Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Facebook goes bad(der)

Below is an article published by the Times - big brother is watching.

Facebook faces a major backlash over privacy today after its photo-sharing service Instagram changed its rules to give it the right to sell users’ photographs without paying them or asking their permission.
The move gives Instagram, which Facebook acquired in April, the perpetual right to “license” all public photos that are posted online through the app, allowing the pictures to be used for commercial purposes such as advertising.
Privacy groups have condemned the move, saying that the policy shift could allow advertisers to buy young people’s photos without gaining their or their parent’s permission.
Analysts said that this could mean that people could soon appear in adverts on television or online, without their knowledge or being paid for photos that they have taken.
Instagram was acquired by Facebook in April this year, in a deal which was then worth $1billion. Facebook announced this year that it has grown to having 1 billion users worldwide, while Instagram has 100 million users.
Last night, Instagram announced its sweeping changes to privacy policies and terms of service. The changes will go into effect on January 16 2013. Photos taken before that time will not affected by the move.
Many of the changes can be seen as an effort by Facebook to more easily obtain and use information gathered by Instagram to better incorporate advertising, so that Facebook ads could easily appear with Instagram’s app.
The changes to the privacy policies means that Instagram will be able to share information about its users - such as details about bands they have seen or restaurants they have eaten at - with Facebook, as well as outside groups and advertisers. It is thought that this change will allow Facebook to be able to better target its adverts to Instagram users.
The new terms of service also state: “You agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.”
This means that photos published on Instagram publicly can be used in adverts without the user’s knowledge and without the person taking the photograph being paid. The only way for users to reject the changes will be to leave Instagram and delete their accounts.
Of particular worry to privacy campaigners is a stipulation that the changes effect all users regardless of their age. Under US laws, only people aged above 13 can join Instagram. Under the new rules, a teenager’s images can also be licensed for use in advertising.
Jeffrey Chester, the executive director for the Centre for Digital Democracy, a US online privacy group, told Bloomberg that the move was “exploitative” and showed that Facebook “sees teens as a digital goldmine.”
Facebook spokespeople were not immediately available for comment.
In a blog post on Instagram’s website, the company said: “Our updated privacy policy helps Instagram function more easily as part of Facebook by being able to share info between the two groups. This means we can do things like fight spam more effectively, detect system and reliability problems more quickly, and build better features for everyone by understanding how Instagram is used.”
But hundreds of users left comments beneath the blog post, many expressing anger at the changes. One said: “Why do all the good companies become sell-outs, seriously. They always start out with such a good thing.” Another wrote: “ And that’s why I’ll delete my instagram account.”

Latest UK population figures

See here in the Telegraph for more information.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

The Sunday polls

The figures for the Independent on Sunday are:

Conservative 28% (-3)
Labour 39% (-4)
UKIP 14% (+6)
Lib Dem 9% (-1)
Others 9% (+1)

Andrew Hawkins of Comres is quoted as saying:

"The Conservatives are leaking votes to UKIP – one in five (19%) of the party’s 2010 voters say that they now intend to vote UKIP. There is good evidence that many UKIP voters are erstwhile Conservatives on the rebound: large proportions are negative about David Cameron and George Osborne on the economy, and about Mr Cameron’s handling of gay marriage."

We also have an Opinium poll for the Obsever. The headline figures are:

Conservative 29%
Labour 39%
UKIP 14%
Liberal Democrats 8%

Meanwhile Anthony Wells of YouGov in the Sunday Times notes.

"Ed Miliband has maintained a double-digit lead over the Tories in this week's poll
This week's topline figures are: Conservatives 33%; Labour 45%; Lib Dems 9%; and UKIP 8%.

So not great for the Tories any which way you look at it. Meanwhile UKIP are flying at present but will it translate into votes.

See the ever good UK Polling Report for more detail.

How many homes are empty

All details below are copied from the empty homes website

710,000 empty homes are currently empty in England according to the 2012 Empty Homes Stats.

The latest (November 2012) empty homes statistics show that of these, 259,000 are long- term empty (meaning they have been empty for more than six months). These are the headline figures, and a detailed regional breakdown is now available by clicking below.

What about the rest of the UK?
We estimate that there are 920,000 empty homes across the UK, 330,000 of which are long term empty. However Empty Homes statistics are collected at different times and are not officially published in Wales and Northern Ireland (although we have obtained the information ourselves) . Our estimate is simply a sum of the most recent official statistics from each part of the UK.

