Thursday, 31 January 2013

Length Counts?

Subway chain sued over 11-inch "Footlongs"

An Australian teenager's picture of a Subway "Footlong" sandwich next to a tape measure has gone viral and inspired three lawsuits in the United States.
The lawsuits, one filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, a second in New Jersey Superior Court, Burlington County, and the third in the Court of Common Pleas in Philadelphia, each claims restaurant franchise sells sandwiches that are an inch short of a foot.
Given the millions of subs sold each year in the United States, damages could be more than $5 million, said Thomas Zimmerman, an attorney for the plaintiffs in the Chicago case.
"This is no different than buying a dozen eggs and getting 11," Zimmerman said. "You're buying a dozen inches and only getting 11."
The lawsuits, which are seeking class-action status, are also suing for compensatory damages and injunctive relief for deceptive advertising against Subway sandwich shops and Subway's parent company, Doctor's Associates Inc.
"We have redoubled our efforts to ensure consistency and correct length in every sandwich we serve," Subway spokeswoman Alison Goldberg said in a statement. "Our commitment remains steadfast to ensure that every Subway Footlong sandwich is 12 inches at each location worldwide."
Subway Australia, responding to the photo posted on Subway's Facebook fanpage, had said that said the Footlong was a registered trademark that was "not intended to be a measurement of length."
Legal experts said Subway may argue that the average length of the Footlong is 12 inches and that only some fall short.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013


"Cleaning fairy" arrested after shovelling snow without permission

The Ohio woman dubbed "the cleaning fairy" by local media because she broke into a home and cleaned it without permission, was arrested on Tuesday after police found her shovelling snow from a driveway without the owner's consent, police said.
Police in Elyria, a city 30 miles southwest of Cleveland, arrested Susan Warren, 53, on an outstanding warrant stemming from the separate incident last year where she entered a suburban Cleveland home, did some light cleaning and left a note charging the owner $75.
She could face jail time for a probation violation but no charges have been brought for the unsolicited snow shovelling, an Elyria Police Department spokeswoman told Reuters on Thursday.
Last November, Warren pleaded guilty to attempted burglary and trespassing in connection with the house cleaning incident in May.
According to Sherry Bush, the owner of the home, she called Warren to question if she had cleaned the wrong home by mistake and was told by Warren that there was no mistake, that she "does this all the time" and thought she was doing Bush a favour. Bush made the remarks on May 30 last year, in an interview on WKYC-TV in Cleveland.
Warren was arrested and given one year of probation. She violated the terms of her probation earlier this month, triggering the warrant for her arrest, according to Cuyahoga County Court records. The records did not specify what Warren did to violate the probation.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Get A Life!!

Morning Glory Road renamed by prudish US council officials

Prudish council officials have renamed Morning Glory Road in Utah amid concerns about the name’s sexual connotation.
Lehi City Council voted unanimously on the name change, with the street now known as Morning Vista Road.
The vote took place after Software firm Xactware Solutions Inc expressed an interest in relocating to the street situated 30 miles south of Salt Lake City.
However, keen to have an address to suit its ‘international corporate image’, the company were concerned that the slang term for a male erection would have a negative impact on business.
‘That name has a negative meaning for some reason,’ explained council official Johnny Revill. ‘When you use the word, there is a different meaning that can be taken from that.’
Morning glory, a common name for over 1,000 species of flowering plants and the part-title of Oasis’ second album, is considered to be an X-rated word across the US.
Residents have complained about the name change, with one commenting that Xactware went ‘a little overboard’ with its request.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Package Holiday?

Drunk plane passenger taped to his seat

A drunken passenger on a flight to New York was taped to his seat after allegedly spitting on other travellers, trying to choke a woman and yelling the plane was going to crash.
A picture and account of the bizarre event was posted to Tumblr by Andy Ellwood, from New York, who said he was filled in by a friend who witnessed the man fly off the handle.
Gudmundur Karl Arthorsson, a 46-year-old civil engineer, was arrested upon landing at JFK on Thursday, according to the New York Post.
‘Passenger drank all of his duty free liquor on the flight from Iceland to JFK yesterday,’ Mr Ellwood wrote.
‘When he became unruly, (i.e. trying to choke the woman next to him and screaming the plane was going to crash), fellow passengers subdued him and tie him up for the rest of the flight.
‘He was escorted off the flight by police when it landed.’
Port Authority spokesman Ron Marsico said the man was taken to a hospital in Queens once they landed.
Icelandic news outlet said there was only two hours of the flight left when a passenger kicked off.
IcelandAir’s Vice President of Corporate Communication, Guðjón Arngrímsson, has confirmed a man was acting dangerously, but would not comment on the picture.
Prosecutors decided not to charge him as passengers were reluctant to discuss his outburst with authorities, according to the New York Post.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Greenpeace = Pratts

