UK Court Rules That ISPs Must Block The Pirate Bay

The world’s most resilient public torrent tracker has been demoted to the world [minus the UK]’s most resilient public torrent tracker. The British Phonographic (no, read that word again, I made the same mistake) Institute (BPI), one of the primary defendants in the case argued that Swedish torrent tracker The Pirate Bay was the most vile and evil thing in the world that took away money from poor and needy creators of music (such as Coldplay, Dido and Leona Lewis) and “lined their own pockets” with this stolen money. Interesting thought here. The spokesperson said:-


Sites like The Pirate Bay destroy jobs in the UK and undermine investment in new British artists

Its operators line their pockets by commercially exploiting music and other creative works without paying a penny to the people who created them.

This is wrong – musicians, sound engineers and video editors deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else.

We sincerely wish we could knock some sense into them, but alas the court has already ruled in their favor. However the ISP ban will not affect those who can use VPNs and proxies. We suggest a VPN based in Sweden, just to be doubly safe.

This is distressing, but it is merely the beginning of a long and silent battle between the corporates who equate piracy to stealing and those who believe that copying is not theft.

Greece For Sale on eBay

They say you can put anything for sale on eBay. However, this one takes the cake.

It is a well known fact that Greece is facing a huge financial crisis and has been the most problematic nation in the Eurozone. Greece has also received bailouts from other Eurozone countries, but it is still struggling to stay stable. So what now?

Greece For Sale on eBay

It looks like one Greece citizen has taken it up on himself to right the country by putting up Greece for sale on eBay. Yes, you heard it right, Greece or what sounds like it has been put up on sale on eBay. If you thought that was bizarre, the listing has already received 75 bids and the current bid stands at $77,877.77.

This is not the first time that someone has put their country on sale on eBay successfully. Back in 2008, a guy had managed to put Iceland for Sale on eBay too.

The listing has been placed under the Weird Stuff -> Slightly Unusual category (some humor there) with a description.

I’m offering my country for sale. What is left of it anyway. Slightly used, low wages, low pensions,  low expectations. Lots of sunshine though, free at the moment.

Many natural resources, minerals etc that are still untouched. Bureaucracy at its best. Great bribe-to-do system, over 20 years of experience.

Obedience at the IMF, bankers and the Troika is guaranteed, no questions asked.

The buyer will get for free 300 politicians, highly trained at the University of  Fine Arts of Scandals. And free Greek Bonds with extremely high international market value. For confetti.

I will provide the best possible certificate that you will ever imagine, maybe even a custom one that you’ll ask.

No hard feelings.

The seller also provides Free shipping. I am wondering how he is going to pull that off. BTW, back in Jan 2012 Apple became richer than Greece.

(h/t @gmanka)

Update: The listing has now been removed.

Dent in the Great Firewall of China Pulls Hundreds of Chinese Netizens to Obama’s Google Plus Page

You have no idea how much I wanted to write an article under that headline. I did not know how much I wanted to write an article under that headline until I read the news. Apparently, a glitch in the matrix China’s nationwide firewall has allowed many Chinese users to troop around into Google +, the social networking platform with special emphasis on mobiles. These Chinese netizens have flocked to US President Barack Obama’s Google + page and written up posts that range from pleas for help to the US Green Card and applying for the same.

Official portrait of President-elect Barack Obama on Jan. 13, 2009.(Photo by Pete Souza)

Many of these Chinese users have reportedly been using the mobile platform through which Google + is accessible, rather than fixed computers, much to the chagrin of the Chinese authorities (or so I would like to believe, since there is not much information on that front). China has blocked Twitter and Facebook following ethnic riots in some parts of the country, while Google has been fighting a hard battle against censoring some search results for the country.

It would be fun to see how President Obama, already reeling under pressure from many parts of the Internet as well as the people in general, will respond to a Chinese “request” to take down the messages on Google + – many of which criticize Beijing’s censorship.

Iran Blocks Country-Wide Access to Facebook, Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail

Worrying news from Tehran – an Iranian national said that the country has blocked access to many daily-use communication websites such as Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail and Facebook. This occurred recently without the Government stating the explicit reasons, or even acknowledging that this block has occurred. While many net-savvy Iranians have managed to use proxies and Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to punch through this blockade, the prospect of a nation-wide firewall akin to the Great Firewall of China seems very real for Iranians.


