Our favorite dicator, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il – aka Yuri Irsenovich Kim aka Dear Leader - has been in absolute power now for 18 years. Forbes ranks the Supreme Leader as 31st in it’s List of The World’s Most Powerful People. Don’t let his iron-fisted power fool you though. It seems the Genral has as much trouble as the next man keeping his family in-line. A quick rundown on our favorite dictator reveals some astounding facts:
Police arrested 24 protesters for trespassing at a Citibank branch, a New York Police Department spokesman said.
Citibank has always been a bit of a fumbling behemoth, barely - with bailout assistance from U.S. tax payers - scraping through the global financial crisis in tact, it now face an entirely new wave of trouble. Days after Citibank CEO Vikram Pandit talked about his sympathies with Occupy Wall Street and his willingness to engage with protesters. A Citibank branch in New York has locked the doors of their branch and arrested a group of Citibank account holders who wished to to close their accounts. It’s clear that Citibank are terrified that a few accounts closing will escalate to a run on the bank. “It would only take a small percentage of account holders to prove that Citibank is an economic hologram and like much of the financial sector, is desperately hiding how weak it is. The 99% are waking up and realise they’ve been duped, fleeced,conned and bullied for far too long” said Jeremy Bloom. ”NOT even in the dark dark days of the 1930s great depression – when there was actual panic – did we see anything this stupid” Here’s how it went down at the Citibank branch at 555 La Guardia Place in New York. The demonstrators - all Citibank customers - were asked to leave, and when they tried to comply Citibank’s security locked them in and wouldn’t let them leave! 24 were arrested. Clearly nothing is ever this simple!? Read the full article »»»»
The only thing certain in life is death and taxes!
Unless you live in Greece, where, as our favorite New Yorker – James Surowiecki - puts it, “Tax Evasion is the National Pastime.” To fix the problem, the government is going to start tracking its citizens’ spending in real-time.
Surowiecki has attributed many of Greece’s financial woes to its huge untaxed shadow economy, which is estimated to be more than 25% of GDP. Some studies suggest that Greece is missing out on more than $30 billion in taxes, so the cash-strapped country is trying something new: forcing consumers to track their spending with a government-issued tax card.
The cards look like credit cards, but contain no personally identifiable information beyond the person’s tax id number. They will swipe during a purchase; the amount of the sale will be sent to their bank; and then the banks will report the spending to the Ministry of Finance at the end of each month. The cards have been made available at Greek banks this week and are voluntary – for now.
According to a remarkable presentation that a member of Greece’s central bank gave last fall, the gap between what Greek taxpayers owed last year and what they paid was about a third of total tax revenue, roughly the size of the country’s budget deficit. The “shadow economy”—business that’s legal but off the books—is larger in Greece than in almost any other European country, accounting for an estimated 27.5 per cent of its G.D.P. (In the United States, by contrast, that number is closer to nine per cent.) And the culture of evasion has negative consequences beyond the current crisis. It means that the revenue burden falls too heavily on honest taxpayers. It makes the system unduly regressive, since the rich cheat more. And it’s wasteful: it forces the government to spend extra money on collection (relative to G.D.P., Greece spends four times as much collecting income taxes as the U.S. does), even as evaders are devoting plenty of time and energy to hiding their income.
Surowieki wrote that “the reason tax reform will be such a tall order for Greece, in sum, is that it requires more than a policy shift; it requires a cultural shift.” Perhaps knowing that Big Brother is watching every loosening of the purse strings will help accomplish that.
A Boston lawyer – Simon Glik- is suing the city and police officers who arrested him for using his cell phone to record what he described as a rough arrest. Glick suspects that the police who arrested him wanted more to protect themselves from a possible misconduct complaint than to enforce the state’s privacy laws. The charges against Glik were thrown out of court. However, Glik sued for violations of his civil rights. The First Circuit ruled today that the officers are not protected by qualified immunity.
