Farangland News

2010: Jan-March

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6th November   

Airport Security a Waste of Time...

Airport security queues deliberately long to encourage passengers to pay for FastTrack
Link Here

Airports are cashing in on the queues at their security gates by charging passengers to use fast-track priority lanes.

At least eight have introduced the system and are charging travellers up to £5 to beat the queues.

A whistleblower security guard at Luton Airport, which adopted the system last year, claimed there is a deliberate policy to let the queues grow to encourage people to pay for the express lane.

The claim was made as travellers were warned to expect more stringent checks in the wake of the cargo plane terror plot emanating from Yemen.

With the checks involving the removal of shoes and belts, body scans and patdown searches, the process is so time-consuming that passengers are arriving at airports up to three hours before departure to make sure they catch their flights.

Luton introduced a fee of £3 in March last year, allowing travellers to skip the queue by using a priority lane to reach the security checkpoint. Bristol and Aberdeen have £5 charges. Leeds Bradford, East Midlands, Liverpool John Lennon and Newcastle have £3 charges. Manchester has a fast-track security lane for travellers who book expensive VIP Valet parking.

The Luton security guard told the Daily Mail: Before the priority lane was introduced we had to keep queues down. Now the lane is there staff are told to create queues, which forces passengers to pay for the priority lane.


28th April   

Update: Boobquake...

Experiment to prove that Iranian clerics speak a load of tit about indecent dressing inducing earthquakes
Link Here

Planet Earth has not (yet) been destroyed by a terrifying Boobquake experiment - one Indiana student's response to Iranian cleric Hojatoleslam Kazem Sedighi's insistence that immodestly dressed women provoke earthquakes.

Sedighi recently declared: Many women who do not dress modestly ... lead young men astray, corrupting their chastity and spread adultery in society, which increases earthquakes.

Jennifer McCreight declared: On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. Yes, the one usually reserved for a night on the town. I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that's your preferred form of immodesty. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake.

McCreight's picture speaks for itself, and thousands of other females have thrown their weight behind the effort to either provoke a major catastrophe or prove that Iranian clerics have a poor grasp of the fundamentals of the physics of plate tittonics.


30th March   

Sending a Message...

Man prosecuted for giving the finger in Dubai
Link Here

A British expatriate in Dubai is facing jail and deportation after being accused of making a single-finger gesture in an argument.

Simon Andrews has had his passport confiscated for almost eight months while waiting for his case to be heard.

He told Dubai Court of Misdemeanours he denies flipping the finger at Mahmoud Rasheed, an Iraqi aviation student, during an argument. He will appear in court on Sunday for a full hearing of the case.

Making insulting gestures is regarded as unacceptable, and carries with it the possibility of a jail sentence of up to six months and deportation.

It is the latest in a string of prosecutions of expatriates and visitors in Dubai for breaching the emirate's public decency laws.

The Foreign Office says that British citizens are more likely to be arrested in the United Arab Emirates than anywhere else in the world. It warns visitors not to misled by the emirate's tolerance of some non-Muslim practices such as drinking alcohol into thinking that there is a free-for-all. The emirate still practises a form of Sharia law.


25th March   

God's Wrath...

Brunei nutter minister opposes alcohol zone for tourists
Link Here

Brunei's religious affairs minister has poured cold water on a plan to set up an alcohol zone for tourists in the Muslim country saying it would invite God's wrath.

Zain Serudin rejected MP Goh King Chin's proposal to establish a special area for foreign tourists to buy and drink alcohol.


21st March   

Shit for Brains...

Southwest Trains staff eject passenger after he wrote 'The Killers' on a list of songs
Link Here

We at Big Brother Watch were alarmed to hear the case of Tom Shaw - a 25-year old band member aboard a South West Trains service.

Tom used the journey time to pen some ideas for future tracks his band could cover. As the train pulled in to Fareham station, Tom was approached by staff members and forced to leave the train.

Nonplussed, Tom asked for an explanation. Unbelievably, he was told that train security had become aware of him writing The Killers on his list and had taken offence.

South West Trains, you are a disgrace.


20th March   

Send a Sexy SMS and Go to Jail...

More shite from Dubai
Link Here

Two Emirates Airline cabin crew in Dubai were given three-month jail terms for exchanging sexy text messages.

The then-married flight attendant and her male supervisor were convicted of coercion to commit sin, the National daily reported.

It said the pair -- both Indian -- were earlier sentenced to six months in prison to be followed by deportation, but an appeals court last week reduced the jail time and dropped the expulsion penalty. The court concluded there was not enough evidence to prove that the unidentified pair had actually been sexually involved.

The messages were exposed during a bitter divorce battle between the attendant and her husband that began in 2007, the daily said.

It said the divorce court had ordered Dubai's telecommunications company, Etisalat, to produce the text messages after the husband accused his wife of an affair. Etisalat provided copies of SMS messages in October 2008, allowing the husband to file a criminal complaint against his wife, the paper said.


18th March   

Update: Bollox Britain...

UK expat pensions to continue to whither away with inflation
Link Here

More than half a million UK pensioners living overseas will continue to have their pensions frozen after a European court decision.

Pensioners who moved to countries such as Australia and Canada only receive the level of pension paid at retirement - which might be only £6 per week.

The European Court of Human Rights rejected an appeal from a group of pensioners by an 11 to 6 majority.

The group wanted to receive increases in line with inflation. Inflation-proofing only applies to UK pensioners who live in the European Economic Area or in 15 other countries, but not in some Commonwealth states.

The decision has saved at least £500m a year for the government, which said that its first responsibility was with pensioners living in the UK.

There are more than a million UK pensioners living overseas - with about half of them affected by the pensions freeze.

Judges at the European Court of Human Rights were the latest to declare that National Insurance contributions did not have an exclusive link to retirement pensions.

As non-residents, the applicants did not contribute to the UK economy, in particular, they paid no UK tax to offset the cost of any increase in the pension, a statement from the court said.


18th March   

Update: Future Not So Rosé...

Wine tasting banned from French TV
Link Here

You might think that French officials would have raised their glasses in celebration of a project to create the first Gallic television channel dedicated to wine. Instead, they appear intent on driving the station into exile, possibly to Britain, after deciding that it will fall foul of the toughest laws on alcohol promotion outside the Muslim world.

Edonys, a private group which hopes to start broadcasting later this year, has been warned by France's Higher Audiovisual Council that it will receive authorisation only if it drops plans for programmes featuring wine-tastings and expert discussions. The broadcasting authority deemed these illegal under a law that prohibits all direct or indirect propaganda in favour of alcoholic drinks on television.

However, the station is refusing to amend its schedule and executives are now looking for a base outside France. Britain, Luxembourg and Belgium are among the options.

He said that the station would instead target wine-lovers in Belgium and other francophone countries with looser regulations. He said that Edonys also intended to start broadcasting English-language programmes for the UK and Northern European countries next year. It is likely to be a pay channel available by cable or satellite.


16th March   

More T-Shirt Nonsense...

A bit worrying when airport security staff show a lack of common sense
Link Here

A man was told to hide his T-shirt because airport security staff claimed the slogan it bore was an incitement to terrorism.

Lloyd Berks arrived at Gatwick Airport wearing a trendy white Levi Strauss T-shirt sporting the phrase Freedom or Death in turquoise lettering. Beneath the slogan is a picture of a skeleton dressed in armour.

The Gothic imagery is common on the high street but 'security' officers decided it was threatening and told the father of two, who was travelling with his partner and two young children, to turn the T-shirt inside out. The man obliged but he has accused the airport of being over-zealous and attacking civil liberties.

Berks was stopped at a security checkpoint by Gatwick staff. They said airlines might be worried by my T-shirt because its "threatening". I thought they were joking at first. I was with my family. I was hardly a terrorist risk. And the T-shirt is trendy, not an incitement to terrorism. I've never heard of anything more ridiculous. It's an attack on people's civil liberties. What has happened to common sense? Have people forgotten how to use it?

