Farangland News

2014: Jan-March

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Outrage Light...

Having fun with beer from the Austrian town of Fucking

Link Here21st November 2014
A beer, which its creators claim is named after the town of Fucking in Austria has created a little 'outrage' after its promotional ad appeared on the website of the right-wing Austrian Freedom Party.

The beer in question is a light beer, so because the German word for light is hell , the beer has been named accordingly.

In 2010 the Trade Marks and Designs Registration Office of the European Union said that it had thrown out a complaint after people brought it to their attention that the trademarked name Fucking Hell was upsetting, accusatory and derogatory, reported the Austrian Times. The release from the office concluded:

The word combination claimed contains no semantic indication that could refer to a certain person or group of persons. Nor does it incite a particular act. It cannot even be understood as an instruction that the reader should go to hell.



An Advertising Boob...

Moscow road accidents reportedly blamed on advertising stunt

Link Here18th October 2014
An advertising campaign featuring  a woman's partially visible breasts has been blamed for more than 500 traffic accidents in one day.

The massive adverts placed on the side of 30 trucks driving around Moscow showed a woman's breasts cupped in her hands with the slogan They Attract on a banner obscuring the nipples.

The adverts were intended to show the powerful potential of advertising on the side of trucks.

But as the trucks trundled around the streets of the Russian capital, they reportedly left a trail of carnage as male drivers became so distracted they ploughed straight into each other. A total of 517 accidents were reported.

The police then sent out patrols to round up all the vehicles and impound them until the images could be removed.

Furious drivers across Moscow have now reportedly bombarded the agency with compensation claims.

A spokesman for the Sarafan Advertising Agency, which organised the promotion said:

We are planning to bring a new advertising format onto the market, encouraging companies to place their ads on the sides of trucks. We wanted to draw attention to this new format with this campaign.

In all cases of accidents, the car owners will receive compensation costs from us that aren't covered by their insurance.



Travel Insurance Invalid for Pattaya?...

Travel insurers trying to avoid paying claims when claimant has had a couple of drinks

Link Here6th October 2014

Holidaymakers who have an accident or fall ill while on holiday risk having their travel insurance claim turned down if they have had just two alcoholic drinks.

The Financial Ombudsman Service, which adjudicates on consumer complaints, has warned that insurers are increasingly accusing customers of alcohol abuse in order to wriggle out of paying claims.

It has disclosed the details of cases to highlight the issue. In one, the insurer insisted that a customer suffered from alcoholism even when medical evidence showed that they had consumed no more than two alcoholic drinks.

The ombudsman has reported a rise in complaints over insurers using alcohol consumption as an excuse to avoid paying. A spokesman said:

We see cases where insurers have jumped to conclusions about what had happened -- for example, because of someone's age or the particular resort they were in.

In one case a woman on holiday in Croatia needed stitches after bumping her head on her bedside table. Her claim for medical costs was rejected because she was over the UK drink drive limit, roughly equivalent to two glasses of wine. The ombudsman said the excessive alcohol restriction in her policy was unclear and ordered the insurer to pay with interest added.

James Daly of campaigning website Fairer Finance said insurers were increasingly adding clauses that void the policy, some even on consumption of a moderate amount of alcohol.



Offsite Article: The innocent have nothing to fear...

Link Here6th October 2014
More and more, we're spying on our other halves Not using tech to track your partner? Increasingly, you'll find yourself in a minority

See article from telegraph.co.uk



Cycling Strip...

Unfortunately coloured sports strip censored by the BBC

Link Here15th September 2014
There is an amusing news story doing the rounds that the Colombian women's cycling team have been showing an unfortunately coloured strip. The flesh coloured midsection gives an illusion of nakedness.

However there is of course a possibility that this was an ingenious publicity stunt to thrust the ladies into the cycling world limelight. But either way, there certainly was no actual nudity.

But of course that did not stop BBC censors getting out their black pencil.



BBC Plays Catch-Up...

