Friday, August 28, 2015

House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages...

Disgraced MPs who cheated on their expenses, a multimillionaire Tory donor, a group of back-room political fixers and an alcohol industry lobbyist have been ennobled by David Cameron, sparking renewed calls for root-and-branch reform of the House of Lords.

The 26 new Tory peers, along with 11 new Liberal Democrats and eight new Labour Lords, will take the membership of the Upper House to more than 800 – making it the second-largest legislative assembly in the world after the National People’s Congress of China.

The new members will cost the taxpayer up to £13,500 a day in expenses when the Lords is sitting. Of the 45 new peers, over 90 per cent were previously MPs, MEPs, councillors, former political staff or party figures.

Among the largest group are ex-MPs – 24 in total – almost half of whom had to repay, between them, some £55,000 in overpaid or unjustified expenses. They include Douglas Hogg who indirectly billed the taxpayer for the cost of cleaning his moat and tuning his piano at his country house. Full story...

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Embattled Malaysian PM Najib drops speech to global anti-corruption gathering...

For Najib Razak, the Malaysian prime minister beset by controversy over nearly £450 million paid into his personal bank account, the timing of a global anti-corruption conference in Kuala Lumpur next week could not be more awkward.

The embattled leader has now quietly cancelled his scheduled speech to 2,000 delegates on the opening day of the International Anti-Corruption Conference that his country is hosting.

The summit, which is organised by the Transparency International, the world’s leading anti-corruption organisation, is held every two years in different locations.

By chance, it will open in Kuala Lumpur as Mr Najib’s government is engulfed in allegations of corruption and financial impropriety surrounding 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a scandal-plagued state investment fund.

 The prime minister has strenuously denied any wrongdoing connected to the payments into his bank account or to 1MDB, which that has amassed debts of £7 billion since he founded it in 2009. Full story...

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Malaysia blocks protesters' website on eve of mass rally...

Malaysian authorities have blocked access to the website of a civil society group that called for massive anti-government demonstrations this weekend, while a domestic news portal said the military could intervene if the protests get out of hand.

Pro-democracy group Bersih is demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Najib Razak over allegations of graft and financial mismanagement at debt-laden state fund 1MDB and a multi-million-dollar donation made into his personal account.

Bersih's webpage, www.bersih.org, was not accessible in Malaysia on Friday, a day after the government said it would block sites that spread information and encourage people to join the two-day rally in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, and two other cities.

Kuala Lumpur authorities have rejected Bersih's application for a permit to protest, setting the stage for a possible showdown with security forces. Police used water cannon and tear gas to disperse protesters at Bersih's last big rally in 2012. Full story...

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

India: Girl tracks down her molester and beats him in public...

Jesus was married? Brainiacs back ancient manuscript...

A mysterious ancient manuscript called the Gospel of Jesus’ wife, which suggests Christ could have been married, might possibly be authentic according to a new research.

A team of scientists from Columbia University tested the ink used to write the manuscript to refute last year’s claims by German scientist Christian Askeland that the artifact was a fake.

Askeland, a research associate with the Institute for Septuagint and Biblical Research in Wuppertal, Germany, said he found that another ancient manuscript with abstracts from the Gospel of John was a forgery, as radiocarbon dating showed the manuscript was written 1200 years ago in a rare Lycopolitan dialect of the Coptic language that had been extinct for three centuries.

He pointed out the similarities between the Gospel of John papyrus and the manuscript of the Gospel of Jesus’ wife, which in his opinion proved both were fake.

“The two Coptic fragments clearly shared the same ink, writing implement and scribal hand. The same artisan had created both essentially at the same time,” said Askeland as cited by Live Science. Full story...

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This is Bollywood's take on rugby and it's hilarious...

Ever tried to explain rugby to someone who’s never heard of it?

Well, on the basis of this film, parts of the world do not have an entirely accurate picture of the sport.

