The Null Device
According to a quality-of-life survey by the Economist magazine, Ireland is the world's most livable country:
The Economist said: "Ireland wins because it successfully combines the most desirable elements of the new, such as low unemployment and political liberties, with the preservation of certain cosy elements of the old, such as stable family and community life."Ireland is followed by Switzerland, Norway, Luxembourg and Sweden. Australia is at #6, one place ahead of Iceland and the only non-European country in the top 10; the US is at #13, whereas the UK languishes at the bottom of the pre-expansion EU at #29, a few notches below fellow laggards France and Germany:
The researchers said although the UK achieved high income per head, it had high levels of social and family breakdown.At the very bottom of the list is Zimbabwe; I'm guessing North Korea and Iraq weren't included.
Iran's reactionary Islamist regime has tightened the screws of censorship and blocked access to numerous evil Zionist-crusader websites like YouTube, Amazon, Wikipedia and IMDB. This seems to be an escalation from the theocracy's relatively more liberal policy until now of only specifically blocking politically or religiously sensitive materials:
Critics accuse Iran of using filtering technology to censor more sites than any country apart from China. Until now, targets have been mainly linked to opposition groups or those deemed "immoral" under Iran's Islamic legal code. Some news sites, such as the BBC's Farsi service, are also blocked.
With some 7.5 million surfers, Iran is believed to have the highest rate of web use in the Middle East after Israel. The net's popularity has prompted an estimated 100,000 bloggers, many opposed to the Islamic regime. Some blogs are substitutes for Iran's once-flourishing, but now largely supressed, reformist press.The new restrictions come a few weeks after the banning of numerous books.
Meanwhile, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadine-Jihad, who isn't known for his liberal views, is in hot water with hardliners in his own regime after he was seen watching unveiled women dancers at the opening of the Asian games in Qatar, which appears to be the Iranian equivalent of being caught in a strip club. MPs are calling for an investigation, and probably beheadings, stonings and limb amputations of those involved.
The Australian government has backed down slightly on its draconian copyright laws. It still is considerably more severe and pro-Big Copyright than the existing laws, though at least now consumers don't face the possibility of on-the-spot fines for possession of iPods or general-purpose computers, and search engines don't need to obtain permission in advance for indexing web pages. Share a file with a friend, however, and the law will, if you're unlucky, break you.
"While Labor still has some reservations about the Government's overall approach to copyright, the bill that passed the Senate today is a million times better than the one Mr Ruddock pushed through the house," she said in a statement.
"The Free Trade Agreement with the United States means the worst aspects of the American Copyright system has been imported into Australian law but with none of the consumer safeguards such as open ended fair use rights that exist in the United States," said Greens senator Kerry Nettle.
(via Boing Boing)