Rosa Parks (Rosa Louise McCauley Parks) was born on February 14th, 1913. She is widely regarded as 'the mother of the freedom movement'. Her most famous act was to refuse to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama for a white passenger. Her refusal sparked a civil disobedience movement that propelled not only her but also Martin Luther King, Jnr. to international fame. Rosa Parks died in 2005. She was the first woman and only the second non-government official to be buried at the Capitol Rotunda.

One of the interesting things about Rosa Parks was that although she became a leading figure in the Black Civil Rights Movement in America she was not an intellectual, a radical or a preacher. She was just a normal woman who worked as a seamstress. She said she acted as a private citizen that was 'tired of giving in'. Rosa Park's protest was one that was not based on an intellectual position but a deep seated visceral feeling of injustice. Nobody needed to tell her that black and white people should be treated equally. She knew because she felt it every day of her life. She probably hadn't read Gandhi's articles about civil disobedience. She just knew that she should protest, and that she should do so in a non-violent manner. For these reasons she has gone down in history. She represents the everyman (or everywoman) who has had enough and who will no longer toe the line.

The main issue with civil disobedience is that it is breaking the law. Many intellectuals, most notably Gandhi and Martin Luther King, have propounded the theory that it is people's duty to resist unfair laws. Because something is a law it does not make it just. This is hardly a contentious issue since man makes the laws and man is fallible. Even in the area of religion, laws can be changed. They are not carved in stone. Jesus famously broke the commandment about not working on the Sabbath stating that the laws were made for man, not man for the laws.

It is those brave people who take action against unjust laws and unjust situations who are the real guardians of democracy. Sometimes the only way the will of the people will be heard by a government is through protest. Most recently this has been the case in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. For too long the people complained but their protests fell on deaf ears. Many were imprisoned and tortured for their comments. Eventually, enough was enough and mass protests ensued. This is truly the will of the people in action and represents the true meaning of the word democracy? 'demos' meaning people and 'cracy' meaning rule.

Societies and mores are evolving. The general consensus is changing about what is acceptable behavior. In the 1930s in America few whites stopped to think about the injustice of racial segregation. Now it is a given that the policy of barring black people from the amenities, facilities and educational opportunities that white people enjoy is abhorrent. The same movement can be seen in terms of the environment. Before 'nature' was morally neutral and pollution was just an inconsequential by-product of economic activity and human expansion. Now people are beginning to espouse the notion of an inherent value to natural resources such as trees. They need to be protected by the law.

Other people have articulated the idea that animals deserve to have rights to be protected against cruelty. Many regard animal liberationists as a looney fringe, but they too have made an impact on public mores. This is seen in the fact that cosmetic companies now go to great lengths to advertise the fact they do not test their products on animals.

Not all causes are just or find sympathy with a wider public. However, it is necessary that people like Rosa Parks continue to stand up and say 'enough is enough'. Civilizations are judged as much by their sensitivity to human and other rights as by their architectural and other cultural achievements.

This website is a forum for debate about issues that matter. It is the place to say 'I'm tired of giving in'. The Twenty-first Century is the age of information. It is our duty to publish information about injustice and perceived wrongs. If the cause is truly just then others will respond and act. Suffering the tyranny of injustice in silence is a crime in an age where the World Wide Web gives everyone with access to the internet a voice.

Turkish Press Crackdown Escalates

The TV and press coverage were shocking, Turkish police force through steel gates with bolt-cutters, frightened demonstrators cower under a barrage of tear gas and water cannons. A wounded women staggers away from the crowd helped by  onlooking journalists.  However this wasn’t the breaking of a siege or closing down some extensive criminal enterprise, but merely the Turkish Government closing down a newspaper which had dared to voice it’s opposition.

istanbul-1094398_640

This is now how Turkey deals with dissent, free speech is a term subject to the approval of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his government.

Turkey has long been treading down this path, it has fallen steadily down the league table of Press Freedom and now sits among the likes of Russia and Iraq where dissent is simply not allowed among  the press.  The newspaper is called Zaman and is the most popular daily newspaper in Turkey.

It is the latest in a long line of journalist casualties – hundreds are currently under prosecution, many independent broadcasters have been take off air or prosecuted on spurious charges.  The common ‘excuse’ is in the ‘national interest’ or to fight terrorism however the reality is that if you disagree with the government then you’d better not say it aloud.