Related: This 50-year-old broke the press-ups world record 'to prove the Welsh are physically superior'

In fact, tell an Indian that you’re a rugby fan and he may well consider you to be some sort of crazed blood-thirsty masochist!

Highlights from the hit Bollywood feature Sye have gone viral after a social media user rediscovered the footage and posted it on YouTube. More  + video...

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California home school interest surges as parents look to sidestep vaccine law...

With the passage of a new law this summer mandating vaccines for schoolkids in California, home school advocates and organizations say they are seeing surging interest in off-campus education options that would exempt them from the requirement.

“The word on the streets is that, yes, people are coming to home schooling,” said Sarah Ford, membership director for Sonoma County Homeschoolers Nonprofit in northern California.

The controversial mandate, co-authored by state Senator Richard Pan, a pediatrician backed by the California Medical Association, requires any student in public or private school to have 10 vaccinations as an attendance requirement, with some exceptions for medical conditions.

En route to passage, the proposal sparked scathing controversy on both sides of the issue, with opponents (wearing red to symbolize children who have been harmed by vaccines and often with their own kids in tow) regularly flooding hearings at the state capitol to protest.

Pan even received death threats over the measure, and in the wake of its passage is facing both a recall effort and a statewide referendum to repeal the law. But barring any repeal, the law will go into effect at the start of the next school year. Full story...

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'If the internet goes down, half the planet will come to a standstill': why 'preppers' will be the last ones standing...

These days the world is a scary place to live in.

If there's not an asteroid on its way to obliterate us or terrorists plotting our imminent downfall, there's the dangers of giant online data hacks or complete economic collapse.

But when the end does arrive, there are a few people who aren't just able to cope with the apocalypse - they've been actively preparing for it.

These people call themselves 'preppers' or 'survivalists' and they belong to a vast underground community. When the ATMs stop running or the internet goes down, they'll be the ones that make it out alive.

"Its a huge community, especially in the States. But in the UK it's becoming more and more recognised," explained Steve Hart, the man behind the UK's top prepping website: ukpreppersguide.co.uk. Full story...

Captured, sold, raped: ISIS turns thousands of Christian women and children into sex slaves...

Hardik Patel: Face of Gujarat caste protests...

Two months ago, no-one outside Gujarat had heard his name, but today Hardik Patel is making headlines across India.

With his controversial demand that the Patels - or the Patidar caste - be given better access to jobs and education through the quota system, he has acquired millions of supporters in a very short span of time.

On Tuesday, at least 300,000 supporters walked miles to get to the sprawling GMDC ground in the centre of the city to hear him talk about the "injustices heaped on Patels".

In his hour-long speech, he invoked India's independence heroes Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, took a dig at Mr Modi and berated Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel.

"It's a fight for our rights. If they grant our demand, we will accept it with humility, but if we don't get our right, we will snatch it by force," he said. Full story...

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Berlin imam 'hypnotized and groped' woman...

A young woman from Berlin told a court on Tuesday that an Imam hypnotized her as a form of marriage counselling, but then proceeded to sexually molest her when he thought she had lost consciousness.

Driver Dounya (33) and her husband Abdul, a bus driver 15 years her senior, were having marital problems, so Abdul decided to enlist the help of Abdelkader D., the Imam at their local mosque, reports BZ.

"My ex-husband brought him back after Friday prayers," Dounya told the district court in Berlin, adding that he promised to save their relationship through a form of "hypnotic ritual."

"It was like a type of marital counselling," she said, adding that the Imam told her husband he believed she had been cursed.

 He then instructed the couple to lie down on their bed while he read out the same three words from the Koran thus putting them into a of trance, she went on. Full story...

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Muslims not doing 'enough' to fight Islamic State: Jordan's Queen Rania...

Queen Rania of Jordan said today that moderate Muslims were not doing enough to fight against IS jihadists and their "diabolical ideology."