Glik won a victory – 26 August 2011 – when a Federal Appeals Court stated that the officers could not claim “qualified immunity” in the case because they were performing their job when they arrested Glik under a state law that outlaws audio recordings without the consent of both parties.
“Just because it’s upsetting to the police officers and they’re unhappy about being recorded, doesn’t allow them to make an arrest,” said Howard Friedman, an ACLU attorney representing Glick “If a person is standing, as Mr. Glick was, many feet away and simply recording, that’s not a crime, even if the officers don’t like being recorded.”
In its ruling, which lets Simon Glik continue his lawsuit, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the way Glik was arrested and his phone seized under a state wiretapping law violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights. The court noted that past decisions on police recording had involved fulltime reporters, but said the First Amendment does not apply just to professional news gatherers.
The First Amendment issue here is: is there a constitutionally protected right to videotape police carrying out their duties in public? Basic First Amendment principles, along with case law from this and other circuits, answer that question unambiguously in the affirmative. It is firmly established that the First Amendment’s aegis extends further than the text’s proscription on laws “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” and encompasses a range of conduct related to the gathering and dissemination of information. As the Supreme Court has observed, “the First Amendment goes beyond protection of the press and the self-expression of individuals to prohibit government from limiting the stock of information from which members of the public may draw.
The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles. Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.”
“Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs.”
The court continued that while exercise of these rights do come with limits in certain circumstances, an arrest on the Boston Common, a public area and the apotheosis of a public forum is not one of them.
“Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw. The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status”
There is an incredibly dubious double standard with the application of such video ~ audio laws. Filming the police doing something “good” and there is no problem, film them doing something “bad” and your likely to end up in jail. The First Amendment right to gather news is, as the Court has often noted, not one that inures solely to the benefit of the news media; rather, the public’s right of access to information is coextensive with that of the press. With the boundaries having shifted on who gathers news, the court recognized the proliferation of news gathering in the 21st century to include citizens, in-fact there are now more bloggers gathering news than there ever have been journalists. The freedom of individuals to passively oppose or challenge police actions without risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state.
October 2007 : Simon Glik used his cell phone to record Boston police officers making what he thought was an overtly forceful arrest of a young man in a Boston park, he never thought he’d be the one shackled in the back seat of a police car. Police spotted Glik using his cell phone’s camera with its sound-recording feature recording their actions, they arrested him for breaking a Massachusetts law that prohibits secret electronic recording, deemed “wiretapping.” Clearly however, Mr Glik made no secret of his recording of the indecent?
Was Glik wiretapping ? In Massachusetts, a “two-party consent” state since the 1960s, if one participant in a conversation wants to record it, he or she needs to notify the other. Courts have interpreted this state’s law to prohibit secretly recording not only one’s own phone conversation, but even a face-to-face encounter. (Other states, like New York, are “one-party consent” jurisdictions, where only the taper, or a third party to whom the taper has given permission, needs to know the conversation is being recorded.)
Glik, a 31-year-old lawyer, suspected that the cops who arrested him wanted more to protect themselves from a possible misconduct complaint than to enforce the state’s privacy laws.
Glik appeared in Boston Municipal Court represented by his lawyer, June Jensen, Jensen requested that the judge dismiss the Commonwealth’s charges against Glik. Neither the criminal complaint nor the police report on their face stated facts to demonstrate that what Glik did was prohibited by the laws under which he was charged, they said. Handing down his decision 3 days later, Judge Mark Summerville dismissed the charges, agreeing with Glik that non-secret recordings were lawful.
Summerville’s decision was good news for Glik, who had, ironically, been seeking a job as a prosecutor, but who has had difficulty getting hired — despite graduating at the top of the New England School of Law class of 2006 — because of the outstanding criminal charges. Despite Summerville’s decision, police are unlikely to stop arresting citizens in the future who record their misconduct. They are truly a law unto themselves.
The police had argued three separate issues in this case.
1. They’re arguing that in 2007 there was no clearly established “right to record” in public, so the police could not have known they were violating Mr. Glik’s rights.
