Saturday 31 August 2013

You’re Banned Kiwi?

Banning Is Invitation to Piracy

New Zealand’s censors have recently banned a horror movie Maniac, a serial killer flick starring Elijah Wood, from any kind of public distribution, claiming that it is potentially injurious to the public good. In response, the movie distributor said that the banning is an actual invitation to piracy and was right.

Apparently, the most obvious sign of filtering in entertainment is the ratings system, which has an influence over who can see what. For the New Zealand censors, Maniac seemed to be a sadistic serial killer. The Office of Film and Literature Classification came to conclusion that the movie is so disturbing that it shouldn’t be seen by anyone except for people attending specialist festival screenings. As a result, the film was banned from both theatrical and DVD release in the country.

Of course, the distributor of the movie wasn’t happy with the decision. He points out that Maniac is one the finest horror movies in recent years, which is proved by its selection into the Cannes Film Festival. Therefore, banning the movie beyond festival screenings can insult the intelligence of the adult population of the country and actually serves as an open invitation to illegally distribute the movie. If you take a look at activity of people sharing Maniac on BitTorrent networks, it won’t be too encouraging for Monster Pictures.

The United States, for example, is on the first place in pirating the movie with 18% of the downloaders. It is followed by the United Kingdom with almost 9%. New Zealand is third with 7% of downloaders, regardless of its small population of 4.4 million. By comparison, Brazil with a population of 197 million features the same result of sharing the movie.

Apparently, all the publicity over banning the movie has encouraged lots of Kiwis to obtain the movie in any way they could, potentially upsetting the stats. Taking into account that they have no legal way to grab a copy, numbers will keep growing unless the ban is lifted quickly.

Another interesting fact is that New Zealand has another kind of movie censorship enshrined in law – it bans parallel importation of movies into the country for a whole 9 months following their international release date. This system will be in place for another 3 years, but the restricted period might be cut to 5 months.

Friday 30 August 2013

You’re Deleted?

Google Deleted 100 Million Search Results in 2013

Since the beginning of the current year rights owners have asked the search giant to remove over 100 million links to “pirate” websites. This figure is already double the number Google processed for the whole last year. Google is currently processing an average of 15 million “pirate” links per month. Although this number is leveling off, the rights owners aren’t satisfied yet.
Trying to steer prospective customers away from illegal websites, rights owners keep sending the search engine millions of DMCA takedown requests. Google, on its side, is trying to give the public insight into the scope and nature of this process – this is why it started publishing details of all takedown requests in its Transparency Report. It turned out that since last year the number of URLs the company is being asked to remove has exploded.

Thus far, Google has been required to delete more than 105,300,000 links to infringing websites, and most of them don’t appear in search results anymore.

As for the websites for which the company received the most takedown notices, the file-hosting search engine FilesTube tops the rankings with almost 6,000,000 URLs. Another “rogue” website is with over 2,500,000 URLs, followed by with more than 2,000,000 links. The surprising fact is that infamous The Pirate Bay didn’t show up in the top 20. Maybe this is because it changed domain names, or maybe because it hosts just 2,000,000 magnet links on the website.

Talking about the reporting groups, we can see that the Recording Industry Association of America is one of the most active senders of DMCA takedown requests. The anti-piracy outfit has sent takedown requests for over 26 million URLs within the last year and half. Despite the fact that Google responds swiftly, the entertainment industry doesn’t believe the takedowns are efficient. This is why it now asks the search giant to ban entire domains from its search results.

On the one side, the company is satisfied with the way things are going, saying that it has faith in the general workings of the DMCA takedown procedure. The only problem with the massive number of takedowns is that thousands of links are taken down in error – for example, Microsoft recently asked to remove its very own website from the search results.

In the meantime, the industry experts note that it would be interesting to see how the tension between the search engine and the rights owners develops over time.

Thursday 29 August 2013

An Over-Night Stay?

Inmates give prisons ''TripAdvisor'' ratings

Discerning prisoners are rating their accommodation with hotel-style reviews.

Like most guests they have found their rooms not always to their liking, although other establishments come highly recommended.
The mock reviews, which have appeared on Google Maps, even come with star ratings from former inmates.
Manchester Prison came highly recommended scoring a coveted five star rating from its reviewer.
“Food was exquisite and the room service was excellent. Accommodation good but neighbours very loud and obnoxious, with the occasional riots. Would recommend this to anyone.”
According to The Sun, other establishments left rather more to be desired.
Belmarsh, a top security prison in London received only two stars from ''Dick Turnip''.
Mr Turnip wrote: “Very popular and filled with lots of celebrities and people in the news. Unfortunately it will never be a terribly desirable address as it is south of the river.”
Wormwood Scrubs also failed to please ''A Google User'' who complained that the view was poor and obscured by iron bars.
''Due to overbooking I was forced to share with a rather charmless individual by the name of “Mike the Hatchet” who was keen to know why my stay was so short.''
Mr Hatchet was, unfortunately, unavailable for comment.
However Dave Kirk had altogether happier memories of his sojourn at Wormwood Scrubs, which is a short distance from North Kensington, an increasingly fashionable part of London.
“Cheap and cheerful lodgings for those on a budget. Food is pretty average but clientele are friendly as are the staff.”
Wandsworth prison also scored well with a regular visitor, but its good reputation was beginning to cause problems.
''It seems to have become more popular – I find it hard to book ahead, and sometimes have even been asked to share accommodation with other last-minute bookers.''

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Safety First?

MI5 want a new health and safety boss but they can't tell you anything about the job

Fancy a job in spying? But this one is for spying on the spies – MI5 is advertising for a new head of Health and Safety to ensure Britain’s secret agents are working in a safe environment.

