“Counterterrorism” in the UK

The Guardian reports on yet more counterterrorism idiocy, regarding a woman who was merely trying to document what the police were doing:

Lawyers for Gemma Atkinson, a 27-year-old who was detained after filming police officers conduct a routine stop and search on her boyfriend, believe her case is the latest example of how police are misusing counterterrorism powers to restrict photography.

The article goes on to detail the incident and the High Court case resulting from same.

This is yet another example of law–and law enforcement–run amok. There is really no legitimate need to censor the recording of police activities; in fact one would think that honest cops would not mind at all. I know of a case where a deputy would intentionally take inmates of a jail to one hallway not monitored by a security camera just so what he said and did was “off the record.” That is just one example of what dishonest cops can do.

Also of note:

The Met’s guidance is different to that issued by the National Policing Improvement Agency, which specifically advises that “officers do not have a legal power to delete images or destroy film”, and suggests that, while digital images might be viewed during a search, officers “should not normally attempt to examine them”.

If you remember one thing from this blog, remember this (and this is true in at least the US as well): Cops never have the right to delete images or destroy film.

Fundraisers, charity, me, and my future as a blogger

I can’t really comment in detail on the events surrounding the removal of the recent charity fundraiser post. It is tied too closely to other events that I cannot yet post about in this blog and that I am in fact trying to distance from my blogs as much as I can.

However, I do feel like I owe my loyal readers a short explanation about a few things.

I really, honestly, had no idea I would actually be “escorted off premises” if I showed up. Had I known that I would not have made the post and scheduled my attendance at the event.

I still feel like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is a worthy cause. I do feel like I owe the friend of mine who is a leukemia survivor my participation in at least one fundraiser for the organization at some future date. I don’t know when that future date will be, probably not until 2009 December, maybe as late as 2010 June. Yes, I know, a whole year away.

I can say, however, that the events surrounding my exclusion from this fundraiser have kind of turned me off from doing charity events for a while. In fact it’s made me rethink a lot of things. I almost said “to hell with blogging.” That’s how bad it has gotten.

At the end of the day I really have no idea who’s out there or what they think, outside of the few comments I get. Most of them run afoul of some part of the comment policy, with the single biggest offender being no e-mail address. I’m sure there are some shallow minded people out there who will hate a blogger just for his or her politics. I can see that people are still out there reading.

I know I, personally, am better than that. Most of my outright hate goes toward actions which have stepped beyond the lines of decency and common sense.

I may completely change the topic areas of what I blog about over the next month or two. I never really knew what to put here, to be honest; it was kind of random and then I just kind of got “in the groove” with idiocy of large corporations, bizarre news, and politics. I have no idea who may or may not have grown tired of reading those, and who actually misses their daily dose of them.

Only one repeat spammer out there is banned from commenting on my blogs. I really don’t like doing that and only use that as a solution to problems unresolvable any other way. By all means, if you can say it in a comment, do so. If not, I have a contact form.

The disappearance you just witnessed was not a mistake

Yes, I’ve got answers to those questions about a post that disappeared.

Yes, I pulled the previous post about a charity fundraiser. To quote one of the organizers I “will be denied entry and escorted off premises.”

No, I have not yet been told why.

Yes, I definitely plan to comment further about this at an indefinite point in the future.

Yes, I will be in contact with those who donated thinking I would be donating at this event on further advice. I am an honest man, whether it is on this blog, on social media sites, in person, on the phone, or in e-mail.

Yes, it is likely at least one of the donors will tell me to treat myself to an expensive lunch.

Yes, I’ll probably do just that if told.

Yes, if someone tells me to make it a flat donation to the originally named charity, I will do so.

No, I’m not going to format future posts like this if I can possibly help it.

A taxing experience in Sweden

And we Americans thought the IRS was clueless sometimes.

This story from Sweden details the account of a couple versus what I dare call a recklessly obtuse Swedish Tax Agency:

When their daughter Celina was born, Morten Schneider and Christina Cruz dutifully filled out the appropriate forms with their daughters name – Celina Cruz Schneider – and sent them off to have her registered with Sweden’s tax authorities, the Sk√•nska Dagbladet newspaper reports.

But the agency rejected the name they chose for their daughter because it did not comply with a rule specifying that the child must take the mother’s surname if the parents have different surnames.

According to the rule, when parents are unmarried, and have not taken a common name, it is not possible to give the child a middle name.

The father’s surname instead becomes the child’s middle name.

Thus, in the eyes of the Tax Agency, the toddler must be called Celina Schneider Cruz.

This bizarre rule about naming children in Sweden is not only weird, but it is also outdated. It dates from an older era during which naming conventions were the only way to trace ancestry in the event of a child born out of wedlock.

Now, of course, everything has changed. Recordkeeping is now done on computers and has been for at least a decade if not a quarter-century or longer. (I’m making an educated guess here. It’s hard to imagine any major government still doing paper-based data processing as late as 1999; it’s possible but unlikely very remote areas of Sweden weren’t yet using computers by then.)

Most of the commenters on the news article seem to agree; some have used some quite unsavory names to refer to the tax office. I hope this fine (SEK 2000, or about US$268) is overturned on appeal. And, that the IRS doesn’t start taking hints from Sweden.

France tries another “three strikes” copyright law

Ars Technica reports on France’s reworking of the “three strikes” copyright law. The difference between this version of the law and the previous one (which did not pass constitutional muster) is that the decisions on sanctions after the third offense is now the responsibility of the courts instead of HADOPI (the copyright authority) itself.

Of particular note is this parenthetical quote from the article:

A group of French hackers has already begun to work on software that cracks the passwords on locked WiFi networks so that there’s an element of plausible deniability when law enforcement tries to go after home network owners.

Also of note is a recent post from La Quadrature du Net on the subject. The post is in French, but from what I can gather reading an automatic translation, appears to harshly criticize the law for “reducing the courts to simply rubber stamp.” (Original text: “rèduisant les tribunaux á de simples chambres d’enregistrement.”)

A translation of the title of the law to English is also a bit disturbing: “Bill on the criminal protection of literary and artistic property on the internet.” This is phrasing to be avoided for similar reasons to those that the FSF cites in recommending against the use of “intellectual property.”

I sympathize with those in France who are quite possibly stuck with this fascist system. I know in the US, this kind of thing simply wouldn’t fly.