Evernote, the online note-taking service, has says that it has suffered a serious security breach which saw hackers steal usernames, associated email addresses and encrypted passwords.
Saturday, 2 March 2013
Friday, 1 March 2013
should see it. ** Manning guilty plea on some charges **
Bradley Manning, the US Army private accused in the Wikileaks case, pleads guilty to lesser charges but may still be prosecuted for aiding the enemy. ** BBC Daily E-mail **
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10 Pro-Gun Myths, Shot Down Fact-checking some of the gun lobby's favorite arguments shows they're full of holes. —By Dave Gilson | Thu Jan. 31, 2013 3:01 AM PST 1150 By cutting off federal funding for research and stymieing data collection and sharing, the National Rifle Association has tried to do to the study of gun violence what climate deniers have done to the science of global warming. No wonder: When it comes to hard numbers, some of the gun lobby's favorite arguments are full of holes. Myth #1: They're coming for your guns. Fact-check: No one knows the exact number of guns in America, but it's clear there's no practical way to round them all up (never mind that no one in Washington is proposing this). Yet if you fantasize about rifle-toting citizens facing down the government, you'll rest easy knowing that America's roughly 80 million gun owners already have the feds and cops outgunned by a factor of around 79 to 1. Sources: Congressional Research Service (PDF), Small Arms Survey Myth #2: Guns don't kill people—people kill people. Fact-check: People with more guns tend to kill more people—with guns. The states with the highest gun ownership rates have a gun murder rate
Sacrifice of Bradley Manning's liberty will not have been made in vain - Commentators - Voices - The Independent
History will damn the persecutors of Bradley Manning. Big powers who hide crimes away from their own people – while claiming to act in their name, of course – fear few more than those determined to hold them to account. No wonder Manning was subjected to what the UN special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, described as cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment: left languishing in solitary confinement for months, regularly stripped naked, forced to sleep without darkness, deprived of any right to privacy. An example had to be made of a soldier who helped strip away the humanitarian pretences of US power, and revealed a far uglier reality. Although it is Julian Assange – hiding from sex allegations in London's Ecuadorian Embassy – who has dominated the WikiLeaks story, Manning is the real martyr of the story. One of the videos released gave an insight into the horror of the US-led war in Iraq: an Apache helicopter shooting dead 11 Iraqis in a Baghdad suburb, none of whom returned fire. Among the dead was a 22-year-old Reuters' photojournalist Namir Noor-Eldeen; two children were brutally wounded. The crew laughed as they massacred: the video was one striking example of how occupati
Thursday, 28 February 2013
Why a one-room West Virginia library runs a $20,000 Cisco router Cisco, West Virginia wasted $5M on enterprise-class gear. by Nate Anderson - Feb 25 2013, 11:40pm GMTST 258 Yes, this library has a Cisco 3945 router. Marmet, West Virginia is a town of 1,500 people living in a thin ribbon along the banks of the Kanawha River just below Charleston. The town's public library is only open Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. It's housed in a small building the size of a trailer, which the state of West Virginia describes as an "extremely small facility with only one Internet connection." Which is why it's such a surprise to learn the Marmet Public Library runs this connection through a $15,000 to $20,000 Cisco 3945 router intended for "mid-size to large deployments," according to Cisco. In an absolutely scathing report (PDF) just released by the state's legislative auditor, West Virginia officials are accused of overspending at least $5 million of federal money on such routers, installed indiscriminately in both large institutions and one-room libraries across the state. The routers were purchased without ever asking the state's libraries, cops, and schools what they needed. And when
Tuesday, 26 February 2013
About 80,000 people in Yorkshire look set to hit by a “bedroom tax” when the Government’s controversial Welfare Reform Act comes into force this April.
The under-occupancy charge will cut the amount of housing benefit available to households with one or more bedrooms classed as spare under the new rules.
Its supporters say it is unfair for the taxpayer to subside extra rooms when there is a shortage of housing across the country. But its critics insist it will have a devastating impact on vulnerable tenants and local economies.
Approximately two-thirds of people nationally who are hit by the cuts will either be disabled or caring for a disabled person. One of them, Cheryl Guillot, 48, from Holywell Green near Halifax, said she had been left “totally bewildered” by the situation.
Former special constable Cheryl, who is a full-time carer for her disabled son Jordan, faces being forced out of her housing association three-bed bungalow where she has lived for the past 15 years.
She said: “This is the home I thought I would be in for life. I am totally bewildered by the future, I could honestly cry. I’m just so down, I haven’t been sleeping.”
Ms Guillot, whose baby grandson Carson’s ashes were scattered in the garden after he passed away from cot death, said: “I’ve spent hundreds of pounds on my garden. I’ve looked after my home. I wouldn’t have done that if I thought I’d have to leave.”
And she said even if she wanted to move, there are no two-bedroom bungalows nearby and she could be forced to leave the area.
“They say it’s not a tax but they are taxing on the ‘luxury’ of having a box room,” she added.
