Saturday 31 March 2012

Pirate Bay Sunk??

The Pirate Bay Founders Will Be Locked Up

Recently the Swedish Supreme Court has announced that it wasn’t really interested in hearing the appeal of the three operators of The Pirate Bay.
In other words, the prison sentences and fines that had been handed out to the four offenders in the case (Peter Sunde, Gottfrid Svartholm, Fredrik Neij, and Carl Lundström) will stand. More than a year ago, the Swedish Court of Appeal decided that the three are guilty of criminal copyright violation offenses, but decreased their prison sentences from the levels ordered at their initial 2009 trial. The Pirate Bay founders were demanded to pay millions of dollars to the music and movie company plaintiffs.

Peter Sunde is sentenced to 8 months in jail, Fredrik Neij received 10 months, and Carl Lundström will get 4 months. All of them were ordered to pay $6.8 million in damages. Meanwhile, a 4th defendant, Gottfrid Svartholm, was absent from the appeal hearings because of medical circumstances. Therefore, he missed the appeal hearing and was sentenced to 1 year in prison.

Lundström's lawyer explained that he was really disappointed that the Supreme Court appeared so uninterested in dissecting and analyzing the legal twists and turns of this high-profile lawsuit. Meanwhile, one of the defendants is going to appeal the case in the European Court of Justice, but experts don’t think this will prevent the sentences from being carried out.

Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that The Pirate Bay operators will be required to spend up to a year in prison. The matter is that the Swedish justice system implies deducting a year from any prison sentence on cases over 5 years old. So, The Pirate Bay case meets that criteria and the offenders could qualify – it’s all up to the court. Ironically enough, The Pirate Bay is still operating, as if it wasn’t a part of the legal proceedings. It turned out that just a few hours after the Supreme Court decision being made public, the online tracker started redirecting to a .se domain, due to the fears of a possible seizure from American authorities.

So, what do we get in the end? The entertainment industry is unlikely to get any money, The Pirate Bay founders are unlikely to be jailed, and the torrent tracker still runs. It looks like no-one is a winner in this case.

Friday 30 March 2012

When’s a Gun Not a Gun?

Police swoop on military gun collector as he drives to his mum's

When passers-by saw the butt of John Smith's German machine gun on the back seat of a vintage car, they were quick to call the police to investigate.

Soon members of an armed response unit had surrounded the 1954 Wolseley Six Eighty, parked on double yellow lines, and were about the smash a window to grab the weapon when they were approached by 56-year-old John Smith.
The car was his, he explained, and when he lifted up a blanket on the back seat, he revealed not only a Steyr MP 34 machine gun, but two pistols and a Wehrmacht uniform.
Smith insisted that, far from posing a danger to the public, all the weapons were harmless — merely props for a Second World War battle enactment in which he was due to take part the next day.
Yesterday, the incident, in Hoyland, South Yorkshire, landed Smith before a judge after he refused to hand over the historic guns to police for destruction and was charged with possessing an imitation firearm in a public place.
After five costly court appearances, the 1940s enthusiast was given back his beloved military artefacts after Judge Michael Murphy said it would be “an act of vandalism” to destroy them.
He told Smith at Sheffield Crown Court: “I am quite satisfied that you are not a criminal and this is part of your hobby. I don’t want historical artefacts to be destroyed and so I am not going to make an order to destroy these things.”
The court heard that Smith, from Barnsley, was taking his German uniform to be washed and pressed at his mother’s home ready for a “living history” display by the Northern World War Two Association when he stopped off at a friend’s flat. The society specialises in staging battle re-enactments for the public using a full range of period weapons and vehicles.
Smith had packed the deactivated 1934 machine-gun and its bayonet, worth £3,000, along with two replica pistols, a Walther PPK and a P38 automatic, and some deactivated rounds of ammunition. The PPK was held together by Sellotape and the P38 only fires blanks.
Neil Coxon, prosecuting, said: “He spent two hours [at his friends’ home] and police were alerted because the gun was on the back seat. An armed response unit turned up and were on the point of putting a window through on the Wolseley when Mr Smith walked out of a flat 50 yards away.”
Mr Coxon said Smith was not prepared for the police to seize the guns and destroy them because they were valuable to him and the police felt they had no option but to press charges.
Smith was due to stand trial but Judge Murphy argued that “common sense” should prevail. The judge said he hoped Smith had learned a “salutary lesson” with the police response, which reflected the times we live in. “What happened in Captain Mainwaring’s time couldn’t happen now,” the judge added.
Smith pleaded guilty but was allowed to keep his guns on condition they are in a locked cabinet at home and locked in his car boot while in transit. He was given a 12-month conditional discharge.

Thursday 29 March 2012

Google Gets A Grilling!

Internet Giants Grilled on Privacy

Google, Facebook and Twitter have faced a grilling from British MPs on a joint committee over their own privacy concerns, with Google proving evasive over its powers to protect sensitive data.
Against a backdrop of growing worries about sensitive information on the Internet, representatives from three online giants squirmed under questioning. British MPs railed at the lack of clarity with using personal data, along with an inability to protect the privacy of public figures. The industry experts suspect that the MPs were more concerned with the latter.

The companies managed to largely fend off questions from the MPs about their business models that base on information from their users to provide data for advertisers. Nevertheless, despite insistence from all of them that they weren’t selling data directly to advertisers, the MPs expressed concerns over growing commercial pressures in the future. They pointed out that personal data being obtained with a commercial edge to it would only likely to increase over time, with personal protections eroding along with increasing commercial pressures.

It’s of no surprise that Google’s lawyers are well-briefed on the concerns of this type and reiterated that its adverts preferences feature was heavily promoted, and could easily be either adjusted or entirely turned off. Actually, all of the companies were sincere in response to questioning – for example, Facebook representative said that their business couldn’t function without trust.

