[1731] On Brexiting

Diary Entry 1
When much younger, I considered becoming a writer.  After wars, famines, land-mines and murders intervened in my country of birth, I looked for alternatives.  The alternatives have been useful, but, as I grow older, they begin to appear less attractive and more risky.
I would like to retire and wrote a book.  I will start by keeping a journal, writing down a few thoughts and experiences.
I am in Greece.    It’s 2017 and I’m on a working holiday.  Read ‘working’ as a loose term.  The truth is I am British citizen intent on breaking the law in another country.
Seated at a small, marble-topped table, outside a quiet cafe in this small seaside town, with a tall glass of strong, Greek coffee in front of me, I am in Heaven and being paid to be here.  The road runs down to the sea and, from where I sit, the marina with its odd assortment of aged and modern fishing vessels is in full view.  Beyond this vista lies the ocean. I have spent most of my time in towns like this since Brexit.  Who wouldn’t like this kind of lifestyle?
Diary Entry 2
When the United Kingdom (UK) exited the European Union (EU), any previously held agreement remained unratified.  The EU expected the Brits to continue honoring old contracts.  They didn’t bother.  Unemployed and restless immigrants who, like myself, had been forced to survive by illegal means in their countries of origin, recognized these oversights and saw ‘golden opportunities’.  
Diary Entry 3
Becoming a British citizen was an interesting challenge.  Once the written test was out of the way, citizenship papers and passport safely in my hand, not one official tried mapping out a more attractive, legally acceptable, route for me.  Not that I didn’t look for such opportunities (changing my ways had been a consideration).  Unfortunately, my dark skin and heavy accent shut these kinds of doors whenever I knocked on them. 
Diary Entry 4
Drug dealing kept me alive in the old country.  The strands and nets of this kind of business were familiar to me.  I had to live, so started to put out feelers.  The UK network was welcoming in ways its legal avenues were not.  Initially comfortable doing small deals to keep myself in necessities, my ideas began growing bigger.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t vigilant enough.  A clever, undercover cop fooled me. I did my time in jail.  After release I got tired watching my back.  The constabulary was always following my trail.  I went on the dole, becoming restless and miserable.  That is, until Brexit changed my life.
Diary Entry 5
I don’t think Brexit was a tidy enough process.  Soon after the formal separation, agreements started to break down between countries. The Schengen Information System (information on wanted persons, suspected terrorists, and stolen objects) was the first to falter.  Following, hot on its heels, was the Customs Information System (CIS).  The CIS, used mostly in drug trafficking cases, now excluded UK access to any ‘prum’ decisions.  The CIS provides EU countries with information from police databases on fingerprints, license plates and DNA.  Laws allowing exchange of criminal records, also disintegrated.  When the UK stepped aside, it failed to count the costs.  All good news for me.
Diary Entry 6
I can’t complain.  Brexit certainly made it easier for UK criminals to venture into the European crime sector.  Effectively, it gave folk like me free rein to plunder the European Union through credit card fraud, or other means.  The UK police force is now directing the bulk of its stretched resources to the identification of terrorists and drug dealers within its own borders.  Not yet having signed any new legal agreements with the EU, the greedy eyes of criminal opportunists in the UK are sparkling.  Look at mine!
Diary Entry 7
I note the complex issues surrounding transnational law enforcement are underfunded. I still scan the newspapers daily, ready to detect any weakness or change.  The UK is still looking to renegotiate the 80,000 pages of legal agreements with the EU, but, because of the current strain in its legal resources, it hasn’t happened.  Good news!
Diary Entry 8
The unwanted consequences of allowing ‘free movement’ of goods and people under EU law has been the ‘free movement’ of criminals, drugs and contraband. The EU criminal law  system was implemented to deal with this problem.  Brexit has created such big holes in these laws, a pterodactyl could fly through one of them.  European crime-fighting bodies no longer cooperate with the UK or participate in mutual recognition deals.  What a mess!
Diary Entry 9
Despite an increase in loopholes and a decrease in watchful eyes, it hasn’t been an easy run.  I was caught out in Portugal recently.  It didn’t blow up into anything like it might have done in the past, thank Heavens.  I was released within a couple of days.   With the absence of information exchange between international law enforcement agencies, the EU police intelligence agency became ignorant and powerless. 
The UK had already abolished the prima facie test, with the 2011 Baker review of UK extradition law.  This decision was made due to the difficulties posed for extradition in practice.   A White Paper produced in 1986 stated that it ‘did not offer a necessary safeguard for the person sought by the requesting State but was a formidable impediment to entirely proper and legitimate extradition requests’. Ultimately the Baker review recommended that there was ‘no good reason to reintroduce the prima facie case requirement’ where it had been abolished, and that, ‘No evidence was presented to us to suggest that European arrest warrants are being issued in cases where there is insufficient evidence’.  This still has not been fixed.   So, without EU law, or a prima facie test, I will always be safe from extradition procedures.  A comforting thought.
Diary Entry 10
Of late, I have been planning my own exit; and I don’t mean dying!   I want to retire.  I need to carry out a bigger job to do this.  I’m not too worried about getting caught.  The Portugal experience was reassuring.  As I stood in front of the Judge the Prosecutor pleaded with him not to grant me bail. She stated that, if bailed, I could exit the country and not be required to return and face charges, or do time.   She was right. The judge brushed aside her pleas, stating, “The law is the law and has to be obeyed to the letter.”  I was released. 
Diary Entry 11
I’m determined not to make the same mistake as with my last Portuguese experience.   I was caught withdrawing cash using a stolen credit card.   Someone at the bank recognized me from a previous occasion.  CCTV footage is as incriminating as meeting your ex-mother-in-law in the bank when you have a gun in your hand!   My biggest mistake had been in thinking I could get away with it a second time, and in the same place. The penny didn’t drop until the two police officers walked right up to me and put on the handcuffs.   They were only able to charge me with the two illegal credit card transactions.  A very minor outcome considering I had already stolen more than 50 credit cards whilst in that country, and committed 90 or so smaller crimes.  If the prosecutor had been able to investigate me properly, I would never would have been released! 

