22 Oct 2014

Hungary to impose internet tax in 2015 - as high as ~$0.6 per gigabyte

Hungary plans to impose a new tax on Internet data transfers, a draft 2015 tax bill submitted to parliament late on Tuesday showed, in a move that could hit Internet and telecoms providers and their customers hard.
The draft tax code contains a provision for Internet providers to pay a tax of 150 forints (37 pence) per gigabyte of data traffic, though it would also let companies offset corporate income tax against the new levy.
Within hours of the tax provision being published over 100,000 people joined a Facebook group protesting the levy, which they fear providers will pass on to them. Thousands said they would rally against the tax, which they said was excessive, outside the Economy Ministry on Sunday.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government has in the last few years imposed special taxes on the banking, retail and energy sectors as well as on telecommunications providers to keep the budget deficit in check, jeopardising profits in some sectors of the economy and unnerving international investors.
Economy Minister Mihaly Varga defended the move on Tuesday, saying communications technology has changed the way people use telecom services and therefore the tax code needed to be changed. His ministry said it expects the tax to generate annual revenue of 20 billion forints.
However, fixed-line Internet traffic in Hungary reached 1.15 billion gigabytes in 2013 and mobile internet added 18 million gigabytes, which would generate revenue of 175 billion forints under the new tax according to consultancy firm eNet.
Traffic has probably grown since, eNet partner Gergely Kis told Reuters, so the tax could hit Internet providers by more than 200 billion forints, if left unaltered.
The entire internet service sector's annual revenue came to 164 billion forints at the end of 2013, according to the Central Statistics Office (KSH).
The government's low estimate of revenue suggests it will impose a cap on the amount of tax any single Internet provider will have to pay, and in view of the public reaction the ruling Fidesz party asked the government to set a maximum level on the tax payable by individuals.
"The Fidesz parliament group insists that the data traffic tax be paid by service providers, therefore we propose changes to the bill," Fidesz parliament group leader Antal Rogan said in an emailed statement.
"We think it is practical to introduce an upper limit in the same fashion and same magnitude that applied to voice-based telephony previously."

Under the current tax code private individuals' tax payments are maximised at a monthly 700 forints ($2.9) while companies cannot pay more than 5,000 forints a month.

Russians More Afraid of U.S. Than Islamic Terrorism, Survey Shows

Nearly a quarter of Russians believe that the United States poses a bigger terrorist threat to their country than radical Islamists, a survey published Tuesday showed.
Twenty-two percent of respondents to the poll by the state-run All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center (VTsIOM), titled “Terrorist Threats Against Russia: New Sources,” said the U.S. was the most likely source of a terrorist attack, compared with a mere 4 percent who felt that way a year ago.
Islamic extremists came in second in the ranking of the biggest threat to Russians, with 13 percent of respondents citing them as the biggest threat.
Ukraine — which had never before been cited in previous surveys on terrorism — came in third, with 7 percent saying the neighboring country was a possible source of a terrorist attack on Russia.
Russia has been at loggerheads with the new leadership in Kiev and its Western allies ever since the ouster of Kremlin-backed President Viktor Yanukovych in February and Russia's annexation of Crimea a month later.
In the ensuing information war, Russian state media widely referred to the new Ukrainian government as a “fascist junta” and Kiev's Maidan protesters as consisting of neo-Nazis and Right Sector ultranationalists intent on exterminating ethnic Russians.
Whereas the North Caucasus used to be considered one of the biggest threats to Russians in previous years — with 20 percent naming it as a potential source of terrorism a year ago — now a mere 3 percent say it threatens Russians' security.
Russian authorities have battled an Islamic insurgency in the turbulent region for decades, and shootouts between security forces and militants still occur there regularly.
The survey by VTsIOM was conducted before a suicide bombing in Grozny on Oct. 5 that killed five policemen and injured a dozen others.
While Russian perceptions on terrorist threats have changed considerably, so has their level of confidence in the authorities.
“Russians have never felt safer over the entire period that [VTsIOM] has been conducting such surveys, since 2002,” a statement on the pollster's website said.
Sixty-eight percent said they were confident in the ability of Russian authorities to prevent a terrorist attack, compared to 20 percent who said authorities probably could not protect the public and 3 percent who said they definitely could not.
In January, in the wake of the Volgograd bombings that killed 32 people, only 23 percent of respondents were confident in the ability of authorities to protect the public.
Forty-three percent said the situation concerning terrorism had improved somewhat, and 15 percent said it had improved considerably. In January, 57 percent had said the situation had not changed at all.
In comments to the Kommersant business daily published Tuesday, Anatoly Yermolin, a veteran officer of the Federal Security Service's Vympel group, said the public's increased confidence likely stemmed from the successful holding of the Olympic Games in Sochi.

Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai to Obama: “...send books instead of guns…change the world..."

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenage girl who recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for her struggle for women’s and girls’ rights to education, called on President Barack Obama to put an end to arming the world and instead promote education, NBC News reports.

"I said instead of sending guns, send books. Instead of sending weapons, send teachers," the young human rights activist spoke of her recent meeting with Barack Obama. In her opinion, the US President could contribute more to peace in many countries if he would use soft measures instead of military tactics.

Malala Yousafzai began to advocate for girls’ and women’s education rights when she was 12. She started writing an internet blog where she described her life under Taliban rule and tried to promote literacy, as well as better education prospects for girls and women. When Malala was 15, she was shot in the head by Taliban attackers while returning from school. She managed to survive and is currently living with her parents in Great Britain, where she is continuing her “rights for education” campaign, as reported by Reuters.
Malala often says that her life is similar to a novel or a film story. "At the end, the villain loses and the hero wins, and there is a happy ending."

The 2014 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Malala jointly with an Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi "for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education." Her prominent co-winner, Kailash Satyarthi, aged 60, has also dedicated his life to the protection of human rights, championing for children’s education opportunities and fighting against child slavery.
The dual prize is meant to be symbolic, it was awarded with the hope the leaders of India and Pakistan will stop their decades-long rivalry over Kashmir and concentrate on cultural, geographic, and economic ties, existing between the two countries.

'Why is the world allowing a holocaust to happen again?' Brave North Korean shares harrowing story of escape

Yeonmi Park gestured out the window towards the view of the Royal Canal in Dublin, where an unsightly flotilla of plastic bottles floats on the surface, trapped by the lock.

"If this was North Korea, it would be bodies," she said.
"Every morning at riversides like this you can see dead bodies floating. If you go out in the morning, they are there."
It is her first time in Ireland and, indeed, Europe. But at the age of just 21, this sweetly-confident, intelligent and tiny-framed young woman, who managed to flee the famine-torn country at the age of 13, is already a global spokesperson for her own people - a people terrorised into submission and silence while the wider world ignores what she describes as a "holocaust".
She is the only North Korean person to come to Dublin for the One Young World summit at the National Convention Centre, even carrying the flag of the socialist republic with its five-pointed red star during the opening ceremony.
And she is one of a sparse handful of former citizens who has actually lifted the veil of what life is really like in the 'Socialist Paradise' - where people's bodies pile up rotting on the streets and on the floors of hospitals, dead generally from starvation. Nobody cares because they are too preoccupied with the despair they will be next. 
In an interview with the Irish Independent, Yeonmi told how her first memory is of being told by her mother at the age of four "not to even whisper because the birds and mice could hear you".
"That's what I learned from my mum and that was really early - so that's the way she could protect me from that terror," said Yeonmi.
People are not really "living" there, she says of life in that country. "They are surviving there, and surviving is not that easy actually."
When she was nine, she was forced to watch her best friend's mother being executed on the street before her eyes.
Her only crime had been she had watched a James Bond movie and shared the DVDs with neighbours.
Watching her body crumble to the ground was a seismic moment in how Yeonmi viewed the world.
"She was a very nice, gentle mother," she said.
"Always I knew that in North Korea when they kill the people, they justify themselves by saying these are criminals trying to destroy our socialist paradise.
"But I knew that lady. She was not that bad. She was not going to destroy our country," she said.
"She was just being killed because she watched the Hollywood movie, James Bond. And that's why she got killed."
That same year, Yeonmi's life changed catastrophically when her father, a mid-ranking civil servant, was arrested and imprisoned for selling precious metals to China on the black market.
Her mother, too, was interrogated and thrown into jail. Yeonmi and her sister, Eunmi were left to fend for themselves, at the age of nine and 11, foraging on the mountainsides for grasses, plants, frogs and even dragonflies to avoid starving to death. "Everything I used to see, I ate them," she said.
Asked if any adults around knew the children were surviving alone, Yeonmi tries to explain.

Toyota Celica Melts in the Parking Lot (6 pics)

It could be a plot for revenge...