In fact, the MPs gave the representatives a reason to discuss the positives they have brought with promotion of freedom of speech in different countries. Meanwhile, strong doubts still remained over the use of information, with Google being harangued for its intention to further step up its use of personal data with integrated features on its accounts.

Indeed, the company also faced a tough ride from the MPs over its lack of clarity about removing pictures of uniform-loving party boy Max Moseley. Google was repeatedly demanding a straight answer over the possibility that all of the pictures of Moseley’s infamous nocturnal activities could be removed automatically. In addition, the MPs questioned why Google couldn’t delete the data permanently. Google replied that even if it decided to remove something it would still exist on the web itself.

Wednesday 28 March 2012

The Beginning Of The End??

Australia Worried About ISP Censorship

One Australian technologist insists that the Internet will soon be cleaned up with the Internet service providers being forced to censor pirated content, kids porno and malware. And other experts admit this might be the case – it all depends on the position of the broadband providers.
The original financial backer of Skype, Kevin Bermeister, points at the broadband providers starting getting chummy with the entertainment industry in order to protect their own revenues. He believes that technology sold by such giants as Cisco, Juniper and Huawei had developed to the extent where it becomes possible for the ISPs to offer a sort of registry filter able to considerably reduce piracy. And not only illegal file-sharing of copyrighted content – child pornography and malware are on the list as well.
Kevin Bermeister reckons that broadband providers are ready to invest in the technology to censor the web if they could redirect customer requests for pirated material to legal sites and earn a cut of content sales. It might be so because the free web was never much for loyalty, and ISPs do not get a hell of a lot out of it. Along with the world’s biggest copyright owners and media partners, Internet service providers may just have sound reason to love the new world order where the wild days of the web’s early beginnings are reaching their end.

Geoff Lawrie, Cisco New Zealand managing director and ex-Microsoft New Zealand head said in the interview that Kevin Bermeister’s point of view was technically feasible. In our days you can easily find some firewall software able to recognize the nature of the web traffic. In addition, it is also possible to write a filter program capable of making decisions based on that.

Nevertheless, Geoff Lawrie believes that it is only a novel theory, because Internet service providers are “fervently hands-off” and entirely, passionately committed to avoiding putting themselves in a position of liability. In case they create the filters described above, they will soon find themselves in a situation where they can be sued if things go wrong. Undoubtedly, then there would be the small matter of Internet service providers who would make a killing by offering a free web which would make that filter look really bad.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Beer Is Not A Joking Matter!!

Top Totty beer banned from House of Commons bar

A beer called Top Totty has been banned from the Strangers' Bar in the House of Commons because its pump plate, featuring a half-naked woman, offended female MPs.

Shadow equalities minister Kate Green was left ''disturbed'' after seeing the 4 per cent ale's advertising in the popular parliamentary watering hole and demanded bar staff remove it from sale.
Within 90 minutes, House authorities ordered the beer to be withdrawn after Commons' Leader Sir George Young told MPs: ''Action will be taken.''
A barman told the Press Association: ''I can confirm it was withdrawn from sale at 1.30pm.''
The bitter backlash developed after Ms Green told the Commons: ''I was disturbed last night to learn that the guest beer in the Strangers' Bar is called Top Totty and there is a picture of a nearly naked woman on the tap.''
She called for a debate on ''dignity at work in Parliament'' and asked Sir George to back her demands for Top Totty to be ''withdrawn immediately from the bar''.
Top Totty's Stafford-based brewer Slater's describes the ale as ''a stunning blonde beer, full-bodied with a voluptuous hop aroma''.
Its website adds: ''This award winning beer, brewed solely with Whitbread Goldings hops, produces an initial burst of bitterness with a citrus fruity finish.''
Speaking as MPs discussed future Commons business, Sir George said he was ''not aware of this particular picture'' but pledged to raise the issue with House authorities.
He added: ''I am sure appropriate action will be taken.
''I would very much regret it if any offensive pictures were on display in any part of the House.''
Commons Speaker John Bercow's wife Sally, who last year famously posed in just a bed sheet for a photo shoot, took to Twitter to vent her anger at the beer.
She wrote: ''Cannot *believe* that there's a beer called Top Totty on sale in the Commons! Outrageous - does Mr B know?''
The beer's withdrawal will come as a blow to Tory MP Jeremy Lefroy, who organised for Top Totty to be sold in Strangers'.
Announcing its introduction as the bar's guest ale, the Stafford MP said: ''This is a great opportunity to showcase a fantastic and award winning beer.
''Slater's Brewery produces many popular beers which have been brewed locally for more than 15 years and it is great to be able to share some of Staffordshire's finest produce with colleagues in Parliament.''

Monday 26 March 2012

Property Tycoon….With Government Help!

Latvian landlady jailed after claiming £33,000 benefits while owning six properties worth £1.1m

A benefits cheat has been jailed after claiming more than £33,000 in state handouts despite owning a £1.1 million property portfolio.

