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31st December   

Update: Pandering to Nutters...

  Video Universe - Buy New Release DVDs, TV on DVD, Music Videos and Much More

US Mainstream DVDs

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David Cameron moves to ban all the simple pleasures of life such as cheap booze
Link Here  full story: Drinking Restrictions...Drinking becomes the target of killjoy politicians
Puritans

  Cameron's advisory panel
on media and leisure

David Cameron is planning a miserable minimum price policy or alcohol in England. The minimum price would be accompanied by an aggressive moral campaign and a more draconian approach to curtailing the sale of alcohol in shops, pubs and clubs

The Prime Minister has ordered officials to develop a scheme in England to stop the sale of alcohol at below 40p to 50p a unit in shops and supermarkets.

Ministers could copy Scottish proposals, which would ban the sale of alcohol below 45p a unit, or bring in a more expensive and bureaucratic system of taxes based on the number of alcohol units contained in the drink.

Both options would cost drinkers and the economy an estimated extra 700 million a year, with any extra tax revenue potentially going to the NHS.

The Daily Telegraph understands that the Prime Minister personally ordered the radical big bang approach, which will be included in the Government's forthcoming alcohol strategy. It was due for release next month, but has now been delayed until February.

 

27th December   

Testing Times...

Melon farming Fresh
A website
update service

See further details
Melon Farming Fresh

 

Thai partners will have to speak English before they can get a UK marriage visa
Link Here

UK Visa The high court has upheld a government rule requiring spouses to prove they can speak English before they can join their partners in Britain.

Mr Justice Beatson dismissed a judicial review challenge brought by three couples to the immigration rule, introduced last November, on the grounds that it was racist and would break up their families.

The couples included Rashida Chapti, a British citizen. She has been married for almost 40 years, has six children and divides her time between Leicester and India. Her husband, Vali, wants to join her permanently in Britain but he does not speak, read or write English.

The high court judge, sitting in Birmingham, said the requirement to have passed a pre-entry English language test did interfere with the couple's article 8 rights to a family life but this was justified in the interests of promoting integration and protecting public services.

The ruling is a major victory for the human rights abusing home secretary, Theresa May, in her efforts to persuade the courts to allow the government to ignore article 8 human rights.

The human righs abusing immigration minister, Damian Green, said: We believe it is entirely reasonable that someone intending to live in the UK should understand English, so that they can integrate and participate fully in our society. We are very pleased that the courts agree with us.

But the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, which officially intervened in the case, said it was very disappointed by the ruling.

Hina Majid, the JCWI's legal director, said: No one in their right mind would pretend that learning English is not a good thing for immigrants in the UK to do. This ruling, however, will mean that many British citizens will continue to experience enforced and indefinite separation from loved ones, partners, and in some cases, their children.

It is already a legal requirement that partners and spouses must demonstrate linguistic skills shortly after arrival in the UK. In countries experiencing conflict, poverty, natural disasters and political instability, it can however be extremely difficult to acquire linguistic skills prior to arrival in the UK. Spouses in parts of Sudan, Yemen and Gaza for example often struggle to find decent tuition.

According to the new rules, spouses will be required to attain a basic level of English that can be reached after 40-50 hours of tuition.

The tests apply only to those who come from non-English-speaking countries. The top five nationalities of those coming to marry UK citizens are Pakistan (8,570 people), India (5,110), Bangladesh (2,780), US (2,110) and Thailand (1,776).

 

23rd December   

Pure Nutter Bait...

Australian advertisers have fun with Pussy energy drink
Link Here

Pussy energy drink Australian marketeers are having fun with a new energy drink that has just arrived in Queensland called Pussy.

As distributors plan to saturate the state's shops with the product, a furore is already stirring about the double meaning in the name and its placement alongside other soft drinks in family stores.

The drink, backed by Richard Branson's children Sam and Holly, is the centre of some overtly provocative advertising, with photos of naked women with fully clothed men in suggestive sex poses.

The drink has a great slogan: The drink's pure. It's your mind that's the problem .

Collective Shout co-founder Melinda Tankard Reist told The Sunday Mail that the group was discussing a boycott, not only of the product, but also any stockists. She said:

The Pussy energy drink is another example of the mainstreaming of porn-inspired themes.