Dylan Sharpe, campaign director of Big Brother Watch, said it was yet another example of how paranoid we have been made by terrorism: This is a sad example of the terrorism paranoia which increasingly affects every part of public life. T-shirt slogans do not imply malicious intent and the pathetic security officers should have known better.

A spokeswoman for Gatwick Airport has since apologised. She denied the airport had a policy on T-shirt slogans. She said: London Gatwick does not apply a policy relating to appropriate or inappropriate T-shirt slogans worn by passengers passing through airport security. While safety and security are our highest priorities, we also expect staff to apply common sense and judgment.


15th March   

Update: Snitch Britain...

British government calls on people to report neighbours who keep themselves to themselves
Link Here

A new government commercial currently running on one of Britain's most popular radio stations is selling one thing -- fear -- by encouraging Londoners to report their neighbors as terrorists if they use cash, enjoy their privacy, or even close their curtains.

  That chap at no 17 has
closed his curtains again!

The advertisement, produced in conjunction with national radio outlet TallkSport, promotes the anti-terrorist hotline and encourages people to report individuals who don't talk to their neighbors much, people who like to keep themselves to themselves, people who close their curtains, and people who don't use credit cards.

This may mean nothing, but together it could all add up to you having suspicions, states the voice on the ad, before continuing We all have a role to play in combating terrorism (we're all indentured stasi informants for the government).

If you see anything suspicious, call the confidential anti-terrorist hotline... if you suspect it, report it, concludes the commercial.


15th March   

Updated: Warning: Health and Safety Can Kill...

Scottish fire fighters banned from using ropes to rescue woman from mine shaft
Link Here

A woman lay injured at the bottom of a mineshaft for six hours because health and safety rules banned firefighters from rescuing her.

Crews could only listen to Alison Hume's cries for help because regulations said their equipment was for saving themselves but not members of the public, an inquiry into her death heard yesterday.

The revelation sparked fierce criticism of the health and safety culture among rescue services, with the Fire Brigades Union saying crews were being put in an impossible position .

Mrs Hume was trapped 60ft below ground after she fell down the disused mineshaft 120 yards from her home in Galston, Ayrshire. Fire crews were called to the scene and a fatal accident inquiry heard that a firefighter had volunteered to be lowered down to rescue her.

But a memo from Strathclyde Fire and 'Rescue' chiefs four months earlier had banned the use of rope equipment for lifting members of the public to safety, the inquiry was told.

Mountain rescue experts eventually freed Mrs Hume six hours later, but she died after suffering a heart attack as she was taken to the surface.

Christopher Rooney, the first senior fire officer at the scene, admitted it would have been possible for his crew to have rescued Mrs Hume from the shaft, had it not been for the memo.

During the hearing, solicitor Gregor Forbes asked Rooney: On the basis of the manpower and equipment that you had available, is it your view it would it would have been possible for the firefighters to have brought the person to the surface before the mountain rescue team? He replied: Yes, I believe so.

Forbes said: Your position is that, while you were supplied with safe working-at-height equipment, while this could be used to bring up firefighters, it could not be used to bring up a member of the public. Rooney told the inquiry at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court: Yes, that's correct. All 18 firefighters at the scene were trained and capable of using the equipment, he added.

A senior MSP yesterday criticised the increasing imposition of health and safety rules on front-line rescuers. Scottish Tory deputy leader Murdo Fraser said: Of course, the safety of rescue workers has to be a major consideration. But a strict adherence to health and safety rules in such circumstances should not prevent life-saving action.

Update: Rescued by Common Sense

15th March 2010. Based on article from thescotsman.scotsman.com

Fire services will be told to follow new non-bureaucratic guidelines and take a sensible approach to hazardous incidents under a new policy unveiled by the Health and Safety Executive.

HSE chiefs said the guidelines aimed to ensure firefighters could do their jobs properly without employers flouting safety legislation. Brigade unions welcomed the ruling, saying a balance had to be struck between safety rules and allowing fire crews to do their job.

But one MP called for a complete overhaul of safety guidelines and their impact on rescues after the conclusion of a fatal accident inquiry into the death of Alison Hume.

Her family hit out at the fire service for failing to get Mrs Hume out of the shaft, after senior fire officers ruled they did not have proper procedures in place to lift her out.

The case has sparked criticism of a health and safety culture among rescue services and calls for a shake-up of existing rules. The new guidelines make it clear that fire services do not need to eliminate all risks in rescue situations.

Fire brigades and union leaders have backed the new rules, which acknowledge the principle that managers and firefighters need to make decisions in dangerous, fast-moving, emotionally charged and pressurised situations .


14th March   

Update: Kiss and Go to Jail...

Give Dubai a wide berth
Link Here

A British man is facing jail in Dubai after he was accused of kissing a woman in public.

Ayman Najafi is expected in court today alongside a 25-year-old female British tourist to appeal against a one-month prison sentence.

The pair were allegedly seen kissing on the mouth in a restaurant, breaching Dubai's nasty decency laws. They were arrested by police in November last year and appeared in court last week.

A judge at Dubai's Misdemeanours Court heard written evidence from a woman who initially snitched to police about the alleged incident. She said she was 'offended' by their behaviour at the Jumeirah Beach Residence, where she was dining with her daughter.

The judge dismissed Najafi's claim that he had merely kissed the woman on the cheek and sentenced both defendants to a month in jail followed by deportation. The Britons were bailed pending the appeal against a custodial punishment.

The Dubai authorities are holding their passports so that they cannot leave the country.


13th March   

Anna Span...

Noted British porn director to stand for parliament for the Lib Dems
Link Here

Anna Arrowsmith, also known as Anna Span, is the new Liberal Democrat candidate for Gravesham in Kent.

She is also the auteur of hundreds of female-friendly porn films. Her neighbours in Tunbridge Wells may or may not be disgusted to learn that some of these, including Be My Toyboy , were shot in the front room.

Last year she won a battle with the British Board of Film Classification to be allowed to show a scene of female ejaculation.

She said that campaign was idealistic. It was about saying to the censors that you can't tell the women of this country what their bodies can or cannot do.

How seriously will the voters take Ms Arrowsmith, 38, on the election trail? She wants to be respected for her business and campaigning record but knows that her career will present a problem for some. There will be some people who will never like porn, she says. People approach sex in different ways. For some people it is only an emotional act. For others it is a variety of different acts. Some people will never accept that. They are probably the same people who never had a one-night stand. There will be some people who are conservative and very anti-porn. I think on the whole these days people are far more liberal.

What about the Liberals? Aren't some of them going to be affronted by a pornographer in their midst? I don't think so. On the whole they are a sexually liberated bunch.

Fed up with seeing porn films that focused on women pleasuring men she has carved a niche making films in which a third of shots show the woman, a third the man and a third the couple together. She says that the films she makes are humorous and that there is no airbrushing. Nearly half her customers are women, she says: Women definitely need this. She laughs at the idea that for all her talk of being a feminist she is really in pornography for the money. For years she made very little. Now, I do OK — nice house in Tunbridge Wells. No way am I the millionaire I thought I would be.

In her Tory-Labour marginal a Lib Dem victory is a long shot, but she is determined to become an MP eventually.


13th March   

Update: Obscene Law...

Erotic dancers jailed in Indonesia
Link Here
Full story: Anti-Porn Law in Indonesia...A front for the implementation of shariah

An Indonesian court jailed six people under the country's anti-pornography law for performing an erotic dance at a bar in the early hours of New Year's Day.

The four female dancers, the show promoter and bar manager received a two and half months each for a performance in Bandung, West Java, which violated a repressive anti-pornography law that came into effect in October 2008.

They have been proven guilty of showing an erotic dance in front of the public, prosecutor Dodi Junaidi told AFP, adding that the judge in his ruling also fined them one million rupiah ($109) each.

The law criminalises all works and bodily movements deemed obscene and capable of violating public morality.


13th March   

We Know What You're Up To!...

Motion sensors in mobile phones may identify physical activities
Link Here

Researchers have produced a mobile phone that could be a boon for prying bosses wanting to keep tabs on the movements of their staff.