However, for anyone tempted to apply for the £60,000 a year job there is a slight obstacle.
Applicants will be told nothing about the buildings, people or locations they will be working with – to protect national security.
They won’t even be told “much about the job” they are a candidate for.
The Security Service prides itself on its secrecy and only the Director General is every publicly named.
As a result, it openly admits that that there is somewhat of a risk for anyone applying to be the next head of health and safety.
The advert, posted on the spy agency’s website, reads: “We can’t show you the buildings.
“We can’t talk about the people you’ll work with.
“We can’t tell you much about the job.
“We can’t give you the exact locations.
“We can’t mention the kind of technology involved.”
But, on the upside, it adds that if it is “still a risk worth taking?”, then: “What we can tell you is that whatever your role at MI5 you’ll be contributing to protecting the UK from threats to national security including terrorism and espionage.
“Like other large organisations, at MI5 we use a variety of equipment to carry out our work, except here our work is often covert and our equipment classified. That can raise interesting challenges when it comes to health and safety.”
As far as job description goes, it will be “London-based wit some UK travel”.
And while MI5 officers are working to stop terrorist attacks: “Our Health and Safety team develops systems and procedures to ensure that across the spectrum of our work we meet our health and safety responsibilities and that we conduct operational activity as safely as possible.”
The job will, of course, become a lot clearer for the successful candidate who will be given access to buildings and people.
A Home Office spokesman said: “The Security Service works within the law – including health and safety laws – and needs people with a variety of different skills in a wide number of roles.
“Some of its work is routine, but each member of staff helps the Security Service protect the UK from threats to national security and espionage.

Tuesday 27 August 2013


Students hospitalised after ‘fart spray’ and deer repellent mixture sprayed on camping trip

A practical joke got out of hand during a recent Bible camp when someone sprayed a combination of ‘fart spray’ and deer repellent into two cabins.
Six students, who suffered breathing problems and eye irritation, had to be taken to hospital in Maryland after a camper released the foul smelling substances into the air conditioning sections of the lodges.
More than 12 people also had to be hosed down by a hazardous materials team because they were having trouble getting rid of the foul smell at Camp Wo-Me-To in Jarrettsville.
Once the authorities had cleared the cabins they ventilated them for a few hours until the air cleared, according to Fallston Patch.
The students were eventually released after being treated at a hospital emergency room for their odour-related injuries.
The makers of the fart spray describe the product as ‘great for practical jokes and gag gifts’.
The local authorities said they were investigating whether the spray was released as a joke or whether it was more malicious.

Monday 26 August 2013

Nessie Is No More!!

Christian textbooks cull Loch Ness monster

SCOTLAND’S most renowned mythical creature has been axed by religious educators.
• Creationist textbook culls Loch Ness Monster from lessons
• Mythical monster was cited to disprove theory of evolution
New editions of a Christian biology textbook will no longer contain the contentious idea that the beast may have been a real living creature.
Writers of the Accelerated Christian Education (ACE) biology textbooks had once taught that the existence of the Loch Ness monster disproved Darwin’s theory of evolution.
But the educators have now dropped the creature from their teachings.
Creationism is a religious position that largely believes the universe was created by a supernatural being.
It focuses heavily on evolution and many of its followers reject the notion of a scientific explanation to the creation of life.
It is estimated that around 2,000 students in the UK are taught creationism in private schools or through home schooling.
The previous edition of the schoolbook said: “Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the ‘Loch Ness Monster’ in Scotland?”
It continued: “‘Nessie’ for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur.”
It was also claimed that a Japanese whaling boat once caught a dinosaur.
In the latest edition, both of these claims have been removed.
Jonny Scaramanga, from Bath, went through the ACE programme as a child but now campaigns against Christian fundamentalism.
He said: “In the new editions they’ve replaced Nessie with talk of folktales from China and Ireland... They still want to prove that dinosaurs and humans existed at the same time.”
Arthur Roderick, founding director of Christian Education Europe part of the ACE said: “As with any textbooks... curriculum is subject to revision and change.”

Sunday 25 August 2013

Get Out More…..Perhaps?

Frenchman builds fully functional flight simulator in son's bedroom

A Frenchman has built a fully functional flight simulator in his son's bedroom.
Laurent Aigon, from Lacanau, is an aeroplane enthusiast and worked on the project with his best friend. He spent thousands of euros collecting the necessary parts, Metro reports.

The replica is so realistic that the Institute of Aircraft Maintenance at Bordeaux-Merignac Airport invited Aigon, 40, to give a special lecture on his achievement.

He explained that he is able to fly his 'plane' just like a real-life pilot.

The simulator has since attracted interest from a variety of major aircraft manufacturers who want to use it to play out different scenarios.
It was not revealed what Aigon's son thinks of the simulator, but he has been forced to sleep in the corner of the bedroom to allow his father to make room for the device.

Saturday 24 August 2013

I Only Wanted A Salad!

Man tells police that prostitute was 'selling tomatoes'

A man has told police that he was with a prostitute because she was selling him tomatoes.

The 39-year-old, from Dudley, was followed by police after they spotted the sex worker waiting for him in his Nissan Micra, The Mirror reports.

He was then stopped and arrested on suspicion of soliciting.

The married security guard denied the allegations in his interview, claiming that he was withdrawing £20 from the cashpoint so he could buy tomatoes.

PC Stacey Paterson of Walsall police said: "I've heard some excuses before but in the ten years that I have been a police officer I have never heard a kerb crawler covering up his crimes by claiming to be buying tomatoes.

"Our officers and the courts saw through his lies and the man has now been found guilty."

The man was fined £400 and ordered to pay £665 in costs

Friday 23 August 2013

Here Pussy Pussy!

Warning to tourists in France after attack by feral cats

Visitors to one of France’s most beautiful tourist areas were today warned to be on their guard after a pack of feral cats launched an attack on a young woman.

About six cats pounced on the unnamed dog owner as she walked her poodle in the city of Belfort, in the popular Franche-Comte region, on the Swiss border, dragging her to the ground and mauling her.

She was bitten repeatedly and left with a torn artery which could have proved fatal, while the dog was also badly hurt.

It is thought that particularly high summer temperatures may have made the cats far more aggressive than usual.

Josette Galliot, the mother of the 31-year-old victim, said: "They jumped on her and managed to knock her over.

"The feral cats bit her on the leg and on her arms. They even pierced an artery," Mrs Galliot told l’Est Republicain newspaper, adding that her daughter had been "living a nightmare" since Sunday’s attack.

The woman was rushed to hospital where she received treatment for her wounds, and a number of injections including one against Rabies. The poodle was treated at a nearby veterinary clinic.

A local police spokesman meanwhile suggested that the attack was "very unusual" and therefore "a cause of great concern".

He added: "Tourists from countries like Britain should certainly be wary – they should certainly not approach these cats, or try to feed them."