Considering that February 11th marks the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 in Iran, word on CNet is that there might have been a protest planned for the day. Iran is no stranger to cutting off internet and communication to stem protests before they blossom. Last month the information minister had said that the Government is planning to go ahead with an Internet Kill Switch that will firewall a majority of anti-Iranian websites and other means of easy communication.

Considering that Iran’s Internet was supposed to survive a nuclear war, it seems that the centralized Internet service in the country is actually the bane for its people. Pretty soon you will have a nation full of people who are not only irritated at the regime, but also bored without Facebook’s games. According to the Internet, that is a dangerous combination.

Canadian Coder Given Death Sentence By Iranian Supreme Court

The Iranian Supreme Court has overturned a previous sentence and approved the execution of Canadian resident, Saeed Malekpour.

Malekpour was arrested and detained, in 2008 at Evin prison in Tehran, for over a year without being formally charged. His crime? He created software that allowed pictures to be uploaded. His punishment? The death sentence. His software was allegedly used to upload pornographic images to a pornographic website. A court in Tehran sentenced him to the death penalty after he confessed to “acting against national security through propaganda”. He later withdrew his confession stating he had given it under extreme duress and torture.

Image courtesy of

This is not the first time the death penalty has been handed down for ‘online expression’. While Amnesty International indicates 39 people have already been put to death since the beginning of 2012, the Iranian government has only officially avowed 17 executions.

In March of 2010, Saeed wrote an open letter while he was in prison. It details what “physical and psychological torture” he received at the hands of the “Revolutionary Guards Cyber Counterattack” team in order to extract a confession from him.

Some of the confessions they forced me to make were so ridiculous and far-fetched that they are not even possible.

For example, they asked me to falsely confess to purchasing software from the UK and then posting on my website for sale. I was forced to add that when somebody visited my website, the software would be – without the visitor’s knowledge – installed on their computer and would take control of their web cam, even when their web cam was turned off. Although I told them that what they were suggesting was impossible from a technological point of view, they responded that I should not concern myself with such things.

United For Iran has stated an initiative to raise awareness of Saeed’s case. It is truly frightening that a person can be held in a prison for over a year, receive the death penalty from a Supreme Court, and be executed for creating completely benign and legal software.


Via Sophos

SOPA Author Violates Copyrights On His Own Site, Is Also Guilty Of Being Very Immoral

Well, well, well what do we have here? It seems that the Vice website has found a tiny little hole in US Senator Lamar Smith’s rather untarnished website, which is more than we can say about his reputation.


Who is Lamar Smith, you ask? He is the author of the Stop Online Privacy Piracy Act or SOPA. SOPA, as we know, is a diabolical little bill that was up for debate a few days ago in the US Senate. If this Act had passed (which has not happened yet, thankfully), then if you use a copyrighted image on your website and do not take permission or credit the owner of the copyright, you will be jailed and/or penalized very harshly.


Logically speaking, by his own rhetoric, Lamar Smith should be jailed and/or penalized very harshly. As Vice found out, Lamar Smith was using a photograph that was taken by DJ Smith and released under Creative Commons license for the background of his website. The Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license under which this photograph was released clearly indicates that if the photograph is used:-

  • then it must be used in a non commercial website or for a non commercial cause,
  • it must be shared alike, i.e. the photograph must be released with the exact same license and
  • the author of the media (the photographer) must be credited

While not asking for permission for using the photograph is alright, not attributing it to DJ Smith is a criminal offense. As the photographer says:-

I have no recollection, nor record of Lamar Smith or anyone from his organization requesting permission to use my image “Mist Lifting Off Cedars”. That lack of request does not violate the Creative Commons license although it does show high disregard for creative material producers. What does violate my Creative Commons license though is that I do not see anywhere on the screen capture that the image was attributed to the source (me). It would seem this image was improperly used by the organization of the very author of the SOPA bill that is being debated in Congress.

Unfortunately, it would seem like the creators and supporters of SOPA have little knowledge about the real process of creation, or indeed the novel ways in which media is shared around the internet.

