Why are US economy stats being used to suggest an impending UK recovery, when there is a US election due soon? Duh?

No, really, “The Westminster Hour”, Radio 4.

Malaysia deports journalist #HamzaKashgari back to Saudi for possible #Twitter joke/apostasy trial

BBC News – Malaysia deports Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari.

Malaysian authorities have deported a Saudi journalist accused of insulting the Prophet Muhammad in a tweet.

Police confirmed to the BBC that Hamza Kashgari was sent back to Saudi Arabia on Sunday despite protests from human rights groups.

Mr Kashgari’s controversial tweet last week sparked more than 30,000 responses and several death threats.

Insulting the prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam and is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia.

Mr Kashgari, 23, fled Saudi Arabia last week and was detained upon his arrival in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur on Thursday.

He had tweeted his doubts about Muhammad on the prophet’s birthday last week. Saudi clerics condemned his remarks as blasphemous.

Amnesty International has warned that Mr Kashgari could be executed in Saudi Arabia if he is found guilty of apostasy.

“If the Malaysian authorities hand over Hamza Kashgari to Saudi Arabia, they could end up complicit in any violations he suffers,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty’s Middle East division.

Of course we would never do that here; in the UK we inviolably worship bureaucracy.

On Fleet St and @tom_watson’s breaking #Leveson-based #Nightjack enquiry into at hacking at The Times…

When I hear on Radio 4 that there’s some breaking news that:

Not only Tabloids but perhaps also Broadsheets were hacking for stories!

…I think of many boozy evenings in 2011 hanging out with journos and being unanimously told that:

They were all at it. The lot of them. Without exception. Even the ‘good’ guys. Mine’s a G&T.

So I am not surprised by the news that John Humphrys (or, indeed Jim Naughtie) presented this morning; but I do wonder precisely “what is going through his head” when he’s reading it out?

Is it perhaps like a bedtime story where he already knows the story’s punchline, and all the details, but is being forced by circumstance to turn over one fat page per month because we kiddies may only be told the tale… ONE… SLOW… WORD… AT… A… TIME?

And what is it that dictates the pace – the media under investigation? The police? Some dripping stream of embarrassment which wells-up and occasionally bursts its banks, permitting us all to scream “OH, REALLY?” in some pantomime of surprise?

Does it really require an enquiry to follow the story?

It makes me sick.

FLASH: Stephen #Hester to decline his #RBS bonus. Shall we take bets that there’s a #peerage in the offing ?

Just announced on the Westminster Hour, Radio 4.

£963,000 should buy a fairly comfy seat… 🙂

“Annual Equivalent Salary” – a suggestion for all #benefits statistics ?

I think I stole this idea off Guido but don’t let that put you off. There’s a hint of it in a Guardian article, regards a suggestion of capping benefits at £500 per week:

The Department for Work and Pensions said there had to be a limit on the amount of money benefit claimants could receive. “We think that limit is set at a fair rate of £26k – the equivalent to someone earning £35,000 before tax. If you take child benefit out of the cap, it will simply become ineffective, failing the very principles of our reforms, which is to bring fairness back into our welfare system while ensuring that support goes to those who need it.”

And lo, it works out; input “35000” and you get per week:

Gross Income £673.08
Taxable Income £529.33
Tax £105.87
National Insurance £64.10
Take Home £503.12

I think there’s a lot to be said for phrasing the debate not in terms of paltry-sounding net sums, but in terms of gross annual salary to give some perspective of someone’s effective quality of life on benefits.

35k in London is a lot different to 35k in Aberystwyth.

The Day The LOLcats Died – Fantastic #copyright #sopa #pipa #parody

HT @baskers

Will the #SOPABlackout for #Wikipedia be the last ever Information Silence? #Marconi

Answer: Probably not – but only in as much as there won’t be an information silence for there is always the Google cache… but as Wikipedia reminds us that Marconi died

…in Rome in 1937 at age 63 following a series of heart attacks, and Italy held a state funeral for him. As a tribute, all radio stations throughout the world observed two minutes of silence.

…and radioastronomers know this as probably the last time ever that the radio spectrum was quieted and free from (intentional) human activity; so sometimes I wonder what it would take to create a temporary dark age.

It might be possible to crash big chunks of the internet if you tried really hard (hat tip to the fabulous 1980s SF book ORA:CLE by Kevin O’Donnell – it’s a must-read for security geeks of a certain age) but frankly the technology has overtaken risk of total blackout.

Big chunks of the net can be throttled, sure, but the whole thing? Not easily. Could we take out a significant resource, though? Yes, that’s still possible, especially electively. It’s just a matter of picking your targets.

So I’ll betcha that a bunch of schoolkids tomorrow night are going to be unpleasantly surprised when their homework has a thursday deadline…

In protest of #SOPA and #PIPA, #Wikipedia will “go black” on January 18th, and…

…well, I made exactly the same posting about Reddit earlier in the week, and some friends’ reactions varied between meh and pointless to who? and not going to change anything.

Somehow I think that a global blackout of Wikipedia:

This is going to be wow. I hope Wikipedia will melt phone systems in Washington on Wednesday. Tell everyone you know!.

…will get a few peoples’ attention, not least the teachers who will suffer the knock-on effects upon homework.

The only thing missing from my ticklist is for Google to invert the colour scheme on its homepage and I’ll be batting three for three.

In protest of #SOPA and #PIPA, #Reddit will “go black” on January 18th, and…

…they’ve totally nailed the graphic: 🙂


We’ve seen some amazing activism organized by redditors at /r/sopa and across the reddit community at large. You have made a difference in this fight; and as we near the next stage, and after much thought, talking with experts, and hearing the overwhelming voices from the reddit community, we have decided that we will be blacking out reddit on January 18th from 8am–8pm EST (1300–0100 UTC).


Who next? Wikipedia? Google?

Ever get the sense that the media’s extrapolation of 2 wins (of 50) into a trend/victory, might be bogus?

Is it stupidity, wishfulness, or charging up the drama so that the next “surprise” will be everso more dramatic?