It encourages teen boys to say, 'I'm going to get some Pussy', or 'I could really use some Pussy', so a woman's body is consumed by a man.

Russell Dymond of Liquid NRG, the Brisbane distributor of Pussy, told The Sunday Mail the name was not smutty:

It's a brand with a unique name, just as Richard Branson's Virgin brand created a stir when it was first introduced but now is a word that is on everyone's lips. As the slogan suggests, it depends what your mind makes of the name.

 

20th December   

Brighton Scrooge...

The new christmas tradition of silly stories about council dickheads undermining christmas traditions
Link Here

Scrooge DVD Albert Finney Tenants of council flats in Brighton have been sent letters telling them not to put wreaths or other Christmas decorations on their front doors.

The council claims decorations are a potential fire hazard but residents say the decision is Scrooge-like.

The worst that is going to happen is you are going to get concussion from a paper chain landing on your head, said resident Stephan Bennett.

All we are trying to do is keep people safe, said spokesprat Michael Meik.

We are not being Scrooge, claimed Brighton and Hove City Council fire safety adviser Ebeneezer Meik... [BUT] ... If we go round to a housing block and find there are any sort of Christmas decorations we will be asking people to take them down.

 

20th December   

Twinkle Twinkle Little Twat...

The new christmas tradition of silly stories about council dickheads undermining christmas traditions
Link Here

Twinkle Little Star Sign Singalong We live in an age of hair-trigger horror, in which anyone saying boo to a goose can expect to face an instant firestorm on Twitter and demands for their arrest on animal cruelty charges.

In the latest example parents have been told the song twinkle, twinkle little star may cause offence to the deaf.

Apparently, the sign, which resembles a diamond shape when made with forefingers and thumbs, is used in official sign language to represent female genitalia.

A christmas performance by Sure Start toddler group came to the attention of ever-vigilant officials at the City of York Council. Jill Hodges, assistant director of education, said this was a sensible decision taken to prevent deaf children or deaf parents being offended .

It goes without saying that there are currently no deaf children or parents attending the play group, at Acomb, North Yorkshire. Naturally, there hasn't been a single complaint. And it isn't right anyway. The strictly accurate sign for female genitalia is an inverted diamond held in front of the crotch. While singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star, the children hold their hands high above their heads.

 

16th December   

Update: Stasi Spies...

Bill in British parliament seeks to enable council jobsworths to demand people's names and addresses so that they can be fined
Link Here  full story: Playboy Brand...Playboy's ever shifting logo and brand

Stasi The MP for North East Somerset, Jacob Rees-Mogg said that those council officials with the power to issue fines for minor infractions should have to wear blower hats to be easily identified, and avoided, by the public. This is in response to a plan under way in the London boroughs which may grant town hall officials the power to force offenders of minor misdemeanours to turn over their personal details so that they can be charged a fine.

At the moment, council officials can already issue these fines, but there is no requirement for the accused to hand over their personal details, leaving officials with no means of following up. A bill in Parliament, the London Local Authorities Bill, would make it a criminal offence for the accused to refuse to hand over their information when stopped by these officials.

This bill is a blatant snub of civil liberties. Policing should be left to the police, and Big Brother Watch has said repeatedly that granting police powers to civilians is shaky at best. They show a worrying disregard for due process and the quick, cheap and dirty training many of these officials receive fails to give them a clear knowledge and understanding of the law (or very minor offences) they so vigorously enforce on the streets of their communities.

And are there ramifications for misusing or abusing these powers? In reality, aside from clear guidance and strict training, there is very little that can protect the public from abuses of these powers.

 

11th December   

UltraViolet...

Digital versions of films and TV shows may be opening up to a little more flexibility of use
Link Here

ultraviolet logo A consortium including Warner Brothers, Sony Pictures and Fox are backing the UK launch of a new service that aims to revolutionise home entertainment, and cut piracy, by offering consumers a digital locker of films and TV shows they can watch on any device.

The UK is the second market after the US to launch the UltraViolet service, a digital library for films and TV shows, which gives consumers the rights to buy once but be able to play on several devices.