Speaking at a major French business gathering in Jouy-en-Josas near Paris, the 44-year-old said helping the Middle East's youth was crucial in the fight against the extremist group, which controls swathes of Iraq and Syria on Jordan's doorstep.

"We are facing a time of great peril. Daesh, or the so-called Islamic State, continues to spread its diabolical ideology," she said.

"Moderate Muslims the world over are not doing enough to win the ideological struggle at the heart of this battle.

"We're not actively helping Daesh, but we're not actively stopping them either. We can't stand against them until we as Muslims agree on what we stand for." Full story...

Mystery as rare saiga antelopes drop dead in their thousands...

The world population of saiga antelope has halved in less than two weeks after 140,000 animals perished on the Kazakhstan steppes without any obvious cause.

Shocked conservationists found entire herds dead or dying with saiga littered over the vast open grasslands, mostly mothers or newborn calves.

Any young animals that escaped the mass mortality are now unlikely to survive.

Saiga, with their strange elephant like probosces used to filter dust, have already been all but wiped off the map by poachers keen to cash in on their valuable horns which sell at £2 a gram on the Far East medicine markets.

The horns are powdered down and used to make a cooling drink said to bring down fevers. Full story...

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India just turned off mobile internet for 63 million citizens amid protests in Ahmedabad...

Mobile internet services have been blocked in the Indian state of Gujarat (home to nearly 63 million people), following violent protests led by the Patel community after one of its leaders was detained by local police in Ahmedabad.

22-year-old politician Hardik Patel, the convener of the Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti, led a rally to demand Other Backward Class (OBC) status for members of the Patidar community, in order to level the playing field in the competition for enrollment at universities and jobs in government organizations.

After he was detained on Tuesday, Patel sent out messages via WhatsApp urging citizens to maintain peace:

I make an appeal to maintain peace and keep calm. I give a call for Gujarat bandh tomorrow (Wednesday). This decision has been taken by Patidar Anamat Andolan Samiti considering widespread violence in the state.

Patel’s supporters have been using WhatsApp extensively to broadcast videos and make media announcements. Full story...

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

How to age gracefully...

Video: Dogs treated better than Palestinian Bedouins in Israel...

“In the Naqab (Negev), dogs can check into a very fancy animal hotel while in the nearby Arab Bedouin village of Atir Umm al-Hiran, people are not so privileged.”

This animation contrasts the luxury dogs can enjoy at the Goldog pet hotel with the deprivation in the adjacent Bedouin village that is slated for demolition by Israeli authorities.

At the hotel, dogs get 12 square meters (130 square feet) of space each and custom meals. There is also a pet cemetery where animals are given individual grave sites and memorials.

The video was produced by 7amleh (pronounced “hamleh” – Arabic for “campaign”) as part the ongoing #‎Save_UmAlHiran campaign by Palestinian civil society groups to halt the destruction of the village. Full story...

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The anonymity impossibility: stats, surveys and figures...

Is it actually possible to be completely anonymous online? I wasn’t sure, so I asked an expert. He said, “well you could use a web-based proxy, connect to a proxy server or VPS, and then use a VPN service like Private Internet Access to TOR into another service and then VPN into another ISP. Then, setup an Amazon cloud server with a prepaid credit card that you purchased with cash. Secure Shell (SSH) to the cloud server, and tunnel all traffic from your computer through the Amazon VPN. But that is still no guarantee you’ll remain anonymous.”

Sounds complicated huh? And even then, it’s not a surefire way to remain anonymous. Someone with the right brains and resources could still probably find some information to link back to you. So why do it?

Well, it turns out that the availability of information online has actually harmed quite a few people. 21% of people have reported that their email/social networking accounts have been compromised before. 11% of people have reported that vital information like their Social Security Number, credit card number, or bank account information has been stolen. Full story...

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New breed of Indian tourists stray away from herd...