Greenpeace protestors fined and polar bear outfits confiscated

GREENPEACE protesters who donned polar bear costumes before shutting down an Edinburgh petrol station have been fined £1500 for their 12-hour occupation – and had their outfits confiscated.
Seven campaigners had laid siege to the Dalry Road Shell garage in July by chaining themselves to petrol pumps, clambering on to the roof and switching off fuel supplies.
Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard yesterday how the protest – masterminded by Simon Hackin, 47, of Niddry Street – was in response to Shell’s plans to drill in the Arctic, which Greenpeace said would be an environmental disaster.
The seven protesters pleaded guilty to malicious mischief and were each fined £200, as well as being forced to surrender their polar bear garb.
Along with Hackin, the protesters were John Wright, 57, of Belfast, Paul Hutchinson, 63, of York, Amy Rutland, 22, of Liverpool, Dominic Joyce, 22, of Southwell, Steven Smith, 39, of London, and Rowan Burrough, 43, of Abergwyngregyn, Wales.
Sheriff Isabella McColl also ordered Hackin to pay Shell £300 compensation.
Prosecuting, Malcolm Stewart told the court that the protest, which began at 6.45am on July 16, was one of three Scottish garages targeted by Greenpeace alongside 50 across the greater London area.
He said: “The member of staff working in the garage shop noticed that there was a man within the shop who was wearing a Greenpeace jacket.
“The man told the member of staff that they were here to close the petrol station down.
“Members of a Greenpeace group then prevented motorists from entering the forecourt. Some of the group used ladders to climb up on to the top of the garage roof. Once they reached the top of the roof, they engaged the fireman’s switch and turned off the petrol supply. They then erected a small tent.
“Meanwhile, protesters wearing polar bear costumes used bicycle locks to attach themselves to petrol pumps.”
He added: “The forecourt was then cordoned off by means of a banner which read ‘Save the Arctic’. Another banner read ‘Greenpeace’.”
Defence solicitor Jim Brady asked Sheriff McColl to treat his clients leniently.
He said that the protesters wanted to highlight Shell’s plans to the general public.
He added: “It is quite an effective means of bringing the matter to the public’s attention. It is their view that the public need to know more about these plans. There is a real danger that Shell’s scheme could cause an environmental disaster.
“If there was a spill in the region during winter, Shell would be unable to do anything for at least six months.
“During that time, the oil could travel thousands of miles and create unprecedented problems for our environment.
“Mr Smith works in the health service. He informs me that he could lose his job as a consequence of this conviction, but he says the fear of losing his job pales into insignificance in comparison to what would happen to society if there were an oil leak in this region.”
Passing sentence, Sheriff McColl added: “I recognise that this was a political protest, but you broke the law and caused a great deal of inconvenience to people.”

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Barbeque = Clothes Dryer = Death

Children poisoned by fumes after barbecue used to dry clothes

Six people, including four young children, have been treated for carbon monoxide poisoning after their grandmother brought a barbecue indoors to dry her washing.

The woman, who has not been named, lit the barbecue in the family kitchen before leaving the house in east London.
Her three-year-old granddaughter collapsed when she was overcome by the deadly gas later that afternoon and was treated in hospital with five of her relatives.
They included two boys aged two and 10 months, a four-year-old girl and the woman's two daughters-in-law, aged 26 and 29.
Firefighters were called to the house in East Ham, east London, on Wednesday afternoon, soon after the grandmother set up her makeshift launderette.
A spokesman for London Fire Brigade said the elderly woman carried the barbecue in from her garden at around 3pm and placed it near the back door to speed up the drying of clothes which she hung out around the kitchen.
She then walked out, leaving her daughters-in-law in the house with her grandchildren, two of whom were asleep upstairs.
One adult began to feel unwell before the little girl collapsed.
All six have now been discharged from hospital.
Fire chiefs branded the grandmother's behaviour dangerous and campaigners warned of the hazards of bringing barbecues indoors.
Dave Brown, of London Fire Brigade, said: "In my 28-year career I have never heard of anybody using a barbecue to dry clothes let alone using one indoors.
"Never, ever bring a lit or smouldering barbecue indoors. Not only is it a serious fire risk but it also emits carbon monoxide (CO) which is a poisonous gas that can kill or seriously injure."
Christine McGourty, of the Carbon Monoxide – Be Alarmed! campaign, said: "Using a barbecue indoors is always dangerous, but carbon monoxide poisoning is usually caused by faulty or poorly maintained fuel appliances, such as boilers, ovens and fires. We'd urge everyone to get an alarm and make sure their family is safe."

Friday, 25 January 2013

It’s All In The Bumps?

Goosebumps, the lie detector for emotions

They are a common reaction to the cold but goosebumps could prove when someone is lying, a study suggests.

Researchers found that most people were unable to control the reaction, which provided a “strong indication of true feelings”. They suggest that the body’s natural defence mechanism against the cold could function as a type of “lie detector” for emotional reactions.
Goosebumps frequently come after an “emotional climax” provoked by a “powerful” event or the “remarkable” actions of someone, the scientists found. The way a person’s skin stood on end provided an insight into their fear, surprise, awe or admiration.
The research, published in the journal Motivation and Emotion, concluded that while a person could lie about what they were feeling or thinking, goosebumps were not easily faked.
“Certainly, people could lie about their feeling goose bumps to create a false impression," Prof Richard Smith, from the University of Kentucky, told The Daily Telegraph.
"But often, they can use the fact of their, natural, un-faked feeling of goose bumps in reaction to someone as a way of communication a special reaction."
“People don't usually control the reaction in themselves so it suggests strongly that one has had an uncontrolled, positive and special reaction."
Prof Smith, who led a team from several other universities, added: "We tend to think of goose bumps as usually resulting from cold or fear. But we suggest that goose bumps may often be a blend of fear, surprise and submission in reaction to a remarkable action performed by another person.
"The emotion of awe may be closest emotion label for this kind of experience."
In their study, the team asked volunteers from American colleges to keep a journal over a month, where they wrote down each description of when they experienced goose bumps.
While “almost everyone” reported at least one experience the average was about two or three a week, they found.
A reaction to the cold was the “dominant cause”. The next most frequent cause was awe, often in response to “something special” such as an outstanding performance.
Other reactions came come from an "aesthetic" reaction such as listening to music or “witnessing an extraordinary object, often created by another person”.
Prof Smith, from the university's psychology department, said the study had some surprising conclusions including that there were “very few cases of goose bumps coming from one's own actions”.
"We rarely seem in awe of ourselves," he said.
"This makes sense, since goose bumps producing experiences require the extraordinary, and, most of our own actions are actually quite ordinary.
“Once the trivial cases of cold were removed, goose bumps seems quite social in nature, either directly, through talent or performances, or indirectly, such as hearing music produced by someone."
He added: “Goose bumps seem quite social in nature, either directly, for example talent or performances, or indirectly, such as hearing music produced by someone.
"If someone’s outstanding performance gives your goose bumps, what better, more authentic way to convey your appreciation that to tell the person this.
"It is unambiguous, authentic praise, straight from the gut. A side benefit is that reflects well on you too. Your natural, unfaked emotions flow from something praiseworthy."
He said that goose bumps "may even be a kind of emotion lie detector". It backs previous research from Ryan Schurtz, of Stevenson University in Baltimore.
He added: “Goose bumps seemed such an interesting reaction much beyond just the mundane experience of getting into a cold shower.”