UltraViolet's backers -- 75 companies as varied as Tesco, Samsung, Nokia, Sky and LoveFilm -- claim their open system has the edge over more restricted services offered by Apple and Disney.

When a consumer buys an UltraViolet enabled DVD or Blu-ray disc of the title they will be able to register for an account on Flixster -- the social movie site Warner Bros acquired in May -- where they can get several digital versions of the film or TV show.

They can then stream it to devices in allowed territories from up to a year after purchase (or less if sold with restricted rights).

Users can also download 3 presumably DRM protected digital copies to compatible devices for up to a year after purchase. Geographic restrictions do not apply for downloads.

Some purchases may enable a hard copy download suitable for burning on a DVD or keeping on a computer (maybe outside of DRM controls?).

Interestingly these downloads and streams may be shared with up to 5 family members (or friends?).

Warner Bros is the first content owner to unveil its plans for UltaViolet (UV), with the launch of Final Destination 5 on 26 December being the first UV-enabled title to be made available to consumers in the UK.

 

4th December   

Update: Effin' Censors...

Facebook bans the Irish village of Effin claiming that it is an offensive word
Link Here

Facebook logo A Limerick woman is leading the battle to have her home village of Effin recognized by social network site Facebook.

Ann Marie Kennedy is taking on the giant corporation which has deemed the village name of Effin to be offensive.

She has also failed in an attempt to launch a Facebook campaign based on a Please get my hometown Effin recognised page on the website. It came back with an error message saying 'offensive,' Kennedy told the Irish Independent.

I would like to be able to put Effin on my profile page and so would many other Effin people around the world to proudly say that they are from Effin, Co Limerick, but it won't recognize that. It keeps coming up as Effingham, Illinois; Effingham, New Hampshire; and it gives suggestions of other places.

Kennedy has vowed to carry on her battle until Effin gains official status on Facebook.

...Read the full article

 

19th November   

Big Brother's Listening in Oxford Cabs...

Oxford mandates CCTV with audio for cabs and buses
Link Here

Oxford City CouncilBe careful what you say if you decide to take a taxi or the bus in Oxford -- every word will be recorded.

Despite being in clear breach of the guidance issued by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) and a gross invasion of privacy, Oxford Council has decided to make it a condition for all licensed black cabs in the city to record both audio and video.

The audio will be available to council officers and the police, and will cover any time the taxi's engine is running and the 30 minutes after the engine has been switched off.

The Oxford Times has the story, which also uncovered that audio recording is curently in use on Oxford Bus Company buses and Stagecoach's Oxford Tube bus.

The Information Commissioner's Office has a code of practice for the use of CCTV and it's clear on the issue of audio recording.

CCTV must not be used to record conversations between members of the public as this is highly intrusive and unlikely to be justified. You should choose a system without this facility if possible. If your system comes equipped with a sound recording facility then you should turn this off or disable it in some other way.

However, the Council has taken a rather different approach. Oxford City Council's Taxi Licensing Pack states that:

the equipment must be:

4. Capable of providing voice recording
5. The recording must be event activated (e.g. door or ignition) and continue to record 30 minutes after the ignition is switched off.

It remains to be seen if the Council even has the legal authority to do this.

Update: Cabbies now speaking out

21st March 2012. See article from bigbrotherwatch.org.uk

When the policy was first proposed, it was (according to the council) supported by taxi drivers, and the policy was backed publicly by Alan Woodward, secretary of The City of Oxford Licensed Taxi Cab Association. However, since our intervention -- which saw the policy receive international media coverage as far afield as Fox News and Russia Today -- Woodward has been forced to resign, and now the city's taxi drivers are speaking out.

 

17th November   

Update: Stasi Britain...

Councils employ neighbourhood snitches to spy on residents
Link Here  full story: Stasi Britain...Recruiting an army of snitches and snoopers

StasiCouncils across Britain have recruited thousands of citizen snoopers to report what their propaganda calls environmental crime .

According to the PR they target dog foulers, litter louts and neighbours who fail to sort their rubbish properly. The volunteers spy on their neighbours and are encouraged to take photos of environmental crime and send them in with location details for a rapid response.

They are given hand-held GPS computers for the task or phone cards to cover the cost of using their own devices. Evidence gathered this way is sometimes used in criminal prosecutions.