Ms Guillot stressed she felt the Government seemed to have forgotten about family values and the role of community life. “They say they are trying to free up houses for families, but how can they free up my house before they’ve got me somewhere to go? Children need to know that even when they leave home they’ve got somewhere to come back to in case it goes wrong.”
The charge is designed to increase the supply of available houses but Rob Warm, Yorkshire and Humber lead manager at the National Housing Trust, thinks it will just mean the poor will get poorer.
He said: “The challenge we’ve got right across the region is we haven’t got smaller properties to move people to. We are giving people the choice; have your benefits reduced or move to a small house that doesn’t exist – which isn’t much of a choice really.
“The housing association is going to struggle to find enough one-bedroom properties to fill the need there is undoubtedly going to be.
“The Government is trying to reduce the housing benefit bill, but we think the best way to do that is to try to build more houses because rental costs are so high. There also needs to be some discretion for landlords to decided what is and isn’t a bedroom.”
Under the new rules, all working-age tenants in receipt of housing benefit will be affected by the charge – £14 for one unoccupied room, £25 for two.
The charge applies irrespective of whether the room is occupied on a part-time basis, for instance by a child in the armed forces or university, whether someone is disabled or if foster children sometimes occupy the room. Parents with two children of the same sex under 16 or different sexes under 10 will also be expected to make them share.
The Yorkshire constituency with the largest number of properties affected will be Leeds Central, where about 2,678 households face the charge. Next is Kingston-upon-Hull East with 2,423 households, according to the National Housing Trust.
Hilary Benn, Leeds Central MP and Shadow Secretary for Communities and Local Government, said: “These are people’s homes, they have links in the community. Facing people with the choice of either having to cut back on heating or other expenses to cope with the increased rent or up sticks and move somewhere else, I think is profoundly disruptive of family life.
“There are a lot of my constituents who still aren’t aware this is coming, and a number of people will be hit by both the bedroom tax and by the council tax benefit cut, so they will be hit twice over – which is going to make life even more difficult for them.”
In addition to the housing benefit cut, the Government will cut 19 per cent of council tax benefit. Some councils, such as Harrogate Borough Council will fund the reduction from their reserves and not increase bills. Others, such as East Riding Council, will increase the minimum contribution by tenants up to as much as 25 per cent.
A spokesman for the Department of Work and Pensions said: “It’s not fair people for people to continue to live in homes that are too large for their needs, when in England alone there are around five million people on the social housing waiting list and over a quarter of a million tenants are living in overcrowded conditions.
“We are giving local authorities an extra £155m this year so that they can help their vulnerable tenants through the housing benefit reform. A further £30m a year will be targeted to disabled people with an adapted property and foster carers.”
The lack of affordable housing across the country has become a toxic political issue since the start of the recession, as the number of new homes being built has declined. Last year, housing charity Shelter calculated that the cost of buying a house had gone up 43 times in the past 40 years. They said if food prices had risen as much housing, a four pint carton of milk would cost £10.45.
Kay Boycott, Shelter’s director of communications, policy and campaigns, said: “This will hit over half a million families in social rented homes which are deemed to have ‘extra’ bedrooms. However, not all of these bedrooms are standing empty.
“Imagine a dad who has his child to stay once a week, or a young disabled child who needs their own room apart from their brother or sister. They will be penalised for having bedrooms that are really needed. Family finances are already squeezed, and with a shortage of social homes of the right sizes in the right places, it will be very difficult for many to downsize. The result will be people desperately struggling to stay in the family home.”
John Davies, the Leeds chair of the Hands Off Our Homes campaigning group says it is important people stick together to fight any attempt to move them.
He said about 4,900 single people will be affected by the change, but there are not enough one-bedroom properties in the area. “We know a lot of people, especially people with mental health problems, who are very concerned and don’t know what they are going to do when April comes.
“But if people have the strength to stick together then it might give them confidence to say ‘we are not going to move, we are going to stay where we are’.”
Mr Davies said he believes the obsession with property as an asset rather than as a home has led to the housing crisis in the first place. “Social or council housing used to be secure tenancies for life, so a community spirit was built up.
“If you go round the council properties there are, you often sense that people have lived there for a long time and they don’t want to move. They may have taken over tenancy from a parent and to uproot themselves will be a severe encumbrance.
“You’ll also find people have put a lot of money into their homes, presuming they would stay there. They’ve put money into the house, into the garden. A single mother with three grown up children has put thousands of pounds into her house and she does not want to move.
“The danger is whenever your family size changes you’re going to have to change your house, and I can’t think of anything dafter than that.”
Who will be affected?
Bedroom tax will not affect you if there is no Housing Benefit claimed for your household.
Bedroom tax will not affect all Housing Benefit claimants. The Government states that if you or your partner were born before October 5, 1951 you will not be affected.
You will not be affected if you have shared ownership, or if you are a resident of a one-bedroom property. Single people over 16 need a bedroom to themselves, but all couples are expected to share a bedroom. So, a couple without children in a two-bedroom property will judged to be under-occupying one bedroom.