There are an estimated 8,000 feral cats born in France every day but they are generally considered relatively harmless.

Colonies of feral cats usually begin with people dumping unwanted, unsterilised pets.

Thursday 22 August 2013

Catch Me If You Can?

Elusive hippo finally caught in Cape Town

An elusive hippo who set up home in a sewage plant in Cape Town last year has finally been caught and shipped to a game reserve.

The young male had eluded capture after spending a few weeks in a suburban recreational lake, popping up in gardens and on roads, while on the run from its home reserve.

It then moved into the sewage treatment works, whose abundant water and lush grazing have made it a popular choice for the city's escapee hippos.

The operation to capture the hippo took 90 minutes, before it was transferred to a private game reserve, 240 miles east of Cape Town.

"He walked into a boma (enclosure) and then into a crate and then we closed the crate door, put the crate on a truck and drove him to Gondwana," said Julia Wood, the city's manager of biodiversity management.

The semi-aquatic animals are known to be extremely violent at times and can run faster than a human on land.

"We were very, very worried because obviously it's such a dangerous animal," Ms Wood said.

The hippo escaped a city-run nature reserve after part of a boundary fence was stolen, and took to an outer settling pond of the wastewater plant.

"They are dangerous animals but they aren't a risk as long as we can ensure that we can contain them," said Wood.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

An Elton Fan?

Elton John fan fined for playing Candle in the Wind for 18 hours

A man has been fined £1,000 by a court for repeatedly blasting out Elton John songs including Candle in the Wind non-stop for up to 18 hours at a time.

Jamie Smith, 44, made his neighbours' lives a misery for two years by playing the singer's hits until 5am.

He breached a noise abatement notice three times and was hauled into court and fined £1,000, ordered to pay £808 court costs and a £15 victim surcharge

His track list also included UB40, 1980s pop sensations Milli Vanilli, and gangsta rapper Eminem.

One neighbour, at St George House in Bristol, said: "None of us wanted to complain but something had to be done about it.

"He was just blasting it out. Sometimes he would put it on at 11pm and it would go through to 5am. It is stupidly loud.

"There has been a lot of problems with him and I can't believe he is still here to be honest.

"He is a triple-x nightmare neighbour he could not be any worse."

Another said: "He has got a lifestyle that is opposite to peaceful.

"He is addicted to gangster rap and you hear Elton John, UB40 and Milli Vanilli.

"Sometimes he would play it for 18 hours and then sleep for six hours.

"The council warned him but even after that he let himself down.

"He has disrupted lives around here and I don't think he has shown any remorse."

Bristol City Council prosecuted Smith after continued complaints from neighbours about the noise coming from his flat.

Environmental Health Officers visited the block of flats several times to monitor the sound, which was at a level that amounted to a statutory nuisance.

After several warnings a notice was served under section 80 of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

But the complaints continued and Smith appeared at Bristol Magistrates Court charged with three breaches of the noise abatement notice.

Thomas Ward, a pollution control officer, said: "We warned Mr Smith many times that he was in breach of the noise abatement notice and if he did again it would lead to court action.

"Neighbours have been very distressed at the unreasonable volume of music played day and night".

Jonquil Maudlin, neighbourhood enforcement team manager, added: "We do all that we can to get people to behave considerately before taking them to court.

"Prosecution is a last resort but residents have the right to live without unreasonable noise from their neighbours.

"If people persist in making their neighbours' lives difficult in this way we will take action."

Tuesday 20 August 2013


Horse-rider fined for taking pony into McDonald's after being refused drive-through service

A female horse-rider who was refused service in the drive-through lane of a McDonald’s while in the saddle, subsequently led the animal inside, where it defecated on the floor.

CCTV showed the woman and her daughter taking their pet into the restaurant after they were told they had to tie it up.

But then customers in the restaurant looked on in astonishment as the animal “ended up doing his business on the floor.”

The woman was issued with a fine after the incident at the branch on Bury New Road in Whitefield, Greater Manchester, last Saturday.

Police were called to the scene.

McDonald's said the horse had caused "distress" to customers in the restaurant and insisted they could not serve the rider at the drive-through for "health and safety" reasons.

A statement issued by Greater Manchester Police’s Whitefield Division read: “On Saturday, July 20, police from Whitefield received a call from McDonald's on Fountain Place regarding a woman on horse using the drive thru.

"The staff refused to serve the women due to company policy. The women then took the horse into the restaurant who ended up doing his business on the floor.

"The sight and smell of this caused obvious distress and upset to customers trying to eat, as well as staff members.

"Officers arrived at the location and woman was issued a Fixed Penalty notice for causing alarm & distress to other customers and staff."

A spokeswoman for McDonald's said: "I can confirm that on 20th July a woman allowed her pony to enter our restaurant in Whitefield after being refused service in the drive-thru lane.

"The incident caused distress to customers and disruption for the restaurant and the police issued the woman with a Fixed Penalty notice.

"The health and safety of our customers and staff is our top priority and for this reason we are unable to serve pedestrians, bicycle riders or customers on horseback through the drive-thru."

In March of this year a sea lion pup startled guests in a California luxury hotel after waddling in from a nearby beach, and pitching up at the patio bar.

In November 2010 a koala caused a stir at an Australian pub, after wandering inside on a stormy evening, taking up a position at the bar before falling asleep.

Monday 19 August 2013

Dropped A Bollock!!

Man who had testicle removed discovers 'cancer' was actually varicose vein

A man who was diagnosed with testicular cancer and had a testicle removed has claimed doctors ruined his life after it emerged he only had an enlarged varicose vein.

Kevin Ratcliffe underwent radiotherapy for six months, had the inside of his left testicle removed, and was warned his treatment may affect his chances of having children after he was told he had a malignant tumour.

The 23-year-old went to hospital for a check-up and doctors revealed he had never had the disease and the tumour was an enlarged varicose vein and a cyst.

Despite previously being told he had beaten cancer by specialists at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital, it emerged doctors had recorded the fact Mr Ratcliffe didn’t have cancer on his notes shortly after his misdiagnosis, but no one had bothered to tell him.

The former dairy worker was also forced to give up his dream of becoming a rugby player as he continued treatment, following the wrong diagnosis when he was just 17.