BBC assumes everyone abroad using a VPN or a proxy is using it to work around UK-only restrictions on iPlayer

Link Here9th September 2014
In a submission to the Australian Government on the issue of online piracy, BBC Worldwide indicates that ISPs should be obliged to monitor their customers' activities. Service providers should become suspicious that customers could be pirating if they use VPN-style services and consume a lot of bandwidth, the BBC says.

Shows like Top Gear have done extremely well overseas and the trend of exploiting other shows in multiple territories is set to continue. As a result the BBC is now getting involved in the copyright debates of other countries, notably Australia, where it operates four subscription channels.

Following submissions from Hollywood interests and local ISPs, BBC Worldwide has now presented its own to the Federal Government. Its text shows that the corporation wants new anti-piracy measures to go further than ever before.

The BBC wants content owners and ISPs to share the responsibility to reduce and eliminate online copyright infringement. Educating consumers on both the impact of piracy and where content can be obtained legally online would be supported by improved availability of official offerings. At the moment the vast majority of BBC programmes are never made officially available to people abroad, so it is hardly surprising that Brits abroad find less official ways to use iPlayer. 

The BBC spoke of the scale of people trying to watch the new series of Dr Who in Australia:

Despite the BBC dedicating considerable resources to taking down and blocking access to these Doctor Who materials, there were almost 13,000 download attempts of these materials from Australian IP addresses in the period between their unauthorized access and the expiration of the usual catch-up windows, the BBC write.

In common with all rightsholder submissions so far, the BBC wants to put pressure on ISPs to deal with their errant subscribers via a graduated response scheme of educational messages backed up by punitive measures for the most persistent of infringers.

But the BBC goes further than any other rightsholder submission thus far in suggesting that ISPs should not only forward notices, but also spy on their customers' Internet usage habits. The BBC wrote:

Since the evolution of peer-to-peer software protocols to incorporate decentralized architectures, which has allowed users to download content from numerous host computers, the detection and prosecution of copyright violations has become a complex task. This situation is further amplified by the adoption of virtual private networks (VPNs) and proxy servers by some users, allowing them to circumvent geo-blocking technologies and further evade detection.

It is reasonable for ISPs to be placed under an obligation to identify user behavior that is 'suspicious' and indicative of a user engaging in conduct that infringes copyright. Such behavior may include the illegitimate use by Internet users of IP obfuscation tools in combination with high download volumes.



Updated: Forked Tongue Wagging...

Whingeing at lesbian lizard kiss on Dr Who

Link Here31st August 2014
UK TV censor Ofcom has received six complaints following a lesbian kiss on Doctor Who, reports Gay Star News.

The complaints came after a scene in which Madame Vastra helps to keep her wife Jenny alive in response to a threat from droids that only move when they can sense breath.

A few worthless tweets were also dredged up.

Update: Ofcom will not investigate the whinges

28th August 2014. From strangethingsarehappening.com. Thanks to Nick

A spokesman for TV censor Ofcom has now responded to the complaints:

Ofcom can confirm it received six complaints about a kiss broadcast in an episode of Doctor Who on Saturday 23 August.

Having assessed the complaints, we can confirm that they do not raise issues warranting further investigation. Our rules do not discriminate between scenes involving opposite sex and same sex couples.

Update: Censored in Asia

31st August 2014. See  article from  dailymail.co.uk

The BBC cut a lesbian kiss scene from Doctor Who to avoid offending audiences (and TV censors) when it was screened in Asia.

The feature-length edition was broadcast to viewers in Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore last Monday. BBC insiders say the scene, which lasted just a couple of seconds, was cut to avoid falling foul of a broadcasting code in Singapore which says programmes should avoid any content that could justify homosexual and lesbian lifestyles.

George Dixon, BBC Worldwide's global editorial director, said:

When preparing shows for international transmission, we occasionally have to make edits to ensure we're not breaking any local broadcasting rules.

Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was not impressed. He said:

The BBC should not bow to censorship demands from other countries. If these countries are bigoted and are not willing to show same-sex love, they have no right to demand that the BBC conforms to their standards of prejudice.