Turkey is supposedly a democracy but it’s actions are beginning to mirror something quite different.  At the moment Turkish authorities are pursuing an aim of quicker integration into the European Union whilst simultaneously ignoring the building blocks of any democratic system.    This is not restricted to the persecution of dissenting journalists, there is a lack of freedom in other areas too.

The internet has long been seen as a problem for the Turkish government and it has actively been trying to control access from within the country.  It is considered  almost essential to use a fast VPN to gain access to many legitimate news sites via a Turkish controlled ISP.  This allows internet users to bypass IP blocks on specific sites which have been blacklisted by the Turkish Government , the list was established some years ago but has been growing exponentially over the last few years as dissent in the country grows.  If Turkey is admitted to the European Union in exchange for it’s help in the immigration crisis it would ironically be the first member where you need to buy VPN services in order to allow unfettered access to the internet, just like you needed to do in Syria and Afghanistan.

European Block Personal Search Results

Most of us have some sort of digital footprint online now, obviously the size of this varies between individuals.    The person who blogs, logs their every move on social media and takes pictures wherever they go will obviously have much more of a presence than the occasional web user however nearly everyone has some sort of personal information stored online.

However in some places you’ll find it much harder to find through the search engines if you’re looking for personal information.  Europe has actually become home to a certain amount of censorship of search engine results due to the effect of the ‘right to be forgotten’ rules which were passed in 2014.  This EU legislation states that companies like Google have a legal obligation to remove personal information about individuals from their search indices. Their are some caveats – the exclusions don’t apply to information which is in the public interest and data which is ‘inadequate, irrelevant, no longer relevant or excessive.’

browser-773215_640

In practical terms it means that Google and indeed all search engines, have to remove links to pages for example in news and current affair stories if an individual requests it.  Of course this becomes very difficult for search engines, controlling access and tailoring results based on different locations.  In fact it became a little confusing that search listings were deleted in the European Union countries and still existed in other countries. So if someone from Europe invested in a fast USA proxy or VPN then they could view the results by using the US version of Google without any problems.

Such are the problems of the internet, you can pass legislation and laws in one country and watch as they are completely ignored or even contradicted in another country.  Google has decided on a pragmatic approach and will now remove all results in line with the European guidelines although presumably these excluded results can be accessed on request in other countries.

Such administrative issues are nothing compared to the more sinister moves by different countries across the world.  Many governments are trying to create their own versions of the internet, following on the heavy restrictions in force in China – places like Brazil, Turkey and Russia are trying to create their own barriers.  Fortunately no one has yet found a way to make these blocks complete and investing in the best VPN software you can afford will almost certainly bypass any of these restrictions including the technologically advanced Great Firewall of China.

We can see quite clearly though that without a global vision and central governance the internet is going to become increasingly fractured and localized.

Update on the USA Freedom Act

The USA Freedom act was approved by the House Judiciary Committee at the end of April, 2015.  There is a hope and indeed many human rights organisation have stated that the Act should be passed as soon as possible to stop the collection of bulk communications data, the expanse of surveillance and improve transparency of the US intelligence services.

statue-of-liberty-230141_640

The USA Freedom Act is designed to stop the domestic bulk collection of both communication and phone records.    Over the last few months and largely thanks to Edward Snowden, the US government has been collecting millions of phone records of innocent civilians justified by a very loose interpretation of the USA Patriot Act (section 215 specifically).

It’s not a complete solution but merely a first step towards reining in the huge surveillance program that is currently in place in the USA.   the mass violations of people’s privacy may have continued without our knowledge if it wasn’t for the revelations of Edward Snowden which began now nearly 2 years ago.   There are still many areas of concern for human rights, which the USA Freedom Act doesn’t begin to address, at least there will be a statutory foundation for future reforms.

Human Rights Watch spokespeople urged the Act to be passed as soon as possible, without any modifications which would weaken it’s protection.    The situation is further complicated by the fact that section 215 of the USA PAtriot Act is set to expire on June 1st 2015, but it is expected without the Freedom Act that the Patriot Act would be extended without implementing any further privacy provisions.

There are of course concerns that the bill won’t be passed at all, in fact several versions of the Freedom act have been introduced and debated heavily in Congress.  Most of these happened in 2014 and they were not enacted, fortunately most of the key reforms involved in the 2014 Act have been carried over to the 2015 version.

