Taking A Swipe At Skype

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Skype_logo

No, it’s not me who is taking a swipe at Skype. I use Skype a lot for communicating with people. I find it particularly good for contacting friends in foreign lands, which you can do for free, but also for making paid telephone calls too.

I have been using it for over a decade, almost from it started, and long before it was bought by Microsoft. Although other flavors have arrived on the scene I stick with Skype.

It’s the comfort of familiarity, something I wish the nerds at WordPress would pay attention to instead of continually making smart-ass changes that no one has asked for or wants. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it guys!

But getting back to Skype, it has now become a victim of the snoopers – again!

This time it has been told it has to appear before a court in Belgium because it refused to hand over customer data following a request for assistance by the Federal Computer Crime Unit of the Federal Judicial Police (FCCU) in a ‘criminal investigation’.

Microsoft acquires Skype

Microsoft has been very sensitive to appearing to buckle under when requested to release information about its Skype users ever since it was alleged that it had changed the architecture of the communications software to make it more “wiretap friendly”, something which it has always denied.

Despite Microsoft releasing transparency reports stating that it had not handed over the content of any Skype conversations in response to regular law enforcement requests, privacy and security analysts remain unconvinced.

Unfortunately, as usually happens when the lawyers get to work, the fundamental importance of this case – which is government’s mania for trying to remove the right to privacy of its citizens – gets lost in spurious legal arguments.

cartoon lawyers

Now, instead of defending the right to privacy, the court’s time is being taken up with deciding whether or not a VoIP service like Skype should be treated as a telecoms operator in Belgium. If it is then it would have to comply with Belgian regulatory requirements for telecoms operators and release data to the snoopers.

I said earlier that the request by the Belgian snoopers is in regard to a ‘criminal investigation’ but the alleged crimes under investigation have not been specified, nor has the identity of the suspect or suspects.

It’s another one of those government catch-all phrases like ‘terrorist activity’ or ‘national security’ that are used as a cover for intrusions into people’s privacy whenever they feel like it.

government Snooping

The result of this Belgian case will be an interesting marker for future attacks on the privacy of Skype users. My guess is that if the snoopers win their case then Skype should brace itself for a multitude of similar requests from governments all over the world. If on the other hand the courts rules in favor of the privacy of Skype users then the government will simply put their hackers to work and try to get the information illegally as they have done and are doing.

So it’s another one of those ‘heads’ privacy loses and ‘tails’ the snoopers win.

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A Round Of Applause For Ms Fleischmann, I Think.

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Alayne Fleischmann

Alayne Fleischmann was someone who I though did not exist.

Yes, it’s a slightly odd name, but that’s not what I mean.

She’s a real person, she does exist, although many on Wall Street and in the government wish she did not.

You see Alayne Fleischmann is a an honest lawyer.

Not only an honest lawyer, but an honest securities lawyer.

And not only an honest securities lawyer, but an honest securities lawyer who worked for a bank.

I know, it’s hard to believe isn’t it?

But it’s true.

Eight years ago Ms Fleischmann was employed by J P Morgan Chase Bank as a deal manager, a position that allowed her to see the crooked activity, fraud in other words, that was going on at the bank, particularly in regard to mortgage securities.

jp-morgan-chase-bank-logo1

She has been effectively ‘gagged’ for many years by confidentiality agreements, hordes of lawyers acting for the banks, and by government organizations that were supposedly investigating the fraud but which were in fact just trying to get it pushed under the carpet as soon and as quietly as possible.

Now Alayne Fleischmann is blowing the whistle, not just on the fraudulent activity of the banks but on the massive cover-up that followed it.

In doing so she is just confirming what anyone who has been paying attention already knew to be true, namely that the government has allowed the banks to buy their way out of criminal charges and jail time by paying multi-billion and multi-million dollar fines, fines that may sound large to you and I but which to them are a small fraction of the money they stole.

Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission report

The Department of Justice, Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, SEC, and more have been pretending to investigate and bring the culprits to book. In effect they have done very little.

So I think a round of applause is in order for Ms Fleischmann. She won’t make much of a dent in the corrupt system, the corruption is so ingrained that I doubt if anyone could do that. But at least she came through with her honesty intact and that is a hell of a lot more than can be said of the banksters or the politicians and political appointees who were supposed to be going to make things right.