Japanese phone giant KDDI Corporation has developed technology that tracks even the tiniest movement of the user and beams the information back to HQ.

The company plans to sell the service to clients such as managers, foremen and employment agencies.

It works by analysing the movement of accelerometers, found in many handsets. Activities such as walking, climbing stairs or even cleaning can be identified, the researchers say. Until now, mobile phone motion sensors were capable of detecting only repetitive movements such as walking or running.

For example, the KDDI mobile phone strapped to a cleaning worker's waist can tell the difference between actions performed such as scrubbing, sweeping, walking an even emptying a rubbish bin.

The aim of the new system, according to KDDI, is to enable employees to work more efficiently and managers to easily evaluate their employees' performance while away from the office.

Critics of such systems accuse the makers of pandering to an over-controlling, Big Brother-type managerial class and say that with this new technology there comes the increased opportunity for abuse.

This is treating people like machines, like so many cattle to be monitored and watched over, Kazuo Hizumi, a leading human rights lawyer, told BBC News: New technology should be used to improve our lives not to spy on us. It beggars belief that a prominent company such as KDDI could come up with such a surveillance system. It's totally irresponsible.


12th March   

The Electronic Police State...

2010 National Rankings
Link Here

The United States, with the UK and France close behind, have now caught up with Russia and are gaining on China, North Korea and Belarus.

The key developments driving this are the following:

  • The USA has negated their Constitution's fourth amendment in the name of protection and in the name of wars against terror, drugs and cyber attacks.
  • The UK is aggressively building the world of 1984 in the name of stopping anti-social activities. Their populace seems unable or unwilling to restrain the government.
  • France and the EU have given themselves over to central bureaucratic control.

An electronic police state is characterized by this: State use of electronic technologies to record, organize, search and distribute forensic evidence against its citizens.

The two crucial facts about the information gathered under an electronic police state are these:

  1. It is criminal evidence, ready for use in a trial.
  2. It is gathered universally ( preventively ) and only later organized for use in prosecutions.

In an Electronic Police State, every surveillance camera recording, every email sent, every Internet site surfed, every post made, every check written, every credit card swipe, every cell phone ping… are all criminal evidence, and all are held in searchable databases. The individual can be prosecuted whenever the government wishes.

Here are the top 20 worst police states, with last year's ranking is shown in parenthesis.

  1. North Korea (2)
  2. China (1)
  3. Belarus (3)
  4. Russia (4)
  5. United States of America (6)
  6. United Kingdom (5)
  7. France (9)
  8. Israel (8)
  9. Singapore (7)
  10. Germany (10)
  11. Ireland (12)
  12. Malaysia (11)
  13. Netherlands (14)
  14. Italy (24)
  15. South Korea (15)
  16. Australia (18)
  17. Belgium (17)
  18. Spain (43)
  19. Austria (21)
  20. Ukraine (16)

  48.  Thailand (48)


8th March   

Do You Feel Lucky Punk?...

Then have fun with a random one on one video chat
Link Here

Andrey Ternovskiy grew bored of Skypeing his friends and decided there had to be a way to make online chats a little less predictable. After a bit of thought and a lot of coding, the teenage Russian came up with Chatroulette, a 21st century twist on the chatroom.

The site, which regularly attracts 20,000 visitors a night, allows users to randomly select one-to-one video chats anywhere in the world.

All users have to do is enable their webcam and hit play. Within seconds, a stranger's face appears and the fun begins. Should a face not please, the other person can next to move on to someone else.

This week the US satirist Jon Stewart explored Chatroulette on his Daily Show programme, where he poked fun at the tendency of many users who ignore unequivocal messages warning visitors to behave. Instead, they strip off in front of the camera and try to use the site for their own sexual pleasure.

Ternovskiy, a 17-year-old Moscow student, is keen to point out that Chatroulette was not intended as a fast-track to carnal gratification. I think it's cool that such a simple concept can be useful for so many people, he told the New York Times. Although some people are using the site in not very nice ways – I am really against it.

The site is hosted by servers in Germany and can operate without too much advertising. But its creator is aware of Chatroulette's growing popularity – especially in the US – and is toying with the idea of making it an American company.

The UK Council for Child Internet Safety said: Many websites feature content for adult audiences which are inappropriate for children to access. We would encourage such sites to clearly highlight that they are not suitable for children and discourage children from using them.


6th March   

Chilling Effects...

Laughable police censorship of naked snow lady
Link Here

Cops ordered a New Jersey family to cover up their snowlady after receiving a complaint that the frosty front yard figure was X-rated.

While neighboring snowmen were allowed to flaunt their nudity with coal-eyed jauntiness, Elisa Gonzalez and her kids heeded the warning from the police.

They dressed their controversial snowlady in a green bikini top and hip-hiding blue sarong.

I thought she looked more objectified and sexualized after you put the bikini on, Gonzalez, 44, of Rahway told the Newark Star-Ledger.

Gonzalez, a court reporter, said her family's twist on the favorite winter pastime was influenced by the armless ancient Greek statue Venus de Milo. She admits the snowbabe was curvaceous, bodacious and booty-licious - but hardly obscene.

Rahway police received an anonymous complaint of a naked snow woman and dispatched an officer to Gonzalez's Colonia Blvd. home to investigate. Gonzalez said the cop who came to her house said, It's very good, adding that the cop was apologetic about asking her to tone down the display.


6th March   

Snitch Stick...

Porn image search program available on a memory stick
Link Here

Porn viewers may want to be aware of what prying eyes may be able to detect on their computers.

A device from Paraben can be plugged into a computer's USB port and detect pornographic images on a hard drive. Paraben

The Porn Detection Stick is available for about $100.

The software searches the hard drive using advanced image analyzing algorithms that categorize images as potentially harmful by identifying facial features, flesh tone colors, image backgrounds, body part shapes, and more to detect all pornographic images on the hard drive, including recently deleted images not yet overwritten.

Paraben says that a 500GB hard drive containing 70,000 images will take an hour and a half to be fully searched.

The device doesn't search for video, so any of those educational clips on your computer won't be detected.


5th March   

Police Role-playing as Killjoy Arseholes...

Police raid dungeon fun in Devon home
Link Here

Police discover sex dungeon in Devon village (on the first floor of a semi-detached home)

Police (in uniforms with  batons, handcuffs and Tazer guns) were predictably 'shocked' to find a sex dungeon containing Nazi uniforms, whips, chains, sex toys and cattle prods.

Officers were alerted after neighbourhood snitches reported unusual behaviour and strange sounds coming from the four-bedroom semi in Lee Mill, Devon.

Police arrived with battering rams to raid the home but a plain clothes officer knocked on the door and the residents let him in thinking he had an appointment.

The sex dungeon was found in a converted first floor room filled with hundreds of items including whips, gas masks, wooden bats, handcuffs, clothes pegs and shackles. Police also discovered bondage chairs with straps, straight jackets, sex toys, gimp masks, S&M outfits, shackles, cattle prods and car batteries used to power the toys. The dungeon was also stuffed with various electrical vibrating items and a recording studio complete with computer equipment and mixing desk.

During the raid, one customer arrived at the home and still asked for his appointment to go ahead despite the large police presence.

Detective Sergeant Stuart Gilroy of Devon and Cornwall police said the home had been a suspected brothel and police had expected to make a forced entry.

A spokesman said: The current tenants have had the property since October and neighbours had reported many different cars and strange men arriving.

A man from Lee Mill, a woman from Ivybridge, Devon, and a woman from Plymouth have been arrested in connection with the incident. They have been released on police bail until April 30 to allow police to carry out further enquiries.

One neighbour said: I've seen traffic jams caused by people trying to go there. It's disgusting. We just want them out and have a nice family move in.'


4th March   

God Almighty!...

Italian football federation bans 'god' cusses
Link Here

An Italian football coach has been banned for taking God's name in vain

According to the disciplinary watchdog of the Italian football league, the Verona club's coach proffered a blasphemous expression that was to make him the first victim of a zero-tolerance policy on irreverence.