Latvian landlady Julija Freiberga, 38, fleeced the taxpayer by claiming she was unemployed and owned only one property, despite secretly earning up to £60,000 a year in rent from her six properties.
She was so adept at playing the system that since being caught out by investigators from the Department for Work & Pensions a further four properties, including two in her native country, have come to light.
Yesterday she began a 16-month jail sentence after a judge said she was guilty of “truly audacious dishonesty” in what was “a completely unique case”.
Freiberga, who came to the UK in 1999, claimed income support, jobseekers’ allowance, council tax credit and housing benefit, sometimes using her ex-husband’s surname of Tanusi to beat the system, Blackfriars Crown Court in London was told.
Stephen Hopper, prosecuting, said that when the fraud began in May 2005 she filled in benefits claims saying she had no job and no home, despite owning a house in Shoreditch, East London and having a £38,000-a-year job as a lifeguard.
Over the following four years she fraudulently claimed £33,324 in benefits while secretly expanding her property empire.
During that time she had bought a house in Peterborough, Cambs., for £299,100, another in Lincoln for £131,750, a flat in Ilford, Essex, for £245,895, a flat in Enfield, Middlesex, for £166,950 and two flats in north London for £310,000.
Mr Hopper said: “During that period, she was earning [rental] income in the order of £50,000 to £60,000 a year, and that is according to her own accounts.
“On each and every claim, it was stated that Ms Freiberga was not working.
“The Crown say this was fraudulent from the outset.”
He added that the use of her ex-husband's surname was a “deliberate attempt to disguise the fact that there had been other claims in another name”.
In mitigation Tony Wyatt said Freiberga had become trapped in a “vicious circle” after buying the houses with mortgages that she could not afford to repay.
But Judge Aidan Marron QC said he rejected her defence “in its entirety” after Freiberga, of Holloway, north London, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of making a false statement to obtain benefits.
He told her she was guilty of “systematic dishonesty over a protracted period, during which time you were accumulating a significant property portfolio and generating a significant rental income.
“This is, in my experience, a completely unique case.
“Notwithstanding the very respectable income which you enjoyed, you persisted in your dishonesty, on occasions using an alias to get benefits to which you were not entitled.
“You were affluent compared to other people who engaged in this sort of offence, and this in my judgement is truly audacious dishonesty.”
The court was told that Freiberga was now claiming benefits legitimately, but a search of Land Registry records shows she still owns the six properties.
On July 11, 2010, she even signed an online petition protesting about cuts in benefit payments, saying: “I believe it’s ridiculous to reduce the housing benefit allowances when the rent is not going down.”

Sunday 25 March 2012

A Self-Hiding Car?

Car reunited with owner after 'parking itself' in closed garage

An Australian man who thought his car had been stolen was reunited with the vehicle recently when it emerged that it had actually rolled into a closed garage.

It is thought that the car rolled down an incline, all the way across the street and towards a garage, where it forced itself under the roller doors, which then closed behind it.
The car remained in the garage for 17 days until the house's residents returned from holiday, while its baffled owner reported it as being stolen to the police.
The man was finally reunited with his car, which had only been bought two days before, thanks to some clever detective work by Adelaide police.
'Although the roller door was closed, it had been damaged slightly and pushed out of its tracks,' a police spokesman told Australian reporters.
The police suggested that the man had left the car without moving its automatic transmission into park mode.
'After he walked away, the car rolled through the carpark, across the road, down the driveway and forced itself under the roller door, parking perfectly inside the garage where it remained safely undercover for 17 days,' they added.
Last year it was reported that a man found his lost car three years later, in the carpark where he left it.
The silver Honda occupied the same spot between 2008 and 2011 before a parking attendant was able to reunite it with its owner.

Saturday 24 March 2012

Here….You Take It!!

Robber holds up bank, hands gun to staff

Police are on the hunt for a thief who accidentally handed his gun to bank tellers during an armed robbery.
The mystery man made the gaffe when he held up a Halifax branch in Cheapside, London and demanded £700,000 from a worker.
Authorities say he handed over his weapon to the male cashier instead of a bag, but was able to quickly snatch it back and make his getaway on a staff member's bike.
Police are now offering a £25,000 reward for information about the robbery, which took place last October. They have also released CCTV of the robber before he entered the bank.
"This man is not the sharpest tool in the box," a police source told The Telegraph. "The guess is that he is very inexperienced and panicked when he approached the cashier, handing over his gun instead of a bag by mistake."
However, Detective Inspector Lee Bowen reminded the public that the man - believed to be in his 20s or 30s and described as "white, unshaven and stocky" - had still committed "a serious crime".

Friday 23 March 2012

Coconut Power?

Tongan luger Bruno Banani exposed as a hoax

A promising young luger from the tropical island of Tonga, has been exposed as a marketing fraud by German magazine Der Spiegel.

Reminiscent of film Cool Runnings, Bruno Banani, the son of a Tongan coconut farmer, was destined to slide into the history books as Tonga's first Olympic competitor in the sport.
Banani's triumph would be fulfilling the wishes of Tongan Princess Royal, Salote Mafile'o Pilolevu Tuita, who had always dreamed about a citizen of her country entering the cold weather race.
A German underwear company was helping the 24 year-old fulfil his lifelong ambition with sponsorship due to an odd coincidence – he bore the same name as their brand.
Alas, all was not as it seemed. German magazine Der Spiegel has unmasked the mischievous luger, whose catchphrase was "coconut-powered", as a hoax – his identity being the clever craftsmanship of a marketing company in Leipzig.
Banani is in fact Fuahea Semi, the son of a Tongan cassava farmer, according to the magazine.
Semi, an IT student, was selected at a casting session on the island in 2008. Marketing company Makai then intervened, somehow managing to issue him with a passport in the name of Bruno Banani and entering him into the 2010 Vancouver games. The Tongan crashed out in the qualifier and ended up in hospital with concussion.
However, despite the name swindle, some parts of the story are true: it is the Tongan Princes Royal's dream to have a Tongan competitor in the Luge Winter Olympics.
Mathias Ihle, head of Makai told The Guardian newspaper: "Bruno is about to compete at the luge world championships [held in Altenberg, east Germany, from 6 February] and we are trying to make things as calm as possible around him, especially after the [Spiegel] article."

Thursday 22 March 2012

Pigeon Pie??

Dutch pigeon sold for record £209,000

A Dutch pigeon fancier sold one of his birds for the world record sum of £209,000 during an internet auction.