2. They argue that no such right exists today.
3. The police allege that he is still in violation of the wiretapping act because it was not clear to police he was actually recording them. To be clear, Mr. Glik was standing on public property filming police on public property. He was stationed a short distance away and was holding his cell phone up in front of him, pointed at the police. He made no attempt to interfere, nor did he say or do anything other than record what happened.
“This case is really important here in Boston and should be important across the country, not only for the rights of citizens, but also for the rights of media members and media organizations. Both the rights of citizens to exercise the first amendment and the ‘rights’ of media organizations to report the news could be seriously crippled by repeated rulings in favor of the police in situations like these” said Radley Balko a local Bostonite and publisher of The Agitator
After placing the suspect in handcuffs, one of the officers turned to Glik and said, “I think you have taken enough pictures.” Glik replied, “I am recording this. I saw you punch him.” An officer1 then approached Glik and asked if Glik’s cell phone recorded audio. When Glik affirmed that he was recording audio, the officer placed him in handcuffs, arresting him for, inter alia, unlawful audio recording in violation of Massachusetts’s wiretap statute. Glik was taken to the South Boston police station. In the course of booking, the police confiscated Glik’s cell phone and a computer flash drive and held them as evidence.
A Swedish man who tried to build a nuclear reactor in his kitchen says he started the experiment just for fun. Richard Handl, from Aengelholm in south-western Sweden, was detained by police two weeks ago and says he started the project as a hobby. In May this year, Handl launched a blog http://richardsreactor.blogspot.com in which he charted his progress in the project, complete with pictures. Handl posted requests for information online and posted photos of experiments in his kitchen. But his attempts to build a reactor fell well short of his anticipated success, he told the highpants.
“I have always been interested in nuclear physics and particle physics, it’s not so dangerous. But I tried to cook Americium, Radium and Beryllium in 96% sulphuric-acid, to easier get them blended. But the whole thing exploded up in the air”
Handl’s plan was “to build a working nuclear reactor, NOT to gain electricity, just for fun and to see if it’s possible to split atoms at home. Just to make sure everything was above board, he sent an email to Sweden’s Radiation Safety Authority. Who rather than do the polite thing and respond to what must have seemed a crackpot email, sent in the Swedish Police. Handl clearly woke up to his crime with a loud knock at his door. Swedish Police declined to comment on the case. If convicted Handl could face fines or up to two years in prison. The Swedish Radiation Authority said the matter was being handled by the police, “this wasn’t their are of expertise”
Handl’s plans are amusing at best, his fascination with chemistry and nuclear physics is perhaps a little out of his own area of expertise!? “As a hobby, I have gathered the basic materials and planned a project to build a very primitive nuclear reactor. You can see my plans here”
Th-232 + n →Th-233 (T½ = 22,3 min) → β → Pa-233 (T½ = 27 days) → β → U-233 U-233 has a T½ of 1 590 000 years, and is fissionable.
And the second reaction;
U-238 + n →U-239 (T½ = 23,45 min) → β → Np-239 (T½ = 2,356 days) → β → Pu-239 Pu-239 has a T½ of 24 110 years, and is fissionable.
And the third reaction’
Checkout the masterplan http://richardsreactor.blogspot.com Two days after the masterplan blew up in his face “the police and the radiation safety authority came to my apartment” Handl said. Police questioned Handl for about half an hour, before releasing him, Handl is yet to be charged with anything.
If your sat back thing “gee, that’s a first” you’d be wrong. In 1994, David Hahn - then - a 17 year old boy scout, attempted it in his mothers house and was eventually arrested. Hahn was later rearrested in 2007 after allegedly stealing a number of smoke detectors from the hall of his building. He appeared to have sores on his face that indicated exposure to radioactive materials.
After almost three years of public consultation and industry wide debate, the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia is teatering on the line. It looks as though it may go through however it’s been delayed once more due to the failure of federal, state and territory attorneys-general to reach a unanimous decision!?