Di Carlo, whose side narrowly avoided relegation last season, was banned from the touchline for a game after the outburst.

The Italian federation, Federcalcio, decided last month that the time had come for disciplinary action to be taken against players and coaches heard taking God's name in vain. The president, Giancarlo Abete, declared it would intervene with official decisions to make clear that blasphemy is within the definition of 'offensive, insulting or abusive language' in the rules [that warrant sending-off] .

Chievo's coach was not the only one caught out; one of his players, Michele Marcolini, was deemed to have said God as he left the field after a red card.


3rd March   

Uniform Desire...

Maybe background to the success of Air Port Club
Link Here

Since its humiliating bankruptcy in January, Japan Airlines has faced mass layoffs, customer fury and national shame, but its worst nightmare may yet lie ahead: a potentially thriving black market for the uniforms worn by its air stewardesses.

For decades, the crisp, no-nonsense outfits have appealed to male Japanese tastes. New Japan Airlines (JAL) uniforms have long been in demand in the local sex industry for customers keen on role-playing fantasies, while rare specimens that have actually been worn are hugely sought after by fetishists and are worth their weight in gold.

Countless shops will sell a very credible imitation for a few thousand yen, but the real thing can fetch a fortune. Historically, says Yu Teramoto, the owner of a specialist costumier in the Akihabara district of Tokyo, real JAL outfits have been virtually impossible for buyers to lay their hands on. However, the post-bankruptcy prospect of huge layoffs at JAL — especially among uniform-wearing air-crew — raises the prospect that former staff will attempt to sell their outfits for a profit.

JAL has long been aware of the uniform's mysterious power and has been at great pains to ensure that none of the real ones ever get on to the black market. Efforts have included putting a serial number into each item of clothing, and keeping meticulous records of the exact whereabouts of garments all around the world.

The risk of a new flood of uniforms on to the black market has raised the stakes for the airlines. All Nippon Airways (ANA) — which has the same problem — has begun sewing computer chips into its stewardess uniforms so that errant skirts, jackets and hats can be tracked from space. JAL is understood to be installing a similar system.

A spokesperson for JAL described a series of measures that meant that it was virtually impossible for an individual to hold on to their uniform after they have left their job . He admitted that a uniform of the sort worn by staff in the business-class lounge had been stolen a few years ago and had appeared on an internet auction site. JAL paid £1,500 for the uniform to keep it off the market.


3rd March   

More Surveillance Tools...

Britain working on nationwide radar system using network of mobile phone masts
Link Here

Secret radar technology research that will allow the biggest-ever extension of Big Brother'-style surveillance in the UK is being funded by the Government.

The radical new system, which has outraged civil liberties groups, uses mobile phone masts to allow security authorities to watch vehicles and individuals 'in real time almost anywhere in Britain.

The technology sees the shapes made when radio waves emitted by mobile phone masts meet an obstruction. Signals bounced back by immobile objects, such as walls or trees, are filtered out by the receiver. This allows anything moving, such as cars or people, to be tracked. Previously, radar needed massive fixed equipment to work and transmissions from mobile phone masts were thought too weak to be useful.

By using receivers attached to mobile phone masts, users of the new technology could focus in on areas hundreds of miles away and bring up a display showing any moving vehicles and people.

An individual with one type of receiver, a portable unit little bigger than a laptop computer, could even use it as a personal radar covering the area around the user. Researchers are working to give the new equipment X-ray vision - the capability to see through walls and look into people's homes.

Ministry of Defence officials are hoping to introduce the system as soon as resources allow. Police and security services are known to be interested in a variety of possible surveillance applications. The researchers themselves say the system, known as Celldar, is aimed at anti-terrorism defence, security and road traffic management.

The system, used alongside technology which allows individuals to be identified by their mobile phone handsets, will mean that individuals can be located and their movements watched on a screen from hundreds of miles away.

After a series of meetings with Roke Manor, a private research company in Romsey, Hants, MoD officials have started funding the multi-million pound project. Reports of the meetings are classified .

Like all instrusive surveillance, we need to be sure that it is properly regulated, preferably by the judiciary, said Roger Bingham of Liberty. Bingham expressed concerns that the new equipment, which would be virtually undetectable, could be used by private detectives or others for personal or commercial gain.


2nd March   

Daggers at Dawn...

Easily offended Heathrow security screener vs tattooed Royal Marine
Link Here

A former Royal Marine was told to cover-up a tattoo of his regimental badge by security staff at Heathrow Airport, because it was offensive to other passengers.

Paul Fairclough was furious after he was challenged over the famous Marine dagger insignia as he arrived for a transfer flight.

The man had just arrived at Terminal 5 from Toronto and was transferring for a Manchester flight when he was stopped by a female security operator as he passed through a metal detector. After he put his bag on to an x-ray machine he was told to take his jacket off - revealing the 12-inch tattoo on his right arm.

The female operator spotted the tattoo and said: That tattoo is offensive. You will have to cover it up. [er put his jacket back on. It was she who asked him to take it off in the first place]

She said she knew exactly what it was but that it made no difference. They had a policy that tattoos showing offensive weapons of any kind must not be on show.

A spokesman for British Airports Authority at Heathrow said: This should not have happened. We have no policy against tattoos. We do sometimes ask passengers to cover-up things like slogans that would be offensive to other travellers, but that is clearly not case on this occasion. BAA would like to offer our sincere apologies to the passenger concerned.


1st March   

Update: Po-faced Thought Police...

Race relations watchdog unimpressed by police over-reaction to Anyone But England football shirts
Link Here

The race relations watchdog has dismissed police concerns over Anyone But England World Cup T-shirts being sold in Scotland, describing the garments as harmless fun.

Trevor Phillips, the head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said that the slogan was good natured banter that was unlikely to cause offence .

His comments come after Grampian Police asked Slanj, an Aberdeen-based kilt-maker, to consider removing a window display of T-shirts because of its potential to cause disturbance .

Phillips said the commission would react swiftly to any serious evidence of racism, but over-reacting to jokes risked making it appear like po-faced thought police .


28th February   

Updated: Labour Growing Up Obsessed by Sexualisation...

Home Office propose UK censorship measures to curtail child 'sexualisation'
Link Here

A review into the sexualisation of young people, conducted by psychologist Dr Linda Papadopoulos has just been published.

Commissioned by the Home Office, the review forms part of the government's strategy to tackle Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) and looks at how sexualised images and messages may be affecting the development of children and young people and influencing cultural norms. It also examines the evidence for a link between sexualisation and violence.

Key recommendations include:

  • the government to launch an online one-stop-shop to allow the public to voice their concerns about marketing which may sexualise children, with an onus on regulatory authorities to take action.
  • the government should support the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to take steps to extend the existing regulatory standards to include commercial websites
  • broadcasters are required to ensure that music videos featuring sexual posing or sexually suggestive lyrics are broadcast only after the watershed
  • the government to support the NSPCC in its work with manufacturers and retailers to encourage corporate compliance with regard to sexualised merchandise. Guidelines should be issued for retailers following consultation with major clothing retailers and parents' groups
  • games consoles should be sold with parental controls already switched on. Purchasers can choose to unlock the console if they wish to allow access to adult and online content.
  • lads' mags to be confined to newsagents' top shelves and only sold to over-15s
  • a ratings system on magazine and advertising photographs showing the extent to which they have been airbrushed or digitally altered.
  • The exemption of music videos from the 1984 Video Recordings Act should be ended. The report in particular criticises lyrics by N-Dubz and 50 Cent for their tendency to sexualise women or refer to them in a derogatory manner, and singles out the rap artist Nelly for a video showing him swiping a credit card through a young woman's buttocks. But it adds that, while degrading sexual content is most apparent in rap-rock, rap, rap-metal and R&B, it is to be found across all music genres.
  • jobcentres should be banned from advertising vacancies at escort agencies, lapdancing clubs and massage parlours.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said:  We will now consider the full list of recommendations in more detail and continue to ensure that young people's development and well-being are a top priority.

