Social media pages encouraging fans to stream recommend checking “first thing in the morning to see if the music had been playing all night without interruption.”
Peer pressure
Fans proudly proclaim they consciously hold themselves back from listening to other artists’ songs even if they want to, in order to not interrupt the non-stop streaming of their one favorite artist. They often face pressure from other fans to present screenshots that prove they have been streaming.
Many go so far as to condemn other fans who don’t do the same, often with threatening rhetoric that incites fear among fans.
“If you won’t support your favorites [by streaming], don’t complain about them not winning any awards and don’t be surprised when they disband,” numerous responses to #SayNoToStreaming emphasize. Comments like “don’t let this be their last comeback” are frequently seen under newly released music videos by relatively lesser-known acts.

One fan online proves with a screenshot that they have been streaming boy band Exo. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

One fan online proves with a screenshot that they have been streaming boy band Exo. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Some dismissed the hashtag movement as a non-issue, reasoning that streaming is simply each individual’s decision. However, considering that such pressures are prevalent in fandom culture and many stream to the point of neglecting their own personal lives, it may be a disingenuous approach.
One Korean fan in her mid-20s, formerly a loyal fan of a still-active boy band and who wished to stay anonymous, shared what estranged her from being an active part of the fandom.
“You know how the term gaseongbi [cost-effective] fan is basically used as an insult in the K-pop idol scene,” she said. The term refers to casual fans who do not stream all day or buy CDs, but simply enjoy the singer’s works lightheartedly. They are often called out as fake fans and may even be asked to leave the fandom.
“Until my early 20s, I felt like I had to stream, purchase multiple CDs, attend fan autograph events, go to concerts […] promote them and sometimes defend the group online if I were to call myself a fan.”
As she pointed out, streaming is one of the many activities required from those who want to be acknowledged as bona fide fans. They are expected to put in both time and money to set a myriad of new records for the artist, and the so-called light fans who don’t are largely shunned by the core fandom. Many claim that those who don’t stream lack sincerity and don’t deserve to attend concerts or meet-and-greets.
“I remember being constantly distracted during the day to check if my music streaming was on,” she continued. “It disturbed my sleep. […] I knew streaming day and night was interfering with my real life, mentally and physically, but the pressure was strong online where fans gather. We were told other fans are busy too but still put in ‘real effort.’ The pressure doesn’t seem like a big deal from the outside, but because fanhood is based on love, suggesting that my love was untrue was very guilt-tripping and influential to me at the time.”
Debates going deeper
Fans naturally want to show support to their favorite artists; a phenomenon seen in any pop music industry. But a fandom culture that also requires so much time, money and sincerity, on a daily basis and in a highly organized manner, is considered unique to K-pop. Where does this labor-intensive culture come from?

A guide explaining how to efficiently stream non-stop, distributed by boy band Monsta X's fandom Monbebe. The image includes tips for streaming on Melon, though there are guides for each streaming platform. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

A guide explaining how to efficiently stream non-stop, distributed by boy band Monsta X’s fandom Monbebe. The image includes tips for streaming on Melon, though there are guides for each streaming platform. [SCREEN CAPTURE]

Music critic Park Hee-a says rather than singling out K-pop culture as being different, the answer lies in Korean society’s work culture in general.
“K-pop fan culture requires a very high standard of labor-intensive activities,” she said. “K-pop is music from Korea, so it inevitably reflects the country’s attitude toward labor as well. Our work culture is known for praising long work hours and dedication. Koreans’ national character also emphasizes diligence, intensely so when there’s a goal to reach. Not all countries share such a work ethic, so it’s very interesting that this culture of labor, in a way, has spread to foreign fans through K-pop.”
These discussions on excessive fan activities have been going on for much longer among domestic fans. Critic Park says the fact that fans overseas have officially jumped into the discussion shows how they don’t only enjoy consuming K-pop, but are also serious about the fandom culture that comes with it.
“They’re showing a strong willingness to deeply understand K-pop culture and talk about it among themselves,” she said. “Eventually, each fan will decide how much fan activity is fit for them, and fandoms will also hopefully reach a consensus on how much encouragement is acceptable. At this stage, even the heated arguments are a natural and constructive phenomenon which proves that the dialogue surrounding K-pop is going deeper overseas too.”

BY HALEY YANG [yang.hyunjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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Ransomware hackers responsible for Bitcoin pump – Cryptopolitan

Yet again! Fox News TV host, Tucker Carlson, put forth a fascinating conspiracy theory that attempts to connect the rising price of Bitcoin with the recent flight delays across the United States, Philippines, and Canada.

