Saturday, 31 May 2008

lambs to the slaughter

Family's shock at council spying (BBC News, Friday, 11 April 2008)

Spy law 'used in dog fouling war' (BBC News, Sunday, 27 April 2008)

Draconian legislation that was presented to us as indispensable in the fight against terrorism and organised crime is now being used to investigate minor offences. How much furore did this spark? Not much. It took The Guardian several weeks to pursue the second story:

Council accused of foul play to catch guilty dog owners
(The Guardian, Thursday May 22 2008)

although the issue was parenthetically mentioned in:

Council used terror law to spy on fishermen
(The Guardian, Wednesday May 14 2008)

Apparently, even newspapers said to be to the left of the political spectrum are slow to report about the government snooping on us.

It also took much of the British press more than a week to get the facts straight on this shameful matter:

Student was 'studying terrorism' (BBC News, Friday, 23 May 2008)

Student researching al-Qaida tactics held for six days (The Guardian, Saturday May 24, 2008)

Note that the facts were known many days before:

Anger Over "Terror Arrests" at Nottingham University (Indymedia UK, 20.05.2008)

I would not be surprised if this is the last we hear about it from the 'respectable' media. Who cares about two young guys with Islamic sounding names, one of whom is fucking Algerian! The daily gibberish uttered by a warmonger and religious crackpot is much more newsworthy: Blair's faith in difficult task, BBC News 31 May; Blair launches faith foundation, BBC News 30 May; Blair 'to devote life to faith', BBC News 29 May.

Your name is not Rizwaan or Hisham? You're not a student of politics and international relations? You've nothing to hide? Then rest assured your government will fully respect your privacy and not put you in jail for up to 28 (soon 42) days for no reason whatsoever. Sleep tight!

virtual freedom

Computer generated abuse 'banned' (BBC News, Wednesday, 28 May 2008)

This loophole is real. But the remedy is really perverse
(The Guardian, Saturday May 31 2008)

Soon, they may put me in jail for three years for publishing this drawing on the internet:

However, this would be perfectly legal:

Under the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, drawing and distributing this image may also carry a prison sentence of 2 years (virtual zoophile pornography):

Kudos to the brave people who challenge Scientology (and its collaborators among the City of London police), but let us not ignore an even greater threat to freedom and democracy. NuLabour is a dangerous cult that will continue to nibble at the edges of our civil liberties until there is nothing left.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Church to debate convert motion

Church to debate convert motion (BBC News, Sunday, 25 May 2008)
BBC News religious affairs correspondent Robert Pigott says Mr Eddy's stance is likely to alienate many Muslims at a highly-sensitive time in the relationship between Islam and Christianity in the UK.

This says more about Robert Pigott than about the reality of Britain today. A religion is a delusion that sees itself as superior to similar delusions. This certainly holds for the three main Abrahamic religions. The supposition that Islam is somehow more open-minded is refuted by its pronounced belief that Christianity and Judaism are at best corruptions of the pure message of Islam.

As antitheist, I would like to see people convert to reason rather than to fiction. To argue against conversion of Muslims to Christianity because this might insult some other Muslims is preposterous however. In the current climate, anything is seen as an insult, even refusal to convert to Islam.


US strike 'kills Iraqi civilians' (BBC News, Thursday, 22 May 2008)

It is likely this is the first and last report we will receive about the latest atrocity committed by our 'allies', under the guise of 'collateral damage'. Note that two children were among those who died.

What the Maddie circus is concerned, May has been a relatively quiet month, but still, there were BBC News articles about the McCann girl on May 24, May 14, May 12, May 7, May 6, May 3 (three articles), May 2 (two articles), May 1 (three articles). All this for one child, who has been missing for over a year.