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Speedy 1st Class??

Postman reported for working too fast

A postman in Germany was reported by a colleague for working too fast.

He had worked out a more efficient route between the depots, making him quicker than other delivery staff, The Local quotes from the Münchner Merkur newspaper.

However his quick working led to the false accusation that he was throwing away mail instead of delivering it to its intended recipients.

"I admit that some of them are possibly logical," the postman's manager told the court of the 53-year-old's different routes.

She added that his methods were not allowed under the rules but had been informally tolerated.

Judge Isabella Hubert was also told that the postman was an efficient worker.

The man from Rosenheim near Munich escaped criminal charges following the investigation, though was given a reprimand for ignoring official procedures.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Warner’s Hacked Off??

Tech Giants Sued over HDCP Hack

Intel’s Digital Content Protection has cooperated with Warner in a bid to take down a firm making goods helping to bypass HDCP copy protection.
The products in question used the cracked HDCP master key which could convert digital to analogue signals and therefore were really useful for those who wanted to connect digital devices to analogue displays. However, these devices could also be used by pirates in order to copy pay-per-view, on-demand, and other premium content, so Intel and Warner were a little miffed.

Actually, the HDCP key was cracked 2 years ago. This opened a so-called “analogue hole” which allowed everybody to copy digital video, including pay-per-view streams. The tech company promised to crack down on abusers of the key. Intel claimed that if anyone created a circumvention device, they should regret about that. However, this never happened: the first devices of such kind were released soon after the key was made public, but neither Intel nor the Hollywood studios did anything to prevent that.

Only now Warner and Intel have filed a joint lawsuit at a federal court in Ohio against the company named Freedom USA and its chief executive officer Alex Sonis. The plaintiffs accuse the Ohio firm of copyright violation, claiming that the company breached the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions.

Media reports revealed that the tech company, also known as AVADirect and AntaresPro, produces various devices that allow people to convert HDCP-encrypted digital signals to analogue signals.

In the lawsuit, Warner explained that the company required the use of HDCP in many of its distribution licenses for pay-per-view, video-on-demand and other premium digital content delivery services. They also pointed out that bypassing of HDCP causes more pirated copies being made available. This, in turn, decreases the demand for legitimate content.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

4G Bids….Woopie??

Ofcom Disclosed 4G Spectrum Bidders

UK communications watchdog has recently revealed the names of the 7 companies which have been allowed to bid for 4G spectrum. The outfit confirmed that the operators selected to start the auction process include Everything Everywhere, Vodafone, MLL Telecom, Telefónica (owns O2), HKT (subsidiary of PCCW), Hutchison 3G (operator of the Three network), and Niche Spectrum Ventures Limited (subsidiary of BT Group).

The operators will start the bidding process next month, and the winners will be tasked with boosting the spectrum available to subscribers by 75%. The bidders will be informed whether they have been awarded contracts to provide the high speed mobile broadband in February 2013, before rolling out services next summer.

7 companies will join the auction for spectrum at 800 MHz range. The latter will be used for widespread coverage having been freed up by the switch-off of analogue TV signals. Another range is 2.6 GHz, and this one will provide high speed connections, especially for urban areas.

According to Ofcom, the 4G auction will be a competitive process which will define the shape of the British mobile phone market for the next 10 years and beyond. New 4G services ware expected to stimulate investment, growth and innovation in the United Kingdom and provide considerable benefits to consumers in terms of more reliable mobile broadband connections.

Ofcom expects that the sale of spectrum will amount to £3.5 billion – this is a figure mentioned by Chancellor George Osborne in his latest budget report. But the communications watchdog set a reserve price of £1.3 billion.

Last week it was also revealed that the Ministry of Defence is going to start selling of parts of its spectrum below the 3.5 GHz range in 2013, which makes it possible to get another £1 billion.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Don’t Take Offense

How to Recognize Offensive Posts

The guidelines were revealed to define middle ground between a threat and a joke. According to them, people posting offensive messages on various social networking services could face less criminal charges.
The guidelines were set out by Director of Public Prosecutions Keir Starmer QC. They resulted from the prosecutions over offensive posts which had a “chilling effect on free speech”, while the QC claimed that loads of people on both Twitter and Facebook were accused of criminal activity every day.

The guidelines specify that some users might avoid trial if they are sorry for criminal comments made while drunk. The rules in question come after a number of controversial cases. The most famous was the May 2010 conviction of Paul Chambers. This guy was wise enough to joke on Twitter about blowing up Robin Hood Airport in South Yorkshire.

Chambers’ conviction for posting a “menacing” tweet caused global outrage and was eventually quashed on appeal in the High Court. Keir Starmer explained that the Crown Prosecution Service had now dealt with over 50 cases relating to potentially criminal comments published on the Internet. But he also pointed out that there was so far very little case law set by senior judges that could guide whicht trials should go ahead.

Starmer has now set out new interim CPS guidelines which are supposed to strike the right balance between freedom of expression online and upholding criminal law. They also aim at raising the threshold against which people should be prosecuted: for instance, the social media messages carrying credible threats of violence, a targeted campaign of harassment, or those which breach court orders will be prosecuted.

To be prosecuted, a post must now be considered more offensive, shocking or disturbing, rather than just a joke or rudeness, according to the guidelines. In addition, if a message is promptly deleted, blocked by ISPs or site operators, or written by a minor, then prosecution is less likely to take place.