He said: “They realised it wasn't cancer seven years ago as it's on my records - but no-one ever bothered to tell me and all they could say was 'sorry' when they realised the mistake.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Sing Along?……….No!

Bar Was Fined for Pirated Karaoke Music

A number of music label affiliates in cooperation with the royalty collection agency called BMI have recently won a legal battle against the Texan hotel / bar Clarion Inn. The court decided that the establishment was hosting unauthorized karaoke events which featured music from Otis Redding, Willy Nelson and Johnny Cash. The court awarded copyright owners $45,000 in damages. This was just one of more than 80 lawsuits of such kind filed this year.

Royalty collection outfits often go to extremes as they go about extorting money on behalf of performers and music composers. For instance, in the US alone, this has resulted in hundreds of lawsuits, mostly filed again pubs and bars playing music without a proper license. Back in 2012, over a hundred of these cases were launched and in 2013 there are already over 80.

Most of these cases are resolved with a settlement, with bars or restaurants paying a few thousand dollars to eliminate the problem. Nevertheless, sometime a judgement is entered, like in the recent case against the Texan hotel / bar Clarion Inn. The royalty collection outfit BMI and a number of copyright owners, including Sony and Universal, have filed a lawsuit against the bar for playing karaoke songs without a proper license, claiming to have suffered considerable damage and demanded compensation.

In response to the accusations, the bar didn’t argue that it offered karaoke to the visitors, but the bar manager testified she wasn’t aware of any wrongdoing of the karaoke provider, because they are usually independently licensed. So, the manager claimed she didn’t intentionally violate any copyrights, and if she knew the service was illegal, she would have not allowed the performance.

However, the court dismissed her testimony and innocent infringer defense and awarded a summary judgement in favour of the music industry. The judge also pointed out that the Clarion Inn had already been warned on numerous occasions before and therefore can’t be considered innocent infringers. The court ruling resulted in a permanent injunction against the bar – for the 15 infringements the judge awarded $45,000 in statutory damages to the copyright owners and over $10,000 for attorneys’ costs.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Food For Thought?

£75 littering fine for feeding pasty scraps to a pigeon

A woman was issued with a £75 litter fine - for feeding a scrap of her leftover lunchtime pasty to a pigeon.

An onlooker said the woman was seen by a plain-clothes "education and enforcement" worker from Bolton council, and given the fixed penalty notice because she fed the bird.

Gavin Moynihan, an AA worker who witnessed the confrontation in Bolton city centre, told the Daily Mail: “A man came over and told her what she was doing was against some Act and gave her a fine. I was really shocked.

“I was really annoyed by what happened. I could not believe it. She was putting rubbish in the bin and then just gave a bit of her pasty to the birds.”

Bolton council said that her feeding of the pigeon was classed as littering because pigeons are “vermin” and should not be fed, even though she binned her pasty wrapper in the correct manner.

But it has now written to the woman to say she will not be fined, after it received a complaint over the incident.

A spokesman said: “It is not our intention to target individuals unnecessarily and issue fines where education is more appropriate.

“Feeding pigeons in the town centre is discouraged as the birds are vermin and seen as a nuisance to many.

“We will be writing to the individual with the intention of cancelling the fixed penalty notice, but would like to remind the public dropping litter is an offence and we would advise people not to encourage pigeons by feeding them.”

Despite Mr Moynihan’s outrage, a local shop worker said he supported the council’s stance.

Mark Schofield, 51, said: “If people are fined for dropping a cigarette end they should be fined for dropping any sort of litter.”

In 2009 a mother was given a £75 litter fine for feeding the ducks at her local park with her 17-month-old son Harry.

Vanessa Kelly, 26, vowed to fight the council “all the way” after visiting the park in Smethwick, West Midlands.

And last November a litter-picking enthusiast who spends an hour every day tidying up rubbish was stunned to find he had been fined £75 for putting refuse in a bin.

Former geologist David Baker, 39 from Stourbridge, was accused by council officials of fly-tipping because they said he had used a public street bin to deposit a pizza box and junk mail.

Figures show that almost 64,000 littering fines were issued by covert patrols in England last year, a 90-fold increase in 15 years.

Friday 16 August 2013

As Sharp As A…….?

Giant pencil sharpener becomes latest kitchen gadget

A new gadget that claims to peel vegetables in less than 30 seconds and stop people cutting their fingers has been launched, and looks like a giant pencil sharpener.

Makers of the tool, which looks and works like a traditional pencil sharpener, claim the design makes quick work of courgettes and carrots.

They say the Karoto can completely peel a carrot in less than 30 seconds, and the curled ribbon shavings left behind can be used to add a decorative extra to salads – as Britons become more hooked on reality cooking shows and series presented by celebrity chefs.

Makers also claim the tool can help people peel vegetables safely and reduces the risk of cutting fingers by slicing the skin off vegetables using a standard peeler or knife.

The Karoto was designed by Avichai Tadmoor for Monkey Business design studio in Israel and is three inches long and two inches wide.

The quirky kitchen gadget is one of a number of tools launched to make tasks easier and quicker in the kitchen, and can be used with long root vegetables such as carrots as well as courgettes, parsnips and cucumbers.

Jenni Day, sales manager at Luckies in London, which sells the tool, said: "It comes with restrictions for children's use as a lot of items of cutlery and kitchen gadgets do, but it is definitely easier to do than other ways of peeling vegetables.

“It looks like a pencil sharpener and works in a similar way and I would say it would take about 30 seconds to peel a carrot.

"Not only does it make peeling a fast process but it also leaves curls which can be used to decorate salads and brighten up other dishes.”

The Karoto is sold in orange and black for £9.95 plus postage.

Thursday 15 August 2013

No Charge??

VPN Providers Targeted by Credit Card Companies

Both MasterCard and Visa have recently started taking action against VPN providers by refusing them card access. For instance, Swedish payment provider named Payson has cut access to various anonymizing services after being ordered to do so by the credit card companies.

It turned out that VPN provider iPredator was one of the customers affected by this action. Its founder, Peter Sunde (who is also one The Pirate Bay founders), said that the company is considering legal action. Apparently, the credit card companies are taking action against VPNs that are linked to peer-to-peer piracy, following similar action from PayPal.

