Now just what do these Spooks do all day?

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AS REGULAR readers of this column may recall, I’ve harboured slightly ambivalent feelings about TripAdvisor. Having just spent a few weeks in Corsica (where I’m proud to report I completed the Tour de France route – umm, by car!) and bits of mainland France and Italy, however, I was pleased to discover in all these places, at least, instances of people power in action.

 

From posh Portofino to deepest rural France, TripAdvisor reigned supreme. Whether a question of service or the quality of food, both restaurateurs and hoteliers seemed only too aware of the need these days to keep their customers happy (if only to pre-empt caustic reviews on the site the next day!).    

 

Back in the UK, people power — or rather the power of the press — seems to have struck too. I recently wrote here about a Streatham-based tapas restaurant (name omitted to protect the guilty!) which amazingly (thanks to the, err, glowing comments “almost all from first-time reviewers” as one scathing reviewer put it) had achieved number one spot among some 12,000 listed restaurants in London. Having just checked TripAdvisor, I note its position now is closer to number 8,000! 

People power’s been active in another area, too — whistle-blowing. First we had WikiLeaks, then the Stafford Hospital exposure and now the US National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden’s revelations. It was fair enough to view his initial disclosures concerning the PRISM surveillance programme as public-spirited whistle-blowing. If countries are straining legislation to, and perhaps beyond, breaking point to justify across-the-board surveillance of individual citizens, that sounds like a matter of legitimate public interest. 

But his later disclosures — that the US spies on its allies — seem without rhyme or reason. The targets of the surveillance will naturally showboat, pretending to be peeved off. But who really believed that didn’t happen? Just what do these Spooks do all day? Unless making life difficult for the US government is an end in itself, I really can’t imagine who benefits from bringing this stuff out into the open.

There’ll always be individuals who fail to value their freedoms in a democracy and who are too self-absorbed to act soundly in safeguarding those freedoms. Snowden is the perfect example. Maybe not such a good example of people power, after all?

 

Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Retribution’,Soul Stealer’,‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.89;£0.77) and iBookstore.Profits to Cudeca   

AS REGULAR readers of this column may recall, I’ve harboured slightly ambivalent feelings about TripAdvisor. Having just spent a few weeks in Corsica (where I’m proud to report I completed the Tour de France route – umm, by car!) and bits of mainland France and Italy, however, I was pleased to discover in all these places, at least, instances of people power in action.

From posh Portofino to deepest rural France, TripAdvisor reigned supreme. Whether a question of service or the quality of food, both restaurateurs and hoteliers seemed only too aware of the need these days to keep their customers happy (if only to pre-empt caustic reviews on the site the next day!).    

Back in the UK, people power — or rather the power of the press — seems to have struck too. I recently wrote here about a Streatham-based tapas restaurant (name omitted to protect the guilty!) which amazingly (thanks to the, err, glowing comments “almost all from first-time reviewers” as one scathing reviewer put it) had achieved number one spot among some 12,000 listed restaurants in London. Having just checked TripAdvisor, I note its position now is closer to number 8,000! 

People power’s been active in another area, too — whistle-blowing. First we had WikiLeaks, then the Stafford Hospital exposure and now the US National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden’s revelations. It was fair enough to view his initial disclosures concerning the PRISM surveillance programme as public-spirited whistle-blowing. If countries are straining legislation to, and perhaps beyond, breaking point to justify across-the-board surveillance of individual citizens, that sounds like a matter of legitimate public interest. 

But his later disclosures — that the US spies on its allies — seem without rhyme or reason. The targets of the surveillance will naturally showboat, pretending to be peeved off. But who really believed that didn’t happen? Just what do these Spooks do all day? Unless making life difficult for the US government is an end in itself, I really can’t imagine who benefits from bringing this stuff out into the open.

There’ll always be individuals who fail to value their freedoms in a democracy and who are too self-absorbed to act soundly in safeguarding those freedoms. Snowden is the perfect example. Maybe not such a good example of people power, after all?

 

Nora Johnson’s thrillers ‘Retribution’,Soul Stealer’,‘The De Clerambault Code’ (www.nora-johnson.com) available from Amazon in paperback/eBook (€0.89;£0.77) and iBookstore.Profits to Cudeca   v

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