The guidelines in question take effect immediately and are currently subject to a consultation process. But they are only guidelines, not a strict law.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Microsoft Knows Best??

Windows RT is Too Confusing for Users

Microsoft CEO was told by the head of Dell's PC business that he should reconsider the name “Windows RT” for the ARM version of Windows 8. The latter explained that since the OS didn’t run traditional Windows software, this name would be too confusing for users. He warned Microsoft not to use the Windows brand name on RT, because it was designed to run on ARM-based tablets: Windows RT runs only Windows Store, or Metro, applications.

However, Microsoft just shrugged and claimed that the Windows brand was too important not to be used in the new OS name. Indeed, Microsoft has created Windows, which couldn’t be seen as making something else. Nevertheless, the warning turned out to be right. There have already been some users who’ve picked up the Surface RT tablet and were confused.

Actually, Microsoft has even had to change its return policies for consumers who bought Surface RT only to figure out that they can’t run standard Windows software on it. Local media agrees that if Microsoft had listened to Dell, they could have avoided one of the major criticisms of its new OS: that Windows RT looks so much like Windows 8 that it is incredibly easy for an ordinary user to mistakenly purchase a Windows RT device without realizing that it isn’t a regular Windows device.

Worse still, Windows 8 differs a lot from Windows 7, and users might think that RT simply doesn’t run their old software due to that rather than because of running a different chip. In response, Microsoft blames its customers for their lack of desire to be “educated” about the gadgets they purchase. The company also complains that the consumers aren’t going to read any instruction manual – they would just buy something else instead!

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Must Protect Hollwood “Stars” No Matter What!!

Hollywood Hacker Jailed for 10 Years

An American judge has jailed a computer hacker for a decade for breaking into the email accounts of Hollywood stars, including managing to take one topless shot of Scarlett Johansson. The judge also ordered 36-year-old Christopher Chaney to pay $76,000 to Scarlett Johansson, Christina Aguilera and Renee Olstead.

Christopher wasn’t an advanced hacker and he pleaded guilty after a deal with prosecutors. In fact, if he hadn’t made that deal, he could have been jailed for over 120 years on all 26 indictments.

The judge claimed that Chaney’s conduct showed a “callous disregard to the victims”. According to US Attorney, Christopher has gained access to every email sent to almost 50 victims which allowed him to view their private data. Chaney posted dozens of illegally obtained, private pictures online. Although it’s difficult to be sympathetic to the person like Chaney, it seems that he wasn’t found guilty due to his stalking of non-celebrities.

Chaney’s arrest by FBI agents resulted from an 11-month investigation into the hacking of over fifty entertainment industry names. Since the hack and “wire-tapping” allegation was concerned, it turned out that Christopher used open-source, public data to try to guess a celebrity’s email password, and then would breach the account. In other words, it wasn’t so much hacking as guessing and not so much wiretapping as going to victims’ Yahoo or Hotmail page.

After obtaining complete access to the hacked account, the “hacker” then used the contact list to find new targets. This means that once inside one hacked account Chaney looked for other celebrity emails to do the same with them.

The FBI claimed that Chaney’s actions were tantamount to breaking and entering of their private homes by a thief. The only mistake he made was to be targeting Hollywood celebrities who could afford to fight back.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Hey….Let Me Back In!

Czech man steals purses to get back into jail after being given pardon

They say home is where the heart is, but when Pavel Hric won a pardon from jail in the Czech Republic he spent two hours trying to get back inside.
The 42-year-old, of Liberec, stole purses to avoid seeing his family, say police.
His release was part of a country-wide amnesty that was announced on New Year´s Day by Czech president Vaclav Klaus.
As well as Mr Hric, the release of three other prisoners didn’t go to plan.
This was because they weren’t meant to be released at all.
According to newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD), judges freed the men by accident amid confusion about the amnesty, with head of the union for Judges Tomas Lichovnik saying the pardons were ambiguous.
‘There was little time, judges were under pressure,’ Mr Lichovnik said.
But justice minister Pavel Blazek has denied the accusation.
He added the amnesty and interpretation of it was clear and it was the judges that were at fault for the mistakes.

The “Old West” Mentality?

Japan Lost Patience, Put Bounty on Hackers

The country’s government has recently started putting bounties on the heads of hackers which they most want to talk to. The local National Police Agency has been advertising for any information on a hacker who is able to code in C# and uses a “Syberian Post Office” in order to leave anonymous posts on the Internet, along with having the knowledge about how to surf the Internet without leaving any digital tracks.

The media reports claim that the police are ready to write a cheque for up to $36,000 for any information which will help them arrest the hacker. As you can understand, it’s good money even for Japan. This means that the authorities have lost patience with hacking. For instance, earlier in 2012, 4 people were wrongly arrested after their computers were hacked and used to publish messages on public bulletin boards. Those messages included warnings of plans for mass killings at a Japanese school.

According to the interview with police spokesperson, until now such type of reward was reserved for serious cases like murder and arson, but now it seems that hacking is as dangerous as the above mentioned crimes.

You can find a reward poster on the Internet, which features detailed technical descriptions of the wanted intruder’s skills. For example, the victim had to be able to know C# well enough to be able to write a virus called “iesys.exe” and use an anonymous posting method known as a “Syberian Post Office” in order to leave messages to the popular local bulletin board 2channel.

The police representatives think that the hacker used a cross-site request forgery to create online postings through innocent users. While Japan’s National Police Agency might remind someone of the FBI, its role is more focused on cooperating with and organizing local police forces, rather than tending to arrest people.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Don’t Bank On It!!

Pirate Party to Sue Banks for WikiLeaks Discrimination

When most of the banks decided to obey the order of the US government and refuse to pass through the donations to WikiLeaks two years ago, it seemed they believed they could get away with it.