Swedish payment provider explained that it was complying with an urgent requirement from the credit card companies to stop accepting payments for VPN services. Peter Sunde doesn’t believe that the action is connected to piracy – instead, he thinks that it might be an attempt to prevent the public from covering their tracks on the Internet and preventing government spying. Sunder noted that corporations from the United States are forcing non-American companies to stop people protesting privacy encroachments and being anonymous. This allows the NSA spy even more.

Although Sunde’s service has a range of other payment options, The Pirate Bay founder believes it’s an outrage that MasterCard and Visa have for some reason decided to ban a perfectly legitimate technology. iPredator is not the only victim of the action – such companies as Anonine, Mullvad, VPNTunnel, Privatvpn and others are also using Payson's services. As such, Peter Sunde believes they can all join in any legal action.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Parrot Fashion?


Swearing parrot shocks rescue workers

A distinctive parrot has been found which dances, whistles, and swears like a sailor.

Officials from the Scottish SPCA, who were called to rescue him from a garden in Livingston, say they were immediately struck by the parrot's wide and colourful vocabulary.

Now they are trying to find the, possibly embarrassed, owner of the foul-mouthed bird, a Timneh African grey.

He is currently being looked after at the charity's rescue and rehoming centre at Balerno, Edinburgh where he was said to be "entertaining" the staff.

Assistant manager Kenny Sharpe said the bird had been nicknamed Sam.

Mr Sharpe said: "He is a real character. Not only does he know a vast array of swear words, he also dances and whistles if he feels he's not getting enough attention.

"He's a very friendly boy who will jump on your shoulder or hand so it seems someone has spent quite a bit of time taming him.

"Sam doesn't have an identity ring so unfortunately we've not been able to trace his owner."

He was rescued by the charity on July 6th.

Mr Sharpe added: "Hopefully someone will recognise him and come forward so we can return this rather mischievous bird home soon."

Tuesday 13 August 2013

Just Swanning About?

Son of vicious swan Mr Asbo terrorises Cambridge rowers

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water ...another swan, believed to be the son of vicious bird Mr Asbo, has been attacking rowers on the River Cam in Cambridge.

People living by the River Cam in Cambridge say the son of an aggressive swan is starting to follow in his father's footsteps - and is taking an active interest in boats.

He has already been dubbed 'Asboy' and has the same "cocky" nature as his dad.

Although he is yet to reveal a truly aggressive streak, some believe it may only be a matter of time.

Mr Asbo was moved to a secret location by the river authorities last year after his attacks on rowers escalated.

Oarsmen reported he would plough into them in "drone-style" attacks and bite their arms and legs.

Steve Austin, who has lived near The Plough pub in Fen Ditton, Cambridge for about 10 years, believes Asboy is capable of the same.

The 65-year-old said: "We know this river, and it might sound stupid but we know all the animals. We see them grow up and this is the son of Asbo, no doubt about it, and we call him Asboy.

"He's just started taking an interest in the boats and he is so cocky. "He walks into my garden, just like Mr Asbo used to, and we spar. He walks up to me with his wings out just like his dad did."

"He's not attacking the boats at the moment, but maybe that's because they did not have any young this year. He's still a young-un himself."

The Conservators of the River Cam decided to move Mr Asbo because they said his behaviour was risking the safety of river users as well as himself.

The move, to a secret location about 60 miles away, was approved by Natural England.

The conservators declined to comment on whether they were keeping tabs on Asboy or any of Mr Asbo's other offspring. Bill Key, president of the Cambridgeshire Rowing Association, said he had not heard of any reports of attacks on rowers.

He said: "That part of the river has been a pleasure to row in. You might get the odd swan fluttering their feathers during mating season, but compared with what we went through it's nothing.

"That was unbelievable. I was physically attacked on more than one occasion from a height."

Monday 12 August 2013


Milkman banned from whistling

A milkman who has been banned from whistling on his early morning rounds has questioned whether killjoys will also try to silence the birds.

Kevin Gifford’s bosses took the action after just five residents complained about him singing or whistling his favourite songs.

The father of three, 52, complained to the Sun that a whistling milkman was a “part of British life” and for the Dairy to issue him with a formal warning was “madness”.

He delivers to 340 houses a day in Leicester, and four of the complaints were not even from customers, he said, adding that they had accused him of breaching the peace, “or something ridiculous”.

“Are they going to complain about the birds singing as well? they make more noise than I do," Mr Gifford asked.

Mr Gifford, who listens to his favourite songs including 500 Miles by The Proclaimers on headphones, said that he sings if he knows the words or whistles if he does not.

The milkman, who admits that he is not very good at singing, added: "Lots of my customers love it. One lady came out of her house at 4.30am to say she thought it was wonderful, but I guess another tradition is getting a kicking.”

He complained that the warning from Kirby & West Dairy was effectively a ban as it stated he had to be quiet until 8am – when he had almost finished his rounds.

"I'm always in a good mood in the morning,” he said, remembering that in his youth the postman, milkman and binmen all used to make a noise.

“We go out in the snow, wind and rain — what's the point of being miserable? You've got to do your job."

His bosses confirmed that he had been disciplined, but insisted that they had not threatened to dismiss him.

General manager Kelvin Young said that Mr Gifford had been issued with a warning after ignoring requests to reduce the noise.

His favourite songs include God Save The Queen by the Sex Pistols, Live And Let Die by Paul McCartney, Wings Love To Love You Baby by Donna Summer and King Creole Elvis Presley.

Sunday 11 August 2013

Got Change?

Man steals £135,000 from parking meter – all in loose change

A man has been jailed for stealing more than $210,000 (£135,000) from parking machines across New York - entirely in loose change.
James Bagarozzo, who is a parking meter repair man, worked in Buffalo for more than 30 years and serviced its 1,200 meters.
The 58-year-old rigged dozens of machines so deposited quarters never dropped into the coin canister – allowing him to steal the money for himself.
FBI investigators found around $47,000 (£30,000) in cash and quarters in Bagarozzo’s home, including $40,000 (£25,000) hidden in his bedroom ceiling.
Over an eight-year period,  the parking meter perp used bags in his car or his deep-pocket work trousers to take the money home.
He would then roll the change in coin wrappers and exchange them for bank notes.
The FBI said the bank never questioned him because he said he had a friend in the vending machine business.
Special agent Rob Gross of the FBI Buffalo division, who investigated the case, said: ‘When he went to work, half of his day was spent stealing from the city.
‘He developed such a good relationship with the bank tellers that they eventually gave him boxes to use that held exactly $500-worth of quarters. He went to the bank several times a week with a $500 box of quarters and got cash in return.’
Bagarozzo has been jailed for two-and-a-half years and former colleague Lawrence Charles, who stole $15,000 (£9,500) in quarters, has been arrested.
Bagarozzo said he started stealing the coins when he became ill and was concerned about how he would financially provide for his wife and two teenage daughters.