It’s a hot summer’s day in Bern and the train station is a hive of activity. Rajat Khanna, a middle-aged Indian tourist, is busy consulting the train departure board. He is on his way back to his hotel in the mountain resort of Engelberg after an impromptu visit to the Swiss capital with his wife and son.

“We've opted for an eight-day Swiss rail pass that we're using to the maximum,” Khanna told swissinfo.ch. “Bern was not on our itinerary but we decided to make the most of our travel pass.”

Khanna is among an increasing number of Indian tourists who’ve chosen to visit Switzerland on their own instead of opting for an organised package tour. Swiss rail pass vendor Swiss Travel Systems AG, saw its Indian revenues increase by almost 50% in the first semester of 2015 compared to the same period last year. Rail pass sales are often used an indicator of independent traveller traffic.

“The fact is that group tour operators use coaches to transport their clients and will keep cost down as much as possible which eliminates the likelihood that many of these tickets are used by groups,” Claudio Zemp, the Mumbai-based India director of Switzerland Tourism told swissinfo.ch. Full story...

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Filipino in Singapore who made ‘xenophobic, inflammatory’ remarks convicted under Sedition Act...

Philippine national Ello Ed Mundsel Bello, 28, who made disparaging remarks about Singaporeans on Facebook earlier this year, pleaded guilty to three charges on Wednesday (Aug 26).

He was convicted on one count under the Sedition Act, for promoting feelings of ill-will and hostility, and on two counts of providing false information to police. An additional charge under the Sedition Act, and another for lying to police, will be taken into consideration during sentencing.

In his Facebook post, Bello called Singaporeans "loosers (sic) in their own country". "We take their jobs, their future, their women, and soon, we will evict all SG loosers out of their own country", Bello added, saying that Singapore would be the "new Filipino state".

The Filipino also stated that he would be "praying that disastors (sic) strike Singapore and more Singaporeans will die". He will "celebrate" if this happens, he said.

He ended his Facebook post with the declaration: "REMEMBER PINOY BETTER AND STRONGER THAN STINKAPOREANS." Full story...

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UK surveillance “worse than 1984,” says new UN privacy chief...

The newly appointed UN special rapporteur on privacy, Joseph Cannataci, has called the UK's oversight of surveillance "a rather bad joke at its citizens’ expense," and said that the situation regarding privacy is "worse" than anything George Orwell imagined in his novel 1984. Speaking to The Guardian, Cannataci said: "at least Winston [a character in Orwell's 1984] was able to go out in the countryside and go under a tree and expect there wouldn’t be any screen, as it was called. Whereas today there are many parts of the English countryside where there are more cameras than George Orwell could ever have imagined. So the situation in some cases is far worse already."

Cannataci is also concerned about the routine surveillance carried out by Internet companies as a key part of their business model. "They just went out and created a model where people’s data has become the new currency," he said. "And unfortunately, the vast bulk of people sign their rights away without knowing or thinking too much about it."

The mandate of the new post of UN special rapporteur on privacy is broad. Cannataci, who is a professor of law at the University of Malta, and uses neither Facebook nor Twitter, is empowered to review government policies on digital surveillance and the collection of personal data, and to identify activities that harm privacy protection without any compelling justification. He can also give his views on how the private sector should be addressing its human rights responsibilities in this field. Full story...

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Europe or die: People smuggling in Sicily...

Black Magic: Satanists rule the world, not politicians, bankers or military heads...

Black magic is the force that rules the world, so it is the Satanic black magicians which constitute the true controllers of the world – at least in the human Earthly realm. The Satanic black magicians pull the strings, not politicians, corporate bosses, military heads, intelligence chiefs or even international bankers – although they also hold many of those roles. The NWO (New World Order) elite fulfill a hidden role and an outer, more respectable public role. While many Satanic black magicians are also businessmen and bankers, their true ruling power comes from Satanism and the twisted use of humanity’s creative power (black magic), which they then use in their secular roles in society.

