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Chinese censor prosecuted for taking bribes to censor remarks companies and government officials disliked

Censorship invites abuse. In China, the widespread practice of Internet censorship means that lots of people are authorized to hand down censorship orders and lots more people naturally turn to censorship when something on the Internet bugs them. This week, Chinese authorities prosecuted an "Internet policeman" who took payments from companies in return for censoring unfavorable remarks about them on social media. He's accused of censoring more than 2,500 posts in return for over $300K in payments. He also collaborated with another official to censor critical remarks about government officials. It seems unlikely that Gu, the Internet policeman who was arrested, and Liu, his collaborator, were the only two censors-for-hire in the Chinese system.

Lest you think that this problem is uniquely Chinese, consider that when Wikileaks leaked the Great Firewall of Australia's blacklist, we learned that more the half the sites on the list didn't meet the censorship criteria. And when the Danish and Swedish blacklists were analyzed, it emerged that more than 98 percent of the sites blocked did not meet the official criteria for censorship. And in the UK, the national firewall once blocked all of Wikipedia.

China Prosecuted Internet Policeman In Paid Deletion Cases

Gross-out makeup: flayed-skin domino mask


Makeup artist Psycho Sandra created an amazing, gross-out effect for her Hallowe'en costume last year: she created the illusion that she had made a domino mask of her own flayed skin. She's got a whole gallery of bloody makeup effects on her site, including a crazy zombie to die (and come back) for.

Halloween 2013 (via IO9)

Swedish yule goat burns. Again

Linguinineenie writes, "Despite the best efforts of the authorities, vandals have managed yet again to burn down the Yule Goat in the city of Gavle. This is at least the 24th burning since Gavle started putting up a giant version of the traditional Yule Goat in 1966. While illegal, it's become something of a cat and mouse game between the erectors and the destroyers." Cory 7

Sweden's telcos hand over mass spying powers to police, tax authority, customs and other agencies

Under a new, extra-legal voluntary arrangement, Swedish telcos will turn over detailed call records, location data, and billing information to a wide variety of government agencies, including the tax authorities, police, and customs. The data will also include codes necessary to bypass Swedes' SIM PINs and covertly activate them over the air. Because this is a voluntary arrangement, there is no legal framework for it -- it wasn't the result of a law or act of Parliament. It's just a cozy arrangement between Sweden's carriers and the Swedish state.

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Swedish cinemas rate films on their Bechdel Test score


Four Swedish movie theaters have started publishing gender scores for the movies they exhibit, based on the films' ability to pass the Bechdel Test ("must have at least two named female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man"). A surprising number of movies fail this test. The initiative is supported by the Swedish Film Institute, a government agency that represents a major source of funding for Swedish film, and one of the region's cable operators is devoting a Sunday to movies that pass the test, which comes from Alison Bechdel's excellent comic, Dykes to Watch Out For.

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Testicle-eating fish spotted in Swedish/Danish waters


Experts from the Danish National History Museum have warned that pacus -- a relative of the piranha -- have been spotted in the Danish/Swedish Øresund channel. The pacu has been known to bite swimmers, and have been known to attack men's testicles, because "testicles sit nicely in their mouth." So men are being cautioned to avoid nude swimming in the channel, though the museum's Henrik Carl stresses that the risk is not very high, in the grand scheme of things: "You're more likely to drown than get your nuts bitten off."

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Mouldering city built of bread is a metaphor for Earth without humans


Swedish artist Johanna Mårtensson created this installation depicting a cityscape made of bread in 2009, and photographed it as it decayed, creating a series of pictures representing the destiny of all human folly come the day that we make ourselves extinct and vanish from the face of the Earth:


I was inspired by an article about how well the earth would do without us. Within 500 years all buildings would be half fallen or fallen, perfect homes for animals and plants. The forrest would soon grow in cities. After hand buildings as well as pollutions would be taken care of by bacterias and micro-organisms. An ufo that came here in a couple of of hundred thousand years would not see many signs of that a gang of primates ones thought that they where the lords of the planet.

Decor Photoinstallation by Johanna Mårtensson (via Crazy Abalone)

UK spooks' candid opinions of the Assange affair revealed

Julian Assange has presented a set of freedom-of-information data protection act liberated messages from GCHQ, the UK spy headquarters, concerning his own case. According to Assange, the messages reveal that UK spies believed that the Swedish rape inquiry against him was a "fit up" aimed at punishing him for his involvement in Wikileaks (many believe that the Swedish government would have aided in Assange's extradition to the USA, where there is a sealed Grand Jury indictment against him). He also revealed cables relating to the spies' candid opinion about his sheltering in the Ecuadorian embassy:

A message from September 2012, read out by Assange, apparently says: "They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ … It is definitely a fit-up… Their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate..."

...A second instant message conversation from August last year between two unknown people saw them call Assange a fool for thinking Sweden would drop its attempt to extradite him.