Section 215 gives intelligence authorities the power to acquire data and records which could be relevant to an investigation.  This is of course a very loose definition and is subject to huge variations in interpretation.  Imagine that someone uses a VPN to encrypt their connection or simply to watch something like Hulu or the BBC iPlayer like this system – http://iplayerusa.org/index.php/proxy-to-access-bbc-iplayer-abroad/. This example could use by the agencies to investigate the encryption involved in using these tools, or simply include the records because they are being actively hidden. Millions of innocent people use these tools every day, are they relevant to such investigations because of this.

The Act strengthens these requirements, so that wholesale mass collection becomes much more difficult. The idea is that a specific selection term must be defined – that is a term which identifies a specific account or personal device which is deemed to be linked with some sort of terrorism or criminal activity.

Further Information: Source

A Primer on the Types of Discrimination in the Workplace

I’m sure you’ll come across some sort of work place discrimination sooner or later in your work profession.

This is a little listing of the kinds of work place discrimination:

Racial Discrimination:
That happens when even executives and supervisors or workers handle other races in manner that is unjust. They aren’t respected by them and this influences how they’re being handled. Racial discrimination is usually pointed at especially towards Aboriginal men, but to other groups too including Jewish, African, Chinese, Japanese, South Asian and Muslims.

Age Discrimination:
This happens when a worker is mistreated in an unfair way due to hers or his age. Senior workers might be told they are not too young for this particular occupation they are at. I’ve seen this occur many times. This can be certainly one of the reasons to bring younger who will cost the business a great deal less cash to keep and is more excited. Same thing sometimes happens when an employer tells a fresh man he doesn’t posses enough expertise and is way too young.

Sex Discrimination:
This happens when an employer will give the guys rather than the girls more regard. People always believe that guys are better then girls in everything they do. That is false in any way. Girls can perform exactly the same jobs the same as the guys and in an identical amount. For instance, Companies may suppose that physical work is meant for guys and work that is sensitive is for girls.

Language and Nationality Discrimination:

As an example, imagine you’ve got an accent and that you just speak Spanish. For a job interview someplace in the states as well as the interviewer lets you know that he cannot hire you because you’ve got an accent. Another example is when you make fun of your accent and do have an accent as well as individuals at your work laugh at you. That’s additionally considered language discrimination. It’s something that can easily be affected by your environment and should not be considered an issue. Certainly some people say I’ve picked up a British accent because I use a UK VPN like this one here, to watch BBC programmes all the time online.

Spiritual Discrimination:

This Happens when an employee is handled incorrectly as a result of their sexual beliefs. As an example, an employer may determine to not employ an individual as well as fire someone simply since this individual is in a same sex-relationship.

Handicap Discrimination:
This is when an employer treats someone with disability in a biased manner than someone without disability.

John (the VPN Guy) Williams
American DNS

VPN Services Purged by Chinese

China is blocking VPN services that let users evade on-line censorship of popular sites such as Facebook and Google amid a broader crack down on on-line advice, specialists and technology businesses said.

The virtual private network supplier Golden Frog wrote on its website the managements have hit a broad swath of VPN services. The favorite supplier Astrill told its users that its VPN protocols for Apple cellular devices to access services like Gmail have been blocked.   It’s been happening for years, but in some instances the Chinese have turned a blind eye to many of these services particularly the basic ones.  But last year there was a significant escalation with even the onion-routed service, TOR being targeted with specific nodes being blocked and also the commercial Smart DNS services like this.

firewall-156010_640

The Chinese government blocks tens of thousands of sites to prevent from reaching Chinese users what it deems politically sensitive info. VPNs reroute and encrypt Internet traffic in order that censors can not tell what is being obtained.

“This week’s assault on VPNs that changed its citizens and other VPN suppliers is more complex than that which we have found previously.”

For controlling the Internet, the Chinese government’s bureau didn’t promptly react to questions.

China-based entrepreneur Richard Robinson said the managements have especially hurt small- and medium-sized foreign businesses that depend on VPNs. Many bigger businesses can afford direct connections to servers outside the state, he said.

Over the previous weeks, Chinese censors have blocked what staying access there’s to Gmail and other Google products. Google services limited or have been occasionally blocked since 2010 when the firm said it would no longer collaborate with the censors in China.

“These smaller companies, they are dependent on Gmail,” Robinson said.

“That to me is a really definitely associated fact together with the quantity of political gossips and data related to China’s high politics showing up in sites beyond China.”