Pieter Veenstra auctioned 245 pigeons on the Belgian website Pigeon Paradise, or PIPA, for over £1.6 million, including the record-breaking hen, of the Dolce Vita breed.
The buyer, Hu Zhen Yu, is a Chinese shipping magnate, who bought the bird for breeding rather than racing in China, where pigeon fancying is a fast growing sport and big business.
His purchase beat the previous bestselling pigeon, euro Diamond sold for £142,000 in November last year.
The record breaking price fetched by the bird has sparked a furious debate in the world of pigeon racing, a cult sport in Britain, Belgium, Holland and Germany that is not traditionally regarded as a rich man's pursuit.
Ken Ambler, a fancier from Oxenhope in West Yorkshire, said that the sport pigeon racing had been transformed since he took it up 70 years ago with expensive birds now "housed in luxury" compared to "the basic orange box lofts of yesteryear".
"We must not forget pigeon racing is a simple sport to be enjoyed by all who wish to become involved for the right reasons," he said.
Terence Wright, from Enniscorthy in Ireland, said: "Is it so good to see all these top European birds go to China, to see the best stock leave our shores and to know that soon all our best pigeons blood lines will be no longer available to the fanciers of Europe?"

Wednesday 21 March 2012

U.S.A. = No Sense Of Humour!

Two Britons arrested in US over twitter jokes

Two Britons have been barred from entering the US after one joked on twitter he was going to ''dig up Marilyn Monroe'' and ''destroy America''.
Two Britons have been barred from entering the US after one joked on twitter he was going to "dig up Marilyn Monroe".
Leigh Van Bryan, 26, was kept in a cell with Mexican drug dealers for 12 hours when he landed in Los Angeles after he was flagged up as a potential threat for joking on the social networking site that he was going to "destroy America".
In a previous tweet, Leigh - who arrived in the US with friend Emily Bunting - wrote: "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America? (sic)"
And in another message - in which he quoted TV show 'Family Guy' - he wrote: "3 weeks today, we're totally in LA p***ing people off on Hollywood Blvd and diggin' Marilyn Monroe up! (sic)"
Emily told the Daily Mail newspaper: "The officials told us we were not allowed in to the country because of Leigh's tweet. They wanted to know what we were going to do.
"They asked why we wanted to destroy America and we tried to explain it meant to get trashed and party.
"I almost burst out laughing when they asked me if I was going to be Leigh's lookout while he dug up Marilyn Monroe."

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Trust Me…I’m Jewish!

Chicken soup really does make us feel better

While we've always thought it was a myth, it turns out that when ill a bowl of hot chicken soup really can make you feel better.
A recent study of 1,000 UK adults found that chicken soup can have the same positive effect on our wellbeing as taking paracetamol.
More than half of those surveyed (55%) claim to feel better after eating chicken soup and one in ten (9%) said it was better than drugs such as paracetemol.
28% of people even believe chicken soup is at least as effective as over-the-counter medicines.
Incredibly, 7% said that they had sometimes felt “back to normal” after eating it.
Afruj Miah, from GLORIOUS!, said: "In America, they call New York Chicken Noodle Soup ‘penicillin soup’ because so many people believe in its restorative powers.

Monday 19 March 2012

A Real Tree Hugger??

Briton moves to Africa to be like a real-life Tarzan

A British supermarket worker has quit his job as a security guard and moved to Africa to live like a real-life Tarzan.
A British supermarket worker has moved to Africa to live like a real-life Tarzan.

DeWet Du Toit, 24, quit his job as a security guard at a Co-op store in Manchester and made the trip to South Africa to live like the film character after he became obsessed with him while living in Namibia as a youngster.

He said: "People might say I'm crazy, but I know this is what I was born to do. I'm like Tarzan in so many ways.

"My best friend is an elephant called Shaka, and I spend more time with monkeys, zebras and crocodiles than I do with people."

DeWet is now filming his daily life and hoping Hollywood scouts will hire him for a movie.

Saturday 17 March 2012

Dumbing Down!!!!!

Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe controversially rewritten to make it easier to read

His epic novels used to be required reading for generations of schoolchildren.

But the works of the early 19th century author Sir Walter Scott have recently fallen out of favour, considered too ponderous and wordy for the tastes of modern readers.
Now a Scottish academic is hoping to revive the novelist's reputation by abridging Ivanhoe, one of his best known books, to make the work less "tedious" for a public raised on JK Rowling and Dan Brown.
Professor David Purdie has spent 18 months cutting the classic – set in 12th century England – from 179,000 words to a more manageable 80,000.
The chairman of the Sir Walter Scott Club hopes to restore the popularity of a man who virtually invented the historical novel - and in doing so encourage the abridging of his other books.
But his efforts have also led to a backlash from purists upset that such sacred texts could be altered. One former president of the Scott club has demanded that the edited work is not sold under the author's name.
While Prof Purdie has retained the antiquated writing style used by Sir Walter, he has taken out the swathes of punctuation which extend the novel.
He said: "Very few people read Scott these days because he's long and wordy and difficult for the modern ear and modern attention span.
“In the early 19th century, a comma was placed after every phrase, which makes it tedious reading.
"I had this idea that I would have a goat redacting, abridging and adapting."
Sir Walter, from Scotland, was one of the pioneers of the English language novel. He is generally considered the first ever historical novelist and English language writer to gain international fame.
But after his death in 1832, despite grand monuments built to his memory in Edinburgh and Glasgow, his popularity has waned.
By the beginning of the 20th century his books were completely out of fashion, eclipsed by their more "entertaining" former contemporaries such as Jane Austen.
Prof Purdie said that if his new version is successful he could give other Scott books the same treatment.
"I would just like to see Scott back in the shops in a format that might entrance the young reader," he said.
However the move has not met with approval with all the members of the 119-year-old Scott Club.
Prof Purdie said: "Some of the older members say you are toying with the original text. The younger members say its good, if its much more readable than the original I'm for it."
The club secretary Professor Peter Garside, who specialises in Scottish literature, said: "A Scott purist would say that Scott wrote it a certain way, and that's how he intended it to be.
"Something which is a reduction of Scott, and introducing new elements, is producing something which is not Scott himself, but could have a beneficial effect in inspiring new interest and possibly leading people back to the original text."
Professor David Hewit, emeritus professor of Literature at Aberdeen University and a former president of the Scott club, rejected the idea that Scott books were not popular with modern Scottish readers.
"The idea that Scott is neglected, no, it's not neglected at all," he said.
"Ivanhoe is being well read."
He said he would only approve of the new work "provided you don't call it Sir Walter Scott, but Scott via Purdie. Or, after the novel by Sir Walter Scott."
He said that Penguin editions for the book had sold around 100,000 copies in the last decade, with worldwide sales of around 200,000 copies.
Famous fans of Ivanhoe include Tony Blair, who said it he would take it to a desert island with him, and Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh, who praised the gallantry shown in the novel.
Screen versions of the story have starred Rodger Moore and film icon Elizabeth Taylor.