Children's Minister Delyth Morgan said:

Children today are growing up in a complex and changing world and they need to learn how to stay safe and resist inappropriate pressures. That is why we are making Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education statutory so that we can teach children about the real life issues they will face as they grow up.

PSHE already includes teaching about advertising and body image and from 2011 will include issues around violence against women and girls. The PSHE curriculum is age appropriate to give children and young people the right information at the right time to help them make the best choices and to develop their confidence.

Offsite: Let children be children

28th February 2008. See article from guardian.co.uk by Frank Furedi

We can't hide all sexual images from children but we can stop reading their behaviour through a prism of adult motives

It is difficult not to feel disturbed by the sexualisation of childhood. We live in a world where a significant proportion of 11-year-olds have been regularly exposed to pornography and where many actually believe that what they see is an accurate depiction of real-life relationships.

It is tempting to panic in response to this development and lose sight of the real problem. Sadly, the Home Office report published today proposes the tired old strategy of protecting children from exposure to sexual imagery. The report's addiction to banning and censoring is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the problem. The real problem is not simply inappropriate sexual imagery but a highly sexualised adult imagination that continually recycles its anxieties through children.

...Read the full article

Offsite: The inevitable nonsense from the Daily Mail

28th February 2008. See article from dailymail.co.uk by Liz Jones

The woman is naked - or looks like she is. Only a flesh-coloured leotard covers her body. Her long blonde hair tumbles down her back. She's in a cage, sliding her fingers provocatively in and out of her mouth.

A scene from a cliched pornographic film? Sadly not. The woman in question is Shakira, a pop superstar and the fourth richest singer in the world.

The images can be seen in the video for her single, She Wolf , which will be watched obsessively, again and again, by thousands of young men and women, many of whom will form the opinion that writhing in a cage is precisely the way sexy women should behave.


25th February   

Anyone But England...

Police have a word with Scottish T-Shirt company
Link Here

A Scottish clothing company has been warned by police over t-shirts expressing the hope that Anyone but England wins this summer's World Cup. World Cup Anyone but England t-shirt.

Police have warned proprietors of the Slanj clothing store in Aberdeen that the garment could cause offence.

An impromptu visit from an officer raising concerns over the shirt's sentiments left staff at the shop flabbergasted .

The visit was not in response to a complaint, and no action has been taken against the company.

However, Grampian Police claim that they would be neglecting their duty if the matter was not addressed.

PC Kirk Hemmings said: The primary role of any police force is to preserve the peace and we would be failing in our duty if we did not make people aware of the potential for disturbance such a window display could cause. The Grampian area, in common with the rest of the country, has recorded incidents relating to nationality and we have a responsibility to do our best to ensure that incidents of this nature are kept to a minimum.

Ross Lyle of Slanj said: To be honest we're absolutely flabbergasted: We have been selling this T-shirt for the past three months and we've had a great response. Even the English people who come into the store think it's a laugh and just a bit of tongue-in-cheek football banter.

The t-shirt is described on Slanj's website as A light hearted dig at our English neighbours and their prospects in the forthcoming World Cup, not that we're bitter or anything, just because we didnae qualify!


23rd February   

Update: Loners to be Banned from Working with Kids...

'Better safe than sorry' guidelines at the vetting agency
Link Here
Full story: Vetting Workers...UK vets all adults to work with kids

People could be banned from working with children because of their attitudes or lifestyles.

Workers judged to be loners or to have a chaotic home life could be barred from working with vulnerable people, even though there is no evidence that they pose a risk, according to guidelines from the Government's new vetting agency.

Decisions about staff will be taken by officials who have never met them, based on details passed on by their employers.

Experts claimed that the Big Brother approach meant innocent people could have their careers wrecked on the basis of cruel rumours or ill-informed moral judgements.

The row is the latest controversy to hit the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), which was set up to vet millions of people working with vulnerable people.

Guidance seen by The Sunday Telegraph, which has been given to more than 100 case workers at the ISA reveals that those referred could be permanently blocked from work if aspects of their home life or attitudes are judged to be unsatisfactory.

It says case workers should be minded to bar cases referred to them if they feel definite concerns about at least two aspects of their life, which are specified in the document.

It means, for example, that if a teaching assistant was believed to be unable to sustain emotionally intimate relationships and also had a chaotic, unstable lifestyle they could be barred from ever working with children. If a nurse was judged to suffer from severe emotional loneliness and believed to have poor coping skills their career could also be ended. ISA's case workers are expected to establish the person's relationship history and emotional state based on the file passed on by their employer.

Psychologists, professional regulators and health and teaching unions last night expressed horror over the guidance. Harry Cayton, chief executive of the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence, which oversees Britain's nine health regulators, said: My concern is that judgements are being made not on the basis of facts but on opinion and third party perceptions.

Chris Grayling, the shadow home secretary, said: This Government is creating a society where everyone is treated as guilty unless they are proved to be innocent. These changes contravene any principles of natural justice and will destroy the lives of decent innocent people. Gordon Brown is creating Government by thought police .

Adrian McAllister chief executive of ISA said no one would be barred purely on the basis of their lifestyle or attitude, given that all referrals had to identify either harm done, or a future risk of harm . He said: One of the understandable concerns we have heard from people is that they could be barred for private interests like pornography, or liking a drink. That isn't the case. We only look at these risk factors if relevant conduct [actual harm] or a risk of harm has been identified.

The organisation was unable to explain the reasoning behind its instruction to staff that definite concerns in two areas should be sufficient to be minded to bar staff. It would only say that the protocol follows advice from a forensic psychologist.


22nd February   

Update: God Help Us!...

PC Plod in charge of protecting Britain from terrorism
Link Here

When heavy snowfall threatened to scupper Paul Chambers' travel plans, he decided to vent his frustrations on Twitter by tapping out a comment to amuse his friends. Robin Hood airport is closed, he wrote. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!

He was arrested a week after the airport bomb threat joke was posted on Twitter.  He has now been charged with sending a menacing message.

He is believed to be the first person to be charged for posting offensive messages on the social networking site.

A police spokesman said: A 26-year-old Doncaster man has been charged with sending by a public communications network a message that was grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character contrary to Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.


22nd February   

Update: Beware of Council Workers...

Edinburgh trains workers to snitch on anything unusual they see in people's houses
Link Here

Edinburgh City Council has begun sending staff on courses designed to train them to look out for anything that might resemble terrorist activity .

According to the Edinburgh Evening News:

Staff sources say that the sessions have included being told how to spot anything suspicious, and being asked to report anything – no matter how trivial – to police, such as quantities of empty bottles of bleach.

Support workers who visit a range of clients in their own home including vulnerable groups, people with addictions and elderly people, have been among the first to get the training.

Concierges, community safety teams and other front-line staff across the council are also to be sent on the sessions, which are hosted by police as part of the Home Office's counter-terrorism strategy.

This is disgraceful fear-mongering that erodes trust in society and encourages spying, snooping and suspicion. A sad state of affairs.


16th February   

Mary Whitehouse Syndrome...

The thrill of being appalled by pornography and other obscenities
Link Here

Psychiatrists are to give official recognition to dozens of new mental disorders, including a condition nicknamed Mary Whitehouse syndrome — the thrill of being appalled by pornography and other obscenities.

Absexuality appears to have been inspired by the zeal of Whitehouse, the campaigner who railed against smut on television.

Although there is no evidence that Whitehouse got a kick out of salacious viewing, there is no disputing her passion for attacking broadcasters if she felt their standards had slipped

emark points out though: Sadly I think the Times have got it wrong - I don't think this is in the DSM proposal (I can't find it on www.dsm5.org ), rather it's a proposal by someone else, Carol Queen.

The condition is one of many mood disorders and personality traits that are likely to be added to the next edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the psychiatrists' bible.

The disorders, which also include hypersexuality — the desire for multiple partners, perhaps characterised by the golfer Tiger Woods — reflect changing social patterns. Critics believe, however, that their classification as psychiatric problems may lead them to be exploited for profit by drug companies.

emark notes: The Times also falsely define hypersexuality as merely "the desire for multiple partners". It's sad to see this level of misreporting, especially on an issue that many people won't know much about.