Additional Resources

http://thenewproxies.com/british-ip-address/

http://www.anonymous-proxies.org/

US Racial Discrimination Still a Problem

Most Americans say racial and ethnic discrimination is “a huge issue” in America and many consider the nation’s race relations have gotten worse under President Barack Obama, based on another survey.  It is disturbing considering this was expected to be one of the President’s primary goals during his time in office.  In fact it is actually quite difficult to find any significant sector of society who believes that there has been any improvement in both racial and ethnic discrimination during the last decade.

scales-303388_640

African American respondents were almost equally split on the question while whites were most prone to say things had gotten worse. Latinos were more likely than whites hadn’t changed since Obama was elected president.

The same was said by somewhat less than half.

There are of course lots of other issues that can effect  these findings, including any significant events happening around the time of the surveys.  These will always have a huge impact on results and can seriously skew data.  It is also worth remembering that the last decade has brought even more developments in communication like social media.  People communicate on a global level now, particularly with Smart DNS tools like this –  anyone can watch the news or media in any country they like merely by changing a couple of settings on their router.

Racism and race have dominated politics and news headlines in the White House for much.

Large scale demonstrations have been activated by the killing of several unarmed black men by white police officers in recent months and conclusions by grand juries to not indict the policemen throughout the United States.

Additionally, there is prevalent racial inequality in the American criminal justice system. Based on a study one out of every three black males will probably be sentenced to prison in their life. The amount for white males is estimated at approximately one in seventeen will be sentenced to any prison term (again this will vary widely on location, social status).

Additional Reading/Resources

Hide IP Software –  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R2wPPJ7T64w

Height Discrimination in China

It’s not something you come across in most developed countries, although many professions have some common sense height restrictions.  However in China, discrimination due to height is quite open and expected.  Take the situation of two security guards in Dalian in North East China, one man was two inches taller than the other and hence received more money.   The reasoning was that the taller guard made people feel more secure due to his height, basically if you’re over 180 cms tall (about 5 ‘9″) you’ll get a premium tall rate.

graphs-37717_640

Now you could argue that increase height in a physical job like a security guard is acceptable, however it doesn’t stop there in China.  Height requirements are routinely specified in all sorts of careers – want to study tourism and hotel management in Huaqiao University?  Well you’ll need to be over 170cms tall for a man and 158cms for a women.  A company in Beijing is advertising for cleaners, who must be female over 162 cms tall.  Even if the job doesn’t specifiy this, many people (particularly tall ones!) will put their height on their CV, something that wouldn’t happen in most Western countries.

It’s difficult to see some of these adverts and job advertisements even the ones online due to the heavy restrictions in Chinese internet access.  You can get reasonable access if you find a reputable security or VPN provider which will at least bypass the content filtering – try this for information.

There have been several studies and most have found that height has a large effect on salary expectations particularly for women.  One study found that each centimetres above average will add about 2% to the women’s salary – the difference rises esepcially on higher salary scales.   Currently there is no legislation at all preventing this sort of discrimination although several Universities are working on some draft legislation to prevent discrimination based on physical characteristics like height.

One of the big problems here is  that this sort of discrimination is increasing divisions in what is already a society with many social and economic divisions.  The overall height of Chinese is rising greatly in tandem with the increase in economic prosperity.  This however is much marked in richer areas, where increased living standards and better nutrition mean people are generally taller.   Thus the richer groups are benefiting more and already large inequalities are growing larger.

Further Information:

Source

Internet Discrimination – A Real Issue

When the internet first came along, it was pretty wild, disorganized and often very hard to find stuff you were looking for.   The search engines were in their infancy, sometimes they’d help you find the information you were looking for but more often than not would propel you into completely random unrelated areas.

It was fascinating and exciting, probably largely because the concept was new and amazing.   I remember well having a chat with a welder from Houston in Texas about computers, using a very simple IRC client (Internet Relay Chat).  The concept was incredible, that my words were being transported down my telephone wires and almost instantly being read by a bloke called Alan sitting across the Atlantic.  Of course our children take all this for granted, and in some senses it’s kind of sad that  they missed out on that ‘moment of realization’ which many of us remember vividly.

