Apologies to everyone for a lack of posts lately.. I have been fairly busy but hope to add content more regularly in the near future. For the moment you can always rate posts and write comments, or even suggest ideas for posts/topics.
David Cameron has warned that it would be wrong to take “revenge” on the bankers despite the fact that it has emerged that thousands of bankers are in line for extortionate bonuses whilst the general public suffers with cuts, hikes in VAT and attacks on public services.
JP Morgan has revealed that it will give 10,000 Bristish-based staff an average of nearly £250,000. The Royal Bank of Scotland, which by the way is now 83% owned by us (the taxpayers), is set to pay around £1 billion in bonuses to staff. It is claimed that Goldman Sachs is to hand out £8 billion in salary and bonuses for 2010 (down from £10 billion for 2009), and Bob Diamond, the head of Barclays, is expected to be handed a “meagre” £8 million bonus for last year.
Whilst the general public suffers the brunt of the cuts, the hike in VAT, the removal of state support for many (such as with Derek Carpenter), the marketisation of our education system, the shakeup of the NHS, the attack on our public sector, the bankers are lavishing themselves with huge bonuses and giving themselves pats on the back for… what, exactly? Why are they not showing the slightest signs of remorse, or giving something back to the country that they helped bring to the edge of ruin? As the average citizen begins to feel the strain of the coalition’s measures, the banking sector simply carries on as usual.
Derek Carpenter, 63, has advanced prostate cancer. He lives in constant pain and walking proves difficult, an activity which leaves him “feeling like the bones are sticking out from the bottom of his feet”. He cannot leave his home without a wheelchair. Despite this the government, famous for its zealous use of the word “fairness” when describing its “progressive” policies, has decided that Derek is no longer entitled to state support.
Following a “Work Capability Assessment”, the 63-year old cancer victim was told he was not eligible for Employment and Support Allowance, which replaces Incapacity Benefit. Derek says he is “a worker not a shirker, and I have been all my life”, yet the jobs he could do are non-existant, given his health and lack of mobility. Derek’s situation is not unique – unfortunately we will be hearing more cases like his over the course of this government.
The Citizens Advice Bureau is currently dealing with numerous cases like Derek, instances where people who truly require state support to get by have been stripped of benefits by a coalition government which cares more about allowing the banking sector to continue to hand out extortionate bonueses than being concerned with the more vulnerable members of society. Chris Darlington from Haverhill CAB says: “I am in the process at the moment of between 30 and 35 cases at the moment… the regulations are being too stringent”
Perhaps the name change is somewhat telling. The formerly entitled “Incapacity Benefit” has been replaced by “Employment and Support Allowance”, though clearly people like Derek Carpenter do not require support in the coalition’s eyes.
The Department for Work and Pensions says “The Work Capability Assessment is designed to assess whether someone is fit for work rather than writing people off on a lifetime of benefits” and that “changes will be made to iron out any problems”. Well unfortunately for some people, like Derek, they do require a “lifetime of benefits” simply to get by day to day. I highly doubt many would consider themselves “written off” merely because they need state support to get by. Some might say it is actually an insult to descibe them in that way.
Until the time when “changes” are “ironed out”, people like Derek will have to suffer, with little option but to appeal.
Oh, and check out this lovely article by the Daily Mail below. It details the “shocking” number of people on “sick benefits”. Yes, there are those that will “play the system” out of idleness or laziness, but there are thousands of people just like Derek Carpenter who need state support to continue living. It is propaganda like this that has contributed to this government’s “tough stance” on people claiming benefits.