Florida = I.T.

Florida Banned All Computers

The on-the-ball lawmakers of the US state seem to have accidently banned all PCs from Florida in one of the poorest cases of knee-jerk reaction seen in American politics.

It all started after one of its local leading politicians, Florida Lieutenant Governor Jennifer Carroll, became involved in an online gambling scandal. It turned out that a charity which she was connected with was closed down on suspicion of being an online gambling front. Although Carroll resigned, her colleagues still wanted to make sure that nobody could gamble online ever again.

Thus, they drafted a law which meant to close down all Internet cafes in Florida (the idea was that if you go to an Internet cafe, you can gamble online). Nevertheless, the wording of the law did more than just shut down Internet cafes – it turned out so broad that it actually banned the use of all PCs and smartphones in the state.

Indeed, the bill signed into law by Florida governor back in April 2013 got about 1,000 cafes immediately closed in a Chinese-style crackdown. The main problem was that the bill defined a gambling slot machine as “any machine or device or system or network of devices” which could be used in games of chance. As such, taken into account that almost every computer can play poker, all computers can be considered illegal. At the moment, Consuelo Zapata, an owner of the Miami-Dade county Internet cafe Incredible Investments, is suing Florida and demanding to overturn the ban, because the definition in question is too broad and could be applied to any number of electronic devices.

It seems that the state will win the “most stupid IT law” award of the year. The other challengers are Arizona, which updated its telecommunications harassment bill to target cyberbullies while making it against the law to troll someone on a message board, and New York, which tried to ban anonymous Internet comments.

Industry experts point out that in case the legislation is allowed to stand, it would mean that every PC, smartphone, smart TV, and games console may be required to be shipped out of Florida just in case they could be used for gambling. As such, it would turn the state into a place that could be quite popular with the Amish but few others. Well, at least they won’t be gambling anymore.

Saturday 10 August 2013

Wet & Soggy!!

Hapless owner leaves velvet-covered Ferrari outside in the rain

The £200,000 super car got heads turning due to it’s £5,000 black velvet coat, which while kitsch, proved not to react too well to the downpour!

The Ferrari 599’s looked decisively soggy after the deluge and it’s Middle Eastern owner told onlookers that it was the first time he had been caught in a shower.
A passerby said the sight of the velvet car had already turned heads, but seeing it wet was something else.

He said: “It looked even more fluffy than usual, it looked like it needed some Frizz Ease or something.

“The chap that owns it is an Arab and I suppose it doesn't rain as much in the Middle East, he told us it was the first time he had got it wet.”
This is not the first eccentric super car that has been spotted in the swish area of Knightsbridge, earlier in the week a porcelin-embedded Bugatti Veyron and a glow-in-the-dark Lamborghini were both seen parked on the streets near Park Lane.

Lawyer Up???

Law Firm Caught Red-Handed in Piracy Case

More than 1,000 Does were sued by AF Holdings over illegal downloads of their adult video. The suspicions were that AF Holdings was actually a front for Prenda Law, and that massive lawsuit was another case of commercial invoicing.

After launching the lawsuit, the studio had asked the court to order ISPs to disclose the names and addresses of their users. The court agreed, but the Internet service providers decided to fight for their subscribers and appealed the decision. As a result, 4 of the lawyers associated with the case received penalties of up to $80.000, with the judge claiming that Prenda Law “outmaneuvered the legal system”. In addition, an investigation was started on the company’s principals. However, the most interesting part was the following.

One of the lawyers representing defendants in lawsuits wondered who uploaded those videos in the first place. It turned out that almost all of them came from an unknown user, serving as a base for Prenda’s copyright lawsuits. The tech-head who developed a BitTorrent monitoring device helped to find out who was that. The files all pointed to one person. It is suspected that he has strings, strings that belong to another user. The puppeteer turned out to be none other than Peter Hansmeier, brother of Paul Hansmeier, and the one who has been monitoring the P2P traffic and pin-pointed the infringement. Hansmeier and John Steele are actually the founders of Prenda Law.

It is also suspected that both mentioned users could be one and the same person. Indeed, proofs that the law firm was uploading the videos pile up, as the uploader shared the videos through The Pirate Bay, which stores its users’ IP addresses, and they appeared to be identical to those of John Steele. The lawyers announced that from all the evidence it can be concluded that John Steele or someone under his control or with access to his account was the most probable candidate for the uploader of the videos.

In response, John Steele denied all the accusations, claiming that he has categorically denied uploading a single torrent in his life. Steele assured that he also doesn’t know anybody who has ever used torrents. He concluded that if someone were to be found uploading the torrent that they owned, the legality of this move is unknown.

In the meanwhile, the industry experts say that the whole fiasco is clearly an eye-opener, and Prenda Law might get what it deserves in this case.

Friday 9 August 2013

The Aliens Have Spoken?

Google Asked to Censor Bad Press

The Church of Scientology, known in Germany as a kind of sect exploiting vulnerable people for profit and based on the sci-fi novels of Ron Hubbard, was reported to have a crack at getting the search giant to censor bad press.

Scientologists pointed out that over the years their cyber-footprint is a bit off with the worldwide web full of negative publications about the cult. Today, Geir Isene, formerly a top level Scientologist turned whistleblower, has announced that the leaders of the Church met with Google’s Sergey Brin and asked him whether it were possible for Google to censor search results so that only positive posts about the Church would be returned on the query “Scientology”.