What Could Possibly Go Wrong?...

Government proposes to connect up state databases to facilitate the analysis of people's worth and behaviour

Link Here4th August 2014
Details of the financial history, qualifications and property wealth of millions of Britons could be shared across Whitehall for the first time without their consent, the Telegraph has disclosed.

Information including voters' driving licences, criminal records, energy use and even whether they use a bus pass could be shared under a radical blueprint to link up thousands of state databases used by schools, councils, police and civil servants.

The proposals are likely to ignite privacy concerns when officials are granted unprecedented access to citizens' private data.

Ministers claim the ability to aggregate and mine citizens' data under a new legal framework will allow them to better monitor economic growth and population movements, identify troubled families and elderly people in need of support, and cut fraud. They want to use sophisticated customer analysis techniques developed by retailers such as Amazon and Tesco.

The proposals are contained in a discussion document produced by the Cabinet Office Data Sharing Policy Team in April. The proposals, drawn up by Francis Maude, will be contained in a White Paper published in the Autumn. It may feature draft legislation for introduction after the 2015 election, according to sources.

Under the most wide-ranging option being considered, private data could be shared by all bodies providing public services - permitting private companies to receive unprecedented amounts of citizens' data.



Update: Arse Liquor spews forth from the bowels of the UK drinks censor...

Portman Groups whinges at the edgy brand names used by Direct Beers

Link Here 22nd July 2014

Ten products produced by independent brewer Direct Beers Ltd have been found to breach the Portman Group's Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks.

The Independent Complaints Panel ruled that Cat Piss, Dog Piss, Bullshit, Dandelion & Birdshit, Big Cock, Arse Liquor, Puke, Shitfaced, Yellow Snow and Knobhead , all beers, breached the provisions of the Code.

All of the products were found to contravene Paragraph 3.2(h) of the Code, which states that drinks, packaging or promotional material should not have particular appeal to under-18s.

In addition, Puke, Shiitfaced and Knobhead were deemed to encourage illegal, irresponsible, or immoderate consumption (contrary to Paragraph 3.2f). Big Cock and Knobhead were found in breach for suggesting an association with sexual activity (contrary to Paragraph 3.2d); whilst Shitfaced and Yellow Snow were found in breach for suggesting an association with bravado, violence, aggression, or anti-social behaviour (contrary to Paragraph 3.2b).

Complaints to the Panel regarding Direct Beers' Grumpy Git and Lazy Sod products, however, were not upheld.

All of the complaints about Direct Beers were submitted by the Public Health Team at Newcastle City Council.

Direct Beers asserted that none of its products were intended to appeal to under-18s, and explained that the vast majority of its drinks were sold in person at retail events, where it operated a Challenge 25 policy.

The Panel was concerned, however, that frequent references to scatological humour, defecation, urination, genitalia, vomiting and other bodily functions could prove particularly attractive to under-18s. It also noted that this appeal was exacerbated by the cartoon illustrations shown on a number of the products.

Henry Ashworth, Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, said:

It is vitally important that alcohol producers ensure that their drinks do not in any way appeal to children, encourage violence, anti-social behaviour or immoderate drinking, or make references to sexual activity. There is a place for humour in alcohol marketing, as the Panel's decisions on Grumpy Git and Lazy Sod show -- but it is important to know where to draw the line."

Direct Beers has not yet confirmed whether it will make any amendments to its products.



French Justice Earns Bad Review...

Restaurant reviewer ordered to pay damages for bad review that was highly ranked in Google

Link Here21st July 2014
A French judge has ludicrously ruled against a blogger because her scathing restaurant review was too prominent in Google search results. The judge ordered that the post's title be amended and told the blogger Caroline Doudet to pay damages.

The restaurant owners claimed the article's prominence was unfairly hurting their business. Doudet was sued by the owner of Il Giardino restaurant in the Aquitaine region of southwestern France after she wrote a blogpost entitled the place to avoid in Cap-Ferret: Il Giardino .