Carlson speculated that ransomware attackers were to blame for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) system outage that led to the cancellation of 1300+ flights and the delay of a further 10,000+ flights on January 11. Tucker added that the US government purchased a significant amount of Bitcoin (BTC) to pay the ransom. However, the lack of any evidence whatsoever from Tucker to back these claims is something the crypto community finds curious.

On his Fox News show the night of January 17th, Tucker Carlson claimed that the price of Bitcoin (BTC) rose by over 20% after the airport chaos.

Carlson added that the same scenario played out in Canada the day after it happened in the United States. When asked about the coincidence, he remarked, “What are the odds of that?” both nations use their own separate software to route flights.

In a statement regarding the matter, Canadian officials said that the “Canadian NOTAM entry system also experienced a service disruption,” but that it was completely unconnected to the prior malfunction of the United States’ NOTAM system.

Further explaining the extent of the problem, the Fox News host mentioned that thousands of flights had to be rerouted because of a grounding in the Philippines on New Year’s Day.

“Is it possible that somebody is hacking into aviation systems and holding various governments around the world hostage until they pay a ransom?”

Tucker Carlson

Although Tucker’s fanbase found this latest conspiracy theory plausible, the crypto community was not as enthusiastic. Nick Almond, the founder of FactoryDAO, responded to Tucker’s wild claim about the Bitcoin price surge, ransome attackers, and flight delays by tweeting, “maximum tin foil.”

In addition, Almond expressed profound skepticism that the United States government would “secretly” procure billions of dollars worth of Bitcoin on the open market for ransom payments.

In another response to Tucker, Origin Protocol classified the theory as a rather convoluted mathematical problem.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration Standpoint

The FAA grounded all flights on January 11 due to a “computer outage,” causing delays for thousands of passengers. The transportation department claims that this was caused by a glitch in the Notice to Air Missions system (NOTAM), which is used to communicate important information about the airspace to pilots, such as the location and severity of any abnormal conditions.

“Initial investigations led us to conclude that a corrupt database file was the source of the outage. There is currently no evidence to suggest that there has been a cyber attack.”


Normalcy has since been restored to the aviation sector in the United States as the FAA swiftly sprang into action to resolve the hiccup.

Bitcoin on the Move

The most popular cryptocurrency is up 38% in value since January 1, 2023. The macroeconomic environment’s current state heightens the BTC pump’s unexpectedness.

Tucker Carlson: Ransomware hackers responsible for Bitcoin pump 3

Bitcoin’s value has increased by 31% since the FAA’s announcement, and the upward trend has prompted a shift to a bullish outlook. Some have interpreted the market as potentially bullish. Keep tuned in for this developing story on FAA system attackers being paid through Bitcoin.

You may read our Bitcoin Price Predictions and Investing Guides to keep on top of crypto events and steer clear of baseless rumors.

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US Department Of Justice Targets Google Ads With Latest Antitrust Suit

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed an antitrust lawsuit aimed at Google’s online advertising business and seeks to make Google divest parts of the business.

In the lawsuit, the DOJ and a selection of US states allege that Google sought to control all sides of the online advertising market and monopolised multiple advertising technology solutions and engaged in “a course of anticompetitive and exclusionary conduct.”

Specifically, the lawsuit said Google had eliminated competitors through acquisitions and wielded its dominance to force publishers and advertisers to use its products, and thwarted the ability of anyone to use competing products.

“Today’s complaint alleges that Google has used anticompetitive, exclusionary, and unlawful conduct to eliminate or severely diminish any threat to its dominance over digital advertising technologies,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland.

“No matter the industry and no matter the company, the Justice Department will vigorously enforce our antitrust laws to protect consumers, safeguard competition, and ensure economic fairness and opportunity for all.”

This is the second antitrust suit filed against Google in just over three years. The US’ antitrust laws aim to prevent the creation of monopolies across industries and effectively prevent companies from playing gamekeeper and poacher within the sectors they operate in.

In this instance, Google’s primacy in controlling people’s access to the internet through the Chrome browser, the Android operating system, and other technology as well as dominating the online adtech market, might have given the company an unfair advantage over other adtech businesses.

“The complaint filed today alleges a pervasive and systemic pattern of misconduct through which Google sought to consolidate market power and stave off free-market competition,” said Deputy Attorney General Lisa O. Monaco.

“In pursuit of outsized profits, Google has caused great harm to online publishers and advertisers and American consumers. This lawsuit marks an important milestone in the Department’s efforts to hold big technology companies accountable for violations of the antitrust laws.”