However, it goes deeper than that. A little bit of sleuthing (also known these days are browsing pages on Wikipedia) provides some more information about Representative Smith:-

  • In 2006, he proposed a bill that would give the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) more teeth when dealing with violators. By more teeth, we mean wiretapping authority on suspected violators of the DMCA. The DMCA, if you remember, is the primary reason why we have the scourge called Digital Rights Management still being thrown at legitimate customers of music, movies and video games.
  • Just last year, a brilliant bill proposed by Barney Frank and Ron Paul that would put an end to the prohibition against marijuana use was opposed by Lamar Smith. He opposed it on the grounds that “[M]arijuana use and distribution is prohibited under federal law because it has a high potential for abuse and does not have an accepted medical use in the U.S., The Food and Drug Administration has not approved smoked marijuana for any condition or disease.” All this right after the National Cancer Institute stated that “cannabis and cannabinoids have been studied in the laboratory and the clinic for relief of pain, nausea and vomiting, anxiety, and loss of appetite”. Apparently, decriminalizing a scientifically deemed harmless drug is a hard thing for Agent Mr. Smith to follow. This may be due to the next factoid, which is…
  • In 2011 Smith had received $37,250 in campaign contributions from the Beer, Wine and Liquor Lobby, and $65,800 total between 2009 and 2011. listed the Beer, Wine, and Liquor Lobby as third among Smith’s top ten campaign contributors.
  • Last, but not the least where we are concerned, he is also the proposer of the new Protecting Children from Internet Pornographers Act of 2011, which is basically another internet freedom gagging bill with the convenient foil of child pornography thrown in for good measure so that any opponents of the bill can be easily shown to be secret child porn enthusiasts. This bill will force Internet Service Providers to keep eighteen month records of all activity on all their customers because anyone could be looking around for child porn (apparently). If this does not seem like an easy back door for Big Brother to spy on us, I suggest you wake up from your deep political slumber.

In a recent post on online community Reddit, a poster in the campus of University of Texas, Austin denounced Lamar Smith, a comment by Reddit user CookiesAHelluvaDrug (remember content is more important than the username) went on to say:-

Lamar Smith:
*Voted YES on allowing school prayer during the War on Terror. (Nov 2001
*Voted NO on additional $10.2B for federal education & HHS projects. (Nov 2007)
*Rated 17% by the NEA, indicating anti-public education votes. (Dec 2003)
*Voted YES on barring EPA from regulating greenhouse gases. (Apr 2011)
*Voted NO on starting implementation of Kyoto Protocol. (Jun 2000)
*Voted YES on deauthorizing “critical habitat” for endangered species. (Sep 2005)
*Rated 0% by the LCV, indicating anti-environment votes. (Dec 2003)
*Voted YES on restricting independent grassroots political committees. (Apr 2006)
*Voted NO on protecting whistleblowers from employer recrimination. (Mar 2007)
*Rated 0% by APHA, indicating a anti-public health voting record. (Dec 2003)
*Voted YES on extending the PATRIOT Act’s roving wiretaps. (Feb 2011)
*Voted NO on requiring FISA warrants for wiretaps in US, but not abroad. (Mar 2008)
*Voted YES on continuing military recruitment on college campuses. (Feb 2005)
*Rated 0% by the ARA, indicating an anti-senior voting record. (Dec 2003)
*Voted YES on terminating funding for National Public Radio. (Mar 2011)
*Voted NO on investigating Bush impeachment for lying about Iraq. (Jun 2008)
*Voted NO on removing US armed forces from Afghanistan. (Mar 2011)

Remember, UT falls under Smith’s area of representation.

Now I am not the one to make an ad hominem argument about a politician who does not even belong to my country, but from his exemplary track record, it would seem like this man does not have a shred of good sense left in him. Seriously, stop electing this guy. I do hope he never goes into the lower house ever again.

[Photo: Mist Lifting off Cedars by dj @ oxherder arts]

[Hat tip to Chinmoy for letting me know about this guy]

Pen Removed From Woman’s Stomach After 25 Years Still Works!!