Hilarious Translations of American TV Show Names in Illustration (12 pics)

US TV show titles are often translated quite literally in other countries and artist, James Chapman, has been having a little bit of fun drawing images for these strange new names.

21 Oct 2014

Australian Whistleblower who leaked a secret scholarship for Tony Abbott's daughter to be sentenced this week

A young university student at the centre of the Whitehouse Institute secret scholarship story is facing up to two years jail. Max Chalmers reports.
A 21-year-old journalism student at the University of Technology, Sydney will face a Sydney Court this week to be sentenced for accessing student records that showed the Prime Minister’s daughter received a secret scholarship from the Whitehouse Institute of Design.
In September, Freya Newman pleaded guilty to breaching Section 308(H) of the NSW Crimes Act,which forbids accessing restricted data held in a computer.
The charge carries a jail sentence of up to two years.
Newman worked as a part-time librarian at the Whitehouse Institute, quitting shortly after it was revealed Tony Abbott’s daughter Frances had been approached by the college to accept a rare scholarship.
At the time Tony Abbott was the Leader of the Opposition.
Documents obtained by New Matilda showed Frances Abbott had a single meeting with the college’s owner Leanne Whitehouse, and after graduting from the three year course was also awarded given a job at the Institute.
Internal registers revealed that unlike the college’s 73 other employees, Frances Abbott had no assigned role.
Since charges have been brought against Newman, support has grown from sources as diverse as human rights lawyer Julian Burnside and former ‘Neighbours’ star Caitlin Stasey.

Man Who Believes God Speaks to Us Through "Duck Dynasty" Is About to Be Texas' Second-in-Command

As a Texas state senator, Dan Patrick has conducted himself in a manner consistent with the shock jock he once was. Patrick—who is now the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor—has railed against everything from separation of church and state to Mexican coyotes who supposedly speak Urdu. He's even advised his followers that God is speaking to them through Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.
A former sportscaster who once defended a football player who'd thrown a reporter through a door (Patrick believed it wasn't the journalist's job to do "negative reporting"), Patrick became a conservative talk radio host in the early 1990s—Houston's answer to Rush Limbaugh. In 2006, he parlayed his radio fame into a state Senate seat—and kept the talk show going. In office, he proposed paying women $500 to turn over newborn babies to the state (to reduce abortions), led the charge against creeping liberalism in state textbooks, and pushed wave after wave of new abortion restrictions. For his efforts, Texas Monthly named Patrick one of the worst legislators of 2013.
With a victory on November 4, Patrick, who is leading Democratic state Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in the polls, would find himself next in line for the governor's mansion of the nation's second-largest state. (Rick Perry, the current Republican governor, was previously lieutenant governor.) But even if Patrick advances no further, he'd be in a position to shape public policy—Texas' lieutenant governor is sometimes called the "most powerful office in Texas" because of the influence it has on both the legislative and executive branches.
Here are a few of Patrick's greatest hits:
On Islam: Patrick walked out of the Senate chamber in 2007 rather than listen to a Muslim deliver the opening prayer. "I think that it's important that we are tolerant as a people of all faiths, but that doesn't mean we have to endorse all faiths, and that was my decision," he told the Houston Chronicle. "I surely believe that everyone should have the right to speak, but I didn't want my attendance on the floor to appear that I was endorsing that."
Five years later, he did it again. "We are a nation that allows a Muslim to come in with a Koran but does not allow a Christian to take a Bible to school," Patrick explained, after walking out on another prayer, delivered this time by Imam Yusuf Kavacki. "We are a Judeo-Christian nation, primarily a Christian nation."
On the border: "While ISIS terrorists threaten to cross our border and kill Americans, my opponent falsely attacks me to hide her failed record on illegal immigration," he says in his first general-election campaign. Patrick's website, meanwhile, warns that Pakistanis are crossing the border as well, presumably to do bad things to Americans. "This is an Urdu dictionary found by border volunteers that was dropped by a human smuggler," Patrick writes beneath a photo of an Urdu-English dictionary. "It is concerning that Mexican coyotes are learning Urdu in order to smuggle illegal immigrants?" [sic]
On migrants: "They are bringing Third World diseases with them," he said in 2006, warning that immigrants could bring leprosy and polio to Texas. (This was news to Texas public health officials.) Patrick hired an undocumented worker when he ran a Houston sports bar, and when the worker revealed last spring that he had talked candidly with Patrick about his situation, the candidate insisted: "The worker says I was personally very kind to him and goes on to allege other preposterous events that are not true and for which he offers no evidence."