Google’s advertising business generated US$54.5 billion in the quarter ending 30 September. However, the company’s hares were down 1.3 per cent on Tuesday afternoon. The lawsuit stated that “as a result of its illegal monopoly” Google “pockets on average more than 30 per cent of the advertising dollars that flow through” its adtech products.

It also explained that Google “controls the digital tool that nearly every major website publisher uses to sell ads on their websites (publisher ad server).” However, the lawsuit said that by controlling an 80 per cent share of advertiser ad networks through Google Ads and with Google AdExchange controlling half of the digital ad exchange market, it could stifle competition and effectively force other publishers and advertisers to use its tools.

“The Department’s landmark action against Google underscores our commitment to fighting the abuse of market power,” said Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta.

“We allege that Google has captured publishers’ revenue for its own profits and punished publishers who sought out alternatives. Those actions have weakened the free and open internet and increased advertising costs for businesses and for the United States government, including for our military.”

“Today’s lawsuit seeks to hold Google to account for its longstanding monopolies in digital advertising technologies that content creators use to sell ads and advertisers use to buy ads on the open internet,” said Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Kanter of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division.

“Our complaint sets forth detailed allegations explaining how Google engaged in 15 years of sustained conduct that had — and continues to have — the effect of driving out rivals, diminishing competition, inflating advertising costs, reducing revenues for news publishers and content creators, snuffing out innovation, and harming the exchange of information and ideas in the public sphere.”

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Microsoft Teams, Outlook and others down for users in India, netizens react with memes and jokes

Microsoft Teams, Outlook and others down for users in India, netizens react with memes and jokes

Microsoft Corp.’s Teams, Outlook, Azure and Microsoft 365 are down for hundreds of users in India. On Wednesday, users across India were unable to access the applications, according to the oy=utage monitoring website Downdetector.com.

More than 1,800 incidents of customers claiming problems with Microsoft Teams in India were recorded by the website, which tracks outages using a variety of sources, including user reports. Many users were unable to participate in the calls or send messages in MS Teams, and many shared their frustration on Twitter.

With this, internet users started a meme fest on the microblogging platform Twitter. Here are some tweets shared by users:










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Microsoft erases gains after saying Azure growth will slow down

SEATTLE – Microsoft said revenue growth in its Azure cloud computing business will decelerate in the current period and warned of a further slowdown in corporate software sales, fuelling concerns about a steeper decline in demand for the products that have driven its momentum in recent years.

Shares erased earlier gains in late trading after chief financial officer Amy Hood said Azure sales in the current period will slow by 4 or 5 points from the end of the fiscal second quarter, when gains were at a percentage in the mid-30s. That business had marked a bright spot in a lacklustre earnings report for Microsoft, whose other divisions were held back by a slump in sales related to personal computer software and video games.

Shareholders had earlier sent the stock up more than 4 per cent, encouraged by signs of resilience in Microsoft’s cloud business even in a weaker overall market for software and other technology products. The company’s shares declined about 1 per cent after executives gave their forecast on the conference call.

The company’s downbeat forecast brought the focus back to the software giant’s challenges as corporate customers hit the brakes on spending. Revenue growth of 2 per cent in the second quarter was the slowest in six years, and Microsoft last week said it was firing 10,000 workers.

Earlier on Tuesday, the company said adjusted profit in the period ended Dec 31 was US$2.32 a share, while sales rose to US$52.7 billion (S$69.6 billion). That compared with average analysts’ projections for US$2.30 a share in earnings and US$52.9 billion in revenue, according to a Bloomberg survey. Excluding currency impacts, Azure’s revenue gained 38 per cent for the full quarter, slightly topping analyst predictions.

Microsoft said it recorded a charge of US$1.2 billion in the latest quarter, with US$800 million of that related to the job cuts, which will affect less than 5 per cent of its workforce.

After years of double-digit revenue gains fuelled by Microsoft’s accelerating cloud business, and robust growth during the technology spending spree of the Covid-19 pandemic, chief executive officer Satya Nadella acknowledged that the industry is going through a period of deceleration and will need to adjust.

“During the pandemic, there was rapid acceleration. I think we’re going to go through a phase today where there is some amount of normalisation in demand,” Mr Nadella said in an interview earlier this month. “We will have to do more with less – we will have to show our own productivity gains with our own technology.”

Azure has been Microsoft’s most closely watched business for years, and has fuelled a resurgence in revenue since Mr Nadella took the helm in 2014 and oriented the company around the burgeoning cloud computing market, where it competes with Amazon.com, Alphabet’s Google and others. Now Microsoft is turning to artificial intelligence (AI) applications to fuel more Azure demand. Revenue from the Azure Machine Learning service has more than doubled for five quarters in a row, Mr Nadella said.