 

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Don’t Call Me A Cannibal! – Oh, oh, We’re In Court Again!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It’s been a while since I raided the court archives. So here are a few more examples of the level of intelligence you can expect, not only from untrained Joe Public called to give evidence, but from the supposedly highly trained lawyers, supposedly!

Enjoy.

 

 

District Attorney: What happened next, Ma’am?

Witness: He unzipped his pants and pulled out his subpoena.

Judge: Any motions, counsel?

Counsel: I move to dismiss, Your Honor. All my client did was pull out a subpoena. There’s no law against that.

Judge: Counsel, if the witness doesn’t know the difference between a penis and a subpoena that’s her problem. Held to answer!

 

 

 

Judge: If that be your verdict, so say you all

2 Jurors:  “you all”

 

 

 

Judge: Any member of your immediate family or yourself ever been the victim of a crime or robbery?

Juror: My mother had her purse snatched

Judge: How long ago was that?

Juror: Ten, fifteen years ago

Judge: Was she hurt at all in the snatch?

 

 

 

Judge:  What made you bite the police officer?

Witness:  He stuck his arm in my mouth

 

 

 

Q: Were you the lone ranger on duty that night?

A: I was a park ranger on duty that night

Q: I mean the only one, the lone

A: You mean alone?

Q Alone

A: Yes, I was

 

 

 

Q: Do you speak Spanish, Officer?

A: Yes, I do

Q: Are you fluent in Spanish?

A: Yes, I do

 

 

 

Q: Are you being selective about what you remember and what you don’t remember as to the details of your previous record?

A: I don’t remember.

 

 

 

Q: Do you have any problem with the English language?

A: No, I speak very good English.

Q: Great. Do you know Andre?

A: That’s my cousin.

Q: Have you known him all your life?

A: Since we grewed up.

 

 

 

Q: Now, do you recall the date the accident occurred?

A: Yes, sir.

Q: What date was it?

A: It was a hot day in August.

Q: Did you drink any alcohol?

A: No, sir.

Q: Are you a teetotaler?

A: Not really. Just coffee once in a while, like in the morning.

 

 

 

Q: And y’all had a very intimate relationship, didn’t you, Ms. A?

A: We had sex two times. It wasn’t very intimate.

 

 

 

A: Yeah, I used to be around with him a lot. Me and his nephew run together.?

Q: Who is his nephew?

A: Pokey. I think he’s doing time now.

Q: Pokey is Kenny’s nephew and is doing time now? Are you saying Pokey is in the pokey?

A: Yeah.

 

 

 

District Attorney: Defense Counsel is accountable to you (the jury)

Counsel: Judge I object to that. I object to him referring to me as a cannibal, Judge

Judge:  He said accountable

Counsel: A what?

Judge: He said accountable, not a cannibal

Counsel:  It sounded like cannibal to me and I object

It Sounded like cannibal to me

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Some More Witty Sayings, Inspired By George Carlin

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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There was a lot of love for the short series of quotes from George Carlin. I was pleased that he is remembered well and still giving amusement to people, despite no longer being with us.

Today I have a selection of other witty sayings, not attributed to anyone in particular, but in the same spirit as last week’s post.

I hope you enjoy these too.

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Dickson’s Gardening Rule: When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.

 

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

 

Sex is like air; it’s not important unless you aren’t getting any.

 

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

 

One good turn gets most of the blankets.

 

There are two kinds of pedestrians — the quick and the dead.

 

Life is sexually transmitted.

 

An unbreakable toy is useful for breaking other toys.

 

If quitters never win, and winners never quit, then who is the fool who said “Quit while you’re ahead”?

 

ASCII stupid question, get a stupid ANSI. (One for the nerds and geeks to LTAO.) 

 

Willie was a Chemist, But Willie is no more, What Willie thought was H2O Was H2SO4.

 

A closed mouth gathers no feet.

 

Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

 

It’s not hard to meet expenses, they’re everywhere.

 

Jury — Twelve people who determine which client has the better lawyer.

 

Never lick a gift horse in the mouth.

 

The only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth.

 

Marriage is the triumph of imagination over intelligence. Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.

 

Before marriage, a man yearns for the woman he loves. After marriage, the ‘Y’ becomes silent.

 

If you want your spouse to listen and pay strict attention to every word you say, talk in your sleep.