At the moment, the Americans seem more concerned about the Koran shooting incident than about human lives:

Bush apology for Koran shooting (BBC News, Tuesday, 20 May 2008)

Also in some parts of the Islamic world, aforementioned bundle of paper with the ramblings of a 7th century psychopath takes precedence over the value of human lives:

Three die in Afghan Koran protest (BBC News, Thursday, 22 May 2008)

Not that this should come as a surprise. Consider e.g.:

Nigeria teacher dies 'over Koran' (BBC News, Wednesday, 21 March 2007)

To see things in perspective, remember that whenever someone is foolish enough to try to bring a Bible into Saudi Arabia, it is confiscated at the airport and unceremoniously shredded. If someone is foolish enough to bring more than one Bible, he or she is in for a lot of trouble indeed.

Blair was chased over unpaid bill

Blair was chased over unpaid bill (BBC News, Friday, 23 May 2008)

Perhaps someone should kindly point out to the BBC editors that just because they can publish such information, it doesn't mean they should.

The Blairs at some point misplaced a bill of £147. Is this Tony Blair's greatest sin? Wasn't there some other matter?

Unless they want to report that the death penalty will be reintroduced for political leaders who have betrayed Britain and all of humanity in a particularly blatant manner, what's the purpose of boring us with irrelevant financial details about the Blair household?

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Brown reveals global moral vision

Brown reveals global moral vision (BBC News, Saturday, 17 May 2008)

Way to go, Gordon! If you don't have any, then at least talk about them. Morals, I mean.

Friday, 16 May 2008

travel advice

Taking your laptop into the US? Be sure to hide all your data first (Guardian, Thursday May 15 2008)

In fact, why only do this when travelling?

Many search warrants in the UK are granted by magistrates. As a rule, magistrates are incompetent twats, who receive an impressive six days of training before being allowed to throw people in jail and order the violation of the sanctity of someone's home. Consequently, any turd in a suit, for example a TV licence inspector, can convince a magistrate to issue a search warrant, on the basis of the fuzzy concept 'reasonable grounds'. During the search, computer equipment may be confiscated and subjected to computer forensics.

(By the way, Britain is really the odd one out in Europe. For example, no search warrant would ever be issued in Germany for the trifling matter of TV licences.)

For a minority of us, our PCs and laptops contain some data that might be incriminating in a legal sense. Very often, this data is present without us realising it. Examples are browsing histories and cached data, which may reveal we have a predilection for a certain type of images. For a minute portion of computer users, there may be an actual intent to break the law by storing certain data. For most of us however, it is simply a huge embarrassment to find our most private data, such as diaries and nude images of lovers, in the hands of a spotty lab technician, even if this data is not unlawful.

There are a few things however that computer users can do to arm themselves against this form of oppression. First, never use any Microsoft crap. Use of Vista and related inferior products will in the end make you lose your sanity. More important in this context is that they offer the user little control over what happens behind the scenes, and it is difficult to ascertain that data one thinks has been deleted is really gone irretrievably.

Secondly, one should make an inventory of log files and 'tmp' directories where data is silently being collected while one views and manipulates other files. Notorious culprits are multimedia players, which create logs of viewed files, and file browsers, which keep 'deleted' files until the relevant 'trash cans' are explicitly emptied. All such log files and temporary directories should be erased regularly. Computer savvy users may want to write scripts to do that automatically upon logout. This will of course only be effective if one logs out regularly, which is recommended in any case.

It may also be advisable to run tools that temporarily swallow up all unused memory and erase any residual information contained therein.

Lastly, one should keep confidential data separate from other data, on an encrypted hard disk, with an outer and hidden volume, accessible with two different passwords. From here, Bruce Schneier's instructions in above-mentioned article should be followed.

Addendum (2008-06-08):

It seems many computer users in the past have been screwed thanks to their browsers. Apart from aforementioned browsing history, there is the cache, which stores copies of visited web pages, including images therein. Furthermore, many sites leave cookies, which represent evidence of browsing habits. Some browsers (e.g. Firefox) can be configured to clear some or all private data upon closing. Make use of this!

Lastly, beware of compromised software or hardware. After someone who cannot be trusted has had access to one's computer equipment, it is no longer safe to enter a password, as spyware might have been installed that monitors the keyboard.

