All entries for June 2006

June 27, 2006

How to defeat the Great (Fire)Wall of China…

Writing about web page http://www.schneier.com/blog/archives/2006/06/ignoring_the_gr.html

A group of intrepid H4X0rz have discovered how to easily bypass the Chinese governments censorship of words like “democracy”. It seems that the routers are scanning all the data which attempts to pass if a censored word is in those packets, rather than stopping the data which would take a crazy amount of time and power to do on the fly, they simply send TCP reset packets to the computers concerned telling them to close the connection. This has the effect of confusing the computers concerned into obeying (because they believe that they are genuine requests).

Importantly the original data is left completely fine and passes through without a problem. Simply setting by setting up some firewall rules. As usual governments are finding out that they can think that they are smarter than anyone in the world; but the net belongs to the “l33t–est”, and here, that's not the government.

As a side note, if you are considering travelling to China and still wish to be able to freely access information on democracy, remember: use this, get a proxy (set your IP address to the ol' chestnut 127.0.0.1) and change your MAC address, ideally every time you go on the computer.

I'll close with a comment which was posted on the web site which is linked to above…
“Instead try to realize the truth."
"What truth?"
"There is no wall.


June 25, 2006

A New Bill of Rights

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/5114102.stm

Editorial:

David Cameron has suggested that the Conservative party could scrap the Human Rights Act (HRA). This suggestion has also come from Tony Blair over the past few months (though strangely it was Blair who passed the law). The Human Rights Act, it is argued, gives too many rights to criminals and not enough protection to the population at large.

Cameron's suggestion differs from that of Blair because he is suggesting getting rid of the HRA but introducing a Bill of Rights for the UK, along the lines of the American on (though evidently different from the English Bill of Rights, which was passed in 1689). Cameron said that the current HRA is both giving too many rights to criminals whilst failing to protect civil liberties, a new act would be an attempt to reverse both these trends.

For my part, I would argue that this is desperately needed. We are losing rights every day because the current government's attitude is “even if it isn't broke… introduce more laws”, a tribute to that never give up, never think things through, attitude. The 90 day detention was a case in point; there is no need to have any length of detention without charge over and above about 24 hours. If you suspect that someone has committed a crime then you should charge them, at least then they know what they are meant to have done and can try and produce some counter evidence. This was a horrific breach of civil liberties which we couldn't stop because the laws which forbade it were seen to be too old, too remote and not clear enough. The 90–day law clearly breached the Habeas Corpus Act (1679) but this is still just a law, and Parliament can get rid of or over right any law it wants. If we have a new Bill of Rights it could be set up in such a way that it cannot be easily overwritten or changed.

It is also not too difficult to see examples of criminals been given too many rights. An example is the man who whilst escaping from the police climbed on top of a house. He threw bricks and tiles at the police and yet the police was bound to provide food for him because to not do would go against his “human rights”.

We clearly need a new set of rules which everyone can see, understand and feel confident with. A new Bill of Rights is a very good start.


June 23, 2006

Blair to attack the 'Justice Gap'

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5108158.stm

From the BBC, we hear that Blair, after meeting campaigners for 'victim's rights' we are to address the apparant 'justice gap'. Apparantly, the rights of criminals are 'outweighing' the rights of the victims. Well maybe so, especially when victims call for the right to execute/castrate/flog or whatever.

Also, we hear that there "is a huge and growing gap between the criminal justice system and what the public expects from it". Well that I agree on, or at least there is a gap between public perceptions of the criminal justics system and that inconvienient thing called reality. Talk to you're average Joe (no offence Joe..) on the street and he'll tell you crime is out of control in this country, not enough people get locked up, and judges are becoming 'soft' in terms of sentencing. When you mention that crime is falling year on year consistantly (despite the waves of new criminal offences introduced under Labour), the prison population is "within weeks" of reaching capacity (according to the cheif prison women in an interview in the New Statesman the other week..I forget her name), and that sentencing has in fact gone up rather than down in terms of length served in prison, one gets an awkward silence…

…followed closely by the heckles of being a pansy liberal falling at the shoes of blood thirsty murderers, and worse, peodophiles. There's just no telling some people..

