The Internet - The first Worldwide Tool of Unification ("The End of History")

" ... Now I give you something that few think about: What do you think the Internet is all about, historically? Citizens of all the countries on Earth can talk to one another without electronic borders. The young people of those nations can all see each other, talk to each other, and express opinions. No matter what the country does to suppress it, they're doing it anyway. They are putting together a network of consciousness, of oneness, a multicultural consciousness. It's here to stay. It's part of the new energy. The young people know it and are leading the way.... "

" ... I gave you a prophecy more than 10 years ago. I told you there would come a day when everyone could talk to everyone and, therefore, there could be no conspiracy. For conspiracy depends on separation and secrecy - something hiding in the dark that only a few know about. Seen the news lately? What is happening? Could it be that there is a new paradigm happening that seems to go against history?... " Read More …. "The End of History"- Nov 20, 2010 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll)

"Recalibration of Free Choice"– Mar 3, 2012 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: (Old) Souls, Midpoint on 21-12-2012, Shift of Human Consciousness, Black & White vs. Color, 1 - Spirituality (Religions) shifting, Loose a Pope “soon”, 2 - Humans will change react to drama, 3 - Civilizations/Population on Earth, 4 - Alternate energy sources (Geothermal, Tidal (Paddle wheels), Wind), 5 – Financials Institutes/concepts will change (Integrity – Ethical) , 6 - News/Media/TV to change, 7 – Big Pharmaceutical company will collapse “soon”, (Keep people sick), (Integrity – Ethical) 8 – Wars will be over on Earth, Global Unity, … etc.) - (Text version)

“…5 - Integrity That May Surprise…

Have you seen innovation and invention in the past decade that required thinking out of the box of an old reality? Indeed, you have. I can't tell you what's coming, because you haven't thought of it yet! But the potentials of it are looming large. Let me give you an example, Let us say that 20 years ago, you predicted that there would be something called the Internet on a device you don't really have yet using technology that you can't imagine. You will have full libraries, buildings filled with books, in your hand - a worldwide encyclopedia of everything knowable, with the ability to look it up instantly! Not only that, but that look-up service isn't going to cost a penny! You can call friends and see them on a video screen, and it won't cost a penny! No matter how long you use this service and to what depth you use it, the service itself will be free.

Now, anyone listening to you back then would perhaps have said, "Even if we can believe the technological part, which we think is impossible, everything costs something. There has to be a charge for it! Otherwise, how would they stay in business?" The answer is this: With new invention comes new paradigms of business. You don't know what you don't know, so don't decide in advance what you think is coming based on an old energy world. ..."
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls

German anti-hate speech group counters Facebook trolls
Logo No Hate Speech Movement

Bundestag passes law to fine social media companies for not deleting hate speech

Honouring computing’s 1843 visionary, Lady Ada Lovelace. (Design of doodle by Kevin Laughlin)

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Walesa: Wish we had social media for Solidarity

Associated Press, Jun. 29, 2012

Former Polish President and Solidarity leader holds his Tablet as he speaks
 to the Associated Press in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, June 29, 2012. Walesa
 said he would not have been meeting with opposition colleagues in football
 stadiums if he had had social media in Solidarity times. The 68-year-old
Walesa  said his Tablet and other Internet communication channels help him
work "faster, better, wiser." (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Lech Walesa says he wishes he had social media back when he founded the Solidarity union movement in 1980, then he wouldn't have had to keep meeting with opposition colleagues in sports stadiums.

The 68-year-old former Polish president and Nobel Peace Prize winner said Friday that his tablet and other Internet communications help him work "faster, better, wiser."

Honored for his role in peacefully ending communism in Poland, Walesa said he often discussed opposition strategy with other activists while playing soccer or watching other sports to thwart Communist security agents determined to stop such meetings.

Walesa was in Warsaw for the European Championships match in which Italy beat Germany 2-1 and advanced to the final.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Netherlands refuses to sign ACTA

RNW, 26 June 2012

The Dutch cabinet will not be signing the ACTA treaty, in line with parliamentary wishes.

The anti-piracy bill for the internet ACTA, which is meant to be signed by European countries, the United States and Japan, has been under fire for some time. Its opponents fear it will be misused to prevent people illegally downloading films and music from the internet.

