US Congress passes freedom-threatening CISPA cybersecurity bill

April 28 2012
Original Post 

US Congress ignored the threat of a White House veto to pass controversial cybersecurity legislation which grants the authorities unprecedented access to online communications, leading many to question the privacy implications of the bill.

The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, better known as CISPA, passed the House on Thursday by a margin of 248 votes to 168, even though the White House said President Obama would veto the act in a statement released one day before the vote.

In the statement, Obama explained that the bill “failed to provide authorities to ensure that the Nation’s core critical infrastructure is protected”. The statement went on saying that Americans “expect their government to enhance security without undermining their privacy and civil liberties”.

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James Murdoch appears again at Leveson Inquiry

April 24 2012
Original Post

James Murdoch, Deputy Chief Operating Officer of News Corporation, admitted for the first time that did have discussions with David Cameron regarding a BSkyB bid, when he appeared at the Lord Leveson’s inquiry into media ethics today.

Murdoch, 39, told the counsel of the inquiry Robert Jay QC that he had a “tiny, side conversation” about the controversial takeover of BSkyB bid with the Prime Minister ahead of a dinner for up to 15 people at the home of Rebekah Brooks, former chief executive of News of the World.

The media mogul talked briefly to Cameron about the removal of Business Secretary Vince Cable’s powers to oversee News Corporation’s bid to take over broadcaster BSkyB after the coalition had come to power.

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Thirty thousand take on London Marathon challenge

April 22 2012
Original Post 

Around 37,500 runners and amateur athletes endeavoured to finish 26-mile course in bright sunshine today and earn their medals for the 32nd London Marathon.

The 26.2 mile marathon began in Greenwich at 9am; the racing route took in stunning spots such as Tower Bridge, passed through Canary Wharf and finished at St. James’s Park near Westminster. Before the race started, Prince Harry posed for photographs with volunteers from Barnet & District Athletics Club.

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Olympics, where have all your ethics gone?

April 19 2012
Original Post

Originating from ancient Greece, the Olympics have over a thousand years of lasting legacy embracing the spirit of friendship, fair play, peace and glory. We are less than 100 days to the London Olympics; the international media has already filled up with images of Olympian athletes striving to attain sporting greatness. When all the attention goes to the number of medals that the athletes will achieve, who actually cares about the hardship behind the sports gear in the race?

Adidas, the official sportswear partner of London 2012, is awarded with the manufacturing contracts of Olympic uniforms for the UK team. Away from the Olympic spotlight, unfortunately, workers making sportswear for Adidas experience widespread exploitation, according to an exclusive revelation by The Independent.

Kathy Marks, a journalist from The Independent, uncovered the scandal that four of the nine contractors paid less than the minimum wage required. The contracting factories are located in Tangerang near the airport of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.

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WikiLeaks Assange hosts talk show, The World Tomorrow

April 17 2012
Original Post 

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s new talk show, The World Tomorrow, has debuted on a Russian television channel today.

Assange has completed shooting for twelve episodes of his forthcoming show, and the first episode aired today via broadcast from Russia Today (RT).

When Assange first announced his TV show in January, he said the show would feature controversial figures challenging “iconoclasts, revolutionaries, visionaries and power insiders” on their vision of world affairs. WikiLeaks released a statement, saying: “The aim of the show is to capture and present some of this revolutionary spirit to a global audience.”

The host will present the show from the country estate in Britain where he is under house arrest for almost 500 days while fighting extradition to Sweden. Assange said in a preview of the show on RT’s website: “Being under house arrest for so long, it’s nice to have an occasional visitor and to learn more about the world.”

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French presidential candidates rally for support

April 16 2012
Original Post 

Counting down less than ten days to the first round of the French presidential election, two front-runners President Nicolas Sarkozy and his socialist rival François Hollande staged competing open-air rallies in Paris on Sunday.

Sarkozy’s re-election after five years in office has never been certain. Latest opinion polls showed Sarkozy’s narrow lead over his challenger Hollande is shrinking for the 22nd April first round since the electoral campaign started on 9th April.

Sarkozy called for a mass rally of the “silent majority” to support him at the Place de la Concorde, where he had his triumphant victory rally in 2007. The venue of rally represented French nationalism and patriotism, which was part of Sarkozy’s election strategy to invoke French history and names such as Napoleon and Charles de Gaulle.