In her article, which has now been deleted, she complained of poor service and what she said was a poor attitude on the part of the owner during a visit in August 2013. According to court documents, the review appeared fourth in the results of a Google search for the restaurant. The judge decided that the blog's title should be changed, so that the phrase: the place to avoid was less prominent in the results.

Doudet said the decision made it a crime to be highly ranked on search engines:

This decision creates a new crime of 'being too highly ranked [on a search engine]', or of having too great an influence'.

What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people.

The judge ordered Doudet to amend the title of the blog and to pay 1,500 to the restaurant.



Update: Unfriendly WiFi...

Highly censored public WiFi sources are now kindly identifying themselves as such, so you can look elsewhere

Link Here18th July 2014
The Registered Digital Institute (RDI), has launched what if misleadingly calls Friendly WiFi , which aims to indicate that WiFi source is highly censored and is suitable for kids. The highly censored internet feed inevitably going way beyond porn sites will be denoted with the logo shown right.

The official blurb reads:

Friendly Wifi - Public WiFi Licensing Scheme

Last summer the Prime Minister; David Cameron announced that a commitment had been made with the UK's main WiFi Providers that their standard public WiFi offering will automatically filter the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation) list and block pornography, by the end of August 2013.

These filters mean that whoever accesses public WiFi is blocked from getting on certain websites, these websites will always remain blocked and filtering will also include a number of pornographic and child abuse sites.Filtering work is now compete and the idea of a Friendly WiFi logo and scheme were developed to promote the good work that has already been carried out to protect public WiFi users online.

Retailers, restaurants, hoteliers, transport companies and any other businesses offering public WiFi can now sign up to the new scheme and can display the Friendly WiFi logo to show their customers that the WiFi provided by them is filtered and safe for children and young people to use. 'Friendly WiFi Logo'

The Friendly WiFi logo is available to any UK business providing public WiFi, who are committed to supporting the need for safeguarding online content. The Friendly WiFi logo will be displayed by each business signed up to the Friendly WiFi scheme and will appear on their landing page as you sign into WiFi.

Wherever this logo is displayed on site or online, parents and young people can be assured that, the company displaying the logo has the correct filters in place and their business broadband service meets the commitment made by the WiFi providers.



Fly Air New Zealand...

Sexy aircraft safety video dropped after complaints from miserablists

Link Here9th July 2014
Air New Zealand's sexy safety video featuring bikini-clad models is off the air -- but the national carrier says it was nothing to do with public pressure.

The Sports Illustrated 50th anniversary in-flight safety demonstration, set in the Cook Islands, was released in February.

It inevitably met with a miserable response from PC extremists. An online petition demanding the safety video be removed was started by a Melbourne woman recently and has attracted more than 5600 signatures. The petitioner claimed the video made women uncomfortable, including staff members.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson said the safety videos are scheduled, the Sport Illustrated video had reached the end of its run and was gradually being phased out of the aircrafts it was used on. It was not prompted by public pressure, she said.



Offsite Article: Yellow fever fetish...

Link Here2nd July 2014
Why do so many white men want to date a Chinese woman? Chinese writer Yuan Ren lifts the lid on so-called yellow fever: a well-peddled myth that Asian women make better sexual lovers than other women.

See article from telegraph.co.uk



A new dawn for dancing...

Japan moves to end its miserable ban on late night dancing

Link Here26th June 2014
Japan's government is considering allowing late-night dancing in public establishments, potentially ending police raids that have blighted nightclubs across the country.

Dancing at public venues is technically illegal in Japan and is only permitted until midnight in clubs with a special licence, a vestige of morality laws passed in 1948.

The police has renewed enforcement of the law in recent years and raids invoking the law have spread to other cities, with police breaking up parties and closing some clubs. No dancing signs have even become a common sight at many venues.