The Dutch Freedom Party submitted a motion urging the Dutch government not to sign. Green Left MP Arjan El Fassed asking the government to look into whether the treaty contravened civil rights, before deciding to sign. Both motions were supported by a majority of the House. The government has followed their lead.

Interior Minister Maxime Verhagen said the motions were “superfluous and premature”, because the government was waiting for a ruling by the European Court of Justice on the issue. The court is considering whether ACTA does indeed infringe on civil rights. However, the ruling is not expected before the end of the year.

Censorship Law

On 4 July, the European Parliament will debate the treaty. It’s expected to reject it. Four influential European Parliament commissions have already said no to ACTA. A majority of European MPs think the treaty infringes on internet freedom.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is meant to harmonise international standards for the protection of the rights of producers of music, films, pharmaceuticals, fashion and various other products. Combatting piracy is just one side of the controversial treaty. Its opponents call it the “Censorship Law”, because it will drastically limit internet freedom.

Related Articles:

Saturday, June 23, 2012

NatWest 'glitch' leaves victims without pay

Bank says it does not know when systems will be running normally again after IT meltdown, Hilary Osborne and Lisa Bachelor, Friday 22 June 2012

NatWest’s IT meltdown is also having a serious impact on those who do
not bank with it. Photograph: Chris Ratcliffe/Rex Features

Millions of NatWest bank customers have been hit by one of the industry's worst ever computer breakdowns, leaving at least one family forced out of their home and employers unable to make monthly salary payments.

As the crisis moved into its fourth day, the bank, which is owned by the taxpayer-backed Royal Bank of Scotland group, said it did not know when systems would be running normally again, but was confident it had identified the source of the problem, a "technical glitch".

Irate customers told the Guardian they were unable to see how much money was in their accounts and whether bills had been paid. The bank's IT meltdown is also having a serious impact on those who do not bank with it. First-time buyers Mike Johnson and his wife, Laura, were thrown out of the house they thought they had bought on Thursday evening because the mortgage payment did not go through from their solicitor's NatWest account as expected.

"The sales rep turned up that evening and asked us to leave until she could be sure the money was coming. Laura is 20 weeks pregnant and we had to pack our bags then and there, and we are now living with our sister-in-law until this is sorted out," Johnson said.

"NatWest say they are going to compensate people but how are people like us, who do not even bank with them, going to be compensated?"

Another Guardian reader caught up in the chaos said his bank balance was only showing purchases made two days ago and he had no idea what had gone in and out of his account since.

"How can I spend money for food if I have no idea how much money I have left in my account? I have some direct debits due – have they been deducted? Most importantly, have I been paid? When will I know?"

NatWest said the problem emerged as it tried to run payments on Tuesday night. By Friday afternoon it had located the source of the problem, but was still attempting to fix it. A spokesman said: "The problem is one of a technical nature within the bank, not a result of an attack.

"We definitely know what the original problem was and it is being fixed." He could not say when systems would start running normally.

The bank, which has 7.5 million UK personal banking customers and almost 1 million business customers, kept 1,000 branches open until 7pm for a second day running on Friday, and will extend opening hours over the weekend to deal with inquiries. Some branches will stay open longer on Saturday and open on Sunday between 9am and midday. It said customers may be able to withdraw money at branches even if payments into accounts were not showing, but this was being arranged on an individual basis.

However, some have criticised the way that the bank has dealt with the problem.

On the Guardian website one customer wrote: "When I checked with NatWest they said they can't guarantee that even with a high balance that our direct debits will definitely get paid out and it would be up to us to have to claim back any bank charges incurred by direct debits being re-presented. Seems shambolic."

Another said: "It's disgraceful and not the first time for NatWest … feel for the people whose wages not arrived – we can help ours but others not so fortunate. Think we will be looking to move banks!"

Jonathan Hemus, director of Insignia, a specialist in reputation management and crisis communications, said the company should have been prepared to cope with a major IT outage. "NatWest now needs to show that it cares about what happened. While banks can't always be 100% sure about what's going on, they need to demonstrate they're on top of things and acting in an organised way," he said.

"If they don't people can lose confidence in them. It's clearly not helpful that NatWest has taken so long to sort out the problem. The more you can do and the quicker you can do it, the less long-term harm to your reputation."