This is a modern, upgraded version of the Jonah myth. A British woman, who had accidentally swallowed a pen 25 years ago, got the foreign object removed today! Miraculously, the felt tip pen, with the bare tip, hadn’t done anything to her stomach lining. Possibly of equal wonder is the fact that the pen still works!

Twenty five years ago, the woman wanted a better look at her tonsils. She used a mirror and a pen, which slipped and went down the esophagus (food canal)! Doctors didn’t believe her when she went to get herself checked. Furthermore, X-rays didn’t show anything.

CT Scan!

Now, a CT scan proves her honesty. The following photo shows the pen clearly!

The CT scan clearly shows the pen inside the stomach. (Courtesy: BMJ Case Reports)

Doctors have requested her to get the object removed, since, even though it hasn’t caused any trouble to the stomach walls, the risk is just as high that it will rupture the stomach walls. The woman is 76 years old now.

After the pen was removed, doctors used it to write Hello’ on a pad of paper. Amazingly, it writes perfectly.

Hello to the world! After 25 years. (Courtesy: BMJ Case Reports)

The case report of this bizarre incident is reported here.

Doctors have looked at this strange case and have made the following observations: Plain abdominal X-Rays may not be very useful in determining the presence of ingested objects’ and that it may be worth believing in a patient’s account, no matter how ludicrous it is’.

I found the whale and Jonah more believable! But then, as Mark Twain had reminded us, truth need not be constrained by the limits of our imagination.

11.11.11 Is Just Another Day! Period

The 11.11.11 date is upon us and we are on the verge of a great illumination or shift in consciousness. Or Not! The date is an interesting observation, but that’s about it!

Seen this before, right? No?

Numerologists, psychics, metaphysicists (I don’t even know if that is really a proper profession or not), occultists and other people with no lives to call their own are going head-over-heels proclaiming today as the day of the enlightenment. Apparently, while we are simply sitting at home, or getting yelled at by our bosses at office (who yells at these bosses?), there is going to be a harmonic convergenceand a (for the second time!) paradigm shift in consciousness. Why? Because an inevitable date occurred and the digits looked interesting given a particular, arbitrarily chosen, calendar that we happen to follow.

The Magic of the Day and the Charlatans!

Many people are busy proclaiming the uniqueness of the date it happens once in a lifetime. I’ll give you more it happens once every century!! How many dates (calendar dates!) have you seen repeating themselves? Heard of anyone who has seen one?

Charlatan Bashing

Okay, so back to charlatan bashing. One lady (at least, that’s what she’ claims online) has suddenly become famous online, simply because she (okay, I had always thought that women cannot really be this crazy, so I’m still betting that this is a guy!) is an 11.11 expert! (And I didn’t even know that such a position ever existed! I wonder if they are hiring.) She’s known online as Solara’ and she will be organizing trance sessions throughout the day and at the time 11:11 GMT today, believers’ will join together and sit as silent watchers who oversee worlds within worlds. That should mean something really deep, but I’m not quite sure what that is! There’s more; there’s always something more! She even claims that at the point 11.11.11 11:11 GMT a portal’ will open up and take believers from this world to one which has new oneness’. Sure!

The Number 11 : What was that again?

Many conspiracy theorists (don’t you just love them!) cite the historical importance of the number 11′. Starting from the entire gobbledegook about the 9/11 attacks, the number 11 is said to have special significance. You’re welcome to surf the internet (or wait long enough for a large number of friends to share something related to this on your Facebook wall) and look for the significance yourselves.

Just another ordinary day – oh, with a movie

Here’s what we think: There will be no portals opened, no consciousness shift, no apocalypse and definitely no dinosaurs popping into spontaneous existence. There will, however, be a movie released by the name 11.11.11 and you’re welcome to watch that. No, neither the author nor the blog that he writes for aims to advertise for the movie or promote its watchability’, but given the other things on the menu regarding today, a (possibly) bad movie might be the best option to choose.

It is heartening to see that no one yet claims that the world is going to end. I love these claims; how easy it is to prove them wrong after the event just exist.

Depending on how you view life, we advise you to either enjoy or suffer another ordinary day in your life as usual. We wish you a Happy Friday.