There are already 9,831 snoopers signed up, a 17% increase on the number two years ago. A further 1,310 are set to be recruited and trained as part of schemes run by 18 councils.

Volunteers often apply to become what councils euphemistically call street champions through council websites, but many have also been lured by recruitment drives in local newspapers.

Nick Pickles, director of the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said:

It should be deeply troubling for us all that councils seem not content with their own snooping and are now recruiting members of the public to assist them. If a crime is committed, it is the police who should be involved, not local residents given hi-tech gadgets by councils, many of whom rarely pass up an opportunity to invade our privacy or hand out spurious fines.

These individuals operate with little or no training, and there is no evidence to suggest it helps combat environmental crime. Councils seem to be unable to tell the difference between asking the public for help and getting the public to do their snooping for them.

Hillingdon Council in London boasts the biggest street champions scheme with 4,850 volunteers, who record an average of 1,000 incidents a month.

 

16th November   

Victorian Drinks Police...

Proposal for police with snitch cams to patrol bars seeking out strong language and hence a case to persecute the licensee
Link Here
police bar-raid

  You're under arrest for uttering the word
'fuck' in a Victorian hospitality venue.
You have the right to say fuck all.

Proposed legislative changes by Victoria's Baillieu Government have been labelled as short sighted and a serious threat to the viability of the hospitality industry by prominent nightclub owner Peter Iwaniuk.

Iwaniuk explained:

Instead of focusing on the streets where the real problems are, the Baillieu Government and Victoria Police are making the same mistake as the Brumby Government - by blindly pursuing a vendetta against the hospitality industry.

The Nightclub Owners Forum successfully campaigned against the Brumby Government at the last State election and, unfortunately, it now appears we will have to run a similar campaign against the Baillieu Government.

On top of exorbitant fee increases and other harsh regulations, the Baillieu Government has recently announced it is introducing a demerit points system against licensed venues and amending the Liquor Control Act 1998 so that even using profane, indecent or obscene language inside a venue can be deemed to be disturbing the amenity and grounds for prosecution of a licensee.

One can imagine our secret police squad, Victoria Police's RAZON Task Force, for example, covertly filming and recording patrons inside public bars where swearing is commonplace, or charging licensees when entertainers are caught swearing. Comedians, in particular, are renowned for using profane language.

We already have ample evidence that the RAZON Task Force and other police enforcement units will use any technicality at their disposal to persecute and prosecute responsible licensees - now they can add swearing and demerit points to their armoury.

 

9th November   

Mine's a Stiffy...

UK drinks censor bans Stiffy's Jaffa Cake vodka drink
Link Here

stiffys jaffa cake kola kubez webA complaint about Stiffy's Jaffa Cake and Kola Kubez vodka liqueur products has been upheld by the Portman Group's Independent Complaints Panel for inappropriately linking an alcohol product with sexual success.

The complaint was made by a drinks manufacturer which considered that the brand name Stiffy's was an overtly sexual reference which is banned under the Portman Group Code.

In considering the complaint, the Panel noted that stiffy was a common slang term for an erection and considered that the brand name therefore had strong sexual connotations. The company, Stiffy's Shots Ltd maintained that the brand name had been chosen because Stiffy was the nickname of a person involved in the development of the drink; it had not been chosen for its sexual connotations. The Panel acknowledged that while the company may not have deliberately set out to link the product with sexuality, the brand name alluded to sexual success and accordingly found the product in breach of the responsibility Code.

Henry Ashworth, Chief Executive of the Portman Group, which provides the secretariat for the Independent Complaints Panel, said:

It is totally inappropriate for alcohol marketing to allude to sexual success and following this ruling and our enforcement action, Stiffy's products will be removed from sale in their current form. We would urge anyone who comes across examples of irresponsible alcohol marketing to complain immediately to the Portman Group.

Alcohol companies must be extremely vigilant about marketing their products responsibly and we encourage companies and their agencies to contact our fast, free and confidential advisory service which last year alone handled over 500 requests for advice.

The company, in consultation with the Portman Group's Advisory Service, has now changed the brand name to Stivy's.

 

7th November   

Update: Ubiquitous Surveillance...