The bank said it would "ensure no customers will be permanently out of pocket" as a result of missed payments, but it was still not clear what would happen to customers of other banks caught up in the crisis. Some employees expecting their pay day reported being down to their last few pence and said they did not know how they would cope over the weekend if the payments did not go through.

One said: "My employer banks with NatWest. Salaries should have been paid yesterday – still no sign. About a third of my salary due to go out in direct debits in the next few days."

Under Financial Services Association rules NatWest is responsible for any charges customers incur, or interest they need to pay as a result of the bank's error, but there is no liability for consequential losses and consumers who do not bank with NatWest may have trouble gaining compensation.

Lord Oakeshott, the former Liberal Treasury spokesman, said the bank should compensate all customers affected by the problems. "Millions of hard pressed NatWest customers face a bleak weekend without their pay or benefits cheque – with times so hard they have no cushion," he said. "The bank stings them for £30 the moment they go a penny over the line, now it's payback time and they must pay £30 compensation to anyone who's had to wait two days for their cash. When you're really hard up blocked money pipes are as bad as blocked water pipes."

RBS said it "disagrees" with Moody's move

Friday, June 22, 2012

India unblocks The Pirate Bay and other sharing sites

BBC News, 22 June 2012

Related Stories 

Activists argued that the original internet
legislation amounted to censorship
Web users in India are once again able to access video and file-sharing sites, including The Pirate Bay.

The country's Madras High Court has changed its earlier censorship order which centred on the issue of internet copyright.

The original ruling made Indian internet service providers (ISPs) block access to entire sites to prevent a single film from being shared online.

The new order was issued following an appeal filed by a consortium of ISPs.

It states that only specific web addresses - URLs - carrying the pirated content should be blocked, but not the entire website.

"The order of interim injunction dated 25/04/2012 is hereby clarified that the interim injunction is granted only in respect of a particular URL where the infringing movie is kept and not in respect of the entire website," reads the updated decision.

"Further, the applicant is directed to inform about the particulars of URL where the interim movie is kept within 48 hours."

Hacking attacks

In late March, Chennai-based Copyrightlabs, an Indian anti-piracy firm, won a court order that made Indian ISPs and phone firms stop their customers reaching websites that were illegally sharing copies of certain Bollywood films.

The Ashok Kumar order - similar to a "John Doe" order in the United States and designed to protect the copyright of music, films and other content - allowed copyright holders to request a website be taken down to prevent users from downloading content illegally.

The ruling led to a series of cyber-attacks by the hacker group Anonymous, which targeted a number of Indian websites, including those for government departments and India's Supreme Court.

Anonymous said the attacks were carried out in retaliation against blocks imposed on video and file-sharing sites.

The internet hacking group then staged numerous protests against "internet censorship" in India.

Related Article:

Computer virus hits office printers

BBC News, 22 June 2012

Related Stories 

In the worst hit offices, hundreds
of printers have been spewing out
Thousands of office printers around the world have been spewing out page after page of gibberish because of a computer virus.

Reports from companies reveal that thousands of pages of paper were wasted when the Windows virus hit their PCs.

Security firms said the worst hit were large businesses in the US, India, Europe, and South America.

The culprit is a malicious program called Milicenso that has been re-used many times by hi-tech crime groups.

In a blogpost analysing the virus, security firm Symantec said Milicenso was first seen in 2010 and because it was a "malware delivery vehicle for hire" had turned up regularly ever since.

Its most recent incarnation was as a tool for distributing French language adware. Symantec said Milicenso could infect a PC by various routes, such as an email attachment, via a compromised website or by posing as a fake video decoder.

'Garbled printouts'

Once installed, the virus polls a location on the net and re-directs web traffic so it serves up adverts.

Symantec said one side effect of infection was to generate a file in a PC's printer queue. This turns the contents of the files in the virus's main directory into print jobs.

"The garbled printouts appear to be a side effect of the infection vector rather an intentional goal of the author," said Symantec.

Victims hit by the virus have reported its effects via discussion forums run by security firms. In the worst cases, hundreds of printers have been generating gibberish and wasting reams of paper.