Other new conditions include sluggish cognitive tempo disorder, which some would regard as simple laziness, and relational disorder, in which two people — often a separating couple — struggle to get on. People who whinge constantly may be suffering negativistic personality disorder. Intermittent explosive disorder — otherwise known as adult tantrums — is also defined for the first time.

Comment: Self Diagnosis

Dan adds

How to diagnose Mary Whitehouse Syndrome....

  • Do you get a kick out of watching sex, porn and filth on TV just to get offended?
  • Do you feel the need to write to the Daily Mail in utter outrage every time you see a bare breast on TV?
  • Do you often get offended by things you haven't seen or heard and which you just read about in the right-wing tabloid press?
  • Have you ever thought of joining Mediawatch UK?

If the answer to any of the above is yes then you have Mary Whitehouse Syndrome!


14th February   

Blame it on Rio Killjoy...

Rio mayor accused of ruining carnival fun
Link Here

The mayor has been accused of ruining the atmosphere of Rio's famous Carnival with a zero tolerance approach to prostitution, drunkenness and debauched behaviour.

Eduardo Paes wants to end the Brazilian city's lawlessness with his Shock of Order campaign. But as this year's Carnival, billed as the world's biggest party , began on Friday, Paes was called a killjoy.

Those who drink too much beer at giant Carnival street parties and use gutters as toilets face a night in jail. To keep beaches clean, he has outlawed traditional Carnival foods on skewers, while beach football, a near religion in Brazil, is banned until 5pm.

The city's infamous waterfront pick-up club for legal prostitutes on Copacabana beach has been closed to make way for a museum.


8th February   

Twitter Ethics...

Mexico gets wound up my motorists who warn others about police checkpoints via Twitter
Link Here

Twitter users are fast becoming public enemy No. 1, at least in Mexico City, where they have angered authorities by warning one another of roadside alcoholimetro — or Breathalyzer — checkpoints set up by the police.

But the case against the Twitter is about more than alcohol. Mexico is, after all, a country at war — at least according to President Felipe Calderon, who launched the crackdown on drug cartels shortly after taking office. Three years later, the streets of border cities like Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana remain full of soldiers. In many ways, the government is still playing catch-up to the nation's criminals.

In this context, the issue of the Twitter has quickly expanded into an argument over whether public safety takes priority over free speech in a country struggling to contain serious social ills. Fearing that kidnappers and drug cartels use Twitter, Facebook or MySpace to communicate, the Mexican government is considering a bill to restrict social networking websites and to set up a police force to monitor them.

The Twitter feed in question, Anti Alcoholimetro, doesn't hide its intent. On any given night, a dozen people write in listing the time and location where they saw a police checkpoint, helping others to avoid it.

The government's response has been erratic. At first, city officials said tweeting the location of police checkpoints was a crime, akin to helping someone break the law, and vowed to find a way to prosecute Twitterers. But after a media frenzy, they quickly backed down.

Yet the right to tweet is far from guaranteed, even in the relatively liberal capital of Mexico City. Article 320 of the city's penal code prescribes prison terms of up to five years for those who in any way help a delinquent avoid investigation by the authorities or escape their actions.

If that seems vague, it is. But federal lawmakers are quickly working on specific legislation to track down and punish Twitterers who break the law or help others escape it.


8th February   

Eve on Speed...

US law enforcement agencies push for quicker responses to email snooping requests
Link Here

Anyone with an e-mail account likely knows that police can peek inside it if they have a paper search warrant. But law enforcement agencies say they are frustrated by the speed of traditional methods of faxing, mailing, or e-mailing companies these documents. They're pushing for the creation of a national Web interface linking police computers with those of Internet and e-mail providers so requests can be sent and received electronically.

CNET has reviewed a survey scheduled to be released at a federal task force meeting, which says that law enforcement agencies are virtually unanimous in calling for such an interface to be created.

The survey, according to two people with knowledge of the situation, is part of a broader push from law enforcement agencies to alter the ground rules of online investigations. Other components include renewed calls for laws requiring Internet companies to store data about their users for up to five years and increased pressure on companies to respond to police inquiries in hours instead of days.

But the most controversial element is probably the private Web interface, which raises novel security and privacy concerns, especially in the wake of a recent inspector general's report [pdf] from the Justice Department. The report detailed how the FBI obtained Americans' telephone records by citing nonexistent emergencies and simply asking for the data or writing phone numbers on a sticky note rather than following procedures required by law.

Some companies already have police-only Web interfaces. Sprint Nextel operates what it calls the L-Site, also known as the legal compliance secure Web portal.

Hemanshu Nigam, MySpace's chief security officer, said in an interview with CNET: You can be very supportive of law enforcement investigations and at the same time be very cognizant and supportive of the privacy rights of our users. Every time a legal process comes in, whether it's a subpoena or a search order, we do a legal review to make sure it's appropriate.

Nigam said that MySpace accepts law enforcement requests through e-mail, fax, and postal mail, and that it has a 24-hour operations center that tries to respond to requests soon after they've been reviewed to make sure state and federal laws are being followed. MySpace does not have a police-only Web interface, he said.

Creating a national police-only network would be problematic, Nigam said. I wish I knew the number of local police agencies in the country, or even police officers in the country, he said. Right there that would tell you how difficult it would be to implement, even though ideally it would be a good thing.


3rd February   

Crap British Police...

Man fined for sneezing in a stationary car
Link Here

A man has been fined by cops for blowing his nose in a car. Michael Mancini pulled out a tissue while he was stuck in stationary traffic - with his handbrake on. But he was given a £60 fixed penalty notice for not being in control of his vehicle .

The cop who handed out the ticket was PC Stuart Gray - dubbed PC Shiny Buttons for his zealous approach to the job. He was exposed last year after he issued a £50 fixed penalty to a man who accidentally dropped a £10 note in the street.

Last night, Michael who's never been in trouble with police, said: I was in total shock. I was stuck in traffic with the handbrake on and my nose was running. It's beyond a disgrace. Surely it would have been more dangerous to drive with a blocked nose?

Michael has refused to pay the fine and now faces a criminal trial later in the year. He said: I needed to blow my nose so I put my handbrake on and took the car out of gear. I noticed four police officers standing around near the Wallace Tower but I didn't think anything of it. Then one of them waved me over. I still had the tissue in my hand and was totally stunned when he said I was getting a fixed penalty notice for not being in control of my car.

Michael said: I thought it was some kind of Beadle's About moment - a wind-up. The traffic was at a complete standstill and I had my handbrake on.

His lawyer, Peter Lockhart, has written to the procurator fiscal saying it beggars belief Michael is being prosecuted. But prosecutors are adamant they will put Michael through a trial at Ayr District Court.

PC Gray had previously doled out a £50 fine for littering to unemployed Stewart Smith, who accidentally dropped a tenner out his pocket as he left a shop.

Last night, a source said: Total nonsense like this is the very opposite of good policing. This officer is known as PC Shiny Buttons for his lack of a common sense approach to the job. It is supposed to be about serving and protecting the public - not embarking on some petty power trip like this appears to be.


2nd February   

Revealing the Ugly Truth...

Mandatory body scanners go live at Heathrow
Link Here

Body scanners are now in operation at Heathrow and Manchester airports. People chosen by security staff will not be allowed onto flights without going through the machine from now on.

Lord Adonis said he expected more machines to go live later this month, with further examples to be introduced at Birmingham airport soon.

Anyone selected for the scanners must go through the machine - there is no option to choose a pat-down search instead. Children can also be selected for scanning - despite early concerns that taking such images could breach child pornography laws. A spokesman for the Department of Transport said this was a proportional response on national security grounds.

The government has issued an interim code of practice which requires airport operators to put in place a privacy policy to protect passengers. This should include putting the security officer viewing the images out of sight of passengers. People chosen for scanning can ask for the images to be viewed by someone of the same sex.

Images will be deleted once scanning is completed. Security officers must obtain appropriate security clearances before receiving training - and that training must be approved by the Department of Transport.

