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 2014: Jan-March
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25th March

  Taxed More For Less...

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David Cameron is now considering taxing expat Brits at a significantly higher rates than those in the UK.
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David CameronMany 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 But it's too early to say if the allowance will be withdrawn completely.

 

24th March

  Chippies Starved Out of Liverpool...

Council moves to ban takeaway food outlets in the town centre
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take away fish and chipsLiverpool 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.

 

17th March

  Ailing Britain...

Expats to be denied free health care in the UK
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UK Government armsExpatriate 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

 

16th March

  A Snap Shot of Hungarian Repression...

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

 

7th March

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

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1984 john hurt 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

 

1st March

 Update: Big Brother Caught Watching You Wank...

GCHQ bulk capture of images every 5 minutes during everybody's Yahoo video calls
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watching you wank 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.

 

19th February

  Old Pants...

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

 

13th February

  Finland Wins the Premier League...

Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom League Table 2014
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Reporters without Borders logoThe 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
51 Malta
52 Burkina Faso
53 Comoros
54 Serbia
55 Argentina
56 Republic of Moldova
57 Republic of Korea
58 Chile
59 Japan
60 Mauritania
61 Hong Kong
62 Senegal
63 Tonga
64 Hungary
65 Croatia
66 Bosnia and Herzegovina
67 Guyana
68 Dominican Republic
69 United Republic Of Tanzania
70 Mauritius
71 Nicaragua
72 Sierra Leone
73 Malawi
74 Lesotho
75 Benin
76 Togo
77 Timor-Leste
78 Armenia
79 Mozambique
80 Kosovo
81 Madagascar
82 Republic of the Congo
83 Cyprus North
84 Georgia
85 Albania
86 Guinea-Bissau
87 Panama
88 Mongolia
89 Liberia
90 Kenya
91 Kuwait
92 Bhutan
93 Zambia
94 Bolivia
95 Ecuador
96 Israel
97 Kyrgyzstan
98 Gabon
99 Greece
100 Bulgaria
101 Côte d'Ivoire
102 Guinea
103 Seychelles
104 Peru
105 Paraguay
106 Lebanon
107 Fiji
108 Maldives
109 Central African
110 Uganda
111 Brazil
112 Nigeria
113 Qatar
114 Montenegro
115 Tajikistan
116 Venezuela
117 Brunei Darussalam
118 United Arab Emirates
119 South Sudan
120 Nepal
121 Algeria
122 Mali
123  Macedonia
124 Angola
125 Guatemala
126 Colombia
127 Ukraine
128 Afghanistan
129 Honduras
130 Thailand
131 Cameroon
132 Indonesia
133 Tunisia
134 Oman
135 Zimbabwe
136 Morocco
137 Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
138 Palestine
139 Chad
140 India
141 Jordan
142 Burundi
143 Ethiopia
144 Cambodia
145 Myanmar
146 Bangladesh
147 Malaysia
148 Russian Federation
149 Philippines
150 Singapore
151 Democratic Republic of Congo
152 Mexico
153 Iraq
154 Turkey
155 Gambia
156 Swaziland
157 Belarus
158 Pakistan
159 Egypt
160 Azerbaijan
161 Kazakhstan
162 Rwanda
163 Bahrain
164 Saudi Arabia
165 Sri Lanka
166 Uzbekistan
167 Yemen
168 Equatorial Guinea
169 Djibouti
170 Cuba
171 Lao
172 Sudan
173 Islamic Republic of Iran
174 Vietnam
175 China
176 Somalia
177 Syrian Arab Republic
178 Turkmenistan
179 North Korea
180 Eritrea

 

2nd February

 Offsite Article: Having fun with Indian phone scammers...

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phone scam When a computer scammer tries to open my windows, porn saves the day

See article from smh.com.au

 

28th January

 Extract: Authorities vs Cash...

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

 

27th January

 Extract: Trendsetting Thailand...

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

...Read the full article


Thai Anxiety home page Home Nightlife Index Nightlife News Bars: North Bars: Naklua News: Thailand Thai Life
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Exchange Thai Life Index GoGos: Walking St Soi 7/8 Central Farangland Diary
Reviews Site Index GoGos: South Soi 13s South Adult World Sex Aware
Massage   GoGos: Russian Walking St Jomtien