Security firms have now issued updates that should spot Milicenso and clean up any infections.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Anti-piracy treaty falters in EU Parliament

Deutsche Welle, 21 June 2012

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) suffered another setback as an EU Parliament committee voted against the deal. While the agreement still has supporters, its detractors seem to be winning the upper hand.

Politicians only recognized how explosive ACTA was when thousands of Europeans took to the streets in protest. Several countries, Germany included, intend to ratify the treaty.

In Germany, Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger pointed out that there were "open questions" to address before enacting the agreement. After Thursday's vote in the EU Parliament's International Trade Committee, in which 19 parliamentarians opposed the agreement and 12 voted in favor, the same is happening in Brussels.

The vote brought ACTA a step closer to an early death as the committee recommended the EU Parliament reject the deal at a vote in July. The EU Commission has also already submitted a request to the European Court of Justice regarding the treaty's compatible with EU law.

An uncomfortable decision

ACTA, which has been negotiated over the last three years, can only go into effect if ratified by all EU member countries and approved by the European Parliament.

National governments have been restrained and largely left the decision on a controversial issue to be made in Brussels. But they have supported and watched the agreement closely over the years, Social Democratic Member of the European Parliament Bernd Lange told DW.

There have been several demonstrations against ACTA in Europe

"Now that civil society has discussed it, they say it is time for Europe to decide," he said while noting that some countries had pushed for the agreement.

ACTA's aim was to improve the protection of intellectual property by tightening customs controls to combat counterfeit goods from Asia, and to fight illegal downloading of music and videos.

Internet activists fear limitations

ACTA was drafted by countries most vulnerable to product piracy and violations of intellectual property rights, including members of EU, as well as Australia, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and Switzerland.

These are the countries that would benefit the most from ACTA. For example, Europe loses 8 billion euros ($10 billion) to product piracy, according to the EU Communion. Despite countries agreeing on preventing counterfeit products, there is disagreement over the treaty's details and how the wording is interpreted.

Internet users have expressed fear that Internet service providers will monitor online activity and charge damages to right violators. Green Party MEP Jan-Philipp Albreacht opposed the treaty from the onset.

"Measures that are proposed for copyright are clearly oppressive to Internet users," Albrecht told DW.

He said he believes providers that violate copyright law ought to be pursued more aggressively than Internet users.

People feel that rights will be infringed on the Internet via data monitoring

Developing countries at a disadvantage

Another potential problem was that not every country was involved in the formulation of the trade agreement, Albrecht said.

"If you are drafting an agreement to combat piracy, every country needs to be involved, especially developing and emerging countries, because such violations tend to take place there," he said.

Also, developing countries have legitimate interests related to technology or generic exceptions, Albrecht added. Some aid agencies fear ACTA could impede trade in generic drugs, which tend to be cheaper than the originals. The medicines are essential to fighting diseases like AIDS and tuberculosis in poor countries.

But the agreement does still have supporters.

"ACTA is a milestone in the fight against product piracy," Christian Democrats MEP Daniel Caspary wrote in a statement on his website. 

People fear that the development of
generic drugs will be impeded by
He said he believes developed countries and emerging countries are coming together to combat counterfeit products and brands. But not everyone is on board - the treaty has a limited number of signatories.

Back to the drawing board?

If the EU Parliament goes against its committee's recommendation and approves ACTA, the EU Council and the Council of Ministers would enact the agreement into law. If the EU parliamentarians do not endorse ACTA, it will be taken back to the drawing board.

Author: Ralf Bosen / csc
Editor: Sean Sinico
Related Article:

Wikileaks' Julian Assange seeks asylum in Ecuador embassy

BBC News, 19 June 2012

Related Stories 

Mr Assange is facing extradition to
 Sweden from Britain for questioning
over alleged sex crimes
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is seeking political asylum at Ecuador's London embassy, the country's foreign minister has said.

"Ecuador is studying and analysing the request," Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino told reporters in Quito.

On 14 June, Britain's Supreme Court dismissed Mr Assange's bid to reopen his appeal against extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes.

He has denied the allegations, saying they are politically motivated.

The Supreme Court has given him until 28 June before extradition proceedings can start.

Swedish prosecutors want to question him over allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two female former Wikileaks volunteers in mid-2010 but have not filed any charges.

Mr Assange, whose Wikileaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, claims the sex was consensual.