The conversation, as read out by Assange, goes: "He reckons he will stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for six to 12 months when the charges against him will be dropped, but that is not really how it works now is it? He's a fool… Yeah … A highly optimistic fool."

GCHQ acknowledges that the messages are real, but, "The disclosed material includes personal comments between some members of staff and do not reflect GCHQ's policies or views in any way."

Julian Assange reveals GCHQ messages discussing Swedish extradition [Giles Tremlett and Ben Quinn/Guardian]

Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde is a candidate for Pirate Party MEP in Finland


Peter "brokep" Sunde -- who co-founded The Pirate Bay and founded Flattr, a system for allowing fans to directly pay the artists they love -- is standing for the European Parliament in Finland on behalf of the Finnish Pirate Party. Sunde was raised in Sweden, but has Finnish roots, and is able to run there. His platform sounds like an admirable and sensible one, and my personal experience of him is that he's a good, thoughtful and honorable person. If I were in Finland, he'd have my vote:

“Non-commercial file sharing should of course become legal and protected, and must re-think copyright all together. Copyright is not the thing that makes ARTISTS money, it’s only for their brokers and distributors,” Sunde says.

“I’d rather see us sponsor culture by pushing more money to music education, and facilities for your people to create music. It would be much more sane for cultural advancement then extending copyrights.”

If elected Sunde hopes to be aggressive rather than defensive. This means not just responding to treats to Internet freedom, such as ACTA, but ensuring that this type of legislation doesn’t even make it onto the political agenda in the first place.

“I think there’s a huge possibility for us to impact the EU and I would like to be part of it,” Sunde says.

The Pirates are delighted to have the Pirate Bay founder on board. Harri Kivistö, chairman of the the Finnish Pirate Party, says that Sunde’s candidacy will raise the visibility of the party during the upcoming election. Perhaps more importantly, his values fit well within the Pirate Party movement.

Pirate Bay Co-Founder to Run For European Parliament [Ernesto/TorrentFreak]

(Image: Peter Sunde, Amphiteater, a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike (2.0) image from shareconference's photostream)

IKEA-style vibrator

LELO, a Swedish sex-toy company, has produced an IKEA-style, assemble-it-yourself vibrator called GӒSM (what else?) that comes with its own Allen key.

GӒSM is the world’s first truly eco-friendly vibe, made with100% recycled materials and powered by a revolutionary new rotation charging method pioneered by LELO. Meanwhile, GӒSM arrives in an 8-piece set that you assemble yourself, allowing you to take pride in piecing together your pleasure, and the money saved on production costs goes directly to you!

Meet GӒSM, LELO’s Cleanest, Greenest Vibe (via The Mary Sue)

Eyeball mouth


This amazing eye-teeth makeup job comes from Swedish makeup artist PsychoSandra, who has an awful lot of equally astonishing samples on her site: "Haha I thought it was a long time since I did something with my lips. Wanted to do something weird, yes, I can say that it is weird. But pretty, it's not, but I had fun anyway. That's what counts, or?!;)"

Well it was fun anyway (via JWZ)

Pirate Bay documentary TPB:AFK ready for download

At long last TPB:AFK, the Kickstarter-funded documentary about the persecution of The Pirate Bay is finished and online, and ready for you to download:

Peter Sunde, one of the three founders followed in the documentary, previously told TorrentFreak that he has mixed feelings about the final TPB AFK cut but that “it tells an important story.”

TPB-AFK highlights a lot of the negative events the three founders went through, ending with the final guilty verdict early last year. Needless to say these events had quite an impact on their lives.

“It’s still a fucked up story and the film makes me think about the past years of my life quite a lot,” Sunde says.

The Pirate Bay founder added that he might have chosen other material to include and that many of the good parts have been left out.

“It’s Simon’s decision what to include and it’s his view of our story. I like that he’s independent from us and that he’s promised to release lots of extra material for some of the things that I might have wanted to have included,” Sunde said.

TPB AFK: Watch and Download The Pirate Bay Documentary NOW [TorrentFreak/Ernesto]

Download via BitTorrent [The Pirate Bay]

Early Pirate Bay server now in a museum


The Computer Museum in Linköping, Sweden has a "50 Years of File-Sharing" exhibition on that includes a machine characterized as the first Pirate Bay server, though there's some nuance to that description:

A Pirate Bay insider informed TorrentFreak that the contents of the computer case in question were initially hosted in the blue box pictured here. In the same photo are also the three other servers that were operational at the time, a laptop, tower case and the red server box.

So, in just a few years, the hardware moved from an old blue box to a prominent place at the Computer Museum.

‘First’ Pirate Bay Server on Permanent Display in Computer Museum

Working record made from ice

Swedish band The Shout Out Louds released a limited edition of 10 promos for their new album that consisted of latex molds that you filled with distilled water, froze, and played on a turntable:

“We talked to professors at different universities telling us it would never work out, so we had to develop the technique ourselves,” he says. After receiving a negative imprint of the song’s master cut, they started experimenting; the office became a kind of amateur chemistry lab, and the team spent hours testing different types of liquid, various drying techniques, and multiple kinds of molds.