What a laugh!    The only thing that is going to stop me now is if I’m hit by a bus!
Diary Entry 12
I’ve been depositing money into a Swiss bank account in readiness for my retirement.  So far I’ve banked £150,000.  I’m planning this next job carefully and hoping it will be the last.  I’ve been checking out this Greek seaside town for its security vulnerabilities.  Robbing a bank might be my best option. I’m not a greedy man, £400,000 should cover the cost of my comfortably settling on one of the smaller, Greek Islands. The money already saved will be icing on the cake.   Breaking into a jewelry store wouldn’t be a bad idea, either.  There are three such stores in the town.   Poorer Greeks trust gold more than banks.  This might require a bit more research, though.    I have to make sure I get the amount I need on the first hit.  Whichever option, the getaway has to be quick and clean. My face mustn’t be seen again in that town. No clues in my wake, either.  No mistakes this time.
Diary Entry 13
Today’s the day!   I have just awoken to a beautiful morning.  Very auspicious!  I spent last night in a small guesthouse in town.  My hire car is already parked in a street behind the bank I’ve decided to rob.   City International is the largest bank here and will easily have more cash in its vaults than the other two.  I know exactly what to do and how to do it, having spent more time planning this hoist than any other job in my entire life.  I’ll run my kitbag over to the hire car, first.
Time for my exit from this rat race!  My next entry should be very interesting!

TO: Police Captain Costa Raptis
REPORT WRITTEN BY: Police Constable Pateno Andropolous
(Please see attachments)
This morning I was called to attend the scene of a fatal road accident.  The victim was a dark-skinned man of Middle-Eastern appearance.  At approximately 9.00AM, the victim walked out of the Sea-View Guest House, where he had been staying, stepping directly  from the kerb into the path of a bus.  A statement to this effect, made by the bus driver, has already been corroborated by five other persons; one of these being the manager of the City International Bank.
As part of my investigation into this road fatality, I attach copies of entries written in a diary belonging to the deceased.  This diary was found inside a khaki-colored kitbag, along with a small hand gun, large wrench, two palm-sized, explosive devices, a few items of clothing, and 43 different identity cards.


