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London cafe shooting a reminder of undercurrent of distrust toward Jews

I was standing with a group of Jewish candidates in a pub in Newcastle when my wife received a message on her phone that a cop had smashed a Jewish bookshop window.

At that point, I knew I needed to get home. But I knew there would be no problem getting a taxi home — another part of the UK was calling the police over a similar incident.

In fact, in the latter weeks of the Labour Party leadership’s race and anti-Semitism scandal, the reality has been very different. British Jews face a public backlash akin to that experienced by immigrants to Europe from the 1930s through the 1950s, says Andrés Solon of the High Line Centre for Jewish Policy Research in London.

“What we’re seeing now is a level of political and social hostility that is unprecedented in this country,” Solon said. “British Jewry is politically homeless.”

Polls show that anti-Semitism is only a small part of the deep-seated anti-establishment sentiment that has led to much of this country’s tumult over the past 18 months, and that many British voters want the next government to focus on ordinary issues. But Solon believes that is just what matters.

“In the midst of this broad political crisis, this deep sense of populism, that our elites are failing to deliver, this challenge to the state’s legitimacy, I think it’s a perfect moment for Jews to define themselves,” he said.

He points to events in Catalonia over the summer.

“While you can imagine the appeal to people to defend local identities, I think what was even more important to people is that government let them go,” Solon said. “No-one was respecting Catalonia, and that’s how it fed into nationalism and populism.”

And it isn’t just a British phenomenon. Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader now having challenged the ruling Conservatives to a general election in June, is widely viewed as a political failure, and one of the chief causes of the scandal. The soccer club where Corbyn used to play was late to give up a multimillion-dollar parking lot that would have meant hundreds of thousands of pounds in rent for the aging stadium, he was accused of failing to expel anti-Semitic members of his party, and he took the party to court to avoid having to condemn those who supported Palestinians’ suicide bombings in attacks on Israelis.

“The story of the past six months is this fear that all the popular influences of the past quarter century — neoliberalism, globalization, good governance, confidence in the economy — have gone, and we are a deeply divided nation with a profound political crisis,” Solon said.

Of all the factors that fueled the rise of nationalist, populist leaders, though, Corbyn’s nomination as Labour leader may have helped consolidate British Jews’ support for the center-left Labour Party, long considered a refuge of safe harbor from the taint of socialism.

“They identified with Corbyn as their progressive choice,” Solon said. “I think that played a huge role in the defeat of [Britain’s former leader, David] Cameron and in Corbyn’s victory.”

However, throughout the leadership’s race, Corbyn was unable to win over the pro-Europe, liberal, secular center-left Labour voter, and in doing so he has upset British Jews in a way that could damage his position in a general election.

“In effect he lost a lot of the votes that they felt they’d won to Corbyn,” Solon said.

He points to a YouGov poll published by The Times of London in September that shows Corbyn’s center-left Labour Party attracting lower support from those under 45 than from those 35 and older. Indeed, he has been unable to surpass Theresa May’s center-right Conservatives, and in the polls shows only a slim lead over a center-left opposition.

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Inexpensive internet access is good — in the U.K.

Screenshot by Adam Satariano/CNET

Free Internet is a big deal in much of the world.

In many countries, it’s not even possible to access the web without paying for a subscription. In the United States, however, all you need to subscribe to a broadband Internet service is a regular TV service. In other words, the world does have more Internet — and rich people have more Internet.

Now, the government of the United Kingdom is proposing a new plan to fix this situation. That’s a shame. But there’s no need to worry about what the U.K. might be doing to Internet access in the next decade.

What the U.K. is proposing is a social program that would give free, bundled internet access to households that are eligible for the National Health Service (NHS). The idea of providing this type of subsidized access in the U.K. is not a new one. It’s actually been tried in other countries with far less success. In fact, a similar British plan was almost entirely a waste of time.

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Well, at least you could get an hour of internet if you wanted it.

Pioneered in Britain in 2010, the “My Choice” project was supposed to get millions of people connected. The plan was so simple: people could sign up for an “Internet Share Pack” for just a few pounds (US$5, £4.50) a month. After that, they’d be able to access online resources through NHS sites and educational sites.

But it backfired in spectacular fashion.

The Guardian reported the plans’ dismal failure in May 2015, in a series of articles that detailed the confusing policy; the nearly worthless cost of the scheme; and the fact that many people simply never signed up at all. A working group was supposed to meet to propose changes to the scheme, but no one showed up.