- State-funded idleness: 1.5m are spending fifth Christmas in a row on sick benefits (dailymail.co.uk)
- Incapacity benefit tests face overhaul after damning report (guardian.co.uk)
- Shameful incapacity benefit consensus between main parties must stop (leftfootforward.org)
Website Analysis Comparison
In this post I shall be examining two competing news websites: The Sun and The Guardian. The features I shall take a look at will be usability, design and content features. It is important for websites to be designed well, leading to greater useability and with up-to-date content to attract a wider audience.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Firstly, I shall look at SEO, or Search Engine Optimisation. This is a crucial aspect for any website, as it is one of the first methods that users try when attempting to locate a website. Both the Sun and the Guardian’ websites are fully optimised for search engines. Typing the word “sun” into Google brought up the Sun’s website as the top link, whilst typing “guardian” into Google also brought up their website first. Even typing the word “newspaper” into Google brought up the Guardian’s and the Sun’s website as the top two links, respectively. There was also options to link to specific categories or pages under the description, for example: “Football”, “Jobs”, “UK News”. This shows that both websites are equally well-adjusted to SEO.
Glastonbury Festival has always held a special place in my heart. Formally entitled “The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts”, though dubbed simply “Glasto” by many, the festival is the world’s largest green-field music and performing arts festival in the world, and has been going since the 70’s. I first went to Glastonbury in 1998, when I was just a kid, and I remember being enthralled by the experience, with the festival leaving a lasting impression on me – as I am sure it does to anyone who experiences their first Glastonbury.
“It’s like going to another country, a hip and thrilling Brigadoon that appears every year or so”, states the Glastonbury Festival website under the tab “what is Glastonbury?”. This is a fairly accurate description of the festival for those that have not yet experienced Glastonbury. For you do not visit Glastonbury, instead, you experience it. Unlike many other festivals such as Reading/Leeds festival, Glastonbury’s charm is hinted at in its title: “The Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts”.
I cannot and will not attempt to list the countless unforgettable aspects and areas of Glastonbury Festival. Besides, this post is to give an overview of the timeline of Glastonbury, rather than an in-depth discussion of its aspects. However, it is important to note that it is not just another music festival. Glastonbury Festival is huge, and caters for everybody. As its website proclaims: “The Festival has distinct socio-geographic regions”, which range from Dance fields to Acoustic areas, from Jazzworld to Circus and Theatre fields, from the main Pyramid and Other stages to more chilled out areas. A huge part of the Glastonbury experience is simply exploring the enormous Festival, which stretches over a mile and a half across, with a perimeter of eight and a half miles. The Field of Avalon, the Tipi Field, the Green Field, the Field of Lost Vagueness (which I believe may have been re-named since I last visited) and the Stone Circle are just a few chilled out, interesting and perhaps spiritual areas that Glasto-goers can stumble across as they roam the vast landscape. And all throughout the festival itself are art pieces, sculptures, performers, surreal landscapes, impromptu theatre acts… and then there’s the music itself, which actually can often take a back-seat in the festival experience as there is simply so much to explore. Nevertheless Glastonbury always has a diverse line-up of acts from the unknown right up to the superstars. Acts such as The Cure, Massive Attack, Pulp, Blur, Hawkwind, The Smiths and David Bowie (to name but a few) have all performed at the legendary festival over the years.
Glastonbury has been going since the early seventies, and with tickets still selling out in record times, it looks as if the festival is showing no signs of slowing. With a brief introduction out of the way, here is the timeline itself: Continue reading
A member of parliament in Iceland is starting a legal fight to stop the US getting hold of her private information and messages.
Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic MP, was a former WikiLeaks volunteer. This alone has led to the US justice department issuing a subpoena directly to Twitter to get hold of her information. Jonsdottir said on Twitter that the “USA government wants to know about all my tweets and more since november 1st 2009. Do they realize I am a member of parliament in Iceland?”
She said that the US was “just sending a message and of course they are asking for a lot more than just my tweets.” Demanding a meeting with the US ambassador to Iceland, she adds “the justice department has gone completely over the top.” US authorities had requested personal information from her as well as private messages from Twitter, and she is now considering her legal position.