“You are France!” Sarkozy declared to his supporters, targeting right-wing traditionalists with attacks on multiculturalism, teaching unions, affirmative action and Europe’s open borders, while defending families and hard work.

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UN ceasefire monitors to end violence in Syria

April 15 2012
Original Post

For the first time since the Syria conflict sparked in March 2011, the United Nations unanimously passed a resolution authorizing the dispatch of military observers to monitor the ceasefire between the regime and rebel forces. 

The first batch of 30 unarmed observers will be deployed to Syria, according to the UN Security Council resolution 2042. An initial group of six monitors would arrive Syria on April 15.

The passed resolution has won the vote from Russia and China who previously vetoed UN resolutions in Syria, blocking attempts of foreign intervention. The passed resolution also called for “the urgent, comprehensive, and immediate implementation” of the six-point peace plan drawn up by the Arab League and UN envoy Kofi Annan.

The peace plan aims at ending more than a year of bloodshed that has killed over 9,000 people in Syria, and launching inclusive Syrian-led talks on the country’s political future, according to the United Nations.

Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Jaafari said Syria is committed to implementing a six-point peace plan. He called on regional countries to stop providing safe havens for armed groups. He said such moves spread terrorism in Syria and countries that support armed gangs are responsible for the bloodshed. 

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Facebook acquired Instagram at $1 billion

April 5 2012 
Original Post 

Facebook has acquired photo-sharing mobile application Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Chief Executive and Founder, announced the acquisition deal on Facebook, calling it “an important milestone” for the company, and he explained this was the first time to acquire a product with so many users.

Zuckerberg pledged to allow Instagram to remain independent, he wrote that Facebook would “build on Instagram’s strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook”.

"Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people," Zuckerberg wrote.

Instagram, free photo-sharing application developed by two graduates from Stanford University Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, has gained 30 million users since its first launch in Apple’s App Store in October 2010.

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Cameron defends internet surveillance plan

April 5, 2012
The Original Copy

David Cameron defended proposed new internet surveillance legislation, insisting there were “significant gaps” in national security and reassuring the public the plan would “properly respect civil liberties” in the face of criticism over privacy issues.

Cameron stressed the paramount importance of “keeping the country safe,” and explained there were significant gaps in the defences because of the “moving-on of technology”.

He insisted the new law would help police and security officers conduct thorough investigations on terrorism.

This sort of data, used at the moment, through the proper processes, is absolutely vital in stopping serious crime and some of the most serious terrorist incidents that could kill people in our country, so it’s essential we get this right,” Cameron said.

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Violence escalated as Greece passed €130bn bailout deal

Several buildings in Athens were ablaze last night, as lawmakers scrambled to reach a tough austerity package in early Monday.

Dozens of shops went up in flames, and branches of foreign chains and banks were targeted. Gangs of black-masked protesters hurled pieces of smashed pavement and petrol bombs.

The chaotic scene broke out around 6pm, few hours after the lawmakers debated fiercely about a bail out package to save Greece from being bankrupted.

Authorities said at least 74 protesters and police officers were injured in the fierce clashes, 23 suspected rioters were arrested and a further 25 were detained, Associated Press reported.

As fighting between protesters and police raged for hours, protesters threw bombs made from gas canisters. The riot police retaliated firing volleys of tear gas and stun grenades. Loud booms could be heard from inside the parliament, the Guardian correspondent reported.

Syntagma Square outside the parliament was surrounded with clouds of thick smoke. Tourists and pedestrians were terrified, and they flocked into hotel lobbies or inside buildings for shelter.

Several historical buildings were ablaze, including a neo-classical Attikon cinema and the underground cinema Asty used by Gestapo during World War Two as a torture chamber. Authorities said some of the wrecked buildings were of special cultural, historical and architectural value.

The riots also spread to Greece’s second city of Thessaloniki, and the islands of Crete and Corfu, according to the State NET television.

Conservative lawmaker Costis Hatzidakis told the Guardian, “We are facing destruction. Our country, our home, has become ripe for burning, the centre of Athens is in flames. We cannot allow populism to burn our country down.”

The austerity measures to be attained by 2015, including 150,000 public sector job cuts, liberalization of labour laws, 20% reduction in the minimum monthly wage from €751 to €600.

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Queenie Man, a passionate journalist based in Hong Kong. More details:

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