Remember the saying of the Chinese sage Lao-Tzu, who said that “symbols rule the world, not rules or laws”? Symbols communicate at a deeper level than words, because they are decoded by the right, intuitive brain, whereas words are decoded by the left, logical brain. Symbols are able to penetrate more deeply into our subconscious, which is why the elite are so obsessed with their occult corporate and governmental logos of red crosses, rising suns, all-seeing eyes, pyramids, 666, the rings of Saturn and inverted pentagrams (check out the work of Freeman who has done a great job exposing this). Words attempt to rule the world, but they can never be as powerful as symbols. Full story...

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Saudi Arabia executes 'a person every two days' as rate of beheadings soars under King Salman...

Saudi Arabia has executed at least 175 people in the past year, at a rate of one every two days, according to a report by Amnesty International.

The kingdom killed 102 convicted criminals in the first six months of 2015 alone, putting it on course to beat its 1995 record number for the calendar year of 192. Those killed included children under the age of 18 at the time of the offence, and disabled people.

Amnesty, which alongside the AFP news agency keeps a record of the number of people the Saudi government kills, said the execution rate suddenly surged in August last year and continued to rise under the new King Salman from January.

According to a new 44-page report released by the charity today, at least 2,208 people have been executed in Saudi Arabia since January 1985. Full story...

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German woman starts living on a train – because she's fed-up paying rent...

When others get off the train to finally go home, Leonie Müller stays behind. That's because she already is home. The train is her apartment, and she says she likes it that way.

The German college student gave up her apartment in spring. "It all started with a dispute I had with my landlord," Müller told The Washington Post via e-mail. "I instantly decided I didn't want to live there anymore — and then I realized: Actually, I didn't want to live anywhere anymore."

Instead, she bought a subscription that allows her to board every train in the country for free. Now, Müller washes her hair in the train bathroom and writes her college papers while traveling at a speed of up to 190 mph. She says that she enjoys the liberty she has experienced since she gave up her apartment. "I really feel at home on trains, and can visit so many more friends and cities. It's like being on vacation all the time," Müller said.

The 23-year-old's unusual housing choice has gained her media attention in Germany and appeared on national news sites such as Spiegel Online. "I read, I write, I look out of the window and I meet nice people all the time. There's always something to do on trains," Müller told German TV station SWR in an interview. Since risking the move, Müller's life fits into a small backpack in which she carries clothes, her tablet computer, college documents and a sanitary bag. Full story...

No, you don't have to drink eight glasses of water a day...

If there is one health myth that will not die, it is this: You should drink eight glasses of water a day.

It’s just not true. There is no science behind it.

And yet every summer we are inundated with news media reports warning that dehydration is dangerous and also ubiquitous.

These reports work up a fear that otherwise healthy adults and children are walking around dehydrated, even that dehydration has reached epidemic proportions.

Let’s put these claims under scrutiny. Full story...

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'Thousands' of political heavyweights hold Swiss accounts...

Thousands of so-called "politically exposed persons", or PEPs -- a category that includes heads of state and other top officials -- hold Swiss bank accounts, a Swiss foreign ministry official said Monday.

Swiss authorities estimate that "there are thousands of PEPs (with accounts) in Switzerland, not hundreds," Valentin Zellweger, who heads the ministry's Directorate of International Law, told reporters.

Switzerland has repeatedly been embarrassed by revelations, splashed across front pages worldwide, of global political heavyweights hiding funds -- sometimes embezzled from public coffers -- in the Alpine nation's famous banks.

But the country has not taken such scandals sitting down: it has been freezing suspicious assets for a quarter century. Full story...

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Katherine Albrecht: Windows 10 is full blown electronic tyranny...

Norwegian prisoner hacks TV system so he can share porn, secretly chat to friends...