But the Swedish Pirate Party didn’t think so and has taken a decision to file formal charges against the local banks for their discrimination against the whistle blowing service. Two years ago, Visa, MasterCard, PayPal and a number other financial institutions have blocked donations to WikiLeaks and other legal operations. Since they are part of the network, many banks are able to stop donations without any legitimate grounds.

However, the Swedish Pirate Party claims that this is unacceptable. The Party has filed charges against the local banks to see if their behavior is legal. First of all, the Party had a word with the Swedish Finansinspektionen – the authority to oversee bank licenses and abuse of position. Before that, the Pirate Party tried to regulate credit card companies on the regional level to deny them the ability to decide who can get donations and who can’t.

According to Pirate Party’s Erik Lönroth, this financial blockade represents a serious threat against the freedoms of opinion and expression at the very least. He believes that it must not be up to the individual payment provider to decide which outfits are eligible for donations. Lönroth pointed out that the court action would clear up the small matter of whether the current bank regulations are sufficient, or if they should be tightened to protect basic freedoms.

The Pirate Party also claimed that it wasn’t just WikiLeaks that had been hurt by the randomness of the financial services. For example, such Swedish entrepreneurs as sex toy shops and horror film shops have also been denied payment services for some reason and been killed off.

According to Johan Terfelt, who oversees the Finansinspektionen unit for payment providers, the organization will investigate the situation and define the reasons to intervene. Terfelt admitted that there was no room at all for arbitrary randomness. The matter is that the law states the following: if there are no legal grounds to deny a payment service, then it must be processed.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Forget The Frog’s Leg?

Prisoners use table leg to escape French jail

Three prisoners used a table leg to pierce a hole in the roof of their cell in a 14th century French penitentiary and escape in the early hours of New Year's Day.

The trio climbed onto the roof of the Colmar prison in eastern France and from there entered an adjoining courthouse, where they fled through a side door.
The escape highlighted overcrowding and the advanced state of disrepair of an institution originally built in 1316 as a convent, according to prosecutor Bernard Lebeau.
"It appears that the ceilings in the cells are made of a crumbly material that was attacked with a makeshift tool made of objects from the cell itself, notably a table leg," he told journalists in Colmar.
The prisoners, aged 19 to 24, had been jailed on charges of assault and vandalism. Two were detained awaiting trial while the third was serving a two-year term.
Poor conditions at the Colmar prison were flagged last week in an independent report commissioned by a lawyer, who said he would sue to make local authorities repair the facility.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Up For A Race?

Wealthy London residents clash with millionaire Arab boy racers

Residents in one of London’s most exclusive neighbourhoods have accused the police of double standards for allegedly failing to clamp down on millionaire Arab playboys who race their supercars around the streets.

Home owners in the Knightsbridge area have become increasingly frustrated by the annual influx of young men who arrive in the capital each summer and recklessly drive their Bugattis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis close to the Harrods department store.
Locals claim the Metropolitan Police are not doing enough to stop the young men from driving dangerously and performing stunts known as drifting, when they deliberately slide their cars around tight corners.
A Cutting Edge documentary to be shown on Channel 4 charts the rising tensions between the locals and the millionaire visitors who arrive in London every summer for three months to escape the intense heat of the Gulf States.
Local Knightsbridge resident Justin Downes accused the police of double standards claiming if the motorists were British they would be arrested and charged with reckless driving.
He told the documentary: “I've seen the area move from being a very quiet, residential area to being cosmopolitan in a way which is rather extreme.
“They come in to the area around Harrods to show off their cars and drive recklessly in a way that if you were a UK citizen you would be prosecuted for dangerous driving.”
But the police insist they have seized dozens of foreign-owned supercars for a variety of alleged offences including driving without valid insurance and driving without the correct registration plates.
Fellow local resident Panda Morgan-Thomas said it is often impossible to sleep at night because of the sound of high powered vehicles racing around the streets.
She said: "There has been a lot of sports car racing. I'm inundated with local residents complaining, not being able to sleep and I think people's tempers are getting somewhat jaded.”
But those who are accused of taking part in the supercar races claim local residents have never complained to them personally.
Abdul Aziz Rashid, 27, who comes to the UK every year in a supercar, said: “I hear the residents always complain but they don't come to me to complain. If anyone complains about something I will respect it and try to fix it.
“We are foreigners here and we just come to have a good time and we always want to come here and not cause trouble or problems. If anybody speaks to me and asks me not to do something then I will not do it.”
Another, Abdul Aziz Al Rashed, who brought his £250,000 Lamborghini Aventador to London last summer said: “All of my friends were sad about having to go back to Kuwait. We had fun for three months and I'm sad that I have to leave to go back to the desert.”

Monday, 14 January 2013

Not Caught…For A Change!

UK Highway Cameras Appeared Useless

It recently turned out that the advanced snooping technology of the British Highways Agency has proved so useless that no drivers at all have received tickets for speeding on the M25.

Although a lot of users of the largest carpark in the world may be surprised that anyone could go fast enough to get a speeding ticket, it’s clear that at least someone must have got past 70 miles per hour during the past year. Local newspapers explained that certain technical and legal difficulties were the reason why the Highways Agency couldn’t switch on the network of 36 new digital cameras.

The cameras were purchased and installed in order to enforce variable speed limits on the London orbital motorway. It was found out that the equipment was wasted only after AOL wondered which section of the road netted the most cash. Surprisingly enough, it turned out that the cameras had caught no speeders at all.

After the first digital camera was installed three years ago, the Highways Agency representative admitted that it had still not received statutory authority to use them in a number of English counties. In the meantime, in other parts of the road, the difficulties were “technical”, with the older generation of “wet film” cameras being upgraded to new digital devices. However, it also turned out that for some reason in a few counties these cameras haven’t even been tested.

The Highways Agency representative failed to reveal how much the overhead cameras had cost or when the organization would be able to use them. In the meanwhile, Jim Fitzpatrick, Labour’s road safety spokesperson, pointed out that the M25 was widely used as a racetrack by many reckless drivers, so it was ridiculous that the network didn’t work.