“One of the biggest challenges was that the bubbles made the ice cloudy and messed up the tiny tracks, which made the needle jump.” Further trial and error revealed that using distilled water did the trick, giving the final product a nice clarity and even surface. Another insight? Time is not, in fact, on your side when working with a frozen substance; functionality and sound quality diminish immediately once the melting starts. A silicone cast allowed for quick and easy record removal, essential to ensuring it could be used straight out of the freezer.

It's a bit lo-fi, and the quality degrades quickly with meltage. But hey, record made of ice.

A Record Made Of Ice That Actually Plays (via IO9)

Peter "Brokep" Sunde, railroaded into Swedish prison by Big Content

Peter "Brokep" Sunde was convicted in Sweden's notorious Pirate Bay trial, and now faces prison time and a multimillion-euro fine. As his imprisonment looms, he describes, in detail, the bizarre circumstances of his conviction, which started with an illegal raid ordered by the US trade representative, continued with an investigation led by a prosecutor who'd already accepted a job with Warner Brothers as a copyright enforcer and was just working through his notice period as he pursued Peter; and then a trial that included a judge and multiple jurors who were literally getting paychecks from the large copyright industry associations. Peter was convicted on the thinnest of circumstantial evidence of having configured a load-balancer in a data-centre used by The Pirate Bay (this load-balancer was not plugged in at the time of the raid, and there's no evidence it was ever plugged in).

On the basis of this corrupt, ugly, kangaroo court, the Swedish justice system is ready to put him in jail for an "economic debt to some of the world’s richest corporations," offshore bullies who have perverted the course of justice in Sweden.

Sunde is the co-founder of Flattr, a company whose sole mission is seeing to it that the money fans spend on art goes directly to artists, without any funny record label or movie studio accounting in the middle. He also co-founded IPREDator, an amazing VPN that I use every day to stop my logins and passwords from being harvested by crooks and bad guys. He's one of the good guys, and he's being martyred by Big Content, with the complicity of a corrupt Swedish establishment. It is a shame of global proportion. Poor Peter.

A few months prior, a Swedish prosecutor had arrived at the conclusion that this service could not be sentenced for any crime in Sweden. He sent a memo explaining this to his superiors. After a meeting between representatives from the Justice Department and Sven-Erik Alhem, the over-prosecutor at the time, the prosecutor in question reconsiders. A quick raid was required, with full force. So full a force, in fact, that when the raid is actually conducted, the police have no idea what to grab. They seize hundreds of computers, in several cities, but also loudspeakers, cables, and the like. They don’t know the size of the things they’re supposed to be looking for, and decide – during the raid in session – to rent trucks from local gas stations to ship off all the seized goods. In short, it is stressful, unplanned, and ill considered. So ill considered that the police even missed several locations where the target of the raid had ongoing activities.

Thomas Bodström promised to come clear with what had happened. And yet, over 700 mails between him and the United States regarding this matter were (and remain) classified as secrets of the State. We still haven’t seen them. In the aftermath of the political scandal that was uncovered, Swedish national records were set in charges filed with the Constitutional Committee (Konstitutionsutskottet), Parliamentary Ombudsman (JO) and Chancellor of Justice (Justitiekanslern). The newly-founded Swedish Pirate Party became one of Sweden’s largest in a matter of days. A few weeks later, an election was held. None of the young wanted to vote for the ruling Social Democrats any longer, knowing that the Social Democrats had sold out their interests to rich lobby organizations in the United States. The Social Democrats lost power, partly because of this scandal...

..,Tomas Norström is very interested in copyright cases. So interested, in fact, that he also happened to be a member in the Swedish Association for Copyright, and was a board member of the Swedish Association For Industrial Legal Protection, SFIR[3]. Two organizations that take a very clear stance on copyright issues. The associations are daughter associations of ALAI and AIPPI, two international organizations whose statutes state their goal to strengthen the interests of copyright holders. The chairpeople for these international organizations frequently make statements condemning all kinds of copyright violations, and work for harsher punishment for violations.

Tomas Norström didn’t consider himself to be biased. Besides, he neglected to disclose his engagements since he regarded them as without consequence to the case. There was plenty of opportunity for him to consider his bias before the trial, as I personally had checked the layman judges[4] and found that two of them were biased. When my lawyer officially communicated this, Norström published a press release where he said he had found one biased layman judge (without mentioning the complaint from us). He had found a composer who had been active in the record labels that were suing us. There was another layman judge who got the paycheck from these industries, who Norström did not consider biased.

Aftermath of The Pirate Bay Trial: Peter Sunde’s Plea – In His Own Words - Falkvinge on Infopolicy