'Minimum guarantees'

In a statement, Ecuador's embassy said he had arrived there on Tuesday afternoon to seek asylum.

"As a signatory to the United Nations Universal Declaration for Human Rights, with an obligation to review all applications for asylum, we have immediately passed his application on to the relevant department in Quito," it said.

"While the department assesses Mr Assange's application, Mr Assange will remain at the embassy, under the protection of the Ecuadorean government."

It said the decision to consider the bid for asylum "should in no way be interpreted as the government of Ecuador interfering in the judicial processes of either the United Kingdom or Sweden."

Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo
 Patino said Mr Assange had claimed
he was being persecuted
Mr Assange issued a statement, saying he was "grateful to the Ecuadorean ambassador and the government of Ecuador for considering my application".

Associated Press quoted Mr Patino as telling reporters Mr Assange had written to Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa saying he was being persecuted.

Mr Patino said that the Australian had claimed "the authorities in his country will not defend his minimum guarantees in front of any government".

Mr Assange said he would not be protected from being extradited to "a foreign country that applies the death penalty for the crime of espionage and sedition," Mr Patino said.

The anti-secrecy campaigner fears extradition to Sweden may lead to him being sent to the US to face separate charges relating to Wikileaks, for which he could face the death penalty.

Swedish assurance

But Swedish authorities have said the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) would intervene if Mr Assange was to face the prospect of "inhuman or degrading treatment or an unfair trial" in the US.

Mr Assange could still take his case against extradition to the ECHR and has until 28 June to make the move.

Vaughan Smith, a friend who put Mr Assange up at his Norfolk home until December 2011, told the BBC he understood why he was seeking asylum.

"There's been an organised campaign to undermine him in recent months in Britain," Mr Smith said. "And he believed he would not get justice in Sweden."

Wikileaks has posted an alert on its Twitter feed: "ALERT: Julian Assange has requested political asylum and is under the protection of the Ecuadorian embassy in London."

It said Ecuador had offered asylum as early as November 2010.

Ecuador's deputy foreign minister said in 2010 his country was offering Mr Assange residency because it wanted to give him the opportunity to freely present the information he had.

However, President Rafael Correa subsequently dismissed the idea, which he said neither he nor Mr Patino had approved.

Related Article:

Monday, June 18, 2012

Google reports 'alarming' rise in censorship by governments

Search engine company has said there has been a troubling increase in requests to remove political content from the internet

The Guardian, Dominic Rushe in New York, Monday 18 June 2012

Over six months Google complied with 47% of requests for content removal
and 65% of court orders. Photograph: Jonathan Hordle/Rex Features

There has been an alarming rise in the number of times governments attempted to censor the internet in last six months, according to a report from Google.

Since the search engine last published its bi-annual transparency report, it said it had seen a troubling increase in requests to remove political content. Many of these requests came from western democracies not typically associated with censorship.

It said Spanish regulators asked Google to remove 270 links to blogs and newspaper articles critical of public figures. It did not comply. In Poland, it was asked to remove an article critical of the Polish agency for enterprise development and eight other results that linked to the article. Again, the company did not comply.

Google was asked by Canadian officials to remove a YouTube video of a citizen urinating on his passport and flushing it down the toilet. It refused.

Thai authorities asked Google to remove 149 YouTube videos for allegedly insulting the monarchy, a violation of Thailand's lèse-majesté law. The company complied with 70% of the requests.

Pakistan asked Google to remove six YouTube videos that satirised its army and senior politicians. Google refused.

UK police asked the company to remove five YouTube accounts for allegedly promoting terrorism. Google agreed. In the US most requests related to alleged harassment of people on YouTube. The authorities asked for 187 pieces to be removed. Google complied with 42% of them.

In a blog post, Dorothy Chou, Google's senior policy analyst, wrote: "Unfortunately, what we've seen over the past couple years has been troubling, and today is no different. When we started releasing this data, in 2010, we noticed that government agencies from different countries would sometimes ask us to remove political content that our users had posted on our services. We hoped this was an aberration. But now we know it's not.

"This is the fifth data set that we've released. Just like every other time, we've been asked to take down political speech. It's alarming not only because free expression is at risk, but because some of these requests come from countries you might not suspect – western democracies not typically associated with censorship."