However, a public backlash against the law has spurred debate in parliament. Of course government interest in relaxing the laws is nothing to do with making life more enjoyable for the people, its more that big businesses are looking to cash in on an increase in tourism ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Committee secretary general Tsukasa Akimoto, of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, told AFP:

This law is unnecessary. Why should dancing be illegal? Obviously the Olympics are a factor. It's realistic to expect the law to be changed by the end of this year. I think politicians and authorities are feeling pressure as they don't want Japan to be seen as a boring place by foreign tourists,

Takahiro Saito, a Tokyo-based lawyer who has spearheaded a movement against the law called Let's Dance, organised a petition which was signed by 150,000 people. This prompted a group of nonpartisan lawmakers to urge reassessment of the law and in April the Osaka District Court exonerated a club owner charged for violating the dance ban, setting a legal precedent.

This week the prime minister will submit for government approval a deregulation bill which proposes removing the anti-dancing clause.



Offsite Article: NHS rejects returning expats...

Link Here7th June 2014
British expats are warned that will soon lose the right to health care back in the home country

See article from telegraph.co.uk



An end to renewing passports by post...

UK government introduces a massively inconvenient process for renewing passports in Thailand

Link Here31st May 2014

Letter to British community: Changes to British passport services in Thailand

Her Majestys Passport Office is making important changes to the way it delivers British passports overseas.

The goal is to ensure that all British nationals living overseas receive a consistent, trusted, secure and efficient service whilst keeping the costs as low as possible. In order to do that, on 10 December 2013, responsibility for handling passport applications in Thailand passed from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to Her Majestys Passport Office.

Following on from this, from 26 March 2014, British nationals in Thailand will submit passport applications, in person by appointment only, to the UK Visa Application Centre. All the information needed to complete the passport application process, including address and contact details for the UK Visa Application Centre, will be available on GOV.UK at www.gov.uk/overseas-passports

I know that this change will seem inconvenient, but the new measures being put in place support the wider public protection, helping to ensure that the risks of fraud and identity theft are minimised for those living and working overseas.

If you need to travel urgently but your passport is not available, you should still contact the nearest Consular Assistance team at the British Embassy Bangkok. In certain circumstances Consular staff may be able to issue an Emergency Travel Document but this is not a substitute for a full UK passport. So the best course of action is to apply as early as possible, and to make sure that you follow the new guidelines.




Automatic speeding and parking fine devices set to be mandated for all cars

Link Here21st May 2014

Drivers will within 10 years face inflated insurance premiums  or be forced off the road unless they allow their driving to be monitored at all times by spying technology.

A number of major insurers are launching hi-tech products this year that will monitor driving data such as the number of journeys, time of day the car is used and behaviour such as speed and braking.

Despite concerns about privacy and data protection, speakers at an insurance industry conference last week said such technology, known as telematics , would become opt-out, rather than opt-in for motorists.

Tom Ellis of Gocompare, the insurance comparison website, told The Telegraph:

In 10 years' time there will still be customers who prefer not to have a telematics device installed, [but] it will be an opt-out situation, rather than an opt-in.

There will be reasons for people opting out -- perhaps because they are bad drivers, or unhappy with the privacy element, or have an old car. But they will have to accept a higher premium to insure their car.

The technology will soon be fitted in new cars as standard. Under EU regulations, all new cars will need black box-style technology, known as eCall, from October 2015, supposedly to help emergency services find crashed vehicles.

The prospect has prompted serious concerns about drivers' rights to privacy. Emma Carr of Big Brother Watch said:

Forcing drivers to have a telematics device installed in their car, which is capable of recording and transmitting exactly where and when they are driving, is totally unacceptable.

There is a clear risk that once the telematics device is installed drivers will lose total control over who has access to their data and how they will use it.



Who Took That Photo?...

Researchers detect signature in photos that tie them back to the camera that took them

Link Here12th May 2014

New technology is now allowing law enforcement agencies to search through collections of images to help track down the identity of photo-taking criminals.

Investigations in the past have shown that a digital photo can be paired with the exact same camera that took it, due to the patterns of Sensor Pattern Noise (SPN) imprinted on the photos by the camera's sensor. Since each pattern is idiosyncratic, this allows law enforcement to fingerprint any photos taken. And once the signature has been identified, the police can track the criminal across the Internet, through social media and anywhere else they've kept photos.