 

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Witty One-liner Wednesday – Some Sayings Of The Late George Carlin, part 3

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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Today I have great pleasure in presenting the third, but unfortunately, final part of this short series of Witty One-liners from the late and great George Carlin.

Where have all the clever comedians gone, I wonder?

Enjoy.

 

 

Cloud nine gets all the publicity, but cloud eight actually is cheaper, less crowded, and has a better view.

 

Have you ever noticed that the lawyer always smiles more than the client?

 

I’m always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realize I’m listening to it.

 

If all our national holidays were observed on Wednesdays, we could wind up with nine-day weekends.

 

“Meow” means “woof” in cat.

 

Most people with low self-esteem have earned it.

 

Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.

 

“No comment” is a comment.

 

If a man smiles all the time, he’s probably selling something that doesn’t work.

 

So far, this is the oldest I’ve been.

 

When you think about it, attention-deficit order makes a lot of sense. In this country there isn’t a lot worth paying attention to.

 

I think I am, therefore, I am. I think.

 

If the cops didn’t see it, I didn’t do it!

 

Capitalism tries for a delicate balance: It attempts to work things out so that everyone gets just enough stuff to keep them from getting violent and trying to take other people’s stuff.

 

I don’t have a fear of heights. I do, however, have a fear of falling from heights.

 

It isn’t fair: the caterpillar does all the work, and the butterfly gets all the glory.

 

Frisbeetarianism is the belief that when you die, your soul goes up on the roof and gets stuck.

 

“I am” is reportedly the shortest sentence in the English language. Could it be that “I do” is the longest sentence?

 

I think it would be interesting if old people got anti-Alzheimer’s disease where they slowly began to recover other people’s lost memories.

 

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The Terminal Man

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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In case you were wondering, this post has nothing to do with Michael Crichton’s mind control novel with the same title. Rather it is about people with no minds trying to control the rest of us.

Strange, as well as stupid, people feature on the fasab blog.

None come stranger than Mehran Karimi Nasseri, also known as Sir, Alfred Mehran (yes, including the comma).

Nasseri is an Iranian refugee who was expelled from Iran in 1977 for protests against the Shah. After a long battle, involving applications in several countries, he was awarded refugee status by the United Nations High Commission for refugees in Belgium which permitted him residence in any European country.

He claimed to have one British parent, although he produced no evidence to support this, and decided to settle in the UK in 1986.  But en route to there, in 1988, he claimed that he was mugged and his shoulder bag stolen while waiting at the RER platform to go to Charles de Gaulle Airport to take a flight to Heathrow.

When he tried to go to the United Kingdom, Nasseri managed to board the plane, but when he arrived at Heathrow, London without the necessary documentation, immigration officials sent him back to Charles de Gaulle airport.

Unable to prove his identity, or his refugee status, to the French officials, he was initially arrested and moved to the Zone d’attente (waiting zone), a holding area for travelers who do not have papers. However, due to the fact that his entry to the airport was legal he was released, but, since he had no country of origin to be returned to, he began his residence in the departure lounge of Terminal One in Charles de Gaulle Airport on August 8, 1988.

Mr. Nasseri’s predicament was made into a movie in 1993 entitled ‘Tombes du Ciel’, starring Jean Rochefort, Ticky Holgado, and Marisa Paredes. And he was reportedly the inspiration behind the 2004 movie ‘The Terminal’, starring Tom Hanks.

However, unlike Hanks’ character in the movie, and since at least 1994, Nasseri did not live in the duty-free transit area, but simply in the departure hall, in the circular boutiques and restaurants passage on the lowest floor.

Theoretically he could leave the terminal at any moment, although, since everyone knew him, his departure might not remain unnoticed. He did not seem to speak with anyone normally.

With his cart and bags, he almost looked like a traveler, so people either did not notice him or ignored him as if he were a homeless person. Airport workers were kind enough to give him food.

In 1992, his case was taken on by French human rights lawyer Christian Bourget. However, in one of those absurd rulings that idiot bureaucrats and judges can only dream up, the French courts ruled that, having entered the country legally, he could not be expelled from the airport, but neither could it grant him permission to enter France.

Attempts were then made to have new documents issued from Belgium, but the authorities there would only do so if Nasseri presented himself in person. However, under Belgian law a refugee who voluntarily leaves a country that has accepted him cannot return.