As part of its focus on AI, Microsoft said on Monday that it will step up its stake in OpenAI, with a person familiar with the matter saying the new investment will amount to US$10 billion over multiple years.

“We fundamentally believe that the next big platform wave is going to be AI,” Mr Nadella said on Tuesday. “And we strongly also believe a lot of the enterprise value gets created by just being able to catch these waves and then have those waves impact every part of our tech stack and also create new solutions and new opportunities.” He said it was too early to start quantifying what that will mean for Azure demand.

The software maker also plans to continue spending to expand the data centres that deliver cloud services.

That spending “is dictated both by near-term and long-term cloud demand,” Ms Hood said. “Given that we continue to see such strong demand for cloud, you’ll continue to see us spend on capital.” On the call with analysts, she forecast capital expenditures will increase in the third quarter. BLOOMBERG

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The Met Police is a victim of the curse of incrementalism and endless inquiries


Rosie Beacon

Rosie Beacon is a senior policy analyst at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change

Met Police Investigating 800 Personnel Over Domestic And Sexual Abuse Claims
The Police Commissioner, Sir Mark Rowley, said that 45,000 Met officers and staff would be rechecked for any missed offences. This comes after PC David Carrick pleaded guilty to 49 offences, including dozens of rapes. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The Metropolitan Police has been the subject of a series of scandals, from the murder of Sarah Everard to David Carrick, and endless commissions won’t help it adapt to the needs of 2023, writes Rosie Beacon

A damning culture is one thing, and damning statistics are another. Sadly, both of these things now co-exist in the Metropolitan Police: an organisation we rely on for basic safety. If it wasn’t clear before, it certainly is now, that policing is at an inflection point.

It is no secret that public confidence in the police is declining. Some of this relates to the recent high-profile scandals, involving serving officers committing some of the most heinous crimes imaginable, which have certainly undermined police legitimacy. But it also relates to concerns about the police’s competence and whether they are fulfilling their core functions effectively.

Turning this around requires comprehensive change. And if they struggle to get the foundations right – like recruitment and vetting – how are they supposed to get the complexities right – like responding to how technology and social change are fundamentally altering crime? As crime evolves, so too should the police. This is not merely a by-product of underfunding and austerity: the truth is that we are still applying a 1974 model of policing to the issues of 2023.

Inevitably, there are always political limitations to this kind of reformist desire. Mostly because basic reform, let alone radical reform, relies on political (and financial) capital. In other words, it relies on enough political security to overcome aggrieved stakeholders, whether that be local politicians, the media or the police force itself.

Therefore inconsistency in governments, their majorities and their priorities leads to a curse of incrementalism in public policy. Lots of commissions, lots of recommendations, much less actual change.

When it comes to the evolution of crime, interestingly “traditional crimes”, such as burglary and car theft, have actually fallen significantly since the mid-1990s, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales. Between 1995 and 2021, theft fell by 75 per cent and domestic burglary 81 per cent.

But unfortunately there are multiple qualifications to this. Overall “traditional crime” has ostensibly reduced, but so too has our ability to investigate and prosecute. In the year to March 2021, only 5.6 per cent of all recorded police crime resulted in a charge or summons, compared to 17 per cent in 2014.

And this “traditional crime” data notably does not include data on fraud and computer misuse. Needless to say that unfortunately fraud and cyber crime are enormous issues. So enormous in fact that fraud now makes up for an astonishing 40 per cent of crime, and with that included, the totality of crime is now substantially higher than in 1995. To nobody’s surprise, this also has a remarkably low rate of cases assigned an outcome, at just 4.9 per cent.

Fraud is the perfect case study in how crime is evolving, how crime is increasingly dislocated from traditional policing geographies and thus how it no longer fits the 1970s policing formula.

The internet means crime is not confined by local or even national boundaries, it is technically complex, anonymous and it evolves quickly. Fraud is also not the only internet based crime – the sexual abuse of children has been transformed by the internet. And it doesn’t even need to be an internet based crime to confound the 43 force structure – organised crime is another example.

There is of course, still a vast role for local policing. Neighbourhood police teams – a key innovation of the last Labour government – are essential for gaining the trust of local communities from which so much intelligence is derived. And they are able to collaborate much more effectively with say, the NHS and local government for cases that may involve mental health crises.

But it ought to be possible to combine effective neighbourhood policing with a serious response to crimes which cross territorial borders, such as fraud and organised crime. Better centralisation and better localisation in policing can co-exist and be mutually reinforcing.

