India government to access Blackberry encrypted messages

Seems like another loss for privacy advocates. On a lighter note, at least Blackberry can continue to function.

CrackBerry addicts rejoice: No ban in India. For now.

At an eleventh hour meeting with government officials Monday, Research in Motion (RIM) caved in to India’s demands for access to users’ emails and other data to avoid an immediate ban on its encrypted data services.

Under the agreement, RIM will immediately implement systems to grant “lawful access by law enforcement agencies” to customer data, India’s Home Ministry said in a statement. The
regulatory bodies will evaluate the feasibility of this arrangement for the next 60 days, even as India presses forward with demands to force not only RIM, but also Google and Skype to set up servers for hosting customer accounts in India — which would facilitate easier access to private data and wire tapping of voice-over-Internet-protocol (VoIP) phone calls. (via Globalpost)

To be honest, I don’t think this would work. If users are really going to send something really secret, there are still ways to do that unless encryption is entirely outlawed. What if the government monitor these supposedly encrypted messages and use them to gain competitive advantage in business that they have an interest in? I would rather trust corporations than government here.

Going against Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games

Not everyone is merry over Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG). Even as the YOG comes to a closing today, I still hear the resentment. I am largely indifferent over the matter and I don’t know enough of it to contribute an opinion.

Singaporean arrested after Facebook attack on govt

In a statement, police said they had arrested a “man in his late 20s” on Tuesday “in connection with investigations into offences related to incitement of violence”.

…Abdul Malik Ghazali, 27, who posted a series of comments on the social networking site critical of how Singapore is hosting the inaugural Youth Olympic Games (YOG).

The August 14-26 event, held for competitors aged from 14 to 18, has generated limited public interest, with many events blighted by empty seats and the host country’s athletes faring badly.

Vivian Balakrishnan, the minister for community development, youth and sports, has come under particular fire from online critics over the games.

Abdul Malik’s postings on his own Facebook page and on a separate group account called “I hate the Youth Olympic Games Organising Committee” are also critical of Singapore’s ruling People’s Action Party (PAP).

He said it was time to “burn” the sports minister and the PAP. “Rally together and vote them out!!!” he wrote.

“I did not intend for it to be taken literally. I did not mean for someone to actually burn,” he said. –AFP (Source: Asiaone)

Here’s what the group has to say and what they describe themselves to be:

We are Singaporeans who are disappointed and angry with the YOG organising Committee (SYOGOC).

The SYOGOC ballooned its initial budget of S$105 million for the YOG to S$387 million. In contrast, this government allocated only $92 million to the ComCare and Social Support Programme for needy Singaporeans in 2010.

The SYOGOC chose to fake its ticket sales results by having MOE to purchase the bulk of the tickets. This has led to the strange phenomenon of the half-filled stadiums and competition halls, despite tickets being fully “sold out”!

Students were coerced by their schools to support the torch relays and to attend YOG events. The volunteers were badly treated with substandard and even unsafe food!

It is an event organised by the politicians for the politicians to look good in front of foreigners, and the government is splurging on taxpayers’ money like nobody’s business.

We hate the YOG Organising Committee!

The group has 2,796 members currently.

Okay time for Merly:

Merly Youth Olympics Singapore 2010

(Merly Youth Olympics Singapore 2010.)

US government asked Twitter not to do maintenance during #IranElection

Wow, US government asked Twitter not to do maintenance during the Iran election:

State Department to Twitter: Keep Iranian tweets coming

Senior officials say the State Department is working with Twitter and other social networking sites to ensure Iranians are able to continue to communicate to each other and the outside world.

…they do want to make sure the technology is able to play its sorely-needed role in the crisis, which is why the State Department is advising social networking sites to make sure their networks stay up and running for Iranians to use them and helping them stay ahead of anyone who would try to shut them down.

For example, senior officials say the State Department asked Twitter to refrain for going down for periodic scheduled maintenance at this critical time to ensure the site continues to operate. Bureau’s and offices across the State Department, they say, are paying very close attention to Twitter and other sites to get information on the situation in Iran.

[From CNN blog]

The accidental success of the MDA rap video

Went to BlogOut! today! I couldn’t stand nouns having appended with an exclamation mark as I always felt confused when I try to make a proper sentence. Anyway, BlogOut! (not again…) is pretty good today. The whole theme is basically social media: good, no social media: bad. Well something along the lines.