Friday 16 March 2012

MegaUpload Crew To Sue?

MegaUpload Users Will Sue American Government

MegaUpload users who legally stored their information on the cyberlocker are going to sue the government of the United States for theft of their information. Last week, the US Department of Justice switched off servers of the website at the request of the entertainment industry, while cutting off millions of legitimate users from their backed-up data.
It seems that the Department of Justice had been told that MegaUpload was only being used by pirates to distribute unauthorized material and for some reason they forgot that it might actually be used legitimately. Multiple media reports confirm that those users all over the world are now fuming that the government of the United States didn’t warn them to take their content off the website before they closed it down, so they might have a point.

Ironically enough, the legal campaign has been organized by the Pirates of Catalonia, cooperating with Pirate Parties International. They published a message on their website, saying that the widespread damage caused by the sudden shutdown of MegaUpload was really unjustified and entirely disproportionate to the aim intended. The Pirates of Catalonia have created a form where the site users were able to register their complaints. They are going to facilitate submission of complaints against the American authorities in as many countries throughout the globe as possible, in order to ensure a positive and just result.

Thus far, it is unclear what kind of legal action the outfit is able to take. In fact, the only specific statutes the Pirates of Catalonia mentioned were Articles 197 and 198 in the Spanish law responsible for governing the misappropriation of personal information. Today the outfit is claming that it is only investigating the potential breaches of legislation.

On the other hand, there is something that might stop the Pirates of Catalonia from being successful. The matter is that MegaUpload’s terms of service mentioned that users storing personal information on the website did so at their own risk. On the one hand, that might have protected the cyberlocker from being sued, but on the other hand, it could at the same time be used by the Department of Justice to point out that legitimate users should have backed up anyway.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Why MegaUpload???

Why MegaUpload Was Closed Down

Once MegaUpload was seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, there appeared all sorts of theories circulating around the Internet, all trying to explain the reasons of such a drastic move. Meanwhile, most of them are trying to answer the only question: why MegaUpload?
Actually, there is one theory that really makes sense. According to the recent media reports, the cyberlocker’s management was going to introduce a new service, which would shake the world of music industry from its grounds. The service was dubbed MegaBox and was meant to be a cloud-based alternative music shop, which could offer the musicians a better deal than the record labels. Meanwhile, MegaUpload’s founder Kim Dotcom told to the media that the website would soon accommodate musicians to offer them a chance to sell their works directly to consumers, at the same time keeping 90% of the earnings. In other words, in this case record labels lost clients and source of income.

Moreover, the cyberlocker was ready to pay the musicians even if their songs were downloaded for free. MegaUpload claimed that this business model proved to be successful after it has been tested with a million users. Indeed, claims like these might explain very well why the cyberlocker had the support of a lot of great artists before its abysmal fall.

In case this theory is true, which looks very credible, the shutdown of MegaUpload could be just an effort to stop an alternative business model that would have ended the era of record labels. Meanwhile, as everyone knows today, by some people, like those holding the monopoly on the outdated but still working business models, “change” is regarded as a bad word.

Wednesday 14 March 2012

MegaUpload Causes Ripples!!!

Internet Giants Linked to MegaUpload under FBI Scope

There have been a lot of publications released related to MegaUpload lately, but this is normal given that it was actually the fall of a giant, which doesn’t happen very often. Now the reports started to mention names of the other online giants that were connected with the cyberlocker in some way. All of them are now also involved into the FBI investigation.
Indeed, the sudden death of MegaUpload has dragged a lot of names under FBI’s scope, including Kim Dotcom (the founder of the service), MegaUpload’s CEO Swizz Beatz (famous rapper and music producer), and a number of other people from all over the globe: Germany, Finland, Slovakia, and Estonia. But this time, MegaUpload’s indictment involved such online giants as PayPal and Moneybookers, and not only them. It appeared that the FBI was interested in another big name in the gaming section related to the closed service.

According to the indictment, PartyGaming, the Internet gaming giant, had already paid over $3 million to the cyberlocker since 2009. One can read under the section “3rd parties” that PartyGaming PLC is an entity located in the United Kingdom, which has operated service since 2001. The latter accounts for over 3 million visitors every year and remains one of the largest poker rooms on the Internet. The advertising contract of PartyGaming, concluded with the members of Mega Conspiracy, had been initiated in November 2009. This contract has resulted in payments of over $3,000,000 to the Conspiracy and has been still active as recently as March 2011. The same sections mention a couple of another famous money transferring services: Moneybookers and PayPal.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Star Wars?….Not!!