Where do you get this information from?
The data is obtained from council tax information. The data is supplied by owners of empty homes who report their properties as empty to their council. Councils usually offer exemptions from council tax for empty homes, which gives an incentive for owners to report thier property as empty.

How accurate is it?

We believe that the information is reasonably accurate at a national level, and is the most reliable information available. However there may be some misreporting at a local level. Councils normally check for council tax fraud.
It is important to note that some homes are not included in the statistics. These include:

Uninhabitable homes: Homes in very poor condition can be excluded from council tax and so are not counted in these statistics. No data is available to quantify how many of these there are nationally. Recent research in Bradford showed that there were 5,000 uninhabitable homes in that city, this indicates that there are many thousands across the country.

Homes due for demolition: Again these are exempt from council tax. In our view these should not be counted unless demolition is in doubt or has been cancelled. Currently 40,000 homes that were due for demolition under now cancelled regeneration schemes stand empty.

Flats above shops. Many unused flats above shops have no residential planning use class even though they are clearly laid out as dwellings. These are charged under business rates and not council tax and so do not feature in empty homes statistics. A report carried out for the government in 2004 estimated that there were 300,000 flats in this state in England.

I’ve heard that there are million empty homes in the UK, is this true?
Probably, although our estimate based on official statistics show less (920,000) . If flats above shops, uninhabitable properties, and properties due for demolition are included it is likely the total would be much higher, but as no accurate statistics on these are published we do not include them.

From a housing supply point of view we think it is more important to concentrate on the long term empty homes. There are 259,000 in England, 330,000 in UK.

Why are these homes empty?

Most empty homes are privately owned. Our surveys show the majority of the owners own just one or two properties. Often they are rented homes that have fallen into disrepair; sometimes the owner has inherited the property. In many cases the owner lacks the funds or the skills to repair and manage the property.

There are also many empty houses and flats owned by and often located next to businesses. Many of these would originally have provided staff accommodation, but with changing employment patterns they are no longer used. In some areas cottages were tied to agricultural work, but increasing agricultural mechanisation means they are no longer needed. It is common in these cases for the business to lack the skills to make use of the empty homes.

In the last decade there have been many large regeneration schemes that have involved emptying homes in preparation for refurbishment or demolition. In the last three years falling house prices, restrictions on borrowing money and reduced government funding have caused many of these schemes to stall or even be abandoned. This has led to large areas of many social housing estates standing empty. In addition some regeneration schemes have taken the same approach to privately owned housing. Some of these have led to large numbers of homes standing empty.

There are also many developments of new flats in towns and cities that have high vacancy rates. Some are owned by investors who may be waiting for rental prices to pick up, other flats were never sold, and others are incomplete, the development having been abandoned.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Saturday, 17 November 2012

How the other half live

A Russian billionaires boat. Take a tour.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

EE Fenton Remastered

The Saville inquiries

There are indeed loads of them. Too many? Does the North Wales stuff get buried? It's all going to be around for a while. Quite a legacy.


1) Operation Yewtree: Scotland Yard criminal investigation into claims that Jimmy Savile sexually abused young people.

2) BBC investigation into management failures over the dropping of a Newsnight report into the Savile allegations.

3) BBC investigation into culture and practices during Savile's career and current policies.

4) BBC investigation into handling of past sexual harassment claims.

5) Department of Health investigation into Savile's appointment to Broadmoor "taskforce" and his activities at Broadmoor, Stoke Mandeville Hospital and Leeds General Infirmary.

6) Director of Public Prosecutions review into decisions not to prosecute Savile in 2009.

7) North Wales abuse inquiry by National Crime Agency head into abuse claims from 70s and 80s, fresh claims, and police handling of the claims.

8) Mrs Justice Macur appointed by PM to review the 2000 Waterhouse review which looked into the north Wales abuse.

9) BBC Scotland director Ken MacQuarrie into what happened with the Newsnight investigation into north Wales abuse claims

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Media on media massacre

As noted by Douglas Murray over at the spectator;

"The nadir in this case probably came the other week when BBC reporters door-stepped other BBC reporters on their way into work at, er, the BBC. I think BBC reporters reporting on the BBC from outside their own offices in the BBC runs that a close second."

The End of Entwistle

Well the BBC has got itself in a right pickle has it not. I doubt there is anyone senior left in the news division who hasn't retired, been suspended or isn't hiding from various investigations.