An inmate at Norway's Halden prison managed to hack the facility's TV system so he could share pornographic films and secret messages with his fellow prisoners. It comes as the country's inmates face potential restrictions on adult entertainment.

Following the hack, inmates could use their TV sets to chat to each other and share files without the prison guards knowing.

However, prison authorities became suspicious after noticing a spike in data traffic on the system, Jan Stromnes from Halden prison told Norway's VG newspaper, according to The Local.

"We reacted when we noticed unusually high data traffic and that inmates were having more than the normal trouble with their TVs. In addition, we found a handwritten note with a log-in on an inmate during a search,” Stromnes said.

The prisoner has been transferred to another facility, and officials at Halden are considering reporting the incident to the police. Full story...

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How five unmarried mothers were buried in an unmarked mass grave alongside 796 babies who went missing at Irish nuns' Mother and Baby home of horrors...

The bodies of five women who died at a home for unmarried mothers are believed to be buried in an unmarked mass grave with nearly 800 missing children, according to new research.

The single mothers, aged between 24 and 42, were inmates in the controversial Tuam institution run by the Bon Secours nuns in County Galway, Ireland, from 1925 to 1961.

The home made headlines around the world in June 2014 when the Irish Mail on Sunday revealed that no burial records existed for 796 children who died there – and prompted the establishment of a Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby homes.

Reports show that the children suffered malnutrition and neglect, which caused the deaths of many, while others died of measles, convulsions, TB, gastroenteritis and pneumonia.

Evidence gathered by local historian Catherine Corless strongly suggests the babies were buried in a mass grave behind the property.  Full story....

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Report: Swiss are freest people in Europe...

Switzerland is the second freest country in the world, and enjoys the most freedoms of any European country, according to a new report.

The annual Human Freedom Index (HFI), published by US think tank the Cato Institute, presents the state of human freedom, defined as “the absence of coercive constraint”.

Covering 152 countries and based on data from 2012, the most recent available, the HFI is “the most comprehensive freedom index so far created for a globally meaningful set of countries”, according to Cato.

The index ranks countries on a scale of one to 10 in 76 indicators of personal, civil and economic freedom.

 Topics covered include rule of law, religion, expression, freedom to trade internationally, business regulation and legal system. Full story...

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Ashley Madison hack: Cop commits suicide after he's exposed as member of infidelity website...

Two members of the cheating website Ashley Madison have taken their own lives after hackers published their details, police said today.

Officers in Canada confirmed they have been informed the men killed themselves following the security breach which saw the the details of 37 million members published online.

The names of the two victims have not been released but the news comes as a Texas police captain whose email address appears on the client list is thought to have taken his own life.

Captain Michael Gorhum, who had served for 25 years with the San Antonio Police Department, killed himself last week, it was confirmed today. Full story...

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Cat Lady Dance...

The seedy underbelly of revenge porn...

Three lakh 'Likes' aren't easy to come by. But Geeta isn't gloating. She's livid, and waiting for the day a video-sharing site will take down the popular clip of her having sex with her vengeful ex-husband. "Every other day somebody calls or messages to say they've seen me," says Geeta.

She is not alone. Two weeks ago, law student Shrutanjaya Bhardwaj Whatsapped women he knew asking if any of them had come across cases of online sexual harassment. In a few hours, his phone was filled with tales of harassment by ex-boyfriends and strangers. Instances ranged from strangers publishing morphed photographs on Facebook, to ex-husbands and boyfriends circulating intimate photos and videos on porn sites. Of the 40 responses, around 25 were cases of abuse by former partners. "I have heard friends talking about the problem, but never realized it was this bad," says Bhardwaj.

 These days, revenge is best served online - it travels faster and has potential for greater damage. But despite the widespread nature of the crime, many targets hesitate to complain for fear of being shamed and blamed. "A 15-year-old girl is going to worry about how her parents will react if she talks about it," says Chinmayi Arun, research director, Centre for Communication Governance at Delhi National Law University. There is also fear of harassment by the police, says Rohini Lakshane, researcher, Centre for Internet and Society. Worst of all is the waiting. "Even if a police complaint is filed, it takes ages to find out who shot it, who uploaded it and where it is circulated. Such content is mirrored across many sites," she says. Full story...