According to Claire Armstrong, representing the anti-camera group named Safespeed, there’s the only question: if the Highways Agency believed that the cameras were any good, then why wasn’t the outfit using them?

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Porn For All In UK?

British Government Rejected Online Porn Ban

The UK government has recently rejected demands that ISPs install automatic filters on porn material online to protect the kids. After a joint consultation of the Department and Education and Home Office, the ministers have agreed that broadband providers won’t be required to put default blocks on porn content, and the responsibility should lie with parents.

During the consultation, there were suggestions for a process whereby users would have to “opt in” if they wanted to see adult content, instead of being freely available for any users to access. But the report delivering the government’s response to the consultation read that broadband providers would continue to use a so-called “active choice” system employed by such providers as BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. The system involves encouraging parents to set certain controls on specific content instead of being putting it under the remit of the provider.

The consultation in question revealed that only about 1/3 of parents would back the placement of default blocks to be enforced by Internet service providers, but it wasn’t deemed high enough by the authorities to warrant blocking of content for all Internet users.

The report in question also emphasized the difficulties in actually enforcing the blocks, with an overzealous approach also filtering out content pertaining to such topics as sexual health, while failing to block all the porn video on the Internet. Privacy advocates also criticized the proposals. For instance, Big Brother Watch claimed that the authorities have taken measured approach to the situation. The outfit pointed out that the proposal recognizes that it is parents, not the government, who are responsible for controlling what their kids can find on the web and rightly avoids any kind of state-mandated blocking of legitimate material. Moreover, the companies are already responding to demand from the parents who want to see filters.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

The Future??

BitTorrent Certified Set-Top Box Released

Antik Technolog, Slovakian manufacturer of IPTV devices, has recently introduced its first BitTorrent Certified set-top box designed for telecommunication companies, providers and retailers.
The device in question was announced for the first time in this past January. Desperately expected by many, the device called the FullHD Juice Mini is able to play files users download as torrents directly on a TV. Antik Technology CEO explained that Juice Mini was a unique gadget, because it was the first BitTorrent Certified box in the world.

The company added that thanks to their partnership with BitTorrent they have designed that special IPTV device for customers who usually record HD memories with their smartphones, digital SLRs and HD camcorders. With Juice Mini, BitTorrent users will also be able to seamlessly play files using the BitTorrent protocol, a P2P technology which is widely used all over the world for distributing large files.

Earlier BitTorrent was merely identified with Internet piracy, with its users downloading copyrighted content, but today it has truly become a complex platform, which is more and more often is used to promote content creators and help Internet users discover, share and transfer files through its ecosystem of technology protocols, consumer apps, and consumer electronics devices.

Antik Technology confirmed that the BitTorrent Certified Juice Mini will become available for purchase throughout the globe early this year.

Friday, 11 January 2013

We’re Watching You?

Genetic Database to Be Created in UK

Advocates expressed concerns over a £100 million project that will see DNA information of 100,000 cancer patients mapped out in a database. Big Brother Watch has called the plan “wholly wrong”. In the meanwhile, David Cameron promised that the plans will be worked on over the next 5 years to finally hold the genetic details of every UK citizen.

According to the Prime Minister, this move will push the boundaries of science and allow genetic sequencing by unlocking the power of DNA information. However, the UK’s genome plan has also raised some concerns that the information could be used to create commercial deals with such entities as drug firms. People also fear that people having access to the database might use the genetic codes in order to identify and track everyone on it, as well as their relatives.

The Prime Minister’s office also promised that the genome sequencing would be entirely voluntary and the patients will have a choice to opt out without affecting their NHS care.

While the Conservative-Lib Dem Coalition has faced criticism that it’s dismantling the NHS to an outstanding extent, the Prime Minister said the £100 million funding will come from existing NHS budgets. This money will initially be spent on training scientists and creating secure systems to process the data.

According to privacy and civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch, the NHS shouldn’t be treated as a government asset, but rather details of people’s illnesses, treatments and hugely personal data. They believe that if private companies want access to medical records, they should ask permission, because it is entirely wrong for this to be an opt-out scheme: everyone can see the implications for privacy. Apparently, assurances of anonymity have been demonstrated to be hollow in other states, so it’s just a matter of time before insurance or marketing companies try to make use of this information.

Despite the outfit has made assurances that the information would be absolutely anonymized before it’s stored, it warned that the government has to listen to a range of opinions, including patient and privacy outfits, in order to prevent policy being introduced just to appease large pharmaceutical firms. They aren’t sure that this policy has fully taken into consideration the real privacy concerns sharing large volumes of patient data entails.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

A Lucky Find?

Schoolboy finds WWII bomb on first trip out with metal detector Christmas present

A seven-year-old boy sparked a major security scare after discovering a buried WWII bomb – with a metal detector he got for Christmas.

Sonny Cater was exploring fields near his house when the National Geographic metal detector, worth £30, led him to a mud-caked metal capsule.
He took it home but his father Jem, 37, became suspicious as he washed it under a tap and contacted a relative who is a former RAF armourer.
The family were told to immediately call the police and a bomb disposal squad was dispatched to their home in Kings Lynn, Norfolk.
Experts identified the device as a 10lb British practice bomb from WWII and it was removed for safe disposal.
Yesterday his mother Tracey said that, despite the drama, the incident proved that Sonny's Christmas present worked.
She said: "We are dumbfounded that he discovered this on his first go.
"We are going to go out again to see if he can find something Roman. It has made our Christmas.
"It was caked in mud and Jem just thought it was a lump of metal and took it home.
"Sonny did become a little nervous with the arrival of the emergency services."
Sonny was enjoying a walk across Roydon Common for around 15 minutes with his parents and brother Marley, nine, on Boxing Day when his metal detector started beeping.
He dug up the treasure but couldn't make out what it was – so he hurriedly bundled up the muddy object and took it home to wash down.
Mr Cater contacted his partner's father, Steve Wood, after uncovering the pointed end.
Mr Wood, who had served more than 20 years in the RAF armoury, advised him to call 999 and place it in a bucket of cold water.
This was a precaution in case it was a German phosphorous bomb, which would ignite if dry.
Bomb disposal experts from RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire rushed to the family home and identified the item as a 10lb British practice bomb head.
The bomb head still contained internal wiring and was taken away for disposal.
It is believed to have been used in practice World War II bomb runs.
Luckily the 10lb bomb head did not contain any explosive material

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Eggs Are Good For You?