Now my children have as many digital friends across the globe as they do in their local town.  It’s simply commonplace to communicate with people across the globe using a host of digital devices.   Search engines are increasingly efficient and usually home in on the information you need with minimal fuss, albeit with a growing sense of commercialism.

discrimination-60

However not all aspects of the internet have improved, and one of the most worrying trends is the growing level of filtering and censoring that is occurring.   In the first few years of the internet, it was virtually irrelevant  where you were located, we were all simply internet users.  I could see exactly the same from the UK as if I had logged in from Thailand, USA, China or Japan.  This is far from true nowadays where for a variety of reasons, the internet can look very different depending on where you log in from.

Blocks, filters and discrimination are common place – sometimes based on commercial reasons – others based on Government control.    The result is that your experience of the internet is greatly influenced by your physical location.  Do you want to watch all the latest movies on a the website Netflix, well you’ll need more than a subscription to the media giant – you’ll need to be in the USA.

Of course, the anarchic elements of the internet are constantly working hard to provide ways to work around these filters. You can use an American DNS for Netflix and fool it’s redirection, you can connect through a secure proxy to side step Government black lists.  It takes a little effort and some expenditure, but the unfettered version of the internet is still available if you try.  The problem is that for many even the inexpensive tools are out of reach, so for some living in places like China or Iran,  what you see online will be controlled by your Government.

It’s sad certainly that something that was once accessible to all, without distinction or discrimination is becoming like the rest of the world.   Slowly but surely tiers of internet access are  being established, due to blocks, filters and even access to infrastructure.  I might feel happy that I can use a VPN client and watch Channel 4 Online when I’m on holiday in Spain, but the reality is that it’s only available because I have the disposable income to buy  these tools.

 

Online Religious Freedoms

Wherever you go the internet is increasingly becoming filtered by a variety of individuals , groups or Governments.  It’s often for political goals but commercial and religion are often equally to blame for the increasing censorship.

In Turkey for instance, which is primarily a secular Government – various legal challenges have been made and effectively caused internet sites to be censored.  For example a book on Creationism was criticised heavily by a scientist called Richard Dawkins – this was enough to get his site blocked in Turkey. However Turkey’s internet access is increasinly becoming filtered in many other ways too.

Many Muslim countries heavily restrict access to social networking sites in order to restrict  people’s ability to discuss and criticize religion.  There are drivers from the powerful Evangelical groups within the USA to do something similar from there.  Fortunately this hasn’t happened in the US yet but the internet may yet be crippled from another source – commercialism.

A specific act in the US based on protecting intellectual property threatens to allow huge control over what access you have through a US ISP.  A link to a pirated DVD or film may be all it takes for a court to block an entire website from an entire country.  This will put censorship and control on a whole new level.

Already a lot of sites are inaccessible from different countries, for instance you can’t watch the BBC Iplayer from anywhere outside the United Kingdom.  In fact you need to connect through a UK proxy to be able to view it.

However just to add some balance to this discussion it should be pointed out that even non-religious people are looking to censor access to the internet.  I noticed the other day an application called the ‘God Block’ which blocks access to all internet sites  that have any sort of religious concept.  This is supposed to protect children from potential brainwashing apparently although how making children ignorant about religions will help them in the long run – I’m not quite sure.

John Helsingbane

UK VPN

 

The Right to Health and Diet Choice

If there was just one thing you could alter about your life to make it better, what would that thing be? I’m pretty sure many people would opt for a vastly better financial situation with a happier marriage and harmonious family life. Others might opt to change where they lived for somewhere nicer.

How many would choose having a vast improvement in their health? Maybe not as many people as you might think. But with the huge numbers of overweight and obese people walking around these days, it might seem as if this ought to be the number one wish for change.

In reality, the line between being unhealthy and healthy is a lot finer than many would think. It is your right to be healthy and choose your diet (see: www.healthydietchoice.com for more details).

It really doesn’t take a lot of effort to change the state of your health from being under par to being glowing and healthful. What it does take is a series of small, incremental steps that almost anyone should be able to follow in order to achieve a lasting improvement in their overall health and well being.

It really is quite amazing how a seemingly minor change of diet can bring about so many great health benefits to the dieter. By simply cutting out drinking soda and replacing it with plain water and maybe some fresh fruit juice can cause amazing changes in a person’s weight and shape.

The amount of calories that a person can save in an average day where they simply stop drinking three or four cans of soda and instead drink water is incredible. It can make the difference of a loss of several pounds each month!