In a research paper entitled On the usage of Sensor Pattern Noise for Picture-to-Identity linking through social network accounts , the team argues that:

Digital imaging devices have gained an important role in everyone's life, due to a continuously decreasing price, and of the growing interest on photo sharing through social networks. Today, everyone continuously leaves visual 'traces' of his/her presence and life on the Internet, that can constitute precious data for forensic investigators.

While the certainty of the technique is currently only just better than chance, but surely this will improve.



Hands Off!...They Belong to Us...

Burma moves to ban buddhist women from marrying non buddhists

Link Here12th May 2014

A planned law intended to stop Buddhist women in Myanmar marrying non-Buddhist men is a disgraceful act that would invite international ridicule and violate women's basic rights, a statement released by 97 civil society organisations said.

The law, proposed initially by Buddhist nationalists and some monks, would force Buddhist women wanting to marry outside their religion to get permission from their parents and local government officials.

Human Rights Watch said a copy of the proposed law it had seen also sets out a 10-year prison sentence and property confiscation for any non-Buddhist who seeks to marry a Buddhist in violation of the law.

No curbs are planned for Buddhist men wishing to marry outside their religion.

The law is expected to be submitted to the president by June 30, media reports say.



Offsite Article: Snooper's Delight...

Link Here4th May 2014
The US government moves forward with plans for an online ID for internet users

See article from motherboard.vice.com



Taxed More For Less...

David Cameron is now considering taxing expat Brits at a significantly higher rates than those in the UK.

Link Here25th March 2014
Many of the five million Britons living and working overseas may have missed the announcement in the Budget last week that personal allowances for non-residents are set to be reviewed.

Every UK taxpayer has a personal allowance, which is the amount of income that can be earned before tax needs to be paid. For the 2014/15 tax year the level is set at £ 10,000 for most people.

However, Chancellor George Osborne said:

To ensure the UK personal allowance remains well targeted, the government intends to consult on whether and how the allowance could be restricted to UK residents and those living overseas who have strong economic connections in the UK, as is the case in many other countries, including most of the EU.

Any expat who derives an income from UK property or a pension, but is not resident in the UK for tax purposes, could be affected. Tax experts believe the personal allowance will still be made available to Britons living in the EU, but other countries could face changes. These include destinations such as the US and Australia which are popular with British expats.

Singapore-based Martin Rimmer, tax manager for the Fry Group, said:

This could detrimentally affect those retirees living abroad who are currently not being taxed on their state pension, as well as the raft of others who receive income from UK sources. But it's too early to say if the allowance will be withdrawn completely.



Chippies Starved Out of Liverpool...

Council moves to ban takeaway food outlets in the town centre

Link Here24th March 2014
Liverpool City Council want to ban takeaway food outlets in the town centre.

Nick Small, Liverpool council's anti-enterprise chief claimed the move was intended to tackle city centre littering. He told the Liverpool Sunday Echo:

We don't want people buying chips, eating them outside and then dropping their litter.

The new rules will apply to city centre businesses with outdoor seating areas and any new business will be forced to serve food on plates with cutlery instead of in a paper bag or polystyrene tray.

The move will mainly affect fast food outlets, chippies, kebab houses and takeaways but the council cannot go back and review businesses that already have a licence.



Ailing Britain...

Expats to be denied free health care in the UK

Link Here17th March 2014

Expatriate Britons have been caught up in a major crackdown on health tourists announced by the Government.

Under new restrictions, people who fly to Britain to exploit the NHS will be denied free care. The ban preventing visitors and failed asylum seekers from milking the system is likely to come into force by this April.

The new rules may lead to all patients being asked for proof of residence, such as a passport or electricity bill. However, pensioners from the UK who live abroad for more than half the year will be denied free treatment. No matter how much they have paid in tax and National Insurance over the years, such expatriates will now have to pay for NHS care back in Britain.

Only treatment for emergencies - such as heart attacks, accidents or sudden illness - will still be free.