“It’s not just about my information. It’s a warning for anyone who had anything to do with WikiLeaks. It is completely unacceptable for the US justice department to flex its muscles like this”, Jonsdottir stated.
The US has already investigated people who have merely donated to WikiLeaks via Mastercard, Visa and PayPal, however the online watchdog the Electronic Privacy Information Centre (EPIC) has already requested that the US authorities hand over information regarding their investigations into people who have donated. Marc Rotenberg, president of EPIC, said it appeared as if the US justice department was looking at building a case against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, though Rotenberg added that it seems “unlikely” that a lawful prosecution could be brought against WikiLeaks.
Those who read my post Facebook Law Enforcement should be aware that the US authorities are already monitoring social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and users should be aware that the much-heralded rise in social networking can have detrimental effects as well as beneficial ones. Your personal information is very valuable in the 21st Century, where information is becoming a new currency, and not even foreign members of parliament are safe.
Remember, this is coming from the country who ordered the spying on fellow UN members, and who requested personal biometric data from various African leaders, according to leaked diplomatic cables. They do not respect private, personal information. Yet they are well aware of its importance.
Internet giant Google is a law unto itself, though this doesn’t stop the international community from taking umbridge with their arrogant ways.
Google once more faces charges of breaching privacy laws, this time in South Korea. Once again, Google Street View cars “mistakenly” broke privacy laws as they collected emails and personal information from homes and businesses, breaching South Korean telecommunication laws with its illegal data capturing.
South Korea is merely the latest country to find Google in violation of privacy laws – others include the UK, Canada, Spain and Australia. Google is facing investigations in more than 20 countries around the world after “mistakenly” collecting sensitive data from unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Google said it was “profoundly sorry”, and that “as soon as we realised what had happened, we stopped collecting all Wi-Fi data from our Street View Cars and immediately informed the authorities,” Google said. Deja Vu?
It was only last month that Google completed its deletion of the data collected from UK Wi-Fi networks, after the Information Commissioner’s Office found Google to be in breach of the Data Protection Act. It is rather odd that Google has mistakenly collected personal and private information in a variety of countries across the globe. One would presume that the “mistake” would have been rectified the first time that it occurred. The fact that Google is facing investigations in more than 20 countries should send a clear message to Google that the international community will not condone its unlawful data collection, whether it be numerous “mistakes” or something more sinister.
- Google Street View ‘broke South Korea privacy law’ (guardian.co.uk)
- South Korea joins outcry over Googles collection of personal info (theglobeandmail.com)
- Will Google’s Wi-Fi Spying Engineer End Up In a South Korean Prison? [Privacy] (gawker.com)
Firstly, welcome once more to Police State Britain, soon to be renamed Airstrip One. A man who threw a snowball at a police officer just before Christmas faces a second court hearing next week after being charged with “common assault”.
Dean Smith, aged 31, had been playing with his family and five-year old stepson in the snow. A playful snowball fight ensued, and Dean threw a snowball at a police officer who was nearby. Nothing more happened until three days later when police officers arrived at his house in a riot van, handcuffed him, and charged him with “common assault”. Now I don’t know what nationality the officers were, but here in Airstrip One snow is not that “common”. Personally, I would have called that an uncommon assault. After all, it’s not everyday you get “assaulted” by snowballs, is it?
“It’s a total joke,” said Smith. “I had been playing with my stepson, having a little snowball fight. I had one snowball in my left hand and saw the police officer and just threw it at her as a joke – I’m not even sure it hit her. Nothing happened so I didn’t think much more of it. Then three days later [the police] turned up at my house in a riot van and arrested me for assaulting a PC. I couldn’t believe it – I thought they had the wrong person.”
“Nobody has been able to believe what is happening,” Smith continues. “Even other police officers I have spoken with since were laughing, saying they can’t believe [the case] is going ahead.” The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) is deciding whether to proceed with the case or give Smith a caution. “What really gets me is how much money this has cost the taxpayer,” Smith said.