Report outlines 3 million instances of snooping by British authorities
Link Here  full story: Communications Snooping...Big Brother Extremism

freedom from suspicion The astonishing extent of Britain's surveillance society has been revealed for the first time. Three million snooping operations have been carried out over the past decade under controversial RIPA laws allowing widespread electronic snooping.

The campaign group Justice is demanding the hugely controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, under which all the operations were authorised, be scrapped altogether.

The group's report, titled Freedom from Suspicion , says: The UK has, in the space of 40 years, gone from a society in which mass surveillance was largely a theoretical possibility to one in which it has become not only ubiquitous but routine.

RIPA, billed as anti-terror legislation , was passed by Labour in 2000 supposedly to regulate snooping by public bodies. But Justice, which has campaigned on privacy matters for decades, says the result has been a huge increase in intrusive surveillance.

Since the Act was passed, there have been:

  • More than 20,000 warrants for the interception of phone calls, emails and internet use;

  • At least 2.7million requests for communication data, including phone bills and location information;

  • More than 4,000 authorisations for intrusive surveillance, such as planting a bug in a person's house;

  • At least 186,133 authorisations for directed (covert) surveillance by law enforcement agencies;

  • 61,317 directed surveillance operations by other public bodies, including councils;

  • 43,391 authorisations for covert human intelligence sources .

In total, the report says there have been around three million decisions taken by state bodies under RIPA, not including blanket authorisations given to the security and intelligence services. The report comments:

RIPA has not only failed to check a great deal of plainly excessive surveillance by public bodies over the last decade but, in many cases, inadvertently encouraged it.

Its poor drafting has allowed councils to snoop, phone hacking to flourish, privileged conversations to be illegally recorded and CCTV to spread. It is also badly out of date.

The Coalition's Protection of Freedoms Bill will reform RIPA by forcing councils to get authorisation from a magistrate before they can go on spying missions. But Justice says the new safeguards are insufficient and RIPA should be scrapped. It calls for an entirely new regime to be put in place.  Justice's Angela Patrick said: The time has come for Parliament to undertake root-and-branch reform of Britain's surveillance powers and provide genuinely effective safeguards against abuse.

 

6th November   

Little Knowledge of BBC Knowledge...

BBC channels coming to Thailand, but not clear on what medium
Link Here

BBC Workd Service logoJana Bennett, President Worldwide Networks and global BBC iPlayer, is set to announce plans to launch BBC branded channels in Thailand in early 2012.

In a wide ranging discussion, Bennett will set out the Channels business's immediate priorities for Asia, including new market launches. BBC Worldwide will launch BBC Knowledge, BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle and CBeebies in Thailand January 2012.

 

30th October   

So You Think You Know Whether You Live in the UK or Not?...

Tax man changes the residency rules governing if expats have to pay UK tax
Link Here

HMRC logo

What does 6 April 2012 mean to you? You're probably aware that it's the beginning of the new tax year. But you might not know that from this date the UK law on tax residence is set to change in a way that could well affect you far more than you realise.

That's the date from which new UK tax residence tests are going to put into effect, following a consultation by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) this year. The changes outline the criteria for determining whether or not an individual is UK resident. It aims to create clear and simple residency rules to classify an individual's tax status.

The new legislation will affect anyone entering and exiting the UK. It may even impact on those who have already left.

The final details of the new statutory residence test are expected to be published early next year. Key points have been identified by HMRC, giving the tax profession an opportunity to respond to the proposed changes.

Under the new rules, an individual is NOT a UK resident if they:

  • Spend fewer than ten days in the UK during a tax year
  • Have not been a UK resident for at least three years and spend less than 45 days during a tax year in the UK
  • Leave the UK to work full-time abroad for a tax year, work in the UK for no more than 20 days per year and spend less than a total of 90 days in the UK in the year.

An individual IS a UK resident if:

  • They spend 183 or more days in the UK in a tax year (as per the current rules)
  • Their only home is in the UK or they have more than one home and all of these are in the UK
  • They work full-time in the UK

For the less conclusive cases, a combination of UK connecting factors and days in the UK will be considered.

 

24th October   

Illegal Legal Tender...