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Ashley Madison hack sends shivers through hook-up, porn sites...

Larry Flynt, a defender of free speech and sexual freedom if there ever was one, has this advice for anyone worried by the hack of infidelity site Ashley Madison: Muzzle yourself.

"Don't do or say anything you wouldn't want to read about on the front page of the New York Times," said the founder of Hustler magazine and owner of businesses that sell sexually explicit videos online.

It might be too late for many people who, lured by a supposed cloak of digital anonymity, have shared their innermost wishes, fetishes and fantasies on hook-up and porn sites. And those companies know that their digital troves of secrets are exactly what make them a target for emboldened hackers.

In exposing the Ashley Madison accounts of as many as 37 million users, hackers released a cache of potentially embarrassing and damaging data. The dump contained email addresses for U.S. government officials, UK civil servants, and workers at European and North American corporations, taking already deep-seated fears about Internet security and data protection to a new level. Full story...

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Global stocks tumble further amid doubts about China and emerging economies...

Global markets continued to plunge on Monday, with stocks across Asia sliding sharply in early trading.

Investors’ concerns over China’s slowdown and a souring view of once-favored emerging economies have rattled financial markets around the world in recent days, and showed no signs of letting up on Monday.

The selling accelerated in China’s stock markets, which have slumped in recent weeks despite extraordinary government intervention to prop up prices. The main Shanghai share index was more than 8 percent lower by late morning, erasing its gains so far this year. In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index was down nearly 5 percent.

The gloom was shared across the region. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 stock average was more than 3 percent lower by late morning, while Australia’s main index was down almost 4 percent at midday.

Most Asian currencies fell against the dollar, including the Malaysian ringgit, which plunged about 2 percent in morning trading. The yen, considered a regional haven currency, rose against the dollar for the fourth day in a row. Full story...

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Train gunman 'dumbfounded' by terrorist tag, says was hungry...

A gunman who attacked passengers on a high-speed train in France two days ago is "dumbfounded" at having been taken for an Islamist militant and says he only intended to rob people on board because he was hungry, his lawyer said on Sunday.

As details emerged of the gunman's early adult life in Spain, lawyer Sophie David said her client -- now in detention near Paris -- also looked ill and malnourished.

French and Spanish sources close to the case have identified him as a 26-year-old Moroccan named Ayoub el Khazzani who was known to European authorities as a suspected Islamist militant.

"(I saw) somebody who was very sick, somebody very weakened physically, as if he suffered from malnutrition, very, very thin and very haggard," David told BFMTV.

"He is dumbfounded by the terrorist motives attributed to his action," she added. Full story...

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Sunday, August 23, 2015

Simon's cat wants that last slice of pizza...

‘Let’s roll’ part deux: American (military) tourists thwart ‘random ISIS attack’ in Paris

Everyone loves a good story, especially one with a happy ending – and in the US, if that happy ending has a military flavor too – then it makes for an even better story. On closer examination however, this latest random ‘terror’ incident in Paris appears somewhat scripted.

This past Friday, at 5:45 p.m. on a TGV ‘bullet’ train during the height of commuter rush hour in the town of Oignies near the historic town of Arras, a “Moroccan man” was said to be carrying an AK-47. As if by magic (indeed, magic seems to play a central role in all Daily Shooter events), two plain clothed US serviceman and their ‘childhood friend’ on a European vacation, where hot on the scene – and sprung into action to thwart a potential deadly terrorist attack.

Both President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron have already weighed-in to shower praise of the heroic actions of these three US men and another British citizen involved.

