29 Jan 2015
28 Jan 2015
The film follows the story of programming prodigy and information activist Aaron Swartz. From Swartz's help in the development of the basic internet protocol RSS to his co-founding of Reddit, his fingerprints are all over the internet. But it was Swartz's groundbreaking work in social justice and political organizing combined with his aggressive approach to information access that ensnared him in a two-year legal nightmare. It was a battle that ended with the taking of his own life at the age of 26. Aaron's story touched a nerve with people far beyond the online communities in which he was a celebrity. This film is a personal story about what we lose when we are tone deaf about technology and its relationship to our civil liberties.
25 Jan 2015
At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Google guru Eric Schmidt gave an answer regarding the evolution of the web. “I will answer very simply that the internet will disappear,” Schmidt said on Thursday.
“There will be so many IP addresses, … so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it, it will be part of your presence all the time,” he explained. “Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room. A highly personalized, highly interactive and very, very interesting world emerges,” Schmidt concluded.
24 Jan 2015
Tony Blair wrote to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to thank him for the “excellent cooperation” between the two countries’ counter-terrorism agencies following a period during which the UK and Libya worked together to arrange for Libyan dissidents to be kidnapped and flown to Tripoli, along with their families.
The letter, written in 2007, followed a period in which the dictator’s intelligence officers were permitted to operate in the UK, approaching and intimidating Libyan refugees in an attempt to persuade them to work as informants for both countries’ agencies.
Addressed “Dear Mu’ammar” and signed “Best wishes yours ever, Tony”, the letter was among hundreds of pages of documents recovered from Libyan government offices following the 2011 revolution and pieced together by a team of London lawyers.
The lawyers are bringing damages claims on behalf of a dozen Gaddafi opponents who were targeted by the two countries’ agencies during the covert cooperation. The claimants were variously detained and allegedly mistreated in Saudi Arabia, rendered from Mali to Libya, or detained and subjected to control orders in the UK.
23 Jan 2015
British politicians fuelling rumours about Leon Brittan's involvement in a Westminster cover up of child abuse were this morning ordered to come clean about what they know or 'shut up'. Former Cabinet colleague John Gummer, now Lord Deben, said MPs were 'making innuendos and insinuations in order to make themselves look as if they know something when they don't'. He said it was 'wicked' to make allegations without any evidence.
The Tory peer's outburst comes after campaigning MP Simon Danczuk said Lord Brittan's death was a 'sad day' for the victims of child abuse who wanted to question the former home secretary about the missing 'Dickens dossier' of paedophile allegations handed to him in the 1980s. Lord Brittan, whose death from cancer aged 75 was announced yesterday, passed away before he could be questioned about a ‘bombshell’ missing document at a public inquiry into Establishment child sex abuse. Mr Danczuk said his death made it 'much harder for the truth to come out'.
As controversy rages over American Sniper, many supporters of the movie have suggested that it's apolitical and shouldn't be construed as supportive of war or bigotry; that it's merely a character study of a tortured soldier. The problem with that analysis is that the film isn't focused on a group of soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, or the difficulties with being reacquainted with civilian life, or the inadequacies of the Veterans Administration.
The movie is about Chris Kyle, a remorseless sniper who said his job was “fun” and wished he could return to Iraq to fight even more, and who made millions of dollars and gained worldwide fame writing about his exploits. If anything, Kyle is the absolute worst soldier one could pick to talk about soldiers coming home and our need to take care of them. The way he wrote and talked about his time in Iraq, one would think the war was the best thing that ever happened to him.
Critics of American Sniper's portrayal of Chris Kyle have received a torrent of death threats, even calls for decapitation, and the film has spawned an outpouring of anti-Muslim bigotry on social media.
21 Jan 2015
New research exposes companies behind Europe's multi-million Euro image-laundering business.
A report released today by research and campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) sheds light on how dictators and repressive regimes are paying European PR firms and lobbyists to push their agenda and mask their dire human rights records.
“Spin doctors to the autocrats: how European PR firms whitewash repressive regimes” lifts the lid on the murky world of spin carried out on behalf of some of the world's most brutal regimes. CEO is calling on EU institutions to urgently establish a mandatory lobbying register as a step towards bringing some much needed transparency to the sector. Transparency rules should include a specific clarification that lobbying for non-EU governments and states is required to be reported.
"Everybody, give it to me huh
Hey Hey Hey
I want you to believe every word I say
I want you to believe every thing I do
I said music is what I've got to give
and I've got to find some way to make it
Music is what I've got baby
I want you to come on and shake it
shake it shake it baby
oh yeah hey
na na na...
oh yeah..na na na
18 Jan 2015
The second round of public flogging of a blogger convicted of "insulting" the Saudi state has been postponed, because his wounds from the first round have not healed. Amnesty International said blogger Raif Badawi was taken to a prison clinic in the morning for a check-up and the doctor found that "he would not be able to withstand another round of lashes at this time." According to the group, the doctor recommended Badawi's flogging be postponed for a week.
Badawi's first public flogging took place last Friday before dozens of people in the Red Sea city of Jiddah. The-father-of-three was taken to a public square, his feet and hands bound, and whipped 50 times on his back before being taken back to prison.
Badawi was sentenced in May to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for criticising Saudi Arabia's powerful clerics and ridiculing the country's morality police on a liberal blog he founded. The Jiddah Criminal Court also ordered he pay a fine of 1 million Saudi riyals - roughly £180,000. The lashes are to be administered over 20 weekly sessions, with 50 lashes each week.
17 Jan 2015
In the wake of this week’s terrorist attacks in Paris, which began with the killing of 12 people at the offices of satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, the interior ministers of 12 EU countries have called for a limited increase in internet censorship.
The interior ministers of France, Germany, Latvia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden and the U.K. said in a statement (PDF) that, while the internet must remain “in scrupulous observance of fundamental freedoms, a forum for free expression, in full respect of the law,” ISPs need to help “create the conditions of a swift reporting of material that aims to incite hatred and terror and the condition of its removing, where appropriate/possible.”
This sounds similar to recent agreements in the U.K. whereby ISPs use filters to stop citizens seeing “extremist” online content, though it’s hard to tell without more details. There seems to be no coordinated push for more internet surveillance just yet, although there is a drive for better intelligence sharing between EU countries.
It seems, to say the least, an awkward reaction to what was in part a free-speech-related attack — the left-wing Charlie Hebdo has itself frequently been accused of hate speech for its portrayal of Muslims and others. On that front, a German newspaper that reprinted blasphemous Charlie Hebdo cartoons of Mohammed in the wake of the attack was firebombed in the early hours of Sunday morning, with no injuries. Others that did the same remain under police guard.
15 Jan 2015
14 Jan 2015
13 Jan 2015
The historic march across Paris included over 40 world leaders expressing solidarity for France after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, but if you read this Haredi newspaper, you’d believe that none of them were women.
The image that ran on the front page of the Israeli newspaper The Announcer edited two female world leaders out of the image, originally provided by wire service GPO: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. A third woman in a blue scarf who we can’t identify was also photoshopped out.