Louisiana bans cash when used to buy second hand goods
Link Here

Louisiana State Seal Cash. It's good everywhere you go, right? You can use it to pay for anything.

But that's not the case here in Louisiana now. It's a law that was passed during this year's legislative session.

House bill 195 basically says those who buy and sell second hand goods cannot use cash to make those transactions, and it flew so far under the radar most businesses don't even know about it.

The law states those who buy or sell second hand goods are prohibited from using cash. State representative Rickey Hardy co-authored the bill.

 

20th October   

Update: Get a Shredder...

Council snoopers went through the bins of 30,000 households in 2010
Link Here

Swordfish 45009 1000XC Cross Cut Shredder Council snoopers went through the bins of more than 30,000 families last year.

The figure was double that of the previous year, despite a government pledge to stamp out the intrusive practice.

It was revealed in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by the Daily Mail. We can reveal that inspectors are building up a disturbingly detailed profile of families' lives by rifling through their rubbish in secret.

In some cases, they divide the contents into 13 main categories and 52 sub-categories of waste. The audits, which are held on a database, can reveal an extraordinarily sophisticated portrait from what sort of foods are eaten and what kind of goods are bought in a particular street.

Inspectors, often hired in from the private sector, check supermarket labels, types of unwanted food, and of course examine the contents of discarded mail.

Nick Pickles, director of the privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said:

Councils need to come clean with what they are doing with the results of these surveys.

It would be unacceptable for details to be kept of the contents of individual households bins, or any link to be made with other council records.'

In 2010 a total of 40 local authorities in England either carried out their own survey or commissioned researchers to do it for them.

 

19th October   

As Young as You Feel...

UK's ban on granting settlement visas to 18-20 year old wives found to be illegal by the Supreme Court
Link Here

UK Visa Four out of five Supreme Court justices - Lord Phillips, Lady Hale, Lord Clarke and Lord Wilson - have upheld a Court of Appeal ruling that the ban on 18-20 year old spouses from enetering Britain was arbitrary and disruptive .

The law was introduced under Labour in 2008 to restrict forced marriages that have been taking place mostly in South Asia. Family members based in the UK would arrange or force a marriage with a partner in the subcontinent who would then be brought back to the UK. 18-20 year olds seemed numerically at particular risk.

However all but one of the judges agreed that the law should not trump Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to family and private life.

Lord Wilson said Home Secretary Theresa May had failed to establish that interference with the rights of such couples under Article Eight is justified .

Damian Green, the immigration minister, said: We believe this decision will put vulnerable people at risk of being forced into marriage. We will come forward with our response in due course.

 

17th October   

Update: State Spyware Revealed by Hackers...

Politicians see that trojan spyware used by the German state is unconstitutional and could be used to plant or interfere with evidence
Link Here  full story: State Trojan Horses...State infects home PCs using Trojans

Pirate Party Germany's Pirate Party and the Free Democratic Party have declared that they believe the use of state spyware to track criminals was unconstitutional.

According to hackers from the Chaos Computer Club, who hacked the police viruses last weekend, the so-called state-trojans can be used not only as surveillance but to completely control computers remotely. The German constitutional court has previously declared this unconstitutional.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich has now advised the individual German states not to use the software in question.

Sebastian Nerz, chairman of the Pirate Party, who have campaigned for internet freedoms, said, It is absolutely impossible to install a trojan that meets legal requirements. He added that because of the state trojans, a judge would never be able to tell whether evidence allegedly found on the computer of someone under surveillance had not been altered or fabricated later.

The FDP, junior coalition partner to Merkel's governing coalition, has also joined the growing political furor against police spyware. FDP legal spokesman Marco Buschmann told the Neue Osnabru cker Zeitung, The newly uncovered state-trojan feeds substantial doubts that the use of spy software is possible under the German constitution.

 

16th October   

Big Data...

US funds research projects to analyse vast swathes of internet data to predict social and economic crises
Link Here

iarpa logo US social scientists are trying to analyse the vast resources of the Internet including web searches, tweets, Facebook, blog posts, cellphone location and communications.

The most optimistic researchers believe that these storehouses of big data will for the first time reveal sociological laws of human behavior, enabling them to predict political crises, revolutions and other forms of social and economic instability.

