The linguistic backflips used by Deliveroo to pretend its employees are independent contractors

Deliveroo is a "gig economy" company that hires people to cycle around big cities, delivering meals, while pretending that all their riders are actually "independent contractors" running their own businesses through which they subcontract to Deliveroo, thus dodging any need to pay benefits or comply with basic labor, health and safety rules. Read the rest

UK court upholds fine against parent who took child out of class "without authorization"

Upholding a £120 fine levied against a parent who took their child on vacation mid-semester, England's Supreme Court—backed by the Prime Minister—ruled that parents should not be allowed to remove children from school without "authorization."

In her judgement, Lady Hale said it would cause unacceptable disruption if parents were able to withdraw children whenever they wanted.

"Unauthorised absences have a disruptive effect, not only on the education of the individual child, but also on the work of other pupils, and of their teachers," she said.

Allowing parents to decide when they took their children away would be a "slap in the face" to parents who kept the rules, said Lady Hale.

Punishment for disobedience justified by the presumed insult to the obedient. So very English!

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: "We are pleased the Supreme Court unanimously agreed with our position - that no child should be taken out of school without good reason.

(You can home-school kids in the UK, but the authorities can serve mandatory school attendance orders if they don't like the look of your curriculum) Read the rest

Australia leads the world in selling housing to money-launderers

A new Transparency International report ranks the world's most superheated urban property markets to find the most corrupt and finds that Australia is a playground for offshore criminals looking to launder their money, because "real estate agents are not subject to the provisions of the Anti-Money Laundering and CounterTerrorism Financing Act 2006," thus, "70 per cent of Chinese buyers pay in cash and they represent the largest proportion of foreign purchases in the country." Read the rest

Anarchist bitcoin hacker flies to Syria to join a 4-million person anarchist collective the size of Massachusetts

Amir Taaki is a well-known anarchist bitcoin hacker whose project, Dark Wallet, is meant to create strong anonymity for cryptocurrency transactions; when he discovered that anarchists around the world had gone to Rojava, a district in Kurdish Syria on the Turkish border, to found an anarchist collective with 4,000,000 members "based on principles of local direct democracy, collectivist anarchy, and equality for women," he left his home in the UK to defend it. Read the rest

Road maintenance manager affirms that painted penii do not hasten pothole remediation

The internets will tell you that spraypainting a giant penis around a pothole will get your town's roadworks to prioritize its repair. The internets are wrong. Read the rest

Who is immigration policy for: "taxpayers," "ordinary people" or all citizens?

The UK Supreme Court recently ruled in MM v SSHD, finding that the UK government could legitimately deny entry to a British citizen's spouse if the citizen didn't have enough money to support them. This same policy is the reason that parents of 15,000 British children are not allowed to live in the UK with their kids. Read the rest

UK government threatens jail for journalists who work with whistleblowers

Under a new proposal from the UK Law Commission, journalists who handle or report on leaked documents demonstrating corruption or government malfeasance would face prison sentences. Read the rest

UK Parliament to hold inquiry into algorithmic transparency

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee put out a public call for suggestions on subjects it should investigate and one of the three winning pitches came from Stephanie Mathisen, campaigns and policy officer at Sense about Science, who suggested an inquiry into transparency in algorithmic decision-making. Read the rest

The Amazon reviews for a phone designed for rectal smuggling are pretty interesting reading

The "Beat the Boss phone" is an £27 micro-telephone built into a Bluetooth headset with only trace amounts of metal in its construction; it is lozenge-shaped and is designed to be rectally smuggled into prisons, jails and courtrooms. Read the rest

British police arrest suspect in last November's me-too Mirai botnet floods

Last October, floods of traffic from Internet of Things devices infected by the Mirai worm brought down several high profile internet services, from Level 3 to Dyn to Twitter and Reddit. Read the rest

Scottish court: your neighbours owe you for the distress of pointing a CCTV at your back yard and recording your conversations

Edinburgh's Nahid Akram installed a CCTV system that let him record his downstairs neighbours Debbie and Tony Woolley in their back garden, capturing both images and audio of their private conversations, with a system that had the capacity to record continuously for five days. Read the rest

Now in the UK! Pre-order signed copies of the first edition hardcover of Walkaway, my first adult novel since Makers

The UK's Forbidden Planet is now offering signed hardcovers of Walkaway, my first novel for adults since 2009 -- this is in addition to the signed US hardcovers being sold by Barnes and Noble. Read the rest

Piketty: the poorest half of Americans saw a "total collapse" in their share of the country's wealth

In a new analysis of the World Income Database published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, Thomas Piketty and colleagues from the Paris School of Economics and UC Berkeley, describe a "collapse" of the share of US national wealth claimed by the bottom 50% of the country -- down to 12% from 20% in 1978 -- along with an (unsurprising) drop in income for the poorest half of America. Read the rest

UK's Digital Economy Bill is a gift to copyright trolls, with 10 years in prison for watching TV the wrong way

Jim from the UK Open Rights Group writes, "Why has the UK's Digital Economy Bill been drafted to criminalise file sharing and minor online copyright infringements? The government said they just wanted to bring online infringement into line with 'real world' fake DVD offences. However, that isn't how they offence is drawn up: and the government has now been told in Parliament twice that they are both criminalising minor infringements and helping copyright trolls." Read the rest

Anti-Trident activists poster London with "Become a Suicide Bomber" spoof naval recruiting ads

Artist Darren Cullen (previously) created the posters, which read, "The crew of our nuclear submarines are on a suicide mission. To launch their missiles means death is certain, not just for them, but for the millions of innocent people those bombs will obliterate, and for the rest of us too." Read the rest

Waterstones, the UK's national bookstore, came back from near-death by transforming into indie, local stores

Waterstones was at death's door when it was purchased by Russian billioniare Alexander Mamut, who hired James Daunt -- an investment banker who'd founded the successful, six-store Daunt Books -- to run the chain. Read the rest

It used to take 3 years for a British family to save for a home down-payment; now it takes 20 years

The Resolution Foundation's Living Standards 2017 is an eye-opening look at the current state of the British experiment in allowing wealth inequality to expand without any check, to use a combination of austerity, the elimination of protection for tenants, reckless lending, offshore money-laundering and public subsidies for speculators to turn the human necessity of shelter into the nation's leading asset-class. Read the rest

More posts