Over the six months covered by the latest report, Google complied with an average of 65% of court orders, as opposed to 47% of more informal requests.

Last month Google announced it was receiving more than one million requests a month from copyright owners seeking to pull their content from the company's search results.

Fred von Lohmann, Google's senior copyright counsel, said copyright infringement was the main reason Google had removed links from search terms.

He said the company had received a total of 3.3m requests for removals on copyright grounds last year, and was on course to quadruple that number this year. The company complied with 97% of requests.

Related Articles:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

NZ court orders US to prepare to hand over Megaupload data

Judge accepts Dotcom lawyer's compromise solution to overcome evidence disclosure stumbling block

PCAvisor, by Computerworld New Zealand staff, Computerworld New Zealand, 15 June 2012

Auckland High Court has ordered the United States government to "immediately commence preparation" to supply Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom and his co-defendants with a copy of data held on seized Megaupload servers.

Related Articles 

According to a judgement delivered by Justice Helen Winkelmann today the material to be handed over includes over 10 million intercepted emails, "voluminous financial records obtained from a number of different countries" and more than 150 terabytes of data that was stored on servers seized in New Zealand alone. The judgement refers to the contents of servers rented by Megaupload in the US as being "very large" but according to other reports amount to 25 petabytes.

Dotcom, Finn Batato, Mathias Ortmann and Bram van der Kolk, are awaiting an extradition hearing related to US copyright infringement charges which is due to take place on August 6. All four defendants have denied any wrongdoing.

The US government is seeking a judicial review of an earlier judgement by Judge David Harvey on May 29, which ordered the US to disclose within 21 days "documents and materials relating to the whether the US has a prima facie case" against the Megaupload defendants for the purposes of extradition.

Meanwhile the US applied to remove the effect of the order of May 29.

Crown lawyers acting for the US have argued that the scope of that order "trespasses on the trial procedures of the requesting country." In the US the obligation for prosecutors to provide discovery or disclosure is triggered when a defendant makes their first appearance in a US court.

The US also argued that if the order was not suspended it would not be able to comply because the 21 day time period was too brief. According to the US submission the process of providing forensic images of New Zealand data not already copied will take a minimum of two and a half months. Furthermore, the US argued it was unable to provide readable copies of the items it has imaged as much of the content was encrypted.

But in her judgement Justice Winkelmann said that the respondents (Dotcom, Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk) were seeking a clone of the encrypted drive and that the absence of passwords provided no barrier to this.

On the timing issue, if a complete stay were issued, the extradition hearing date would "inevitably be lost."

"Whilst it is certainly possible that, given the issues that remain outstanding between the parties, the 6 August 2012 date will be jeopardised, the applicant, as the prosecuting party, must accept an obligation to do all that it can to maintain that date," Winkelmann said.

Winkelmann said she was therefore satisfied that a compromise suggested by Dotcom's lawyer Willie Akelman was the "appropriate resolution".

This means the US will not be required to provide the disclosure copies as ordered by Judge Harvey, however it must immediately start preparing to do so.

Megaupload Trial May Never
Happen, Judge Says 

Friday, June 15, 2012

NeverSeconds school meals blog: Argyll and Bute council reverses ban

Argyll and Bute council fiercely criticised for banning Martha Payne's blog over adverse publicity for its school meals service, Peter Walker, Friday 15 June 2012

Nine-year-old Martha Payne's blog about her school meals has gone viral
on the internet. Photograph: Gordon Jack/

A Scottish council has swiftly reversed its decision to ban a nine-year-old girl from photographing her school lunches for a personal blog following criticism from Jamie Oliver and a wave of negative publicity on Twitter and other social media sites.

Less than two hours after releasing a strongly-worded broadside calling Martha Payne's pictures of the sometimes meagre and unappealing meals on offer at her primary school misleading, Argyll and Bute council had a change of heart.

Roddy McCuish, the council leader, told BBC Radio 4 that he had ordered an immediate reverse of the ban, imposed earlier this week. He said: "There's no place for censorship in Argyll and Bute council and there never has been and there never will be.

"I've just instructed senior officials to immediately withdraw the ban on pictures from the school dining hall. It's a good thing to do, to change your mind, and I've certainly done that."