Well, a rational person would understand what the answer of Sergey Brin was like. Of course, Google’s founder couldn’t agree to do what the sect asked for, but the Scientologists weren’t discouraged and went as far as to try their luck meeting the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) – although the latter had regularly criticized the Church for its stands against online freedoms. Geir Isene begged the Church’s officials to give him a full day to explain the worldwide web to them before having the meeting. Nevertheless, the Electronic Frontier Foundation still put the Church of Scientology into its “Takedown Hall of Shame” which indicates that for a sci-fi based “religion” the latter experiences troubles understanding technology. In his book, titled “From Independent Scientologist to Just Me”, Geir Isene was telling how he tried his best to explain how the worldwide web works.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Spies Are Us??

WikiLeaks Volunteer Appeared FBI Spook

WikiLeaks worker known as “Siggi” Thordarson has recently outted himself as a double agent for the FBI. Media reports said that Thordarson was a long time volunteer for the whistleblowing service having direct access to Assange and a key organizer. Siggi had the role of double agent for 3 months, while earning $5,000 for his trouble, because the FBI flew him internationally 4 times for debriefings.

The guy was only 17 when he joined WikiLeaks three years ago. Thordarson joined after the service published internal bank documents connected to the local financial crisis. So, when the local staff revolted over what they considered Assange’s self-promotion, Julian put Thordarson in charge of the WikiLeaks chat room, making him the initial point of contact for new volunteers, journalists, potential sources, and outside groups.

Thordarson was also the intermediary in the negotiations with the Bradley Manning Defense Fund which led to WikiLeaks donating $15,000 to the defense of its alleged prime source. Two years ago, Thordarson was implicated in a political scandal where a laptop with spying gear was found running unattended in an empty office of the Parliament.

It was reported that Julian Assange promised to back Thordarson in return for total loyalty, and the latter visited Ellingham Hall where Assange was under house arrest while fighting extradition to Sweden. Thordarson is known for his attempts to get Lulzsec to hack Iceland’s government systems. He created and uploaded a 40-second mobile phone video which opened on the IRC screen with the chat in progress and floated across the room to show Assange at work with an associate.

FBI got this video right after they arrested Lulzsec’s leader, Hector Xavier Monsegur (also known as Sabu). The Bureau warned Iceland, and its own huge team came to the country, asking for help of authorities. Although they failed to catch Thordarson, he approached the FBI in two months.

In the interview, he said that he cooperated because he didn’t want to be a part of Anonymous and Lulzsec hack for WikiLeaks. However, the press admitted that the more likely reason was the adventure. In order to prove that he did have an adventure, he showed emails between him and the FBI, flight records for his travels, and an FBI receipt proving that he gave them 8 hard

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Here’s A Surprise!

Adobe Will Turn Infringers into Customers

Adobe seems to believe that instead of blaming file-sharers for infringing copyright, the content creators should find a way to make them paying customers. This is why Adobe has developed a plan, and they’re not the only ones to do so.

Anti-Piracy and Content Protection Summit 2013 revealed an astonishing surprise: the Anti-Piracy Operations section at Warner Bros announced the company’s intention to reconsider its position on piracy. Apparently, Warner Bros realized that piracy works as an agent for consumers’ needs. This is why the studio started to adjust its marketing plan to attract people to legitimate material. In addition, the company considers that copyright owners might give consumers exactly what they want and when they want it. Everyone knows why people pirate content instead of buying it – hopefully, the industry is also getting the point.

Adobe has the same idea, saying that the strategy and concept of moving from common “enforcement-led anti piracy” to a “business-focused pirate-to-pay conversion program” is a great change, which involves changes in operational and cultural elements. Today, everyone seems tired of the overall concept and term “anti-piracy” along with the term “content protection”. In other words, the situation feels like an ongoing war which has been going on for more than two decades with the same old “good-guy vs bad-guy” battles.

Adobe went on by saying that while the problem of Internet piracy can’t be ignored, the solution to it can be achieved only by the businesses who are trying to fight against it. The company points out that the core fundamental aspect is not technology, but rather understanding of what is really happening. Within the last 20 years, Adobe has consistently found that very few people actually have real facts about what is happening. But once you have the facts, it will change both beliefs and actions. The company is now taking a new approach – Adobe shifts its focus from boxed products to cloud-based subscriptions. Thus far, the company has already launched Creative Cloud, regarded as a solution to better the prices of Photoshop and a number of other software products.

The representatives of the company admit they don’t think users who pirate their software do it because they are bad or like to steal things. These people must have decided that they just can’t afford it.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Three Strikes & Not Out?

Fate of French Anti-Piracy Law

Four years ago, France implemented the toughest anti-piracy legislation in the world. However, today things may change due to the France’s new government. At the moment, the country’s anti-piracy legislation states that repeat offenders will have their Internet account suspended, but these drastic measures were regarded as unconstitutional and abrasive from the very beginning.

Despite claims of the ex-president Nicolas Sarkozy that the “graduated response system” was a good idea, it turned out that the legislation was too expensive to justify the effort. After so many years and millions of euros spent on manpower and e-mail notices, HADOPI agency may go offline forever. Indeed, 12 million euros annually and 60 officers is quite an expensive way to send out e-mails. Now ADOPI is said t stifle the growth of digital economy. There were proposals to switch from disconnection to fines of 60-80 euros for repeat offenders. The recent reports favored the disbandment of HADOPI, but not before transferring some of its prerogatives to the France’s media regulator.

These ideas proved to gain the support of governmental officials, despite other reports, showing that disconnecting repeat infringers pushed others towards legitimate alternatives. At the same time, a French recording company group revealed that the music industry’s revenues decreased by 6.7% in the first quarter of 2013, with France’s population preferring unauthorized alternatives. Indeed, the number of people visiting “rogue websites” has increased by 7% within the last 3 years. The recording company admitted that disconnecting people from the web is not a solution. The better option is e-mail notification system and bigger fines for repeat infringers. In the meanwhile, HADOPI supporters claim that disconnecting subscribers from the web was never the point of the legislation. Instead, it was meant to be an educational and deterrent measure.

France’s “three-strikes” system was later adopted by other countries, including South Korea and the United States. But the entertainment industry is still recommended to focus more on blocking infringing portals rather than on individuals. It is still to be seen what France will do next and how these changes will affect the entertainment industry.

Monday 5 August 2013

It’s All A Game?

Apple Forced Amazon to Raise Prices

It turned out that Apple’s price cartel with publishers forced the online retailer to raise the prices of its e-books and enter into similar deals with its publishers. According to Russell Grandinetti, the company’s vice president for Kindle content, strengthened by an agreement with Apple which fixed the prices for their respective e-books higher, the publishers strong-armed online retailer into offering them similar terms.