In 1995, the Belgian authorities granted permission for him to return, but only if he agreed to live there under supervision of a social worker. Nasseri refused this on the grounds of wanting to enter the UK as originally intended.

In July 2006, eighteen years later (yes, that’s 18 years!) Nasseri’s stay at the Charles de Gaulle Airport ended when he was hospitalized and his sitting place dismantled.

Towards the end of January 2007, he left the hospital and was looked after by the airport’s branch of the French Red Cross. He was lodged for a few weeks in a hotel close to the airport.

On March 6, 2007, he transferred to an Emmaus charity reception centre in Paris’s twentieth arrondissement. As far as I know he may still be there.

And you thought US immigration took a long time!

The Terminal Man - Mehran Karimi Nasseri
The Terminal Man – Mehran Karimi Nasseri

 

When Your Bank Gives You A Load Of Sh1t, Just Give It Right Back To Them!

“Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”

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It isn’t often that there is the opportunity to report a victory of the common man over the banksters. But a few years ago one did happen when a 71-year-old British farmer, from Northumberland, won a £300,000 settlement from his bank after what he described as years of frustration and pain.

Although the bank settled, shortly before the case went to the British High Court, the farmer, Mr David Cannon, said he still felt as though he had not got justice. “They could give me every penny on the planet, but it still couldn’t put it right. It’s taken 10 years away from me. To them it’s monopoly money, but to me it’s all I’ll get.”

His problem was with the National Westminster Bank plc, and began in May 1990. It centered on £70,000 which Mr Cannon claimed went missing somewhere between his own account, his son’s personal and business accounts and an account belonging to his son’s business partner.

He is convinced the money had disappeared gradually during “dozens and dozens” of transfers between the accounts. Naturally the NatWest Bank always strongly denied that the money went astray.

The legal proceedings started way back in 1991, and the Cannons were forced to sell their 300-strong herd of prize-winning Ayrshire cows to fund their case. Mr Cannon said: “It was heart-breaking having to sell the herd, and soon I, and especially my wife, had problems with our health.”

After four-and-a-half years of deadlock with the legal proceedings Mr Cannon decided enough was enough. He borrowed a muck-spreader and chugged into Newcastle-upon-Tyne on his tractor.

In a little over two minutes, he blasted four tons of slurry over NatWest’s Mosley Street branch.

Phew!!!

Stonemasons spent two weeks clearing up and Mr Cannon was fined £2,000. But undeterred, a year later, he subjected the bank’s Ponteland branch to the same exterior decoration.

He really was giving them shit!

Still the dispute dragged on, until December 1998, by which time Mr Cannon had lost patience once again. This time he blocked the door of the Grey Street branch of the bank with his tractor.

Ten months later he returned to the Ponteland branch, baffling staff by measuring the entrance. The next day he forced the doors open with his tractor and barricaded himself inside, nailing fence rails across the doorway. This bank job cost him another £600.

His final fling occurred the following June 12, when he dumped a five-ton load of shit on the doorstep of the Ponteland branch and returned to his farm – pursued by police. Amazingly, he managed to reload and chugged back to the bank, where he made a second five-ton deposit. A low-speed chase ensued, the police puncturing the 10mph tractor’s tyres with a ‘stinger’.

Mr Cannon was charged with criminal damage, dangerous driving, driving without an excise licence and failing to stop for a police officer. He was given a 60-day suspended sentence and ordered to pay £845.60 compensation plus £250 costs.

Mr Cannon, a former bare-knuckle boxer, said: “But fortunately it was in my nature to fight them. Breeding cattle was my life.”

The bank, NatWest issued a token 63-word statement which denied any admission of liability. They refused to add to it when questioned by reporters.

Simon Pitkeathley of the British Bankers’ Association, says angry customers would do better to follow the conventional complaints procedure or move your account elsewhere, said: “Mr Cannon’s behaviour obviously can’t be condoned.”

But I liked it. Good one Mr C.

The big question is, by awarding £300,000 to a man who has taken direct action, has the bank set a dangerous precedent for those distressed customers contemplating direct action? Wouldn’t it be great if they were in for loads more shi……I mean, bother?

 

Farmer David Cannon giving his bank some shit
Farmer David Cannon giving his bank some shit