Man dies after eating 28 raw eggs

Dhaou Fatnassi was challenged to eat 30 eggs for charity but collapsed with stomach pains after getting through 28. Local radio station Shems FM reports that the 20-year-old from Kairouan in north-east Tunisia was rushed to hospital but was pronounced dead on arrival.

Raw eggs may contain salmonella bacteria and the only way to avoid potential food poisoning is to cook them properly.

Bodybuilders and fitness fans are known to enjoy adding raw eggs to drinks for added protein but Fatnassi ate the eggs to a dangerous excess, which cost him his life.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Welsh….Of All Things!!

English stroke victim starts talking … in Welsh

An Englishman has woken up after a stroke and started speaking Welsh.
Alun Morgan, 81, was evacuated to Wales during the Second World War and during his time there he never picked up the native tongue.
His wife Yvonne was the only person who could understand him and had to translate for doctors.
Mr Morgan, from Bathwick, Bath, Somerset, said: “I don’t remember anything from the time of my stroke.
“But gradually I started speaking a few words in Welsh.
“This was strange because I’d not lived in Wales since I was evacuated there during the war.”
Doctors have diagnosed Mr Morgan with aphasia, a form of brain damage that causes a shift in the brain’s language centre.
The most common cause of aphasia is stroke, but gunshot wounds, blows to the head, other traumatic brain injuries and brain tumours can also cause aphasia.
It can also result in a disorder known as foreign accent syndrome, which causes a sudden change to speech so that a native speaker talks with a foreign accent. Researchers at Oxford University have found that patients with the syndrome have suffered damage to tiny areas of the brain that affect speech.
The result is often a drawing out or clipping of the vowels that mimic the accent of a particular country, such as Spain or France, even if the sufferer has limited exposure to that accent.
The syndrome was first identified during the Second World War when a Norwegian woman suffered brain damage and developed a strong German accent.

Monday, 7 January 2013


Woman photographs herself unlocking stolen iPhone

A woman unwittingly took a photograph of herself as she tried to unlock an iPhone that had been stolen from a nightclub.

The iPhone was stolen from the Coalition nightclub in Brighton, East Sussex, earlier this month.
But the owner had installed an app that takes a picture of anyone trying to unlock it and then sends the information back to them via email.
When the woman tried to unlock the iPhone her picture was taken and sent to the owner. It was then passed on to Sussex Police. It is thought the app used is iGotYa, which is activated when an incorrect passcode is entered into the keypad.
Pc Gavin Crute from Sussex Police said the app photographs anyone trying to unlock it, maps their location and sends the information back to the owner. “We know where and when the photo was taken and it appears to be in a vehicle with quite a large sunroof.”
“We don’t know that the woman is the person who stole the camera, but she obviously has had some connection with it in the meantime and I’d like to speak to her about it.”

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The UN Says Yes!!

UN Allowed Deep Packet Inspection

Despite the fact that Germany warned about the implications of allowing deep packet inspection, a UN summit decided that this method can help protect copyrighted works.
Media reports confirm that a UN summit has approved the Chinese proposals to spy on BitTorrent file-sharers. Back in November, Dubai held a meeting where ITU agreed upon a secret Y.2770 proposal, which allowed access to the papers to members only. Another meeting began this week, where the American government and a few Internet companies harshly criticized the decision.

Despite the secrecy around the proposal, a Korean standards body revealed a document saying how network operators are planning to identify embedded digital watermarks in MP3 files and uploading BitTorrent users.

The opponents argue that UN’s agency barely acknowledges that DPI has privacy implications and the potential privacy threats associated with the technology might be mitigated. The matter is that deep packet inspection proves useful in addressing network attacks, detecting malware, or managing applications. However, it also draws attention on other issues like governmental surveillance. The arguments are that mandatory standards can’t be a good idea even if they are well thought through. If the organization forces the world’s tech firms to adopt standards developed in a body which can’t even conduct privacy analysis, it may face dire global consequences for online trust and users’ rights.

The secret proposal also asks Internet service providers to decrypt their subscribers’ online traffic. However, this method has been already used by a number of ITU member countries: for example, Amesys (a unit of the French firm Bull SA) helped Moammar Gadhafi spy on his people in 2011.

This is not the only example: this past summer, New York Times reported about FinSpy – a malware sold by a British firm. The software allowed the distant activation of computer cameras and microphones and was linked to repressive governments, including Turkmenistan, Brunei, and Bahrain.

Anyway, in spite of all warnings, the Y.2770 proposal seems to become just another censorship instrument for the governments to spy on its people and whatever else.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Phew….That’s a Long One!

IMAGINE Group Cammer Got 40-Month Prison Term

One of the members of the in-theater camcording gang called “IMAGiNE Group” was recently handed a 40-month prison term, which became the longest sentence in a file-sharing case in the country. Gregory A. Cherwonik, 53, from New York, was handed the term by a Virginia federal judge one year after he pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit copyright violation.

Overall, 5 people have pleaded guilty to running IMAGiNE, which is regarded as the most prolific piracy release group since 2009. The indictment said that the group in question sought to be the best group to first release the online copies of new movies only showing in the theaters.