This is a significant step forward, said Thomas Malone, the director of the Center for Collective Intelligence at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. We have vastly more detailed and richer kinds of data available as well as predictive algorithms to use, and that makes possible a kind of prediction that would have never been possible before.

The government is showing interest in the idea. This summer a little-known intelligence agency began seeking ideas from academic social scientists and corporations for ways to automatically scan the Internet in 21 Latin American countries for big data, according to a research proposal being circulated by the agency. The three-year experiment, to begin in April, is being financed by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, or Iarpa, part of the office of the director of national intelligence.

A similar project by their military sister organization, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or Darpa, aims to automatically identify insurgent social networks in Afghanistan. In its most recent budget proposal, the defense agency argues that its analysis can expose terrorist cells and other stateless groups by tracking their meetings, rehearsals and sharing of material and money transfers.

So far there have been only scattered examples of the potential of mining social media. For example last year HP Labs researchers used Twitter data to accurately predict box office revenues of Hollywood movies.

 

14th October   

Updated: Boycott Braehead...

Braehead shopping centre does its bit to add to the oppressive atmosphere in Britain
Link Here  full story: Policing of Photographers...Snapshot of a British police state

boycott braehead Braehead shopping centre has been shamed into reversing its ban on photography after an internet campaign.

It follows an oppressive incident at Glasgow's Braehead shopping centre when security guards challenged a man who had taken a photo of his young daughter.

Chris White was bullied by security guards and then questioned by police after taking a photo of four-year-old Hazel eating an ice cream on Friday.

White said that, when he was interviewed by police, an officer warned him that anti-terrorism powers meant his camera phone could be confiscated.

In response Chris White set up a Facebook page called Boycott Braehead which, by Monday evening, had been liked by about 20,000 people. In a message posted tonight on the Facebook page, White said he would continue to press for other shopping centres to change their policies. He wrote:

Hopefully we can now move forward with a common sense approach into a situation that allows families to enjoy precious moments with their children, but at the same time ensure that such public places are areas where we can feel safe and protected.

I have been overwhelmed by the public response on this issue and thank everyone for their support.

Capital Shopping Centres said the new rules would apply immediately to its 11 UK shopping centres. These include the Trafford Centre, near Manchester, Lakeside, in Essex, the Metrocentre, in Gateshead, and the Mall at Cribbs Causeway in Bristol. It said the policy was also likely to be adopted at three other centres in which it is a partner.

Staff will no longer try to prevent family and friends taking pictures of each other, although security guards might still challenge anyone acting suspiciously.

Capital Shopping Centres, which also owns malls in Cardiff, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich and Nottingham, said: CSC can confirm that we will be changing the photography policy at our 11 directly owned centres and that at the other three centres, which we own in partnership with other companies, we will be discussing with our partners the policy change and recommending that it be adopted.

Update: Police dispute White's account BUT won't tell us their side of the story

14th October 2011.  See  press release from  strathclyde.police.uk
See also Are police attempting to smear The Braehead One, ask his supporters from  scotsman.com

Rob Shorthouse, Director of Communications for Strathclyde Police said:

It is absolutely right and proper that when a complaint about the police is made that it is fully investigated. The public need to know that their complaints are taken seriously and are acted upon promptly and professionally. This is exactly what has happened in this incident.

Mr White complained to the police about the incident in Braehead. In his statement he set out a set of circumstances that has caused widespread debate, comment and criticism for those who he alleged were involved. Mr White chose to make his complaint public, to give interviews to the media and to seek debate on social networks.

We are well aware that, as a result of this social media conversation, demonstrations are being planned this weekend at Braehead. We have also seen global media coverage of the incident -- all of which has painted the shopping centre, this police force and, arguably, our country in a very negative light.

It is because Mr White chose to seek publicity for his account of events and because of the planned demonstration that we feel compelled to take the unusual step of making our findings public.

In reaching our conclusions, officers took statements from a number of independent witnesses and viewed the substantial amount of CCTV that was available in the centre.

On reviewing all of this objective evidence, I have to tell you that we can find no basis to support the complaint which Mr. White has elected to make.