It all reminds me of one time when I was 15–16. In a corner shop a woman approached me to ask me to sign a petition for a 'Sarah's Law', whereby addresses and phone numbers of peodophiles are made available to the public.. I told her quite frankly that I didn't believe in the vigilante justice that would be the inevitable consequence in some areas of the UK, and that any civilised justice should be left up to the courts. She called me a peodophile. I left.. Again, there's just no talking to some people..


June 22, 2006

Insurance for 'imaculate' conception

In what is the strangest story I've heard in a while, an insurance firm has been forced to withdraw their insurance cover for three women in Scotland that covers them in the event of them being chosen by God as the vessel for the second coming of christ. If the women secured a payout, £1 million would be made available to bring up the messiah, so says the BBC.

The MD of 'britishinsurance.com' said, "The people were concerned about having sufficient funds if they immaculately conceived." Hmm.. well I suppose it's a risk we all take, even men I suppose, considering a God as 'all–powerful'.

However, whether they'd taken out the small print of not being liable for 'acts of God' is not clear.


June 19, 2006

Forest Gate/De Menezes

sorry, could only find a picture of the front cover, but I just tought that photo was very powerful


June 18, 2006

North Korea missle test imminent

According to the BBC (and every seemingly every other news source on the internet), North Korea could be testing their brand spanking new Taepodong–2 (or Taepodong–X according to some sources) today. Speculation has been around for a few days, and now there are reports of the North Korean people raising their flags, and expecting a "message to the people" later today.

Back in 1998, the Taepodong–1 missle was tested, completely unexpectedly, over Japan. Quite provocative some might say.

The old missle had a 2,000km range, but the range of the new 'X' missile is unclear. Some sources (such as the BBC), say it could have a range of 6,000km with a small payload (ie non–nuclear), which would put the US into it's path, but others say that with any significant payload on board (that is, one that could do any real damage) would only be able to reach Guam in the middle of the Pacific.

If this missile is launched, there of course is the potential for error, most significantly, the potential for it to fall on Japan. In all but the most devastating scenario, the missile won't be carrying a payload, but some quotes coming from Japan would take any strike as an 'attack' on it's homeland. This is why I was quite reassured that the Japanese Foreign Minister, Taro Aso, said Japan is ''unlikely to immediately appeal to arms'' if a missile should land.

However, regardless of this, if the speculation is true and a missile is indeed test fired today, we can expect further frosty relations in the area.


June 16, 2006

EU enlargement!

one of the few articles which states that sometimes it is the public that is wrong, not the politicians!

link


Britain vows to imprison the tyrants of Africa

Britain has agreed to imprison Charles Taylor, former president of Liberia, if he is found guilty of war crimes by the Hague, so says the Times.

As if we need more evidence of the inherent nationalism in the Times, it's saying that "critics" (for this read, the Times) will be up in arms about the "cost to the tax payer of £70,000 a year".

As the article breifly mentioned later on, Britain has spent £60 million in aid aimed at restoring order to Liberia, so £70,000 to ensure that a man who, if he's found guilty, had a large contribution to that mess during the civil war is not such a high price to pay. If he continues to be held in Sierra Leone, it can only be further destabalizing for West Africa.

I think it's refreshing to see such a gesture of commitment to international justice. We should be proud.


June 14, 2006

Is that a slave–made device in your pocket?

Writing about web page http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/5079590.stm

Apple claims to be investigating after the Mail on Sunday claimed that workers in China (who the billionaire owner of apple, Steve Jobs, outsourced the production of iPods to) are being exploited and forced to work up to 15 hour days for as little as £27 a month. The claims also say that in another factory where workers are paid £54 a month half of that is taken back by the people who run the complex for food and board. These workers could be doing at least 6 days a week in 15 hour shifts.

If your wondering how much £27 is in terms of what they are making it is about 12% of the value of just one iPod… smells like exploitation.

Who says Apple is the less evil alternative to Microsoft?


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