Similarly, by cutting down hard on eating processed meals, convenient diets of takeout food and junk food, a person can start feeling better, more awake and alert and have more energy. That’s because their bodies would no longer be having to deal with all the toxins that are present in that type of food thanks to all the artificial additives and saturated fats that are in them.

Then by cutting down on foods containing refined sugar and refined white flour and replacing them with more fresh fruits and vegetables in the daily diet, that feeling of lightness and having much more energy will become even more pronounced.

It’s a funny thing, but people who make these small changes to their diet often feel so much better and livelier that they actually feel like taking more exercise and feel restless sitting in a chair watching TV. They would actually rather be outdoors in the fresh air getting some real exercise, even if it’s brisk walking. Some like to do some swimming or even cycling.

This all comes from making a few small yet significant changes to your diet and it’s not something that you have to look at and feel like it’s going to be hard. Because it’s actually very easy, once you get into the swing of it and then it becomes like a case of “Why didn’t I do this before?”

A New Direction for Your Life

Almost fifty years ago, Rosa Parks made a simple, however daring choice that started a revolution. On December 1, 1955, Rosa was riding on a city bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Rosa refused, despite the fact that the law required her to achieve that.  This act of defiance sparked a revolution that would change the world for the better, her bravery and courage inspired others.  Check out the Rosa Parks documentary created by the BBC if you want to learn more (try this for outside UK}

What gave the motivation to Rosa Parks ? Rosa imagined herself as instigator, and the architect, goalkeeper of that vision.

Her vision was supported by her with a clearly defined principle which was firmly ingrained in her core values and beliefs.

The years’ vision was ground-breaking and grand and the world altered. Your private vision wants just be enormous in your own life. Your views are your views whatever the scale. And every vision is caused by knowledge and a strong sense of purpose about exactly what you need, and who you are.

You’ve discovered your own voice; when you find what what you’re enthusiastic about, what gives you pleasure, and what drives one to attain personal success. Your voice is not going to be refused. Unexpectedly, you discover yourself connected so greatly to a more profound sense of purpose that the very motive for being changes.

It is a fresh chapter in your life’s start. It is possible to create all the targets and set all the strategies which will take you there, knowing what it’s you wish to accomplish, be, and understand. This is an exhilarating and thrilling discovery when you create your individual vision and discover your goal.

From this new position of self knowledge and comprehension, it is possible to start to assimilate all of your previous experiences, failures, and disappointments with the activities that will move you forwards, and allow you to create a narrative that is completely new.

Jennie Agutter: Life Coach

Is Netflix Worth it for Kids

For several years now I’ve been paying a small fortune in cable bills for hundreds of TV stations that I never watch. I had presumed though that my children were at least making use of this expense, but I recently discovered that the most watched channel on my TV was actually the two free BBC kids ones.

So after reviewing my options I decided to save myself this bill and look for alternatives to provide some entertainment for my children at a more affordable price.

I had a range of multimedia devices but the two that seemed to work best were a little device called the Roku and the WiiU my children’s favorite games console. There are lots of other devices like the Playstation and Xbox that would work just as well.

My first port of call was the Amazon service that was called Love Film but is now bundled with a membership for Amazon Prime. A free trial was on offer (which is easily cancelled) and I decided to try it out for a month. First of all the interface on the WiiU is awful, there seems to be a huge amount of lag when you select anything or press a key. There’s quite a lot of content on it but nothing that brilliant, most of the latest stuff you have to pay for though to stream. It’s probably worth a look but the interface on the WiiU put me right off as it’s a nightmare to use. If you have access on something else like your TV or Xbox perhaps it will work better – it costs about £72 a year but that it includes all the fast Amazon delivery if you buy lots from them.

Next I checked out Netflix, which worked both on my WiiU and the Roku, slightly prefer the WiiU as you can use the gamepad and screen to browse when someone is watching something else. Be warned though there are lots of different country versions of Netflix and the US one is by far the best – watch this if you want access – How to Get US Netflix.

The cost is £5.99 a month and there’s a huge amount of choice. There’s nothing absolutely new, but hundreds of complete series that you can get your moneys worth – we’ve watched loads of UK series we’d missed, Lost (all 70 odd episodes), Grimm and a load of others. There’s really an awful lot of content and lots of films from about 12 months plus – neat little system to find and recommend. Well worth the investment and I have watched more on Netflix for £5.99 than I ever did on my £69 monthly subscription to SKY TV.