I am not sure Mr Entwistle should have gone. It's certainly been a roller coaster 55 days for him. He did do some terrible interviews but is being mauled on Radio 4 a hanging offence? Did it get anyone anywhere? He appears in part to have been the victim of the way the BBC works, it's processes.

Surely his press office are in trouble for failing to keep him up to date.

I suppose Mr Entwistle failed to take control of the situation. Certainly he shouldn't have carried on with giving random speeches etc. But would anyone have controlled these events?

Anyway he has gone and the BBC will no doubt be regretting having a go at the Tories when they had no ammo. The attempt to deflect attention from Saville backfired badly.

Newsnight is now a blood bath. I don't think rumours of wider trouble at mill are too far wide of the mark. Just look at Jeremy Paxmans statement below.

Statement from Jeremy Paxman:

“George Entwistle’s departure is a great shame. He has been brought low by cowards and incompetents.

The real problem here is the BBC’s decision, in the wake of the Hutton Inquiry, to play safe by appointing biddable people.

They then compounded the problem by enforcing a series of cuts on programme budgets, while bloating the management

That is how you arrive at the current mess on Newsnight. I very much doubt the problem is unique to that programme.

I had hoped that George might stay to sort this out. It is a great pity that a talented man has been sacrificed. While time-servers prosper.

I shall not be issuing any further statements or doing any interviews.”

Friday, 28 September 2012

What is it about Bray?

It's a villagein Berkshire of some 4000 people. Nought strange there but it has FOUR Michelin star restaurants. Two of those restaurants get 3 Michelin stars (there are only two other 3 star restaurants in the whole of the UK).

That is incredible.

The restaurants are -

1) The Fat Duck - Heston Blumenthal - 3 stars
2) Waterside Inn - Alain Roux/Fabrice Uhryn - 3 stars
3) Royal Oak - Michael Parkinson - 1 Star
4) Hinds Head - Heston Blumenthal - 1 star

Am tempted to move there.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Boris is right on Heathrow

Below is Boris Johnson's reaction to Justine Greening being sacked today from being Secretary of State for Transport because she objected to Heathrow expansion.

‘There can be only one reason to move her – and that is to expand Heathrow Airport. It is simply mad to build a new runway in the middle of west London. Nearly a third of the victims of aircraft noise in the whole of Europe live in the vicinity of Heathrow.

‘Now it is clear that the Government wants to ditch its promises and send yet more planes over central London. The third runway would mean more traffic, more noise, more pollution – and a serious reduction in the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people. We will fight this all the way.’

Both Boris and Justine are right to object to expansion - after all it is still Tory policy and it's plainly insane to further ruin west London with noise and pollution when it is not necessary.

It's a daft idea that will cost the Tories safe seats.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Is this the truth about us?

Matthew Parris on saturday explained why in his view we’re in the state we’re in…

“We have been living beyond our means. We have been paying ourselves more than our efforts were earning. We sought political leaders who would assure us that the good times would never end and that the centuries of boom and bust were over; and we voted for those who offered that assurance. We sought credit for which we had no security and we gave our business to the banks that advertised it. We wanted higher exam grades for our children and were rewarded with politicians prepared to supply them by lowering exam standards. We wanted free and better health care and demanded chancellors who paid for it without putting up our taxes. We wanted salacious stories in our newspapers and bought the papers that broke the rules to provide them. And now we whimper and snarl at MPs, bankers and journalists. Fair enough, my friends, but, you know, we really are all in this together.”

Monday, 25 June 2012

Monday, 18 June 2012

Boris on Greek crisis

Boris on Greece:

“If things go on as they are the whole damn kebab van will go up in flames”.

Euro contagion denials

Alex Banbury of Hamilton Capital has put together a list of countries' denials of contagion in the Euro crisis - amusingly done.

"Spain is not Greece" - Elena Salgado, Spanish Finance minister, February 2010.

"Portugal is not Greece" - The Economist, April 2010.

"Greece is not Ireland" - George Papaconstantinou, Greek Finance minister, November 2010.

"Spain is neither Ireland nor Portugal" - Elena Salgado, Spanish Finance minister, November 2010.

"Ireland is not in ‘Greek Territory’" - Irish Finance Minister Brian Lenihan. November 2010.

"Neither Spain nor Portugal is Ireland" - Angel Gurria, Secretary-general OECD, November 2010.

"Italy is not Spain” - Ed Parker, Fitch MD, June 12, 2012

"Spain is not Uganda" - Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy, June 2012

"Uganda does not want to be Spain" - Ugandan foreign minister, June 13, 2012