Justin Bieber Could Be Jailed for Five Years – That’s What Says

A political website – “”  that launched a campaign in opposition to the U.S. Senate’s proposed “Commercial Felony Streaming Act” or “illegal streaming ” bill, offered a petition to stop the bill from passing, and as a part of the campaign, the site uploaded edited pictures of Justin Bieber behind bars and fake images of him being arrested.

Justin Bieber in Jail - Edited Picture

The organization called Fight For the Future is trying to draw attention to the bill S.978, which was proposed by Amy Klobuchar, Chris Coons, and John Cornyn on May 12, 2011. The bill states that any unauthorized streaming of copyrighted material for the purpose of “commercial advantage or personal financial gain” would be a felony with penalties up to five years in prison.

In simple words, one could be convicted of a felony just for singing copyrighted songs and posting them on  YouTube or elsewhere.

The reason to include Justin Bieber’s name is because Bieber became popular when a viral video of him singing the cover song by the artist Chris Brown – “With You” was posted on YouTube, which gained huge popularity. This directly goes against the bill S.978.

Now, according to the site, if the bill S.978 is passed, Bieber will face the penalty and could be slapped with up to five years of jail time.

Along with the edited and fake images, the site had the following message – “A new bill in Congress makes posting a video containing any copyrighted work a felony– with up to 5 years in prison. But wait… didn’t Justin Bieber get famous by posting YouTube videos of himself singing copyrighted R&B songs? Yep. If this bill passes, he could get 5 years in jail.”

The site has been hugely effective with more than 43,000 people “liking” it on Facebook and has registered over 500,000 petition signatures already. This irked the lawyers of Justin Bieber, and issued a cease and desist letter to the site’s owners, claiming the site violates the pop star’s intellectual property rights and publicity rights.

In response to Bieber’s lawyers, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) stated that the legal threat imposed was  entirely  baseless. That being said, the site was protected by the fair use doctrine and deserved most protection of all –

The kind of important political speech that is the core of the Free Bieber campaign deserves the most protection of all, and we are glad that the folks behind it are willing to stand up and defend their right to Free Justin Bieber whether he likes it or not,the EFF said.

It’s pretty illogical of Bieber’s lawyers being bothered about the situation. The only extent they can go up to is striking the Streisand effect, and in the process of taking down the contents of the site, they’re just going to draw more attention to it.

The World Will End Tomorrow, “Probably”, Says Doomsday Prophet (Again)

These are the kinds of people who periodically remind you what is really wrong with the world. Remember Harold Camping, the doomsday prophet who claimed that the Rapture will be on us on 21st May? Predictably nothing happened. However, that hasn’t stopped him from pulling off the stunt once again and saying that the world will end on the 21st of October, i.e. tomorrow. This time though, he adds a cautious probably’.

Lying with one hand on the Holy Bible? Oh, my!

Camping Out!

Camping, who owns California-based Family Radio’, is a Christian fundamentalist and is known for getting his May 21st Rapture Day Prediction grossly wrong. Ironically, he survived a stroke in June.

Family Radio had made a fortune during the lead-up to the May 21st prediction due to the obscenely large amounts of money donated’ to the channel by the large number of believers, who prayed for their own souls and those of near and dear ones. Jesus Christ was, however, reluctant to show himself after death for a second time, turning the Second Coming into a damp squib. Camping absconded for a few days, his money safely stashed away.

Now, he returns with a more cautious stance. The world might end, he says. While the conservatives might welcome his softer stance, this might actually affect his popularity more adversely than the failed prediction. The inevitable question that a hardliner will ask is this: How can he be a prophet and not be sure of his own prophecy? Other people, like yours truly, who is neither on the hard-line or conservative believers’ groups, might find this mildly quaint or positively irritating.

Merely Harmless Fun, Right?

The May 21st prediction wasn’t merely a cruel joke for many people. Many people actually quit their jobs, or sold all their belongings or calculated their last till that day. When the day passed without them being redeemed, they were literally reborn in a world bereft of everything they possessed. How is Camping not culpable of crime? The toned down build-up to this present event means that very few people will believe in it and, hopefully, no one will do the unthinkable.

Enjoy your Friday, everyone!