It is worth investigating the different versions though, there’s loads more content on the American version and being able to switch countries is most useful – I did it by changing the DNS settings on my router using a service like this.

So What About Digital Equality

For many  the phrase digital equality has very little meaning, but for others it’s an important concept.  If you look at the news events for any given week you’ll normally find some examples of how are access to free communication over the internet is being curtailed somewhere and somehow.  Take for instance Turkey, at the moment there is growing discontent with the Turkish Prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan primarily for allegations of corruption. His response has been typical not of a democratic republic but more of a dictatorship, at least as far as the digital world is concerned.

In Turkey as we speak, Twitter is banned and YouTube is being actively blocked, this is together with one of the biggest lists of blocked sites in the democratic world. A person accessing the internet in Turkey does not have the same access and rights as someone in the USA would. The justification given for blocking these sites, is very weak but in essence it comes down to one thing – these social networking sites are being used to spread the corruption allegations and the government don’t want people to talk.

There are of course much worse places than Turkey to access the web, in reality most of the blocks implemented there don’t work anyway. Just as people will circumvent all sorts of restrictions there are lots of ways to bypass the Turkish blocks, my sister relays her connection through a Canadian proxy server run by a friend of hers. Turkey is a relative well connected country and the citizens are mostly able to afford things like proxies and vpns to bypass even the best filtering attempts. If you try and access the net in China it’s a different story as it’s actually quite hard work bypassing some of the Chinese blocks (of which there are many!).

The trouble is that in China and restrictive regimes like Iran and North Korea, they have actually spent a lot of time an money in making sure people don’t have free access to the internet. Sure proxies and UK VPNs still work – like this iPAd VPN service, but with enough resources being put into tracking these methods you would have to keep changing. China for example have even been found to track and block TOR outlet nodes which is not an easy task in itself.

So this is the problem, the internet is arguably the greatest advance in communication since the telephone. Yet for many it’s still dictated and controlled by the people who run the country they are in. Most democratic governments have no need or inclination to block access to the internet and social networking sites but for many regimes it’s often a priority. An invention that should bring us closer together and make our rulers more accountable is often just another inequality that some people have to suffer.

Gay Equality Takes a Huge Step Forward

The day was the 29th March, and the event may have passed you by – but for all gay couples it was an important date.  For many it represents a landmark in the country that for many epitomizes a fair, equal and tolerant society – the United Kingdom.  It’s important because it now pretty much represents legal equality with heterosexual couples, which when you think about it makes perfect sense.  For gay people living in fear in countries like Russia, Uganda and many strict Muslim countries, such a situation seems almost surreal.

It’s a great day and one that does our country great credit.  Of course many gay activists will rightly argue that although the gay community now have legal equality, there is still a great deal of social inequality and prejudice around.  I think though it’s something that will be achieved slowly and gradually, not with aggression and protests.

Let’s face it the British people are pretty tolerant and accepting, well mostly.  They tend to appreciate what is fair and what is right in their own time.  There are obviously some very anti-gay opinions out there, but mostly these belong to older generations and such are slowly drifting form the public mainstream.  They will continue to have an negative impact of course, but the effects will slowly diminish.

As it stands today, I think the social stigma has reduced drastically – many  teenagers are quite happy to admit their sexuality, although it is of course still incredibly difficult for many.  The way for continued change in my opinion is through education of our young people.  There is little to be gained from rallying against ingrained bigotry in the older generation, the battle should be fought in the classrooms and when necessary in the law courts – strategically of course.

But that’s enough for this piece, it’s been a great week for Gay rights in the UK.  But there is still an awful lot of inequality for other members of society and of course throughout the world.  I spoke to a young man who was trying to run an internet based business the other day, who was facing huge obstacles.  The reason was he was based in Nigeria, a country famed for it’s internet scams and fraudsters.  His problem was that living in this country he was tarred with the same brush and blocked and restricted at every digital turn.

It doesn’t sound like the same thing but this inequality has huge effects on millions of people online, discrimination creeping into the digital world.  There are technical solutions to his issue of course where people can use proxies based in different countries like Russia or the USA if required.  Digital inequality exists all over the world and it also has a huge impact on peoples lives – it might sound trivial that Viooz is blocked in my country, but that may have impacted the income of many families.   But still it shows that equality is not restricted to any single cause or sector of society.   It exists everywhere, and we are better placed to fight it as a whole rather than on specific issues.