The Standing Council of Attorneys-General Meeting may have reached an in-principle agreement has been reached between the various states and territories of Australia to move ahead with the introduction of an R18+ rating for video and computer games. New South Wales was the only state to abstain from endorsing the proposal, citing a need to consult with cabinet on the issue.
“We need a classification system that protects young minds from any possible adverse affect, while also ensuring that adults are free to make their own decisions about what they play, within the bounds of the law,” Minister for Home Affairs, Brendan O’Connor said Gamers have spent years lobbying for an adults-only rating, arguing it would allow for more mature themes to be canvassed in games while also assuring fewer adult games slip through with MA15+ ratings. Following the release of the R18+ public consultation preliminary report in May, classification ministers requested further research to ascertain the views of the silent majority. The R18+ classification review and Galaxy survey were made public by O’Connor just last week, shortly before he announced both his and the Gillard Government’s full support for the R18+ classification.
In interviews conducted with all state and territory attorneys-general by GameSpot AU on Monday, only Tasmania and the ACT publicly stated a pro-R18+ stance, while other states and territories chose to wait until the SCAG meeting today to make up their mind. O’Connor told the media today that not all attorneys-general were behind the introduction of an R18+ rating, but did not disclose which AGs voted for what.
At the meeting of attorneys-general today there was an in-principle agreement to introduce the R18+ classification, however, NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith abstained from the vote, arguing the matter would have to be taken to the cabinet for a decision. The Home Affairs Minister, Brendan O’Connor, has said the federal government would over-ride NSW and implement the R18+ rating regardless of its decision. However, O’Connor was confident that NSW would get over the line.
“We ARE introducing a national R18+ classification, regardless of what NSW chooses to do,” O’Connor clarified via email.
In a statement O’Connor said: “We’ve now struck an historic agreement and we can move forward to having an adult classification in this country as is the case in New Zealand, the US, Europe and many other parts of the world.” A press release circulated by Brendan O’Connor, the Federal Minister for Home Affairs, praised the results of the meeting. “The introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games will provide better advice to parents and help prevent children and teenagers from accessing unsuitable material. Once introduced, the new classification will also afford adults the opportunity to view material designed for adults.” said O’Connor
Lobby group www.r18games.com.au R18+ Games Australia whole-heartedly welcomes this move and wished to extend our sincere congratulations to all the ministers involved for reaching this sensible decision. We can only hope that the final roll-out of the scheme happens quickly and sensibly over the coming months.
Post Standing Council of Attorneys-General Meeting O’Connor said “This is a big step forward in the long running debate on classification of computer games for adults,” Mr O’Connor said. “The introduction of an R18+ classification for computer games will provide better advice to parents and help prevent children and teenagers from accessing unsuitable material. Once introduced, the new classification will also afford adults the opportunity to view material designed for adults.”
South Australia’s Attorney-General John Rau also noted that they would hold off on their plan to implement a South-Australian-based R18+ classification in the light of this new agreement.
Previous attempts to introduce the R18+ classification were thwarted by former South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, who publicly opposed the adult rating for fear “…it will greatly increase the risk of children and vulnerable adults being exposed to damaging images and messages”.
Atkinson quit as South Australian attorney-general in March this year, replaced by John Rau, who chose to remain ambiguous on his views towards R18+ until today.
The Federal Government’s R18+ public consultation was first announced in 2008, but suffered a number of delays before finally being passed in April 2009. Australia remains the only developed country without an R18+ rating for video games.
However, there was a strong indication that NSW would eventually accept the proposal. NSW Attorney General Greg Smith said that he “welcomed” amendments made to the R18+ proposal at the meeting today.If the NSW government cabinet declines to support the proposal it may create a situation where R18+ games can be sold in all other states except NSW.
A spokeswoman for O’Connor said with eight out of nine censorship ministers agreeing to the changes, the R18+ proposal would go ahead with or without the support of NSW. The matter would not be discussed at any future meetings of attorneys-general.