The move will hit thousands who have retired to the Spanish costas, France or other countries. Under existing rules, pensioners are only supposed to spend up to three months abroad to qualify for free NHS care. But officials did not vigorously apply this rule.

Under the health tourism clampdown, thousands of expat pensioners will find themselves being quizzed on their eligibility. The Department of Health said it had made one concession - that pensioners who return to the UK to spend their final years will still be eligible for free care. But pensioners who spend more than three months outside the EU - in countries such as Canada, America or Australia - will find they become ineligible.

Overall, the proposed law changes will mean that, unless people from overseas meet strict eligibility criteria, they will be able to receive only emergency care



A Snap Shot of Hungarian Repression...

Photographers required to get the permission of everyone featuring in a photo

Link Here16th March 2014
From 15 March it is against the law in Hungary to take photographs without the permission of everyone in the photograph. According to the justice ministry, people taking pictures should look out for those who are not waving, or who are trying to hide or running out of shot .

Officials say expanding the law on consent to include the taking of photographs, in addition to their publication, merely codifies existing court practice. However, Hungary's photographers call the law vague and obstructive, saying it has left the country of Joseph Pulitzer and photography legend Robert Capa out of step with Europe .

Akos Stiller, a photojournalist at the weekly HVG, the New York Times and Bloomberg, says the new regulation is another unwanted complication for his profession in Hungary. Can we take photos of strangers: say people looking at a shop window? Do we shoot first and ask permission later? he asked.

Marton Magocsi, senior photo editor at news website Origo, said having to ask for permission beforehand is quite unrealistic in any reportage situation . Meanwhile, some judges who have overseen hundreds of such cases are privately saying they have no idea how to rule on cases under the new code.



Offsite Article: Ofcom warning over the spy in your TV...

Link Here7th March 2014
UK TV censor Colette Bowe has warned of the risks posed by 'smart TVs' could be harvesting personal data about programmes watched, or else using the camera for more invasive spying (perhaps for the police and GCHQ)

See article from dailymail.co.uk



Update: Big Brother Caught Watching You Wank...

GCHQ bulk capture of images every 5 minutes during everybody's Yahoo video calls

Link Here1st March 2014
Politicians and human rights groups have reacted angrily to revelations that Britain's spy agency disgracefully intercepted and stored webcam images of millions of people with the aid of its US counterpart.

GCHQ files dating between 2008 and 2010 reveal that a surveillance program codenamed Optic Nerve collected images of Yahoo webcam chats in bulk and saved them to agency databases, regardless of whether individual users were an intelligence target or not.

In one six-month period in 2008, the agency collected webcam images, including substantial quantities of sexually explicit material, from more than 1.8 million Yahoo user accounts globally.

The Optic Nerve documents were provided by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. They show that the programme began as a prototype in 2008 and was still active in 2012.

The Tory MP David Davis said:

We now know that millions of Yahoo account holders were filmed without their knowledge through their webcams, the images of which were subsequently stored by GCHQ and the NSA . This is, frankly, creepy.

The Liberal Democrat MP Julian Huppert said he was:

Absolutely shocked at the revelation. This seems like a very clear invasion of privacy , and I simply can not see what the justification is.

Nick Pickles, the director of the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, said intercepting and taking photographs from millions of people's webcam chats was as creepy as it gets .

We have CCTV on our streets and now we have GCHQ in our homes. It is right that the security services can target people and tap their communications, but they should not be doing it to millions of people. This is an indiscriminate and intimate intrusion on people's privacy.



Old Pants...

Russia is set ban sexy underwear in favour of traditional frumpy cotton pants

Link Here19th February 2014
A trade ban on lacy lingerie has Russian consumers and their neighbours with their knickers in a twist.

The ban will outlaw any underwear containing less than 6% cotton from being imported, made, or sold in Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan. And it has struck a chord in societies where La Perla and Victoria's Secret are panty paradises compared to Soviet-era cotton underwear, which was often about as flattering and shapely as drapery.

On Sunday 30 women protesters in Kazakhstan were arrested and thrown into police vans while wearing lace underwear on their heads and shouting Freedom to panties!