Two children under the age of 10, or two children of the same gender aged 11 to 15, are expected to share one bedroom. The rent eligible to be paid by Housing Benefit will reduce by 14 per cent if one bedroom is under-occupied and reduce by 25 per cent if two or more bedrooms are under-occupied. This is the maximum bedroom tax deduction rate.
End the bankers’ tax dodge -- 24 hours left!
We only have 24 hours before the crucial meeting in Brussels. Join here:
Big banks are hiding billions in tax havens around the world. In just 24 hours, the European Parliament can push through a reform to make them pay their fair share of tax on their already oversized profits -- but to win they need our support. Bankers are using complex accounting tricks to avoid paying tax like the rest of us, and they're not even required to tell us where their money is. But now the European Parliament wants to shine a light onto their tax avoidance. It's a no-brainer reform that expert economists widely support -- but key governments including the UK and Germany are siding with rich bankers to kill the proposal. Negotiations end in just 24 hours time, and allies in Parliament say thatwith massive public support, we can win this landmark reform to end banks' tax dodging. Sign the petition and tell everyone -- if we urgently raise 150,000 signatures from across Europe, MEPs will deliver our message right into tomorrow's crucial meeting.
Monday, 25 February 2013
Gypsies and Irish travellers fight bricks and mortar
Hidden between a set of railways lines in Bow is a small caravan site. Lisa, 25, stands in the door of her caravan:
“Families in tower blocks wouldn’t want their kids growing up on this site. It’s the same with us; we wouldn’t want our kids growing up there”.
Her family will soon have to move out of the site to make way for a Crossrail shaft. But she is lucky. Her family will soon to be able to move to another site.
Thousands of Gypsies and Irish Travellers have been forced to leave caravans and move into bricks and mortar accommodation over the last decades. A minority with a centuries-old London heritage is having its culture silently displaced.
Nobody keeps reliable figures but the London Gypsy and Traveller Unit estimate that there are 30,000 Gypsies and Irish Travellers in London. The population is growing but in the last twenty years the number of caravan sites has reduced by 15 per cent. The London Gypsy and Traveller Unit estimates that four out of five London travellers now live in bricks and mortar accommodation.
The urgency of the problem has been playing out in court as a result of Hackney Council’s ongoing legal campaign against the McDonagh family. The family was evicted from their caravan pitch in 2009 to make way for the Olympics. Since then, they have moved from park to park in a bid to avoid bricks and mortar. The Council is seeking an injunction to stop them staying on any public land in the borough.
A freedom of information request revealed that the council has spent over £200,000 on eviction-related costs.
The Mayor of London has a duty to impose targets for more traveller campsite provision on local authorities in his “London Plan”. In 2008, the Greater London Authority identified a need for 768 new caravan pitches in London. Between 53 and 112 were earmarked for ELL boroughs.
But what followed was a two-year abdication of the Mayor’s responsibility towards travellers by the newly elected Boris Johnson.
In September 2009, the draft London Plan set a target of 538 pitches. In March 2010, a “minor alteration” reduced the target to 238. In September 2010, a second “minor alteration” scrapped the targets altogether.
Fifty members of the community wrote letters to Boris Johnson protesting against the lack of action on housing. A quarter of whom used the word ‘desperation’.
The Mayor defended the alteration, arguing that: “Detailed targets is not the most effective or fair way to deliver real improvements in the provision of pitches.”
Gill Brown, from the London Gypsy and Traveller Unit, argues that the absence of strategic planning across London makes it easy for councils to opt out of building new sites.
She described local councils’ attitude to traveller accommodation as “extremely piecemeal”. She estimates that a third of councils have functioning waiting lists, a third have unclear processes, while the rest have no process at all.
Lewisham no longer has any caravan site whatsoever.
The biggest problem with waiting lists is that there are no new pitches for families to wait for. In fact, none have been built in London since 2010, according to the LGTU’s latest figures.
In South-East London, a woman takes me into her caravan. Its walls are richly decorated with Catholic iconography. In a thick Irish accent she tells me of the government cuts to an Irish Travellers support group based in Southwark.
“They have a cheek to take it away. It is ridiculous,” she says.
I ask her for her name and she refuses.
“If I give you my name I might regret it”.
Archie, who works at the Southwark Travellers Action Group, an advocacy group for Irish travellers in South London, explains why the woman was reluctant to trust me.
“Historically, travellers haven’t been treated well by authorities and find themselves targeted by neighbours and isolated from their families when scattered around in bricks and mortar accommodation.
“Living on sites gives them the family and community support, particularly when it comes to childcare and care for the elderly. It may take generations for trust to build up between travellers, statutory institutions and settled people.”
“This is a very difficult issue, particularly in this economic and political climate. The realist in me can’t see them building any more sites.”
STAG itself is also struggling from the cuts. Southwark Council has removed their local funding so the group has had to halve its workforce. It is now completely reliant on the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs.
But in her caravan, the woman keeps hope.
“There’s some good and bad in everyone,” she says. “That’s all nationalities.”
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