“There is agreement and it’s going forward … at the end of the day it’s going ahead. It’s being progressed and NSW will do its thing,” the spokeswoman said.
A spokesman for Smith indicated that NSW would not stand in the way. “NSW has no intention of being a fly in the ointment,” he said.
Greens MP David Shoebridge was quick to round on the NSW Government. He criticised Smith for failing to formulate a position on the R18+ issue despite indicating the government was pondering it on May 27.
“Greg Smith should stop moralising and start looking into having sensible rules to reflect the material that is out there and at the same time ensure that consumers are properly informed,” said Shoebridge.
“Public submissions were overwhelmingly in favour of the introduction of the R18+ category. To abstain from the vote despite knowing months in advance that it would occur is politically culpable.”
Asked why the NSW government hadn’t determined a position on the issue despite it being on the agenda since 2002, a spokesman for Smith said “we have been in power three months”.
The Australian Christian Lobby “cautiously welcomed” the outcome of today’s decision but questioned why it was not deferred until the Australian Law Reform Commission completed its review of the National Classification Scheme, which includes examining the classification of games.
“With some tightening of the MA15+ category, the retention of the existing [refused classification] category and no liberalisation of the existing games market, the outcome today is a significant improvement from what had been previously put to ministers for their approval,” said Australian Christian Lobby spokesman Rob Ward “ACL’s concern in this debate has always been to maintain the existing ceiling for games so that there is no possibility of a higher level of graphic violence and interactive sex legally available for sale and hire in Australia. The draft R18+ guidelines as originally proposed would have matched the R18+ guidelines for films. This was clearly never in the interests of the community, with the boundaries of the R18+ film guidelines slowly eroded to allow extreme violence, actual sex and simulated paedophilia in films.”
“This demonstrates a distance between those policies and the reality of the video game industry and the people that play interactive games in Australia today. The legislation “effectively censors entertainment choices for adults.” EA said Games Presiden Frank Gibeau “As the Australian government evaluates the introduction of an 18+ category for videogames within the OFLC age rating system, it’s important to remind ourselves that in today’s global videogaming audience, the average age of a gamer is 28″
Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games & Entertainment Association (iGEA), says that today’s outcome is a positive step for the video games industry which has been awaiting an R18+ classification for almost a decade.
“An in-principle agreement for an R18+ classification is a big step towards a robust ratings system that best equips parents to manage their children’s access to appropriate content, as well as enables adults the ability to play games of their choice within the confines of the law,” said Curry.
With eight out of the nine Attorneys-General coming to an in-principle agreement, Curry says he looks forward to discussing the R18+ classification issue with NSW’s Attorney-General Greg Smith who abstained from making a vote today and will consider the issue out of session.
“It is entirely reasonable that each Minister should have taken the necessary time to fully understand the underlying issues and to grasp why Australia so desperately needs an adult classification for video game, and we look forward to entering into a dialogue with NSW Attorney-General Greg Smith.”
“This is the first step in the legislative process and until we can review the final guidelines, we can’t fully assess the impact of an adult rating for games in Australia. We can be confident however that all content will be subjected to stringent classification guidelines and games which exceed an R18+ classification rating will still be refused classification and banned in Australia,” said Curry.
“With an adult rating finally on the horizon, we can now better focus our energy on more relevant discussions around content classification as entertainment formats and content continue to blur.”
The positive news comes off the back of a government-commissioned survey released by Minister of Home Affairs Brendan O’Connor in December last year which found 80 per cent of the 2,226 respondents interviewed support an R18+ rating and that 91 per cent of adults would clearly know that game classified R18+ would be unsuitable for children.
The federal government has been a vocal supporter of the proposal as has the general public and the video games industry, however changing the laws was always going to be problematic as it requires the agreement of all attorneys-general. Previously it was the former South-Australian Attorney-General, Michael Atkinson, who was blocking the R18+ measure however he has since been replaced by John Rau.
A government-commissioned survey of 2226 Australians released in December last year found 80 per cent supported the R18+ rating.