The MPAA said that the group was more successful than any other unauthorized Internet release group due to its short latency periods between the theatrical release and their pirated release. They also always showed good quality of audio captures and high volume of releases. IMAGiNE members would audio-record such movies as Friends with Benefits, while other members would record the movie at a theater with a camcorder. Then the pirates combined the sound and video into a full-featured movie.

The police pointed out that the group used servers located in France, Canada and the US in order to offer in-theater-only motion pictures from various portals. According to the indictment, IMAGiNE Group accepted donations to fund expenses of renting servers and to accept payments for the illegal distribution and sale of pirated content. The indictment also charged that the outfit’s website featured member profiles, a torrent tracker, and a forum.

Aside from Cherwonik, Javier E. Ferrer, 41, also pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit criminal copyright violation for participating in IMAGiNE. He will be sentenced in March and is currently faces a maximum 5-year jail term. Sean Lovelady, 28, was given 23 months prison term a few weeks ago and had agreed to cooperate with the police. Then Willie Lambert, 57, was handed 30 months and ordered to pay $450,000 in damages. Jeremiah Perkins will also be sentenced in January after pleading guilty to a criminal copyright charge.

Cherwonik got the record term because he was described as the system operator of the IMAGiNE group. Moreover, the prosecutors claimed that he continued as the outfit’s leader for a year after his home was searched by the police.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Age Is No Barrier!!

Copyright Cops Arrested 9-Year-Old Girl

The entertainment industry sunk to a new PR low recently – they managed to accuse a 9-year-old girl of piracy and confiscate her Winnie-the-Pooh laptop.
CIAPC – the very company that had TPB blocked by Finnish Internet service providers, has tracked some evil file-sharer. The media reports say that they demanded that she pay €600 or go to court. Apparently, the company had no idea that the evil pirate was only 9, which means that €600 was undoubtedly out of the range of her pocket money. They decided to use the case as an example of its extra-judiciary powers. As a result, Finnish taxpayers paid for an expensive raid on the 9-year-old suspect’s home, with the police confiscating her Winnie-the-Pooh laptop.

During the police interrogation, the girl broke and told that she had no money to buy the latest album from local multi-platinum-selling songstress Chisu. Last year the girl switched to the web, first through Google and then the world’s largest BitTorrent tracker, The Pirate Bay. However, the download didn’t work and her father finally bought her music in the store.

Anyway, the copyright cops weren’t impressed with this story, claiming that the girl would lose her laptop to test the power of the entertainment industry. They also told her that it would have been easier for everyone if she had paid the compensation. According to the girl’s father, it was worse than dealing with the Mafia, because the latter doesn’t normally use police to do their dirty work today, nor it feels honorable to hit up 9-year-olds for cash.

According to Electronic Frontier Finland, this recent move clearly illustrates just how far copyright enforcement has progressed in the country. As for Chisu, the artist has said that she didn’t want to sue anyone and that no musician needs such kind of media attention.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Canada….Now It’s Your Turn!!

Canada against Film Piracy

Despite the fact that the country has always been criticized for its failure to come up with better anti-piracy legislation, Canada is currently ready to take on film pirates. The plan is the following.
The Canadians who enjoy downloading pirated films now may think twice before continuing to do so. Recently, a software company has been appointed to gather data on citizens who are accused of downloading illegal material. The company, which represents both the film and music industries, says that forcing Internet service providers through court order to reveal private details of their subscribers is just the first step.

For instance, a lawsuit against fifty IP addresses has already been filed, and this is just the beginning. The company in question is ready to launch another lawsuit, now against thousands of people suspected of copyright violation.

The alarming fact is that the software company managed to collect information on 1,000,000 people in 5 months, all suspected in movie piracy. Backed up by court orders, the company warns that the unauthorized downloads must stop or they will have to pay damages of up to $5,000 and face criminal charges for copyright violation.

The lawsuit in question was filed on behalf of a Burnaby film production company, which has already managed to obtain subpoenas, forcing a few ISPs to disclose the private details of their subscribers. They claim that Canada remains a very important country in terms of P2P file-sharing and unauthorized downloading of copyrighted content.

However, ISPs still have to decide whether they are planning to cooperate or not. According to the former Canada Research chair in IP law at the University of B.C., the local movie industry is currently considering the idea of adopting American “six-strikes” system. Their goal is to try and make a dent in the online downloading activity, following the example of US approach which was to try to target individual downloaders and set them as a precedent of what can happen if the unauthorized downloading activity is discovered. They point out that it is not a question of trying to get fines in place, but rather an issue of creating an idea of deterrence in the mind of people, so they are not going to limit this to the teens downloading popular tracks.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013


A modern Basil Fawlty: takeaway owner kills rat as horrified inspectors watch

An owner of an Indian takeaway restaurant killed a rat in front of horrified health inspectors during the middle of an official inspection, a court heard.

Environmental health officers were left stunned after Rajakumar Rajalingam left the rat in a pool of blood on the floor, in an incident recalling an episode of Fawlty Towers.
Local authority inspectors also found evidence of a serious rodent infestation, including rat and mouse droppings and gnawed chicken bones, in kitchen and "food preparation areas" of the New Chutney Express in Tooting, South London.
Health officers were left "horrified" said that they had "never before witnessed such a scene during a food inspection".
Rajalingam was fined almost £20,000 after pleading guilty at Kingston crown court to a series of food safety and trading standards offences.
He was also sentenced for selling counterfeit goods at his general store on the local high street after trading standards discovered counterfeit Jacob's Creek wine in the shop.
The court also heard that Wandsworth council took legal action against him in 2007 for selling counterfeit champagne.
A Wandsworth Council spokesman said last night: “This was a shocking catalogue of hygiene and food safety breaches.
"These premises were in a truly appalling state and posed an unacceptable danger to public health.
"The judge was quite right when he told Mr Rajalingam that he should be ashamed of himself."
He added: "This should of course act as a warning to other food retailers who are prepared to play fast and loose with food safety laws."
The shop owner has not commented outside court.