It marks a complete reverse of the council's position earlier this morning, when a statement directly attacked the NeverSeconds blog, set up by Martha just six weeks before as a writing project, for "unwarranted attacks on its schools catering service which culminated in national press headlines which have led catering staff to fear for their jobs".

The statement added: "The council has directly avoided any criticism of anyone involved in the NeverSeconds blog for obvious reasons, despite a strongly held view that the information presented in it misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils. However, this escalation means we had to act to protect staff from the distress and harm it was causing."

Martha had the swift support of chef and school meals campaigner Jamie Oliver, who tweeted: "Stay strong Martha", and the outrage of thousands of people on Twitter who condemned the council's actions as absurd and heavy-handed.

Michael Russell, the Payne family's local MSP, said he had emailed the council's chief executive to ask officials to reconsider the ban. Russell told the Guardian: "It's just not a sensible decision. Censorship doesn't help anybody."

The saga began when the aspiring journalist set up the blog with the help of her father, Dave. With the permission of teachers she photographed lunches as they arrived on their white plastic trays and gave the contents marks out of 10 on a "Food-o-meter" scale for how healthy they were and whether or not she found any stray hairs.

In little over a week the blog was being posted on social networking sites and had received 100,000 visitors, bringing a tweet of congratulation from Oliver.

The blog soon branched out, with Martha posting photographs of school dinners sent in from around the world – generally a much healthier selection of dishes than seen in the canteen at Lochgilphead primary school.

The problems began when newspapers picked up on the blog. Martha had been posting anonymously as Veg, but they named her and the school, often adding their own criticism of the food. The final straw for the council appears to have been a Daily Record piece with the headline, "Time to fire the dinner ladies".

On Thursday came a post from Martha from titled simply Goodbye: "This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my headteacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today.

"I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos. I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I'll miss seeing the dinners you send me too. I don't think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary's Meals either."

In fact Martha's efforts to raise money for the charity, which helps to provide school food in east Africa, have received an enormous boost from the publicity. Before her blog was banned she had reached £2,000 in contributions. By Friday lunchtime the figure had exceeded £19,000.

Mary's Meals said it had been overwhelmed at the response and that Martha's efforts had now raised enough to build a new kitchen at a school in Malawi.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Dave Payne said the blog had never been intended as an attack on the council. "The last photograph of a meal at school which she blogged, she gave it 10 out of 10. She enjoys the atmosphere in the school dining hall, she enjoys the staff, everyone's been very kind to her," he said.

Also speaking to the BBC, McCuish said that while there was "absolutely no place" for reports targeting school kitchen staff, the council recognised that they had not been Martha's work. He hoped, he added, to talk to the family soon.

Man paralysed for seven years uses eye movement to tweet 'hello world'

Tony Nicklinson has locked-in syndrome – mentally awake but physically paralysed – and wants doctors to end his life lawfully, Press Association, Thursday 14 June 2012

Tony Nicklinson, is completely paralysed and can only move his eyes. His
'hello world' tweet got him 2,500 followers in 24 hours. Photograph: Twitter

A man with locked-in syndrome has joined Twitter and sent his first tweet – "Hello world".

Tony Nicklinson, who seven years ago had a major stroke that left his body completely paralysed, used special eye movement technology to access the social networking site. He is also approaching the high court to allow him to lawfully end his life.

Under the username @TonyNicklinson, he wrote: "Hello world. I am tony nicklinson, I have locked-in syndrome and this is my first ever tweet."

After less than 24 hours, his account had almost 2,500 followers.

Nicklinson, 57, can only communicate by using a computer that follows his eye movements. Software converts his eye movement into the letters of the alphabet and in turn into words and speech.

Channel 4's Dispatches captured the moment on film ahead of a programme about Nicklinson's life to be broadcast on Monday 18 June at 8pm.

The same day Nicklinson and his family, who live in Melksham, Wiltshire, will go to the high court to argue that a doctor should be allowed lawfully to end his life.

Nicklinson sums up his life as "dull, miserable, demeaning, undignified and intolerable".

Nicklinson suffered a stroke in 2005 while on a business trip to Athens. He is asking the court to grant declarations that a doctor could intervene to end his "indignity", with his consent and with him making the decision with full mental capacity, and have a "common law defence of necessity" against any murder charge.

Nicklinson has two grown-up daughters and had an active life before the stroke.