Not many people ended up signing up for the program either. Research firm Kantar Worldpanel Consulting reported that the only way to qualify for the pack was if you lived in a slightly wealthier, generally English neighbourhood. The way the data gathered about households was used to calculate eligibility was also arbitrary, with total household income not counting government benefits such as housing. And it’s unclear if information gathered about children was legally secure, or if they had to be less than 13 years old to qualify.

And in the UK, it wasn’t even a policy that people were signing up for. People could sign up for it, but they had to sign up for a regular Internet service that they had to pay for in order to get the free internet access. Then, people got annoyed when they found they were barely getting any use out of the package — even though they were told it included easy access to doctors, leisure facilities and educational resources.

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In January 2015, most of the companies mentioned in the Guardian’s series of stories (like Freeserve, Sky, Tiscali and Virgin Media) stopped offering packages of basic internet access. The project was shut down by the NHS a few months later.

The internet in the U.K. remains a wildly unequal place. That’s why it’s so important that there is a well-connected Internet. The internet was the global internet before broadband became a thing. People in developing countries still can’t use the internet without going through a complicated and complicated process, and it still costs less money in many parts of the world to buy a smartphone than it does to afford an Internet service.

That’s not to say the U.K. plan is guaranteed to fail. On the contrary, it may end up working if it can implement an alternative version of the program that makes it easier for poorer people to access the Internet and provide education and health benefits. The overall goal of the program should be to end the divide between the haves and have-nots in the digital world. If you believe that, then it’s worth putting the costs of this social program aside and recognizing that the internet is a global common good that everyone deserves access to.

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Wireless carriers seek to offer customers free internet if they switch to 5G

Major cellphone carriers plan to offer their customers free internet for four years if they ditch their old, slower wireless connections.

The carriers want to use that in a new program to try to entice customers to buy devices that run their newer, faster 5G internet services.

The plan comes as the five largest mobile networks are vying for dominance over 5G, an next-generation wireless service due to start rolling out starting next year, when regulators gave the networks the green light to do so. The big companies are already stocking stores with 5G phones and other gear designed to supercharge existing wireless networks. But one of the main attractions of buying phones and a device called a home hub is that they will be capable of running in the forthcoming 5G networks.

Yet the superfast 5G wireless networks are more than six years away, at the earliest.

They require much more spectrum — or airwaves — than traditional 4G networks. And so right now the rules are stacked against carriers using 5G to sell the next-generation internet service. For one thing, carriers are still figuring out which airwaves will be in demand and how much bandwidth they can actually offer. And even if they figure out the economics, they’re still bringing new devices to market — which is more of a problem in the U.S. and Europe.

The carriers are proposing a program that lets consumers still get 5G but not pay for data anymore. But they don’t tell customers what network service they’ll actually get when they buy a 5G device and without a contract.

The new 5G service would use the current 4G LTE network as a backup. That means the customer isn’t going to get super-fast 4G or 5G speeds, just the ability to stream video in one service, theoretically, and talk and text in the other. In Britain, carriers plan to offer free internet for four years. The program would offer free internet to consumers with 4G coverage or coverage similar to that of 3G or old-fashioned 2G.

The carriers would then tell customers if their old service has been converted to the faster 5G network and if the network they’re on is one of the ones that will be upgraded to 5G. Because it would work on the 4G network, those who don’t have LTE coverage would still get access to faster speeds when they move to 5G. A customer’s speeds could vary, depending on their location.

So the carriers would install both 5G and 4G equipment to their existing network equipment so customers don’t experience different network speeds or when they switch networks.

T-Mobile, the fourth largest wireless carrier in the U.S., plans to start the new service in 2019 with a “5G Essentials” plan that would include free internet access, but make other services, like mobile TV and mobile texting, available at a cost. The company has already been doing this in parts of the U.S. for a few years.

Another carrier is expected to launch its plans soon, but has not revealed its name. It is owned by Franco-American Orange SA and is now called 3 Group. Its 5G service will be based on existing 4G LTE equipment installed on the 4G network.

AT&T has unveiled plans to launch its 5G plans by the end of 2019, while Verizon plans to launch its 5G service by the end of 2020. Sprint, which is majority owned by Japan’s SoftBank, plans to launch a similar service by 2020.

The carriers have been testing this new service for several years in the U.S. while the broader industry has been waiting for a green light from the FCC. The FCC is expected to approve the new service, making it possible to offer the service at home to consumers who already own a smartphone and are not on contract.

The proposal would also let wireless providers resell their own 5G service, which could attract customers who would go with a new company over the older one. But that would require the FCC to further loosen the rules — something the FCC has not proposed doing in any other country.