Science Meets Nature in These Bizarre Mutations (11 pics)

Environmentally friendly pigs: A breed of pig was genetically engineered to produces 65 percent less phosphorous in animal waste and was recently approved for limited production.
Bald chickens: Scientists in Israel created a breed of featherless chickens that can save time on plucking and are even claimed to be more environmentally friendly. They also significantly reduce the cost of being raised and are created by breeding a regular broiler chicken with a Naked Neck.
Different colored carrots: These carrots not only pack more color into salads, but also contain more calcium.
See-through frogs: These "glass frogs" developed a mutation allowing us to see through their skin and that reveals their organs. It is a huge help in figuring out how the animals' organs work, how disease spreads, and how cancers develop in bodies.
A mouse with an ear on its back: This mouse was created to demonstrate a method of fabricating cartilage structures to transplant into human patients. A resorbable polyester fabric was infused with bovine cartilage cells and implanted under the skin of a hairless mouse.

Fish that glow: Dr. Zhiyuan Gong and his colleagues at the National University of Singapore worked with a gene called green fluorescent protein GFP in 1999. This gene was originally extracted from a jellyfish that naturally produced bright green bioluminescence. They inserted the gene into a zebrafish embryo, allowing it to integrate into the zebrafish's genome. This caused the fish to be brightly fluorescent under natural white light and ultraviolet light.
Pluots: Plums and apricots are delicious fruits on their own. Both fruits combined form the genetically modified treat known as the pluot. This fruit is intensely flavored and delicious.

Golden seahorses: Vietnamese scientists created these creatures--a first for the country in the field of genetic modification. They mixed Gold dust with jellyfish proteins, and inserted the substance into seahorses' eggs by using the gene-shooting method.
Extremely muscle-y cows: The Belgian Blue is a breed with a defective myostatin gene that is responsible for muscle inhibition. This results in double muscling in the animal. Belgian Blues supposedly have more lean meat and reduced fat content, leading to more health risks and inbreeding than other breeds. This also puts a premium price on their steaks.
Lematos: The lemato was solely an experiment to determine if scientists could make tomatoes give off the scent of lemons. They succeeded.
Jake the Alligator Man: Some speculate that this mutant might be a distant ancestor of man. Other theories claim that it was an early, secret genetically engineering project-gone-wrong and wild. Others say he is the corpses of two separate animals stitched together to attract tourists at March's Museum in Long Beach, Washington. It's anyone's guess.

20 Oct 2014

Facebook tells DEA: Stop impersonating users

Facebook has sent a letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration demanding that agents stop impersonating users on the social network.

The letter follows a BuzzFeed report that revealed how the DEA seized a woman's phone and later created a Facebook account in her name.

Sondra Arquiett was unaware as the DEA masqueraded as her while speaking to her friends. The DEA even posted photos of her with her son and another photo of her alone in panties and a bra.
She has sued the DEA agent who set up the account. The Justice Department is backing him up, claiming federal agents have the right to do such things.

Now Arquiett has Facebook (FB, Tech30) on her side.

"The DEA's deceptive actions... threaten the integrity of our community," Facebook chief security officer Joe Sullivan wrote to DEA head Michele Leonhart. "Using Facebook to impersonate others abuses that trust and makes people feel less safe and secure when using our service."
The letter goes on to say that Facebook shut down the DEA's fake Arquiett account. It also demands that the DEA confirm it stopped all other cases of impersonation.  

The DEA declined to comment and referred all questions to the Justice Department, which has not returned CNNMoney's callsHow did the DEA end up with this woman's phone? In 2010, Arquiett was arrested and faced charges related to cocaine distribution. She pled guilty and received probation.In legal filings, a federal prosecutor said Arquiett "implicitly consented by granting access to the information stored in her cell phone and by consenting to the use of that information to aid in an ongoing criminal investigations [sic]."

But in its letter, Facebook said it is "deeply troubled" by that legal position.

Privacy researcher Runa Sandvik, who advises the Freedom of the Press Foundation, explained it this way: It's one thing to strike a deal and become an informant. It's another to lose complete control of your online identity.

"Isn't this the definition of identity theft?" Sandvik asked.

This is only the latest case in which the technology firm comes head-to-head with the federal government on civil liberties issues.

Read More:http://money.cnn.com/2014/10/20/technology/security/facebook-dea/