The code states: Passengers must not be selected on the basis of personal characteristics (i.e. on a basis that may constitute discrimination such as gender, age, race or ethnic origin). [Presumably religion should be ok though]


1st February   

Expect the Scottish Inquisition...

Pharmacists to question buyers of products with a possible alcohol connection
Link Here

  Under threat of
the torment of eternal damnation,
did you exceed, or have you ever
exceeded, the Government's
safe drinking limit?

Pharmacy customers seeking hangover cures or the morning-after pill are to be questioned about their drinking habits and offered help with alcohol problems. Under a new pilot scheme involving 'community' chemists,

20 pharmacies in the North-east of Scotland are being recruited to take part in the pilot scheme to 'help' people change their drinking habits and tackle supposed alcohol abuse.

The pilot study in the NHS Grampian area, being led by researchers at Aberdeen University, follows similar brief intervention schemes which have already been introduced at GP surgeries and accident and emergency units throughout Scotland over the past 18 months.

Dr Margaret Watson, the senior research fellow at the university's Centre of Academic Primary Care, who is leading the study, said: The role of community pharmacists is changing. In the past, pharmacies have just been seen as the place where you get your medicines. But the pharmacist is a trained health professional who can offer advice and counselling about a range of matters and this is another area where they could become involved.

Under the scheme, customers who call at pharmacies and ask for specific products, such as chlamydia testing kits, the morning-after pill or hangover cures, will be asked to fill out a simple questionnaire about their alcohol consumption.

She said that during the brief consultations, the pharmacist would try to motivate the customer to reduce their alcohol consumption and arrange for help and counselling where necessary. Watson stressed: Everything must be done with the consent of the customer.


26th January   


Air New Zealand to install bed devices for economy class
Link Here

Air New Zealand has unveiled what it calls the first major improvement in economy class travel comfort in 20 years - beds.

The beds are formed by foot-rests rising to the level of three adjacent seats. A blanket and loose normal-sized pillows complete the arrangement.

Passengers would need to buy the three seats together though. The passengers would also need to be ready to sleep together in small families or couples.

The dream is now a reality, one that you can even share with a travelling companion - just keep your clothes on, thanks. It's a very good initiative for an airline specialising in long-haul flights.

Developed in-house by Air New Zealand (ANZ) designers and engineers, about a quarter of all long-haul economy seats will convert to Skycouches. They will take up the first 11 rows in the economy cabin of the airline's new Boeing 777-300 planes.

Passengers will pay the standard economy fare for two seats and receive the middle seat for about half price.

Aviation analyst David Learmount said the ANZ beds would probably appeal to those who pay extra for premium economy, which offers bigger seats but no bed option.

The seats go on sale in April and will gradually be introduced on the 340-seat 777-300s from the end of this year flying between Auckland and London via Los Angeles.


24th January   

Spy in the Sky...

UK police are planning to use unmanned spy drones
Link Here

Police in the UK are planning to use unmanned spy drones for the routine monitoring of motorists, protesters, agricultural thieves and fly-tippers, in a significant expansion of covert state surveillance.

The arms manufacturer BAE Systems, which produces a range of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for war zones, is adapting the military-style planes for a consortium of government agencies led by Kent police.

Documents from the South Coast Partnership, a Home Office-backed project in which Kent police and others are developing a national drone plan with BAE, have been obtained by the Guardian under the Freedom of Information Act.

They reveal the partnership intends to begin using the drones in time for the 2012 Olympics. They also indicate that police claims that the technology will be used for maritime surveillance fall well short of their intended use – which could span a range of police activity – and that officers have talked about selling the surveillance data to private companies. A prototype drone equipped with high-powered cameras and sensors is set to take to the skies for test flights later this year.

Five other police forces have signed up to the scheme, which is considered a pilot preceding the countrywide adoption of the technology for surveillance, monitoring and evidence gathering . The partnership's stated mission is to introduce drones into the routine work of the police, border authorities and other government agencies across the UK.

Previously, Kent police has said the drone scheme was intended for use over the English Channel to monitor shipping and detect immigrants crossing from France. However, the documents suggest the maritime focus was, at least in part, a public relations strategy designed to minimise civil liberty concerns.


20th January   

Updated: ID to be Required for 18-20 Year Olds in UK Pubs...

Government announces ideas to ensure that pubs are even more troublesome
Link Here
Full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians

Pubs, bars and off-licences will be forced to ask under 21s for identity in the latest campaign against supposed binge drinking.

They will be legally obliged to make checks if they have a reasonable suspicion that customers look under that age, ministers will announce next week.

At the moment they are only encouraged to do so. Alcohol retailers will face the prospect of hefty fines and losing their licence if they flout the new rules. A security guard checks the identity of a young man and his girlfriend before he allows them into a bar

From next week, identity checks will be compulsory before serving alcohol to drinkers who look under 21. The Government fears that thousands of youngsters under the legal drinking age of 18 are getting away with buying alcohol because they look much older.

A ban on supposedly irresponsible drink promotions such as happy hours and two-for-one deals is also expected to be announced by Home Secretary Alan Johnson. [Perhaps encouraging people to get well tanked up at home before leaving for expensive bars. Surely not a helpful outcome].

A Government source said: We have moved beyond voluntary codes and guidelines. This will be mandatory and non-negotiable. It will be legally enforceable. The Prime Minister has made it clear we cannot tolerate the continued widespread abuse of alcohol through the UK.

Update: Small Measures

20th January 2010. Based on article from timesonline.co.uk

Pub and club promotions that encourage binge drinking will be banned within months. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary, said: Alcohol-related crime costs the UK billions of pounds every year and while the vast majority of retailers are responsible, a minority continue to run irresponsible promotions. Speed-drinking games and dentist's chairs , where alcohol is poured directly into the mouths of customers, will also be banned.

Pubs and clubs will have to provide free tap water to customers and be required to ask for the identity of anyone who looks under 18.

The code will force licensed premises to offer wine in small 125ml glasses as well as the more common 250ml measure. Pub and club owners will also have to offer small beer and spirit measures.

Parliament will debate the code within the next few weeks, but the measures dealing with irresponsible drinking and making tap water available will come into effect in April, before the general election. The measures on age verification and ensuring that smaller measures are available to customers will come into force on October 1.

Ministers have, however, backed down from banning supermarket bulk buys. The mandatory code also avoids an outright end to happy hours where drinks are sold cheaply for a certain period of time. Instead, local authorities will have wider powers from the end of this month to impose a ban on happy hours in individual pubs.

Ian Gilmore, the President of the Royal College of Physicians, welcomed the code but whinged that it failed to deal with the issue of cheap supermarket drinks.


19th January   

An End Beer Goggles and Hangovers?...

Scientists work on drunkenness that can be turned off
Link Here

An alcohol substitute that mimics its pleasant buzz without leading to drunkenness and hangovers is being developed by scientists.

The new substance could have the added bonus of being switched off instantaneously with a pill, to allow drinkers to drive home or return to work.

The synthetic alcohol, being developed from chemicals related to Valium, works like alcohol on nerves in the brain that provide a feeling of wellbeing and relaxation. But unlike alcohol its does not affect other parts of the brain that control mood swings and lead to addiction. It is also much easier to flush out of the body.

Finally because it is much more focused in its effects, it can also be switched off with an antidote, leaving the drinker immediately sober.

The new alcohol is being developed by a team at Imperial College London, led by Professor David Nutt, Britain's top drugs expert who was recently sacked as a government adviser for his comments about cannabis and ecstasy. He envisions a world in which people could drink without getting drunk, he said.

No matter how many glasses they had, they would remain in that pleasant state of mild inebriation and at the end of an evening out, revellers could pop a sober-up pill that would let them drive home.


19th January   

Police Twits...

Man arrested for jokey tweet venting frustration about cancelled flights
Link Here

When heavy snowfall threatened to scupper Paul Chambers' travel plans, he decided to vent his frustrations on Twitter by tapping out a comment to amuse his friends. Robin Hood airport is closed, he wrote. You've got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I'm blowing the airport sky high!!