Our policing model was created nearly 50 years ago – police are local but a lot of crime is the opposite. Everything from policing culture to effectiveness to the changing nature of crime suggests that incremental tweaks to our policing model are insufficient. If we do not challenge how policing works now, then will we ever?

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CEO Sundar Pichai clarifies on how the firing process took place


First Published Jan 25, 2023, 1:35 PM IST

Since Google announced that up to 12,000 employees will be let go, many staff have been perplexed about how the business intends to implement the decision because they were not notified beforehand. Google recently informed its workers of the layoffs via email and advised them that all of their inquiries will be addressed in a town hall meeting.

Many Google employees expressed their rage and fear about what may come next after this. A Google employee who had been with the firm for more than 16 years was also let go, and she believes that because tech corporations view their employees as completely disposable, people should place more value on their personal lives than their professional ones.

Also Read | Google layoff: Employee of 16 years sacked by deactivating his account at 3 am; Read full story

Blair Bolick, another employee, expressed a similar range of feelings and claimed that the news of the layoff was not delivered in a suitable way. In the middle of the night, a lot of users found themselves locked out of their accounts. According to a media report, those who had favourable performance assessments may have also been asked to leave.

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, reportedly stated that nothing was arbitrary and that the business followed a specific procedure when deciding who should be fired during a town hall meeting. The cuts, he claimed, “were made in a very organised, highly focused fashion; there was nothing random about it.”

According to a Business Insider report, Fiona Cicconi, Google’s top people officer, also disclosed some of the variables that were taken into account for layoffs. Based on each employee’s productivity, performance, and skill set, job cutbacks were made.

Also Read | Google parent Alphabet to cut 12,000 employees; Read Sundar Pichai’s full statement

The impacted employees will get a severance package from Google that includes 16 weeks of income, two weeks for each extra year of employment, and at least 16 weeks of GSU vesting, according to the CEO.

Also Read | Microsoft layoff: ‘After working for over 21 years…’ Indian man pens heartfelt note after being fired

Last Updated Jan 25, 2023, 1:35 PM IST

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Why British homes are at risk from ‘Trojan Horse’ smart devices

Researchers are now raising questions over whether this vast array of IoT devices, evolving with little security oversight, poses a national security risk thanks to the potentially huge volumes of data scooped up. Smart gadgets, cameras and chips are largely manufactured in vast quantities within China. By oversight or by design, millions of IoT devices could have security flaws that create a risk to consumer data.

Jake Moore, global cybersecurity advisor at Eset Security, says devices could be “utilised by a hostile state such as China to influence, pressure or threaten an individual, company, or even an adversary”.

The vast majority of IoT devices are mundane in nature. They could monitor the contents of a fridge, the status of a washing machine or the location of a shipping container.

But others, including CCTV cameras, can connect to the wider internet, or even perform facial recognition functions. Smart doorbells with cameras attached or baby monitors that are connected to the web can also hoover up visual data. Vehicles are being fitted with devices that connect to the web too and can collect information on individuals’ movements.

Whether or not devices are intended as spying devices can be irrelevant. A report last year from the US Cybersecurity Infrastructure and Security Agency warned of a Chinese-made GPS tracker, fitted in millions of vehicles, came with a default password of “123456” that made it trivially easy for hackers to infiltrate.

After the Mirai botnet attack, one Chinese manufacturer recalled more than 4.5m security cameras that had an easy-to-guess default password.

Prof Alan Woodward, a cyber security expert at the University of Surrey, says: “The bottom line is that any networked IoT device can form part of an attack surface. China has become the de facto source for such devices because they are built to a very attractive price point.

“The trouble is you tend to get what you pay for: security is an afterthought, if it’s a thought at all.”

The British government has started to wake up to the potential threats of these cheap and cheerful internet-connected gadgets.

Last year Parliament passed the Product Security and Telecommunications Infrastructure Act, which forces makers of smartphones, TVs, speakers and routers to meet minimum cyber security standards and tell customers at the time of purchase when their new items will stop receiving security software updates.

The Government departments have also been ordered to strip out security cameras made by Chinese companies Hikvision and Dahua. The cameras notoriously caught snapshots of former Health Secretary Matt Hancock embracing an aide in his office, which later leaked to the press.

Hikvision has called concerns about its technology “unsubstantiated” and a “knee jerk reaction”.

There are concerns that China’s dominance of technology runs deeper than just consumer gadgets.

Ministers previously ordered telecoms companies to strip technology made by China’s Huawei from mobile and broadband networks by 2027, amid concerns it represented a national security risk, something the company always denied.

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