The members of the public who asked for the security staff to become involved have told us that they did so for reasons which had absolutely nothing to do with him taking photographs of his daughter. They had a very specific concern, which I am not in a position to discuss publicly, that they felt the need to report. It was because of this very specific concern that security staff became involved. They were right to raise their concern and we are glad that they did so.

The security staff were the ones who asked for police involvement. Again, this was not because Mr White said he had been photographing his daughter, but was due to the concerns that they themselves had regarding this particular incident.

When our officers became involved they did not confiscate any items, nor was Mr White questioned under counter terrorist legislation. It is wrong to suggest that the police spoke to Mr White because he claimed he had been photographing his daughter, or that officers made any reference to counter terror legislation. Mr. White knows, or ought to know, why our officers spoke with him.

Since Mr White chose to publish his version of events on Facebook, we have seen substantial traditional media and social media activity around the story. People have been very quick to offer their opinions on this issue and were very keen to accept Mr White's story as the only evidence that was available. Clearly this was not the case.

Social media allowed this story to spread quickly around the world. I hope that the same media allows this part of the tale to move just as quickly.

For the avoidance of any doubt, we have fully investigated this incident and we can say that none of the independent and objective evidence presented to us by either the members of the public or the CCTV backs up the claims made by Mr White.

Comment: Miserable Britain

Perhaps indeed there may indeed be question marks over this case.

But I think the police have missed the point, if they think the widespread sympathy with White's campaign is just down to this one incident, then they are clearly wrong.

Public protest has kicked off because of a long history of police and security staff taking it on themselves to ban public photography for trivial reasons taken out of all perspective. Not to mention the general officious and repressive climate in Britain, where jumped up officials take it on themselves to try and micro manage people's day to day behaviour to match some politically correct dystopia.

If the authorities are worried by public responses such as this, perhaps they should look to the wider issues of the authoritarian political correctness that is making Britain truely miserable.

 

11th October   

Update: ParentPort...

UK government to solve all society's ills with internet blocking and a website for parental complaints
Link Here  full story: Reg Bailey Report...Mothers Union boss pens governement report

parentport logo The government has set up a website for parents, guardians and carers to either complain about something they see as inappropriate for children, or else just to pass on their opinions.

The parentport.org.uk website points out that it is only for parents, guardians and carers, so it will inevitably be one sided ,and now doubt pander to those who shout loudest about the easiest offence.

Complaints to ParentPort will be allocated to the appropriate censors who are taking part, namely:

  • ASA
  • ATVOD
  • BBC Trust
  • BBFC
  • Ofcom
  • Press Complaints Commission
  • VSC

David Cameron in a press release said:

Parents will be able to report products, television programmes or other services which promote images of a sexual or risque nature to young children to a new whistleblowing website

The move also comes as the four big ISPs reveal that they will in future offer customers an active choice, at the point of purchase, of blocking adult content.  Subscribers to BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin who do not opt in will have no access to internet porn. There is no mention of the specifications of what will be blocked yet.

Advertising near schools will also be more restricted. Billboards which show sexy images will be banned from close proximity to schools.

There will also be attempt to stop brand ambassadors with ministers saying that they are determined to try and halt the way social media can get to young impressionable children. Apparently some big companies, in the wake of crackdowns on traditional advertising of certain products to children, have turned to paying children small sums to promote sugary soft drinks and other products through social networking sites and playground chat.

And if this is not enough, as it surely won't be,  Cameron is expected to warn that he is prepared to act if companies do not do more to halt the sexualisation of children.

 

7th October   

Offsite: Crossing the Privacy Line...

Warning that Facebook's new Time Line feature will let other people see the embarrassing sites that we have been visiting
Link Here

Facebook logo Imagine my surprise to see a couple of porn sites this morning using Facebook Connect.

So how are we going to manage our privacy when we hit porn sites. Are we ready to see what your particular taste is in the industry that cannot be mentioned or promoted on social media?

So exactly how is Facebook going to let us screen our timeline before we really get going and dive deeper into the things that we really do not want our friends and neighbors to know about.

...Read the full article

Visits to any site that has Facebook features such as 'like buttons' will be recorded on your own page unless you take positive action to turn it off, somewhere in the complex labyrinth of Facebook options.

 

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