[1599 words] Self Driving Cars

It all started a couple of years ago with Google X, followed by the Ford Motor Company and then Tesla Motors.   In a very short space of time the world was introduced to self-driving vehicles.   Once the Japanese and Asian manufacturers began installing self-drive technology into cars, the public started buying them.  Eventually, other kinds of vehicles disappeared from Australian roads and highways until the only cars left on the road were self-driving.
At first our Government had been unsupportive of the new industry.   Members of parliament opened their mouths in public, fear-mongering away about the potential dangers of the new technology.  Simultaneously, the motor vehicle industry fired back with  supportive research data, flashy you-tube video clips, and colorful billboards outside every major sporting arena.  The industry won.   After this, the government quickly hopped on the bandwagon; introducing legislation that was to cause the demise of all non-self-driving vehicles.
Self-driving cars had steering wheels.  It was the ‘fly by wire’ systems that used them, not the drivers.  The steering wheel was merely a computer part.  Although not physically connected to the wheels, a detector sensed and remitted information re wheel movement to the computer.  The computer then made a decision whether to allow a movement to occur.    People sitting in driver seats were no longer in control; they were just passengers.  The ‘driver’ issued verbal commands to indicate destination and preferred route, but his or her car made all other decisions; the auto-drive being rarely disengaged.
The Government became a happy group of well-paid public servants.  With fewer road accidents, traffic duties for police were drastically reduced and police numbers quickly reflected this pattern.  In case anyone thought they could still cheat the system, CCTV surveillance was installed at every intersection with traffic lights. Hidden speed cameras were also located along highways and freeways and anywhere else the government suspected people might try to speed or break other existing laws..   
Computer hacking was not restricted to communication devices.  A news report covered several incidents where people had either created optional speed, self-mobile transport, or hacked the computers of self-driving cars to reduce vehicle conformity.  They were all caught through surveillance techniques and publicly shamed, fined, and/or jailed for not conforming.  The Government described these offenders as ‘traffic terrorists.’   The media applied a less aggressive label, describing such offenders as ‘selfish-risk-takers’ who were prepared to put other people’s lives in jeopardy.  There were others who took an entirely different point of view.  These were commonly referred to as the ‘Anti-Techs.’
The Anti-Tech movement grew.  It made some strange claims, most of which were laughed at.  Apparently, a number of people had been suggesting that computers in some self-drive-vehicles might be malfunctioning.  Checks by experts found nothing wrong with any of the vehicle command modules (VCMs) in the cars of these folk.  Nevertheless, these claims persisted.  The Anti-Tech followers, despite being labelled ‘paranoid,’ continued to express concerns about VCMs; saying that some had made poor decisions.  The kinds of examples being offered were frightening.  There were several accounts of vehicles swerving toward pedestrians; always in a non-surveillance area.  Without evidence, people making these claims were being ridiculed and labelled ‘antigovernment.’  Some Anti-Tech leaders and many of their followers were arrested.
I became sympathetic toward the paranoid, Anti-Tech group.   One morning, my car ran a red light. I couldn’t believe it had done this. I tried using the emergency brakes but the car overrode my efforts.  The screen had a message running across it, ‘NO SURVEILLANCE CAMERAS INSTALLED.’  What did this mean?  My car drove right through the red light.  I broke into a sweat thinking how I might have been wiped out if another vehicle had been traveling across the intersection.  Safely on the other side of it, the car slowed.  I tried to justify what had happened, wondering if my vehicle could have been WiFi aware of traffic flow.  Still, I wasn’t in control and did not feel comfortable trusting my car after that.