'Jedi' jailed for attacking police with light sabers

A 33-year-old man was jailed for 45 days on Monday for attacking toy store customers and policemen with light sabers.

Armed with one toy weapon in each hand, David Canterbury swung the Star Wars light sabers at three customers in a Toys R Us store in Oregon on December 14 last year.
The would-be Jedi then launched an attack at police officers waiting for him outside the store, successfully deflecting a stun gun dart, according to police at the scene. He was also said to have been mumbling something incoherently.
Police eventually wrestled the man to the ground and made the arrest.
Judge Kenneth Walker handed the man a 45-day jail sentence, after he pleaded no contest to charges of assault and resisting arrest. The man was also submitted for a mental health evaluation.
Judge Walker dismissed charges of theft, disorderly conduct and interfering with a police officer.
Canterbury said he was already seeking mental health treatment for his condition and apologised to his victims.
He has been banned from the toy store.

Monday 12 March 2012

An Irish Jig?

Another SOPA in Ireland

While the European Union is claiming that Stop Online Piracy Act was a bad legislation and nobody needed it, Ireland seems to be not getting the memo.
According to Irish legal experts, the authorities over there are about to bring in a SOPA-style bill that is even vaguer and open-ended. Indeed, it turned out that the Irish law will let record labels order broadband providers to block access to certain online services. However, Sean Sherlock (the Minister of State at the department of Enterprise, Jobs and Innovation) insists that the suggested legislation is completely different to the American Stop Online Piracy Act. Instead, it is only addressing the High Court judgement that had been handed down by Mr Justice Peter Charleton regarding to copyright legislation, according to Sherlock.

Nevertheless, the new “statutory instrument” of the country’s government seems to threaten to do the same things as SOPA. For example, it allows Internet service providers to block online services suspected of having copyrighted content on them.

Worse still, the entertainment industry could also ask a judge to order broadband providers to block services like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook since they are claimed to contain their copyrighted material. Indeed, according to the suggested legislation, all the rights owner has to do is show a judge their material on the website and after that it will be allowed to order the Internet service provider to pull the plug.

Considering the fact that Google and Facebook are in fact Dublin’s largest employers, it might be very embarrassing for the government to see their websites banned in the country. According to the Irish legal expert, part of the Irish problem is that the tool in question being drawn up is quite woolly, so it will undoubtedly take a test case before we can know what the result will be. The expert underlined that politically, it is a no-win scenario. Even with the government being ready to open the legal doors for the copyright holders to start directing access policies of broadband providers, the entertainment industry is frothing and fuming.

Ironically enough, by taking such approach, the authorities can also attract the anger of a growing sector of the technology and digital communities. Indeed, it would be quite unusual to alienate both sides of a legislative argument.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Crazy Claims About Downloading

IFPI’s Piracy Claims Called Ludicrous

IFPI’s (the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) claims over the affects of music piracy have once again been regarded as misleading for the public and policy makers.
The Pirate Party spokesman Andrew Robinson claimed that the IFPI’s report into the digital music sales was not just one-sided, but also very selective of facts, which made it “not just wrong, but even ludicrous”. The music body has published its findings into Internet music sales, and, regardless of seeing good growth in revenues, it kept blaming piracy for hindering further growth.

In fact, digital revenues to the music industry have actually grown by 8% across the globe last year, reaching an estimated $5.2 billion and up from 5% back in 2010. The growth in question was mainly attributed to a growth in presence of subscription-based services like Spotify and Deezer, with the number of countries with the access to the services more than doubling within the last year from 23 to 58.

Anti-piracy legislation like French HADOPI file-sharing law was also lauded for increasing moves to paid services instead of free downloading. Nevertheless, the IFPI still claimed that continuing piracy was hampering the music label’s attempts to monetize its switch from physical sales, with the United States selling more on the Internet than in stores now. The IFPI’s report claimed that piracy was rigging the market for legal services, hampering growth and jeopardizing investment in the creative content.

Pirate Party spokesperson explained that a lot of the claims by the music industry were actually baseless, as well as raised concerns over potential impact on the ACTA treaty that has been negotiated between a number of nations. Indeed, it turned out that the IFPI had no basis to claim such things, since they only had quotes from some unpublished research they have made, from which they picked up figures suiting themselves.

Why this is worrying is because such figures have influence on policy makers when anti-piracy bills are being discussed by the government. It has been seen many times how such reports were used by governments as facts without checking them. Consequently, this type of figures is later used to inform bills like the ACTA treaty where it can be used to provide evidence for arguments against online piracy.

Saturday 10 March 2012

Google Is Googled!

Google Knows Too Much About You

The world’s known search engine Google has never been a champion of personal privacy, but it seems to finally overstep the mark with newly introduced encompassing services.
Google has announced a few days ago that a major shake-up is afoot to a number of its services. Actually, the search engine seems to have switched from a Peeping Tom behavior to something close to full-on stalker. The website claimed it was getting rid of a lot of red tape that will provide seamless service between different facets of its business. Main part of it is relatively harmless: for instance, it would mean that keywords in the search engine might be used to suggest you certain videos when you visit YouTube.

This is not something users should be worrying about. However, taking into account the fact that your Google+ accounts, your location and even your Gmail content will also feed into searches, this may threaten to cross the line from convenient to plain creepy. Actually, the way Google behaves is expected to change quite substantially in March.

The company strongly believes that there are a lot of “cool” things it is able to do by “combining data” across its products. For instance, it might appear useful for you to get a reminder that you are late for some appointment based on your location. However, aside from all this care about the users, it is still a sign of the company’s ever increasing influence that is genuinely concerning. Indeed, taking into account the firm’s alleged abuse of its position with the information-spying debacle and other things, the level of trust Google demands is really phenomenal.