The panty restrictions will go into effect from 1 July. Analysts have estimated that 90% of lingerie products would disappear from shelves if the ban goes into effect this summer as planned.



Finland Wins the Premier League...

Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom League Table 2014

Link Here13th February 2014
The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index 2014 has created a little news around the world.

China seems intent on dropping further down the table by appropriately censoring the press from mentioning the countries rock bottom rating of 175 out of 180.

A directive from the press censors of the State Council Information Office translated as:

All websites are kindly asked to delete the article 180 Countries Ranked in 2013 Press Freedom Index; China at 175th and related content.

While this kind of state-imposed censorship is hardly a new occurrence in ultra-paranoid China, in fact it is a daily occurrence, this particular decree is somewhat ironic given the subject matter of the banned article.

The UK has slipped three places down the league, to 33rd. According to RSF, this was due to the country distinguishing itself by its harassment of The Guardian following its publication of the NSA and GCHQ leaks by the whistleblower Edward Snowden .

That incident, and the White House administration's reaction to the Snowden affair and the jailing of Chelsea Manning over the Wikileaks revelations, also resulted in the United States falling by 13 places to 46th in the list.

Thailand again improved slightly, moving up five positions to 130th place in this year's index, It was ranked 135th last year and 137th in 2012.

1 Finland
2 Netherlands
3 Norway
4 Luxembourg
5 Andorra
6 Liechtenstein
7 Denmark
8 Iceland
9 New Zealand
10 Sweden
11 Estonia
12 Austria
13 Czech Republic
14 Germany
15 Switzerland
16 Ireland
17 Jamaica
18 Canada
19 Poland
20 Slovakia
21 Costa Rica
22 Namibia
23 Belgium
24 Cape Verde
25 Cyprus
26 Uruguay
27 Ghana
28 Australia
29 Belize
30 Portugal
31 Suriname
32 Lithuania
33 United Kingdom
34 Slovenia
35 Spain
36 Antigua and Barbuda
37 Latvia
38 El Salvador
39 France
40 Samoa
41 Botswana
42 South Africa
43 Trinidad and Tobago
44 Papua New Guinea
45 Romania
46 United States
47 Haiti
48 Niger
49 Italy
50 Taiwan
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Offsite Article: Having fun with Indian phone scammers...

Link Here2nd February 2014
When a computer scammer tries to open my windows, porn saves the day

See article from smh.com.au



Extract: Authorities vs Cash...

HSBC bank demands written evidence of reasons for cash withdrawals over 3k

Link Here28th January 2014
Some HSBC customers have been prevented from withdrawing large amounts of cash because they could not provide evidence of why they wanted it, the BBC has learnt.

Listeners have told Radio 4's Money Box they were stopped from withdrawing amounts ranging from ?5,000 to ?10,000.

HSBC admitted it has not informed customers of the change in policy, which was implemented in November.

...Read the full article



Extract: Trendsetting Thailand...

Failing western economies are no longer a model for Asian democracies to aspire to

Link Here27th January 2014

Thailand might just be one symptom of a worldwide phenomenon: a march away from western-style liberal democracy, towards new styles of politics: especially one-party Asian autocracy, with state-directed capitalism.

The reasons are obvious. As a brand, western democracy is damaged. When developing nations look to the democratic West, they see a dwindling and weakened superpower in America. Meanwhile, Europe has economically imploded, and anyway seems determined to abandon national liberties in favour of a feeble, mincing Federation, run, ineffectively, by bankers and bureaucrats.

The contrast with the success of the Chinese/Singaporean model is stark. Autocratic China is still enjoying powerful growth: it will soon surpass America in economic size. Singapore, meanwhile, has gone from equatorial backwater to being maybe the richest city in the world, without ever bothering too much with that annoying, listen-to-the-voters stuff.

So if you were a developing nation -- especially in Asia -- which political model would you choose? The western democratic model of failing France, enervated Britain and shrinking America? Or the Chinese and Singaporean style of politics, which actually delivers the goods?

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