Unfortunately for Chambers, the police didn't see the funny side. A week after posting the message on the social networking site, he was arrested under the Terrorism Act and questioned for almost seven hours by detectives who ludicrously interpreted his post as a security threat. After he was released on bail, he was suspended from work pending an internal investigation, and has, he says, been banned from the Doncaster airport for life.

While it has happened in the United States, Chambers is thought to be the first person in the United Kingdom to be arrested for comments posted on Twitter.

Chambers said the police seemed unable to comprehend the intended humour in his online comment. I had to explain Twitter to them in its entirety because they'd never heard of it, he said. Then they asked all about my home life, and how work was going, and other personal things. The lead investigator kept asking, 'Do you understand why this is happening?' and saying, 'It is the world we live in'.

The police deleted the post from his Twitter page. He has been bailed until 11 February, when he will be told whether or not he will be charged with conspiring to create a bomb hoax. In the interim, detectives have confiscated his iPhone, laptop and home computer.

The civil libertarian Tessa Mayes, an expert on privacy law and free speech issues, said: Making jokes about terrorism is considered a thought crime, mistakenly seen as a real act of harm or intention to commit harm. The police's actions seem laughable and suggest desperation in their efforts to combat terrorism, yet they have serious repercussions for all of us. In a democracy, our right to say what we please to each other should be non-negotiable, even on Twitter.


19th January   

Just Say No...

Tory political nonsense about chastity for youngsters
Link Here

All children will get lessons on how to say no to sex under reforms proposed by the Conservative party leader, David Cameron, to mend Britain's broken society.

He said school curriculums should include teaching about sexual consent – with an emphasis on empowering youngsters to refuse.


15th January   

The Beaver is History...

Canadian magazine changes title to avoid internet filtering
Link Here

The Canadian magazine, The Beaver , is changing its name after 90 years because the title is too often censored by online porn filters, preventing it from reaching new online readers.

The Winnipeg-based magazine was launched in 1920 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the Hudson's Bay Company and the fur trade that led to the early exploration of Canada.

Beaver magazine But in modern times, the term beaver has become slang for women's genitals.

Publisher Deborah Morrison told AFP: Several readers asked us to change the title because their spam filters at home or at work were blocking it . I've even had emails bounce back because I had inadvertently typed the term in the heading.

Nearly a century ago, it probably seemed the perfect name for a magazine about the fur trade and Canada's northwest frontier. There was only one interpretation for the word then.

The magazine that chronicles Canada's past will publish its last issue under the old banner in February/March. Thereafter, it will be known under the less evocative name of Canada's History.


13th January   

Watching TV Shortens Life...

All enjoyable activity is already frowned upon or deemed unhealthy, so now researchers find that doing nothing is equally bad
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In a warning for couch potatoes everywhere, Australian research has found that relaxing in front of television for hours every day can shorten your life.

Each hour [per day?] spent vegging out in front of television increases the risk of early death by up to 18%, according to researchers from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne.

Even healthy people who exercise increase the chances of premature death from heart disease by 18% for each hour spent in front of television. They have a 9% increased risk of cancer and an 11% increased risk of death from all causes claims the Australian and French team, whose findings are reported today in Circulation, the journal of the American Heart Association.

However it is not television per se that is the killer, but long periods of sitting doing nothing, said David Dunstan of the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute who led the research. Sitting for long periods at an office desk was also bad for the health, but the research focussed on television watching as that is the most common sedentary activity

The human body was designed to move, not sit for extended periods of time, said Professor Dunstan. But technological, social and economic changes mean that people don't move their muscles as much as they used to. For many people, on a daily basis they simply shift from one chair to another - from the car to the chair in the office to the chair on front of the television.

Dr Dunstan and his colleagues tracked 8800 men and women aged 25 and over, over a period of six and a half years. The group, which did not include people already at risk of premature death from pre-existing cardiovascular disease, were tested for glucose tolerance and provided blood samples so researchers could measure biomarkers such as cholesterol and blood sugar levels. They were divided into three groups; those who watched fewer than two hours of television a day, those who watched two to four hours, and those who watched four or more hours a day.

Compared with people who watched less than two hours of television daily, those who watched more than four hours a day had a 46 percent higher risk of death from all causes and an 80 percent increased risk for CVD-related death, the researchers said in a statement.

The next stage of the research is to test the hypothesis that taking breaks from sitting still to move around will help in the breakdown of fats and glucose.


12th January   

Update: Contemptible Court...

Naked Rambler has spent 7 years in Scottish jail for not wearing clothes
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Full story: Naked Rambler...Stephen Gough imprisoned for being naked

Naked rambler Stephen Gough has been warned he could spend the rest of his life in jail unless he puts on some clothes. Gough, who has become notorious for trying to walk around the UK naked, was arrested within seconds of being freed from Perth Prison on 17 December.

He was found guilty yesterday of breaching the peace by walking naked in the street and refusing a request by police to put on some clothes. On the past two occasions when Gough has been released from jail, officers from Tayside Police were waiting at the prison gates to re-arrest him.

Sheriff Lindsay Foulis told Gough he would not have to be crystal ball gazing to realise that the same process would occur again and again and again .

Gough – who has spent the bulk of the past seven years in jail for identical crimes – yesterday turned down an offer to walk free on condition that he get dressed.

Foulis told him he would consider granting him bail to go back to his warmer home county of Hampshire if he agreed to put some clothes on, but Gough said he would not. A number of your recent convictions have arisen in similar circumstances, the sheriff said. You have more or less been apprehended when you have been released from prison. I suppose it doesn't need an expert in crystal ball gazing to anticipate that if I impose a custodial sentence then in so many months a similar scenario will arise. When the day comes for you to be released from a prison establishment, you will be apprehended and the same process gone through again.

Gough said he accepted it was potentially the case that he could remain in jail forever – apart from the few seconds of freedom he enjoys every six months or so.

During the trial, he compared himself to the African-American civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks, and said he believed his behaviour was reasonable . Gough said: Essentially, this is about individual freedom and people's tolerance to other people being different. I understand a lot of people will disagree and have strong feelings about it. Walking the amount of miles I have, through towns and cities, it is on the whole a very small moral minority who act in an irrational way. I believe I am behaving in a reasonable way.

Gough was allowed to conduct his own defence in open court while completely naked and the sheriff said he would consider whether that was a contempt of court when he is sentencing. He warned Gough that he could be jailed for upwards of 18 months.


11th January   

Shite Council...

Glasgow council requires that parents accompany their teenage children to the loo in licensed premises
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Most parents believe the days of supervising their children on the loo are long gone by the time they are teenagers. If so, they may want to avoid eating out in Glasgow.

The city council has ordered that children under the age of 16 must be in sight of their parents anywhere on licensed premises — even if that means being accompanied to the lavatory.

The regulations have the potential for family embarrassment when, for example, a 15-year-old boy eating at a cafe with his mother has to use the ladies' loos.

The council says the rule is required by the 2005 licensing act. It acknowledges there is a huge difference between a toddler and a teenager , but says there are no legal provisions for making a distinction between ages.

Restaurateurs say it is absurd to extend to lavatories the requirement for children to be in sight of an adult at all times, but believe they have no alternative if they are to avoid the risk of punishment.

The regulations, brought in late last year, state: While children are in any part of licensed premises and in particular the toilet areas, they must at all times be within sight of an accompanying adult.


8th January   

Goa Goes GaGa...

Bikini adverts banned in Goa
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Fighting against the slur of turning into a sex-tourism destination, the Goa tourism department has decided to censor all advertisements showing bikini babes .

Goa is a family holiday destination and not sex tourism destination. We will make sure that bikini babes do not symbolise Goa tourism in future, state Tourism Minister Fransisco Pacheco told PTI .

He said the tourism department will ask all empanelled advertisement agencies to desist from using scantily-clad women in their campaigns.

The department has already stopped such ads but I will make sure that henceforth all advertisements are scrutinised by the department before being sent for printing, Pacheco said.


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