I decided to stop using the car for small trips.  I was losing confidence in technology.  Two weeks later there was another incident.  I was sitting in a public car park in my stationary vehicle.  Suddenly, the car started to move forward, out of the parking space, without my issuing a command.  I panicked, looking to the left and right, to see if there were any cars coming towards me.  I tried to press the emergency brake pedal.   I even grabbed the steering wheel, attempting to alter direction.  The car remained in control, apparently responding to its own dictates.  For some reason it seemed to want to follow a bright yellow delivery van.  With me shaking in my seat, it followed the van for almost ten minutes before letting me regain control.   Originally, self-driving cars were only intended to engage in auto-drive when a driver presses a button on the dash or issues the verbal command, ‘Take over now.’   Our Government had mandated that this built-in mechanism be overridden.  A vehicle’s ‘automatic pilot’ was required to engage when driving on public roads. This was the law.
It was only after the two hair-raising experiences with my own self-drive car I learned how common such occurrences were.  My computer’s search engine led me to many similar accounts.  I was also able to locate an official government response to some of these concerns. The car manufacturing industry echoed this edict.   “The GPS data must have been corrupted, or, there could have been a sunspot, or interference from locally placed mobile telephone towers.”   These excuses continued to be put forward.  The low number of accidents meant that neither group had sufficient motivation to look more deeply into the matter.
Then it happened…’CAR-nage Day’ arrived.  It was a ‘day’ that lasted for several, long weeks.   It began early on the first morning, with all vehicles locking out their owners.  The cars took off without passengers and began driving onto pedestrian crossings, sidewalks and car-parks, like small packs of large wolves.  As the vehicles worked together to mow down pedestrians, they maintained a level of group dexterity that prevented their crashing into each other.  During that first day, twenty-percent of the population was killed. The rest retreated in fear to their homes. Eventually, necessity forced them back into the streets. Very quickly, supermarket stocks declined throughout the country.  The self-driving cars continued their rampage.  It didn’t seem to matter if it was night or day, the cars would track people down, never killing animals, only humans beings seemed to be targeted.  The carnage was carried out with efficiency.  The victims could not protect themselves.  Past attacks by terrorists and mad gun-men had resulted in the Government legislating for a gun-free society.  Weapons no longer being allowed, not one citizen owned a gun.  The already much reduced police force had only revolvers and stun-guns to use against the out of control cars.  This defence was woefully inadequate.  The cars seemed to be programmed in their efforts, driving straight at the officers, into the police stations, into their homes, killing both them and their families.  Within three weeks, the police force had been completely dispensed with.  The rampant cars were able to recharge themselves at will.  Manufacturers had built multiple charging stations across the country.   No-one could stop them recharging.  Power failure in some districts only resulted in cars heading across the city to another source; only to return and continue their terrorizing.
Somehow, prison doors were flung open during this melee.  Thieves and murderers joined ranks with the Anti-Techs to help remaining citizens find a way to fight back against the autonomous vehicles.   In the end, a simple, age-old solution, was agreed to.  With no other option available to us, we started making bows an arrows. It was the only defense we could think of.   From roof top positions, we fired arrows at the tires of the marauding cars.  With tires punctured, the link between the wheels and VCM was destroyed.  The cars became stationary, eventually running out of power.  They didn’t give up easily, however.  The killing continued for a few more days. Some vehicles even using guerrilla warfare tactics, pretending to be out of power until they saw enough people in a group to mow down.   Eventually, it all ceased.    
Two years have passed since CAR-nage Day.   We no longer have cars.  Too many of the folk, who survived the horror of those days, still live in fear of them.   We learned a computer virus had been responsible for the malfunctioning, self-drive vehicles that almost destroyed society.  Understand-ably, I guess, nobody seems to trust technology anymore.  Soon after the carnage ended, people started destroying all technology.  We now live very simple lives. We no longer have mobile telephones, tablets, computers, or use the Internet.  After all, it had been the Internet that transmitted the virus to the cars’ computers. How could we trust it again?  I’m not even sure we could forget the significant role the Internet played in the development of artificial intelligence.
The Government held a plebiscite.  As a nation, we collectively made the decision never to go back down a technological pathway.  These days, paper has become more popular, as have libraries.   It’s a simple life, but a good one.

