Austerity Robin Hood: a billionaire who takes from "scroungers" and gives to "hardworking people"

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A beautiful essay in the London Review of Books traces the twists and turns of the Robin Hood story over time, to the era of austerity, where "robbing from the rich and giving to the poor" takes on a completely different complexion. Read the rest

Crowdfunding "The Haystack": an independent documentary on surveillance in the UK

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Edward Snowden said that Britain's spies have "some of the most extensive surveillance powers in the world," and those powers are about to be dramatically expanded if the Snoopers Charter passes Parliament. Read the rest

UK surveillance bill condemned by a Parliamentary committee, for the third time

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Paul Strasburger sits in the House of Lords as a Libdem peer; he sits on the Joint Select Committee that is the latest Parliamentary group to scrutinise the Investigatory Powers Bill (AKA the Snoopers Charter) and, as with the previous investigations, he's concluded that the spying bill is a dangerous, poorly drafted, overbroad dog's breakfast. Read the rest

Australia, the driest country on Earth, eliminates basic climate science research

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Virtually all the climate scientists working at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation -- Australia's answer to NASA -- have been fired or moved out of climate research. Read the rest

Toronto City Council defies mayor, demands open, neutral municipal broadband

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After years of fumbling, deference and mismanagement, Canada's telcoms regulator, the CRTC, laid down a landmark net neutrality rule and demanded that Bell, the nationally founded telcoms giant, would have to share its infrastructure with new entrants to the market. Read the rest

UK Snooper's Charter is so broad, no one can figure out what it means

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In Investigatory Powers Bill: technology issues, the UK Parliament's Science and Technology select committee takes the government to task for its signature mass surveillance law, the "Snoopers Charter" whose provisions are so broad and vague that companies can't figure out how much of their customers' data they're supposed to be storing, and whether they're meant to be backdooring all the crypto they distribute. Read the rest

Gay Tory MP outs himself as a "poppers" user, slams proposed ban

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UK Conservative MP Crispin Blunt, former Minister for Justice, has "outed" himself as a user of poppers -- alkyl nitrites, a psychoactive inhalant often taken before sex -- and decried his party's plan to class poppers as an illegal drug. Read the rest

England's most senior civil judge rules that Terrorism Act violates human rights

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Lord Dyson, the most senior civil judge in England and Wales, has ruled that Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act -- the law that lets the police detain anyone they like for six hours, without a warrant or access to legal advice, and compel them to answer questions -- violates the UK's international human rights obligations. Read the rest

UK Home Secretary auditions for a Python sketch: "UK does not undertake mass surveillance"

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UK Home Secretary Theresa May stood before Parliament on Wednesday, and, with a straight face, said: "The UK does not undertake mass surveillance. We have not, and we do not, undertake mass surveillance, and that is not what the Investigatory Powers Bill is about." Read the rest

Toronto's mayor demands an end to competition for fast, affordable broadband

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In Canada, as in the UK and many other countries (including the USA, until the mid-2000s), the big telcos are required to wholesale their lines to small, upstart competitors as payback for access to rights-of-way and municipal infrastructure. This results in more competition, faster connections, and cheaper service for residents. Read the rest

UK government spent a fortune fighting to keep the number 13 a secret

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The BBC's Social Affairs Correspondent, Michael Buchanan, wanted to know how often the UK government's new "red tape-busting cabinet panel, the Reducing Regulation Committee" was meeting, because he thought that it was probably "all froth and no action." Read the rest

UK Home Secretary rejects request for her browsing history as "vexatious"

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UK Home Secretary Theresa May has introduced the Snoopers Charter, through which your ISP will be required to retain a record of everything you do on the Internet and make it available to government and police without meaningful checks and balances or privacy protection. Read the rest

Saudi millionaire acquitted of raping teen in London, says he tripped and accidentally penetrated her

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Ehsan Abdulaziz, a married, 46 year old, rich Saudi property developer, says he invited an 18 year old woman to sleep on his couch, and later tripped and fell on her as she lay asleep, accidentally penetrating her vagina with his penis. Read the rest

Crowdfunding ORG's campaign to fight the UK government's mass surveillance

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For two successive Parliaments, the UK Tory party has been trying to pass the most extensive mass-spying bill in the western world. It's called the Snoopers Charter, and after the Paris attacks, it came back with a vengeance. Read the rest

If your kids don't want to drop bombs on Syria, they may be terrorists

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The "child safeguarding" office of the London Borough of Camden sent parents a brochure listing warning-signs for "radicalisation" (code for "incipient terrorist recruit"). Some signs: your kid objects to government policy, especially foreign policy; "mistrusts mainstream media reports" and switches their screen quickly when adults approach. Read the rest

Party like it's 1998: UK government bans ripping CDs -- again

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In 2014, Britain strode boldly into the late 20th century, finally legalising "private copying" -- ripping CDs, taping LPs, recording TV shows, backing up your ebooks and games -- but now it's thought better of the move. Read the rest

Devastating technical rebuttal to the Snoopers Charter

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The Snoopers Charter is the UK Tory government's proposal to force ISPs to retain records of all their customers' online activities, and the government has used the excuse of the Paris attacks to call for its immediate passage despite the fact that the £175m/year the government has budgeted to defray ISPs' costs is not even close to enough to pay for the massive surveillance effort, meaning that Britons' ISP bills are set to soar if it passes. Read the rest

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