UK visitors wait 2.5 hours to get through immigration at Heathrow

Official UK government statistics reveal that on 30 days in July the Border Force agency at Heathrow failed to meet its target of processing visitors within 45 minutes; on July 5, visitors had to wait 2.5 hours. Read the rest

UK regulators ban lies in ISP ads, advertised speeds drop by 41%

The UK Committees of Advertising Practice changed the rules for ISP advertising: where once the ISPs could advertise speeds of "Up to" some incredibly high number so long as 10% of customers ever achieved that speed, now ISPs can only advertise a speed promise if 51% of their customers attain that speed at all times. Read the rest

Buskers are the only performers making money at the Edinburgh Fringe. Here's how.

So. You're trudging down the Royal Mile taking it all in. The World's largest festival of the performing arts, and in such a beautiful city, too. Detestably young actors with a dream in their heart and Starbucks in their veins approach from every angle, lunging flyers at you like fencers thrusting a blade. You dodge, parry, apologise and avoid – priding yourself on your fringe street savvy. But then your attention is piqued by a noise. The unmistakable sound of genuine spontaneous fun. Your lizard brain makes you perk up like a meerkat, on the balls of your feet, trying to get a look at what might be occurring ahead. There's a crowd. Could be anything. Could be something. You add yourself to their number, pushing in a little. Someone's doing something. Looks like you missed whatever amazing feat caused the crowd to erupt like that, but lets stick around to see what happens next, right?

The UK's largest estate agency is on the verge of bankruptcy

Countrywide is the UK's largest property agents (they own estate agencies like Hamptons International, Bairstow Eves and Bridgfords), with 900 locations and 10,000 employees, and they're selling off shares at fire-sale prices in a desperate bid to raise £140 million to service their massive debts; the sum is 300% of the company's market cap, their shares are down 60% on the news, and the company blames plummeting London prices and Brexit jitters for their misfortunes. Read the rest

The worse your town was hit by austerity, the more likely you were to vote for Brexit

After the Brexit vote, a lot of people pointed out that the areas that voted most heavily in favour of separating from the EU were also the areas that relied most heavily on EU subsidies, and wondered why British voters would decide to slit their own throats. Read the rest

Watchdog: UK spies engaged in illegal surveillance from 2001-2012

The UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal has ruled that GCHQ (the UK's domestic surveillance apparatus) illegally engaged in mass surveillance for more than a decade (starting after 9/11), during which time the foreign secretaries who were supposed to be overseeing their activities "delegated powers without oversight," allowing the spies to police their own activities. (Images: Defense Images, CC-BY-SA; Cryteria, CC-BY) Read the rest

UK government accidentally includes Scarfolk poster endorsing culls of rabid children in official publication

The latest edition of the Civil Service Quarterly from Her Majesty's Government accidentally included a satirical poster from Scarfolk, the nightmarish alternate reality of a perpetually renewed decade of Thatcher/Cthulhu crossovers. Read the rest

UK government defends the use of under 16s as covert operatives

A spokeswoman for UK Prime Minister Theresa May has gone to the House of Lords to defend the government's practice of recruiting "child spies," some of them under the age of 15, to gather intelligence "against terrorists, gangs and drug dealers." Read the rest

British Airways won't let you check in while ad-blocking, insists that passengers post personal info to Twitter "for GDPR compliance"

British Airways was outed by security researcher Mustafa Al-Bassam for telling passengers they couldn't help with delays and other problems unless they posted their personal information publicly to Twitter, in order "to comply with the GDPR." Read the rest

London luxury housing market bubble bursts: 39% of sales last quarter were to deep discount wholesalers making bulk buys

London's property market continues its implosion, brought on by a combination of tightening capital controls (much of the market exists to help offshore criminals launder their money), Brexit, and a long-overdue correction to a wildly inflated market. Read the rest

UK railway arches, the last bastion of publicly owned commercial space, engines of small business, about to be killed by privatization

A quirk of British rail history left 4,555 railway arches in public ownership through National Rail, and these commercial spaces are that most rare of British commodities: publicly owned, reasonably priced commercial spaces that welcome quirky industries and small businesses that are the nation's only respite from endlessly homogenised high-streets sporting the same fast food chains, betting shops and chain grocers. Read the rest

China's super-rich get the lion's share of British plutocrat visas

The UK will give you a visa if you "invest" USD2.65M in the country; historically these "millionaire visas" were used by Eastern European oligarchs and other looters whose "investments" were in shell companies or high-end, empty luxury flats, or similar socially useless ways of laundering their fortunes. Read the rest

After London builders' bid to remove a complaint from Mumsnet failed, a mysterious Pakistani-American copyright claim did the job

Annabelle Narey hired a London construction firm called BuildTeam to do some work, which she found very unsatisfactory (she blames them for a potentially lethal roof collapse in a bedroom); so she did what many of us do when we're unhappy with a business: she wrote an online complaint, and it was joined by other people who said that they had hired BuildTeam and been unhappy with the work. Read the rest

Villagers dig 15 miles of trenches in the name of faster Internet

Choosing to live as far from cities as I can, as often as I can, I spend a lot of time on the cusp of sanity trying to do my online job, keep up with the news, and keep in touch with the people I care about over a cellular connection that stays attached to my carrier’s network by a thread. On rainy days, or the frequent times when the gods have had enough of my bullshit, I can’t connect at all, forcing me to put my life on hold. It’s a part of choosing to live in the country! As mad as I’ve gotten at my lousy connection speeds in the past, I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to connect to YouTube badly enough that I was willing to dig 15 miles of trenches to make it happen — but that’s exactly what the residents of a small village in Wales did.

Michaelston-y-Fedw, located between Cardiff and Newport in the United Kingdom, has a population of around 300 people. They were all putting up with shitty internet, with speeds as slow as 4Mbps. It was possible to pay for high-speed broadband service in Michaelston-y-Fedw — someone is always willing to take your money — but the infrastructure to pipe the bandwidth into the village didn’t exist. Sick of their internet connectivity being caught in the late 1990s, some of the villagers got to drinking, which led to talking and, after a bit more drinking, resulted in a plan: They’d sort the mess out themselves. Read the rest

Vintage British travel posters improved with added fantasy monsters

Chet Phillips (creator of the Monster Zen book, the Steampunk Monkey Coloring Book and the Steampunk Monkey Cigarette Cards) sends us his Fantasy Travel Poster Series, "Paying tribute to vintage railway posters, this series re-imagines landscapes with fantasy elements such as giants, dragons, trolls and more." Read the rest

British army targeted "stressed" 16-year-olds on exam-results day with Facebook recruitment ads

Every August, British 16-year-olds get their marks from the GCSE exams, a high-stakes test that has an enormous impact on their future educational and earnings prospects; on results day 2015, the British Army used Facebook targeting to reach these 16-year-olds with messages like "No matter what your results will be, you can still improve yourself in the army." Read the rest

The BBC warns that new EU copyright rule will break the internet

The BBC has weighed in on the debate over Article 13, a controversial last-minute addition to the EU's new Copyright Directive that will be voted on in 12 days; under Article 13, European sites will have to spy on every word, sound, picture, and video their users post and use a black-box copyright algorithm to decide whether or not to censor it. Read the rest

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