Google seems to combine all your peculiarities, including social life, search habits, and work in attempt to be with you at every moment. Meanwhile, one can notice that there is not much to be done to tackle Google’s changes. Undoubtedly, the main reason for Google to be so keen on delving even further into users’ lives is reaping greater rewards from advertising revenues. The search engine may keep claiming that it doesn’t sell your personal data, but it will benefit from knowing about you for sure.

Industry experts point out that this can appear the start of a backlash against Google. If you consider the way that the search engine has emerged relatively unscathed from serious privacy breaches previously, it might take much for Internet users to shift away. So, taking into account the claustrophobic feeling of the engine’s latest intrusions, public perception could start shifting.

Friday 9 March 2012

Wikileaks Shows The Way Again!

Wikileaks Showed America as a Tool of Entertainment Industry

A leaked cable between the American and the Australian governments has revealed how far the United States is having its foreign policy dictated to it by the entertainment industry.
The Canberra Wikileaks cables revealed that the embassy of the United States had blessed a conspiracy by Hollywood studios to target an Australian communications company iiNet via the local court system. It turned out that the idea was actually to achieve a binding common law precedent that would have made Internet service providers responsible for the illegal file-sharing of their subscribers.

The entertainment industry has selected this country and this ISP carefully. Indeed, if it managed to set a precedent over there, then it would have been influential in all other Commonwealth states. Since Telstra had too many legal resources to see off such a complaint, iiNet ISP appeared to be the perfect candidate.

The cables of the embassy of the United States revealed that the case was originally filed by the Motion Picture Association of America and its international affiliate, known as the Motion Picture Association (MPA). However, neither of them wanted this fact to become widely known. Formally, the case was launched by the local Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft – a consortium of US movie studios with token Australian representation, which started legal action against the selected ISP over three years ago.

The embassy of the United States in Canberra was saying that it would monitor this case, but it finally turned out that the US and MPA and American embassy badly misjudged their target and found the ISP put up the legal fight of their lives. According to the leak, AFACT was routed in every court in the land.

Thursday 8 March 2012

Look Into My Eyes!!

Magician claims mass hypnosis
A magician said he broke a world record Friday night in Montreal after reportedly hypnotizing 422 people at once.
Messmer the magician asked the crowd to keep their feet well-anchored on the floor and to cross their hands in front of them with their index fingers pointed towards the ceiling.
Messmer then asked the crowd gathered at the Bell Centre, the home arena of the Montreal Canadiens, to lift their right hand. About 40 volunteers counted how many people hypnotically listened. Messmer claimed he produced the largest collective hypnosis ever.
Next, the participants were asked to put on imaginary helmets and take a ride in the cockpit of a rocket. There, the hypnotized crowd met “Martians” – who were actually those sitting around them in the stands – and were asked to communicate with “ground control.”
Messmer warned the crowd that his show, called “Fascinateur” (Fascinator) would bring them on a “journey to the depths of their subconscious.”
Aided by his two apprentices, Sinclair and Saint-Pierre, Messmer made his audience do all kinds of silly things.

Some of them fell into his arms, others thought they were being swarmed by bees. Many cried, many others laughed. A few men acted out a Western cowboy film.
At one point in the evening audience members signalled to Messmer that some hypnotized people fell asleep in the stands.
“Let them sleep,” the magician ordered. “There is no danger; they will simply catch up on some rest.”
Audience member Marie-Chantal Brien told QMI Agency after the show that she was surprised at how easily she was hypnotized.
“My heart was hurting at the start of the show,” she said. “One of (Messmer’s) assistants came to see me and said the energy will increase and at the count of three, the pain would stop. It worked!”

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Underground Search Engine!

Search Engine on Dodgy Goods Launched

There’s a new search engine out there that is going to become the Google of underground services. New site has opened its doors to promise the users that they would be able to find punters shops offering a wide range of dodgy goods and services, including stolen credit card numbers, identity data and anonymity instruments.
Although similar search websites already exist, they normally demand visitors to create accounts and sign in to be able to search for stolen credit cards and other unauthorized activities. Meanwhile, is going to let buyers find the fraud shops holding the cards they are searching for without having to create accounts and sign up at each shop. The service is able to aggregate information about compromised payment cards and points users to different fraud shops that sell them.

According to security experts, the creator of the search engine insists that the service itself doesn’t store compromised card numbers or any data about the card holders. What it does instead is work with card stores owners to index the first 6 digits of all compromised account numbers that those offer for sale. Those 6 digits are actually BIN (Bank Identification Number). In other words, they identify which bank issued the certain card. When MegaSearch visitors search by BIN, they are provided links to different fraud stores that are currently selling cards issued by the corresponding bank.

The unnamed search engine founder explained that users spend much time searching through stores, so he believed it would be a great idea to make it easier. The site owner makes his money from a small advertising fee from the shops. As a result, both sides benefit from this cooperation – while stolen card information grows less reliable with time, fraud stores indexed by MegaSearch have a chance to clear their inventory much faster.

The search engine revealed that Citibank credit cards appeared the most sought-after. Also very popular are the cards issued by FIA Card Services, Capital One and Chase. The site owner promised that over the next few weeks they would offer extra services, such as social security numbers and the addresses of hacked computers that paying users would be able to use as a relay to anonymize their Internet communications.

Monday 5 March 2012

Filesharing Ends??

Cyberlockers Gave Up File-Sharing

Following MegaUpload shutdown and arrests that took place last week, Filesonic, one of the largest cyberlocker services on the Internet, has removed the features which made the site that popular among file-sharers. This move was done in order to place the service at a safe distance from Hollywood’s revenge. However, some industry observers believe that taking into account what is going on today, nobody can really be sure that such a distance even exists.
The service that used to feature in the list of top 10 file-sharing websites on the web, with 250 million page views monthly placed today a red banner on the main page, saying that all file-sharing functionality on the service is disabled from now on and the site can only be used to upload and download files users have uploaded personally.