As you might know, the US Department of Justice has taken Apple to court over price-fixing after reaching out-of-court settlements with a number of major publishers, including MacMillan, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Hachette Books and Penguin. Actually, Apple’s Chief Executive Officer Steve Jobs even bragged about the deal in his biography, where he admitted that the deal meant higher e-book prices.

Press reports say that Russell Grandinetti sat down with Macmillan CEO Jon Sargent. The latter offered a stark choice: it could face a months-long delay between the hardcover release of a book and its appearance on Kindle. The other option was to convert from the reseller to agency model, where publishers have a heavier hand in setting retail pricing. Finally, Macmillan and Amazon ended up in conflict. In result, Amazon yanked the publisher's e-books from its digital shelves, but in the end the company backed down and allowed customers to decide whether they believe it's reasonable to pay $14.99 for a bestselling e-book. The emails emerged where Apple CEO Steve Jobs insisted to News Corp executive James Murdoch that the retailer’s pricing was ultimately unsustainable, but experts believe that it’s mostly because he said so.

Sunday 4 August 2013


Let's have fox hunting in London, says Boris

Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, has said he would like to introduce fox hunting in London to deal with the growing problem.

The Mayor of London said he knew the idea would cause "massive unpopularity" among animal lovers but said "I don't care".

He described how he had recently been left so angry after his cat was attacked that he was tempted to go out and "blaze away" with his air rifle.

He said: "This will cause massive unpopularity and I don't care. I'm pro liberty and individual freedom. If people want to get together to form the fox hounds of Islington I'm all for it.

"I got wild with anger not so long ago because I thought our cat had been mauled by a fox. I wanted to go out with my 2.2 and blaze away.

"After I had felt these feelings of blind anger to the fox population I started to wonder if his injuries were compatible with cat on cat. It is all too easy to stigmatise people."

He recommended, however, that people with fox problems should call pest control.

Saturday 3 August 2013

Movie Buffs??

New Anti-Piracy Device Developed for Cinemas

Anti-piracy groups may be interested in using a new tool developed by a 30-year-old Indian software engineer. The innovative device meant to spot when people are using their cutting-edge smartphones or handy cameras to record video in theatres.

The developer, Varghese Babu, spent 3 years on creating his invention. However, the price of the device ($27,000) wouldn’t necessarily mean the end of piracy. Though, it can of course mean the end of Babu’s poverty. The developer called the tool “Demolish Duplica”. Basically, it is a hardware unit located in movie theatres. Once anyone tries to camcord a movie, the hardware unit recognizes the equipment used and stops the recording. In the meanwhile, an alert is sent to a server and the anti-piracy cell of police.

The developer explained that his tool can record the serial number of the smartphone or the handycam, along with the details of the location from where the recording was being done. This information can then be accessed by the authorities. The abilities of the new tool also include track tampering of the film during the editing process.

When the developer was asked whether there are any other similar products on the market, he claimed that had there been any other similar tool available, there would have been no pirated versions available of new movies. Varghese Babu also claimed that he had been receiving inquiries from the entertainment industry and now he was completing the formalities for getting the tool patented. In the meanwhile, the US industry experts express doubts in efficiency of such devices in American theatres. Well, it all depends on the MPAA’s decision, of course.

Friday 2 August 2013

A Dead Loss?

Burglar rings police after bumping into dead body while robbing house

A terrified burglar in New Zealand called police after he bumped into a hanged body while prowling around a darkened house.

The burglar's screams awoke neighbours as he fled the property he had broken into, just after midnight in the North Island city of Hamilton.

He ran home and telephoned police to report the grisly find and turn himself in.

Hamilton-based Senior Sergeant Freda Grace said:"He got a heck of fright, that's for sure.

"It would have been terrible for anyone."

The body in the house was that of a man who is believed to have committed suicide.

Officers who were trying to contact the man's relatives confirmed that his death was not considered suspicious, and said the case would be handed over to the coroner.

Sgt Grace said that in the circumstances it is unlikely the 21-year-old burglar will be charged, but he would be given a stern warning.

Inspector Greg Nicholls, the area commander, said officers were investigating the "most unusual" case, which was unlike anything he had encountered in 28 years in the police force.

"I'm hopeful that this may be a career-changing moment for that burglar," he told the New Zealand Herald.

"I dare say for the burglar, if we remove the criminality of what he was doing, it would be really shocking.

"Can you imagine what that would be like in the dark?" Another police source said the burglar might have decided to turn himself in because he feared he would become implicated in a more serious criminal investigation when the body was eventually discovered.

Thursday 1 August 2013


Thief covered face with clear plastic bag

Police caught a thief after CCTV footage showed him with a clear plastic bag on his face.

A drunk thief covered his face with a transparent plastic big as he robbed a Co-Op petrol station in St Austell, Cornwall.

Jamie Neil, 41, was caught on the shop’s CCTV camera and later recognised by an off duty police officer.

During the robbery, he tried to pretend his mobile phone was a gun but was caught out when the screen lit up.

Truro Crown Court heard how Neil and his accomplice Gareth Tilley, 20, were drunk on alcohol and stolen medication when they robbed the shop on September 27 last year.

Neil was sentenced to two years in prison last week. Tilley had previously received his two year sentence.

Speaking after the hearing Detective Constable Steve White said Neil's disguise was the most "ridiculous" he had ever come across.

He said: "Before arriving at the location Tilley disguised his face using a scarf and Neil, being less resourceful, put a plastic bag on his head.

"I investigated the case with CCTV and forensic evidence used to identify the assailants."

The court heard how Tilley pointed his phone at lone shop assistant Kim Clowes, 20, and demanded cash when she realised it was not a gun and pressed an alarm.

Neil then wrestled with her before head butting her and fleeing with several bottles of spirits.

His face was easily visible through the plastic bag and a CCTV image was distributed among the police.

Two days later off-duty detective constable Lauren Holley was driving her mother home when she recognised Neil and called for backup.

Neil, of Bethel, Cornwall, was convicted of robbery last Friday and sentenced by Judge John Neligan, who praised the shop assistant's courage.

Tilley, of no fixed abode, pleaded guilty last November.