The lone gunman was then quickly subdued by Airman First Class Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, a specialist in the National Guard from Oregon, Anthony Sadler (no military affiliations or government affiliations mentioned) and “British” passenger Chris Norman.

The same script seems to have been circulated to all US media outlets. The New York Times report has particularly colorful, made-for-TV account of the dramatic moment: Full story...

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White House in Chilcot 'cover-up': America bans crucial files that could reveal secret of why Blair invaded Iraq...

Dozens of documents which could finally reveal the truth about Tony Blair’s reasons for invading Iraq have been suppressed by the White House after a year-long fight for their release by The Mail on Sunday.

A cache of more than 80 files detailing discussions between Mr Blair and George W Bush in the run-up to the 2003 war have been found by the US Government – but classified on the grounds of ‘national security’.

The move has infuriated relatives of British servicemen killed in the conflict.

One grieving father, already angered by the failure of Sir John Chilcot to publish his report into the Iraq War more than six years after starting his inquiry, said the Americans should lift the ‘veil of secrecy’ to expose how ‘we were led to war based on lies and deceit’.

Last night, a Chilcot Inquiry source refused to confirm or deny whether Sir John had studied the newly classified US documents, except to say his report ‘only covered the UK Government’s involvement’. Full story...

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Jimmy Savile report 'tears the BBC apart': Victims' fury as findings are secretly handed to Corporation bosses...

The findings of the Jimmy Savile inquiry are secretly circulating among BBC bosses – but have yet to be shown to victims.

Sources say the long-delayed independent report ‘tears the BBC apart’ and is ‘much worse than expected’. In particular, it is said to show that abuse on the Corporation’s premises was far more widespread than previously feared during the period Savile worked there.

BBC chiefs are also braced for severe criticism over its failure to act on rumours of Savile’s behaviour towards children and young people.

Publication of the report has been postponed several times, most recently at the request of the Metropolitan Police, owing to ‘on-going’ sexual abuse investigations.

The £5million inquiry, led by Dame Janet Smith, was set up in 2012 and was completed in May, but there is still no indication of when its findings will be made public. Last night one MP likened the delay to the Iraq inquiry, led by Sir John Chilcot, which has dragged on for six years. Full story...

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Why you must dump Microsoft now...

I’ve written about dumping Microsoft before – and I stand by those comments – but the newest outrage from Redmond forces me to it again. I don’t care how “inconvenient” you think it may be, you have to stop enriching Microsoft. NOW.

Yes, I have serious issues with Apple too, but at least Wozniak and Jobs started out as real hackers. Gates was a political monopolist, and it still shows.

As of August 1, 2015 (that is, a few days ago), Microsoft announced a new privacy policy and a new services agreement. In the words of one network professional, “Basically, they redefined their operating system to be spyware.”

The European Digital Rights organization examined these new policies in depth and concluded this:

Summing up these 45 pages, one can say that Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say, and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties. The company appears to be granting itself the right to share your data either with your consent “or as necessary.”

If you’d like to verify anything, you can find the privacy statement here and the services agreement here. Full story...

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Send in the clowns...

(...)

I didn’t watch any of the recent Republican primary debate. I saw clips, read bits and pieces. With every exposure, I was struck by the entertainment value.

I don’t mean the level of conversation – stupidity dominates all political conversation in the US; this is true for all candidates on that stage just as it will be true for all candidates when the Democrats take the stage.

I mean entertainment value. These debates always offer something of entertainment, but this one seemed different. No doubt, Donald Trump on stage had much to do with this. Something like “you’re fired” and political theatre find that they are the last two left at the bar at 2 AM, if you get my meaning. Perhaps we witnessed the product of this liaise?

 Cheering – it reminded me of the staged show that is the NFL draft (apologies to my non-US readers and to those readers with better things to do with their time than take note of another virtually meaningless exercise meant for distracting the masses). Entertainment of a certain type. Full story...

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Kurdish & Yazidi women fighting ISIS...