Moreover, Filesonic has also terminated its affiliates rewards program, which means that those users who have uploaded files to the service won’t any longer earn money for other visitors downloading their files. However, as the functionality of downloading itself was removed, the program wouldn’t have functioned anyway. Meanwhile, the uploaders are mainly concerned about the reward money they had already collected in their accounts before this shutdown. Users are not sure if they can even still receive that.

After the FBI arrested the founders of famous MegaUpload service and seized its domain name, all websites enabling files uploading and downloading, as well as their users, have been put on guard. However, what the unsuspecting ordinary online user doesn’t realize is that their fundamental rights are currently in danger, too, as they can be tragically limited. The reason for this is a new wicked anti-piracy legislation that hides behind such terms as “digital theft” and “intellectual property protection” is currently awaiting approval.

This is why a lot of the online giants went as far as to arrange a blackout regarding SOPA and PIPA bills in attempt to educate their visitors about the possible consequences of such laws. Today every other service urges everyone to get informed about the proposed legislation, offering detailed information about oncoming Internet filtering, and recommends taking immediate action in cooperation with the rest of the citizens trying to defend their rights and freedom.

Sunday 4 March 2012

Is This For Real??

WikiLeaks: rights to Julian Assange chat show bought by Russian TV

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has chosen a Kremlin-bankrolled satellite TV channel known for its relentless anti-Western propaganda to broadcast his new talk show.

RT, a Moscow-based channel formerly known as Russia Today, said on Wednesday it had secured exclusive first broadcast rights for Mr Assange’s new 10-part interview show ‘The World Tomorrow.’
“Details of the episodes and the guests featured are secret for now,” RT said in a statement, adding it was proud to be associated with the WikiLeaks founder.
Under house arrest in the UK pending possible extradition to Sweden on sex crime charges he denies, RT said Mr Assange would interview "’iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders’" – people Assange can clearly identify with, being a rather controversial figure himself.”
“The 40-year-old Australian media and internet entrepreneur will get to talk about the issues of the day with those he believes will shape the world tomorrow.
Many are already wondering whether it will be as explosive as the biggest mass disclosure of secret documents in US history, also orchestrated by Assange and his team,” it said.
His choice of RT is apt for a man who has made his name exposing the US military’s mistakes and publishing US State Department communiqués that have opened up Washington’s dealings with the world to sometimes embarrassing scrutiny.
Run by Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, RT mixes slavishly loyal pro-Kremlin propaganda with often wacky anti-US and anti-Western reports that it says show the West is in no position to lecture Russia on human rights or anything else. It has revelled in covering the London Riots and the Occupy Wall Street protests and has carved out a niche for itself giving airtime to a succession of marginal conspiracy theorists, some of whom have questioned the official US version of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon.
The channel has Spanish and Arabic-language services too and is staffed by a number of British expatriates.
WikiLeaks itself has caused the Kremlin embarrassment in the past by publishing a number of US cables that have described Russia and its top politicians in deeply unflattering terms.

Saturday 3 March 2012

Late Books…..Off To Jail With You!

Woman gets 11-day jail sentence for overdue library books
A woman who refused to pay a $235 fine for overdue library books was sentenced to 11 days in a Montreal jail.
A 20-cent-a-day late fee issued in 2007 escalated into an arrest warrant, and the woman was picked up while driving her car on a highway east of Montreal on Tuesday.
The library in the Montreal suburb of Repentigny began tallying the woman's fine after she failed to return five books on Oct.17, 2007. The city sent warnings and an invoice, which it says were ignored.
The municipality obtained a ruling of non-payment against the woman in October 2008.
The city then lost track of the woman, who by 2010 was living in Shawinigan, Que., 90 minutes east of Montreal. A municipal court judge found her guilty in January 2011 and issued an arrest warrant. She was picked up in Shawinigan this week and carted off to a jail in Montreal.
It was there that she coughed up the fine to avoid being locked up.

Friday 2 March 2012

Phew….That’s A Long One!!

Bear shocks onlookers as it unravels massive tongue in Florida zoo

A bear shocked onlookers as it unravelled its massive tongue to yawn while relaxing in a tree at Miami Zoo in Florida.

Kala, a Malayan sun bear, was caught on camera by photographer Adrian Tavano, who spotted the 19-year-old as she woke from a nap and flexed her muscles.
Sun bears usually use their extra long tongue, which can reach up to ten inches, to eat termites hidden deep inside trees.
Mr Tavano, 39, from Miami, said: 'The bear exhibit is very nice and visitors have a clear view of the animals.
'Kala loves to sleep on top of this tree, which was about 20 metres from where I was.
'I think she had just woken up and had a yawn, so she is not licking the tree but it looks like it.'

Thursday 1 March 2012

Tiger, Tiger?

Escaped 8ft tiger on hotel roof turns out to be massive stuffed toy

When 911 calls were made saying there was an escaped tiger on top of a hotel in Houston, Texas, officers must have prepared for the worst.

At least six members of the fire department set out to bring the animal to safety, before it hurt any members of the public or caused an accident on the nearby highway.

Firefighters in a cherry picker gently edged toward the beast for fear it would strike, so it was no doubt to their great relief that the tiger causing the commotion was actually a soft toy.

Instead of needing to use their wits to coax the beast down and return it to captivity, the firefighter simply knocked the toy to the floor.

A colleague on the ground then approached it with caution but after a couple of taps to the head, it was clear the 'tiger' was not considered a danger.

Fire crews then removed the tiger, as passing motorists kept stopping to look at it. It's not yet clear how the soft toy ended up on the abandoned hotel.