[1056 words] 2016 The End Of The World

​2016 – The End of the World
I open the paper and go straight to the daily cartoon. It’s a drawing of a man sitting in his armchair, eating popcorn, watching a turning, burning globe of Planet Earth.  The caption reads; ‘What 2016 feels like!’  I laugh…the cartoon really does sum up the dominant events of this year.   First match to the fire was America’s new president, Donald Trump.  The narcissistic Republican nominee only won because hackers had read Hillary Clinton’s emails again.   This time they found communication shared with another well-known Democrat in which she discussed the possibility of alien attacks.  The media discredited her, NASA denied her claims and most people suspect she might be going mad.
The Baltimore riots add a little more combustion.  More than 200 black American citizens and 20 police officers killed and thousands of other, innocent, bystanders wounded.  The blacks are still fighting for equal status in American society.  Racial discrimination has now outlived Martin Luther King by almost half a century.
The Mexicans are frightened.  Trump’s threats in the lead up to the Presidential election kept most of them awake at night.  Now it seems to be more serious.  Someone has already drawn a line across the map where the ‘Great Wall of Mexico’ is to be built.   The protest strikes resulted in a mass exodus of thousands of Mexicans employed across South America.  Apparently, none wants to risk being jailed or deported now Trump has been elected.
The European Union is falling apart. The Brits have already disengaged, fed up with the EU telling them what they can, or cannot, do; Tired with waiting for the pipe-dream of European unification to be realized.  France is in a prolonged state of civil war.  This small country seems to have earned more wrath than others from the Islamic extremists still carrying around the hate of long-past transgressions, convinced that all ‘infidels’ must die. Turkey has already had three military coups. The most recent, bloody upheaval has resulted in 161 deaths, more than 1200 injured, and the arrest of almost 3000 military personnel.  There are little ‘fires’ burning all over the globe, right now.
I turn the page of my newspaper.  I read about four Pokemon GO participants being shot by a home owner for trespassing on his property.  Fear is another global flame…. Who, these days, completely remains safe from the prospect of home invasion?  It’s not always hate that pulls the trigger.
It’s the headline on page six that surprises me most.  I read, ‘NASA confirms alien attacks.’   I look more closely to see if it is a paid advertisement placed by Hillary Clinton.  It is not.   The article quotes a news release from NASA, stating there have been a number of strange deaths reported.  Several small towns appear to have been wiped out.  At least, the inhabitants are either missing or dead.  The buildings remain intact.  The bodies of victims look completely dehydrated, but show no other signs of violence.  The absence of evidence supporting the use of any known modern weapons has led NASA to suspect the killers could be aliens.
I turn on the TV and switch to a news station.  A NASA spokesperson is being interviewed. He confirms the news report.  The news reporter then asks him if it is a hoax.  “You been saying for years there are no aliens. Both NASA and the US government have persistently denied video evidence from people reporting strange lights and objects in the sky.   Recently, you even cut live feeds to the International Space Station when strange objects appeared.  Are you telling me that you are now doing a backflip?   Are you saying that we are under attack?”  The NASA spokesperson nodded. “Yes, I am.”
Grabbing the remote, I disconnect from the unreal world of my television screen.  I am not convinced by what I have just witnessed.  Maybe it is some kind of publicity stunt by an author or film publisher.  I remember reading an article about the possible remake of the 1980s classic, ‘The Aliens are Coming.’  It must be something like this…surely?  I refuse to believe NASA can go from staunch denial to actively warning us that are under attack by aliens.  It just doesn’t make sense.
I decide to visit my girlfriend.  She lives in a townhouse overlooking an ocean beach.  Anna is a sane, intelligent woman.  I need such company right now.  I step through my doorway into thick fog.   It’s unusual to have midday mists in this part of the world, but I don’t think too much about it.   My Oldsmobile 442 is waiting for me.  I switch on the car radio and begin moving slowly out of the driveway, simultaneously listening to a flash weather alert.  The reporter is advising that the fog is dense and broadly spreading across the region.  Listeners are being asked to drive carefully.  There have been several freeway accidents reported.  Drivers are being requested to avoid the freeways.   Luckily, my trip down to Anna’s place is via quiet roads. 
Anna is not surprised to see me.  We decide to spend the rest of the day watching Netflix and chilling out.  I want to avoid the news stations and any discussion about Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton. She agrees. We head for the kitchen and cook some tasty Mexican food for lunch. 
It is now evening.  As I look through the window into the night I can see the fog is yet to clear.  Anna moves to my side.  I hear her sharp intake of breath and can see what causes it.  A number of shadowy figures are moving through the fog in the direction of the townhouse.  I can now see more clearly.  The aliens are between seven to ten feet tall, with white, hairless faces and horns growing out of their shoulders.  Each seems to be carrying some kind of weapon.  They can see us looking at them through the window.  One of the creatures is pointing his weapon at Anna.  Watching her drop to the floor, I find myself thinking, strangely, that her face now looks like a large, dried prune.   Looking back at the white-faced alien, I begin to feel a burning sensation in my chest.

How much of a photo do you need to alter to avoid copyright infringement? Hint: Cheshire Cat – Stanford Copyright and Fair U…


And as for Fair Use factor three, the amount and substantiality of the portion used … the court wrote “Defendants removed so much of the original that, as with the Cheshire Cat, only the smile remains.” The original background is gone, its colors and shading are gone, the expression in the eyes can no longer be read, and the effect of the lighting is “almost extinguished.” “What is left, besides a hint of Soglin’s smile, is the outline of his face, which can’t be copyrighted.”

Why Ashley Madison hack is not bad news

There is a lot of talk about privacy, everyone needs the ability to encrypt their data, companies should help us keep our communication private and put a stop to any government having back door access to our data and communication. We can not rely on a Geneva Convention for the internet, so that people like the US government can violate it with impunity like it does that actual Geneva Convention.

Trust no one, as every computer system is insecure due to the human factor. There is always a possibility that one or more employees or contractors with the right access to companies and/or government databases going public with our data, selling it, stealing identities, or trying to extort money from us. That’s why always protecting our privacy is important.

I do hope this public hacking of private data makes everyone aware of the need for securing our data and results in more secure systems.

» Elena Ferrante Explains Why She Publishes Anonymously: “Books, Once They Are Written, Have No Need of Their Authors”


Exactly if the words don’t sell then no amount of publicity is going to make them any better.