Addendum (2008-06-17):

As we already knew, Microsoft sucks:

Vista encryption 'no threat' to computer forensics
(The Register, Friday 2nd February 2007)

In contrast, full disk encryption is entirely secure, given a few precautions. In particular, the machine must be switched off well before the adversary gets hold of it. And of course, a strong password is essential.

Cf. The impact of full disk encryption on digital forensics

Cartoonist Arrested for Discrimination

Furore over Cartoonist Arrested for Discrimination (NIS News Bulletin 17/05/08)

In some countries, police protect cartoonists against Islamist scum trying to harm them. In other countries, the police are the scum.

If it is any comfort to the Dutch people: The police here in Britain are even worse, but our cartoonists are simply too docile to get themselves into any kind of trouble over sensitive issues.

Then there is a Canadian cartoon controversy (GagWatch, Tuesday 13 May 2008).

Thursday, 15 May 2008

kill the messenger

Police apologise over mosque show (BBC News, Thursday, 15 May 2008)

Political correctness in the UK...

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Cannabis laws to be strengthened

Cannabis laws to be strengthened (BBC News, Wednesday, 7 May 2008)
protect the public

Right, spending up to 5 years in jail is much healtier than smoking a few joints.

Reclassifying cannabis as class B drug will not change the penalties for dealing, only for possession, i.e. for using. Users are not normally caught, except for a few unlucky sods, for example, whose 'friends' send videotapes to the police. After being branded as criminals, their lives will subsequently be ruined, whereas before they might have been decent people with an occasional craving for a high.

And Gordon Brown said at prime minister's questions that he believed making cannabis a class B drug was supported by the public and the police.

The war on Iraq was not supported by the public.

What would be supported by the public is if Gordon Brown and his ilk would sod off, as confirmed by the recent local elections.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

CCTV boom 'failing to cut crime'

CCTV boom 'failing to cut crime' (BBC News, Tuesday, 6 May 2008)

From the data, sensible people would conclude the loss of privacy due to surveillance cameras cannot be justified by the insignificant portion of crimes that they help prevent or solve. But no, the solution is a "new database", and no doubt more cameras in the near future.
There are more than 4.2 million cameras in the UK
That is roughly one camera per 15 Britons, but it's still not enough to reduce crime to a measurable degree. Perhaps we should go for one camera per person, implanted into our foreheads after birth, so no crime need ever go unsolved.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Passenger 'moons' at speed camera

Passenger 'moons' at speed camera (BBC News, Thursday, 1 May 2008)

The story is without merit in itself, except as cheap entertainment for the typical braindead BBC audience. The way it is presented however deserves some thought. We witness here that voyeurism takes precedence over any critical attitude towards Big Brother.
Officers have the registration of the car, which was not breaking the speed limit, and intend to contact its owner. [...] no driving offence was being committed.
The passenger was obviously not wearing his seat belt, but that does not seem to be the main concern to the police. Now I wonder, if the car was not breaking the speed limit and no other driving offence was being committed, why was any policeman looking at these pictures in the first place? There is mention of a speed camera, but under the circumstances, it seems more appropriate to talk of a surveillance camera, as if we didn't have enough of those in Britain.

"Not only is it disrespectful, but distasteful and offensive, particularly to children who may have been exposed to this nonsense.
Was it disrespectful to the policeman who is wasting taxpayers' money checking whether all car passengers are properly dressed? He deserves all our heartfelt disrespect. And are we Americans, who think that the sight of an inch of bare skin will unavoidably turn children into sex criminals?

In this country, it does not suffice that we tolerate being observed by CCTV cameras all the time, we are actually supposed to give them friendly smiles. Give one the finger, and we are personally rebuked by a copper who has nothing better to do.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Foreign beef 'is sold as British'

Foreign beef 'is sold as British' (BBC News, Thursday, 1 May 2008)

Aren't we glad the BBC is so concerned with our welfare.

They claim consumers do not realise when they are being served poor-quality meat from parts of the world with lower standards of animal welfare and hygiene.

Of 188,535 documented cases of BSE world wide, 183,823 occurred in Britain. Of 193 documented cases of Creutzfeldt-Jakob, 163 occurred in Britain.

Enjoy your British beef!