One of the more interesting things being brought up in the discussion is the MDA (Media Development Authority) rap which most considered ridiculous. As much as I dislike (and would often cringe) the video, I actually watched it around 10 times. I shared the link with all my friends and give them something to laugh about. Almost everyone I showed thought it is the most embarrassing thing that come out from Singapore.

The video spread so quickly within days. It wasn’t even supposed to be on YouTube, it seems to be more of an education video for visitors of the MDA website to educate them of what the MDA is about.

It’s accidental success (or major failure as view by some) did achieve something quite unplanned. And that is now a lot more people know of MDA’s existence. Before the video, I doubt as much people heard of MDA much less know what they do. With one video, MDA got into Techcrunch and Digg. I could probably even get you a bunch of local blogs which discuss it.

It may be a horrible video to watch but it spreads and if you were to measure success by the increased awareness of MDA and their purpose, I think the video scores. What’s worse than bad publicity is no publicity.

Well, let us appreciate the MDA rap once again:

Why government throws in money to bailout the country

Rachel Maddow explains why to save the economy is to spend money and not to provide tax cuts and so on. Rachel Maddow Show – “…get out of the way of people who are actually trying to save the country.”

Rachel Maddow Show – “…get out of the way of people who are actually trying to save the country.”

  • $1.00 in non-refundable tax rebates results in $1.02 of economic activity
  • $1.00 in infrastructure spending results in $1.59 of economic activity
  • $1.00 in food stamp spending results in $1.73 of economic activity.

USA dropped a stimulus package that is worth some 800 billion. Now I’m actually wondering what’s “bullpucky”, turns out it is a more polite way to say “bullshit”. Hmm… Then don’t say it! It ruins the whole point of using the word “bullshit”, if you can’t say it, don’t.

Bank of America asks for more bailout after buying Merrill Lynch

Ha! I love the Reddit title: Step 1) Bank of America needs and gets Bailout money, Step 2) BOA buys Merrill Lynch. Step 3)……….. Step 4) Bank of America needs Bailout money.

Banks in Need of Even More Bailout Money

In a sign of deepening fragility among the nation’s largest banks, the government is preparing to throw a new multibillion-dollar lifeline to Bank of America, several people briefed on the talks said Wednesday, the latest effort to stem a tide of growing losses in the financial system.

Bank of America, which was already granted $25 billion in capital from the Treasury’s Troubled Asset Relief Program in October, is seeking billions more to shore up its balance sheet as it struggles with mounting losses at Merrill Lynch, which it recently acquired, said these people, who were not authorized to speak publicly.

Bank of America’s shares fell 4.2 percent, to $10.20, in regular trading Wednesday, and are down nearly 30 percent this year. At one point in after-hours trading, the shares fell to their lowest level since 1991.

The government’s willingness to feed Bank of America a new tranche of taxpayer money comes on the heels of greater federal intervention in Citigroup. After pumping more than $45 billion in Treasury money onto its balance sheet, the government has put pressure on Citigroup to dismantle its troubled empire in an effort to stop losses and curb capital injections. (Source: The New York Times)

I wonder how would the Obama team respond to this.

$50 billion gets you 2 loaves of bread

…In Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe’s dollar is virtually worthless, with foreign currency now being used to purchase basic items. In the past, it gets you 2 oranges.

Zimbabwe introduces $50 billion note

HARARE, Zimbabwe (CNN) — Zimbabwe’s central bank will introduce a $50 billion note — enough to buy just two loaves of bread — as a way of fighting cash shortages amid spiraling inflation.

Zimbabwe is grappling with hyperinflation now officially estimated at 231 million percent, and its currency is fast losing its value. As of Friday, one U.S. dollar was trading at around ZW$25 billion.

When the government issued a $10 billion note just three weeks ago, it bought 20 loaves of bread. That note now can purchase less than half of one loaf.

John Robertson, an economist in Zimbabwe, said he’s puzzled by the introduction of the $50 billion and $20 billion notes.

“I am not really sure what these notes would be for,” he said. “No one now accepts the local currency. It is a waste of resources to print Zimbabwe dollar notes now. Who accepts a currency that loses value by almost 100 percent daily?”

In August, the RBZ slashed ten zeros from the currency. But the zeroes have bounced back with more vigor. (Source: CNN)

At least everyone’s a billionaire there.