Friday, January 29, 2010 1:57:06 PM
Well, almost no-one had heard of WikiLeaks last year, but two things have changed that. Firstly a move to shut their web presence down totally by a Californian judge acting on behalf of a bank they've blown the whistle on. (I think the bank is Swiss, and they're using US law to suspend the domain of a Swedish site. That's how long people's arms are these days. ) Secondly they were featured on the Culture Show last night on BBC.
The effect of the publicity has been to direct huge amounts of traffic to the site... which is down, ironically not because they've been taken down, but because they've run out of money. I think the story probably goes deeper on their side, but certainly does on their adversaries' who have brought about the suspension of WikiLeaks' PayPal account, so they simply can't receive any finance.
I'm sure a way will be found, especially with all the increased publicity. I think some of the guys putting the site together were involved in one or two of the bit torrent sites, and they know a thing or two about litigation, shutdown and restart.
But while they're down, I've found a mirror site which still works. Here is the address: http://mirror.wikileaks.info/
I'm not broadcasting this on Facebook, as we don't know how long the main site will be down for, so I'm hoping this may slide under the radar enough that existing reports can be more widely distributed on the net in the meantime, giving the increased traffic the information they are seeking.
Seek deep, spread it wide.
Thursday, January 28, 2010 5:39:41 AM
Good people - I bear wondrous news! There's been a development concerning the dreaded Council Tax - but I pray: please read my preamble first. Context first; good news to follow.
So. Let me be clear: I want to pay towards my local services. I want my bin emptied, and I want places for the kids to play. Sometimes the roads need to be dug up, though I dare say it could be organised better. But here's the thing: I want to define what my money gets spent on and how. I want a say in my community. Yes, I have got time - I'll make time, dammit. It's my community and it's a two way support relationship.
And that's why I think Council Tax (Poll Tax, or Community Charge as was) is rubbish, and should be cleared away with the rest of the refuse. And refuse we did, back in the day. To my recollection it's the last imposition that caused outright riots in the streets. But here we are, with a massive tax that no one likes. When I first started banging on about Common Law vs Acts and Statutory Instruments, the taxes and fines we are tricked into coughing up, and the realities of where our tax money goes, the very first question I was asked - almost without exception - was "can I get out of paying Council Tax?!"
Even by people who worked for the Council.
Well, I'm pleased to say it may at last be possible. But first back to the real issue.
You're being asked to pay a lot of money towards local services. However, you've no option on how much to contribute, what it gets spent on, no real breakdown of it, and certainly no real accounting or accountability. You have no idea, really, have you? Where's your nearest park? How much was spent on it last year? Doing what? Do you really care? That's what the councils will argue; you shouldn't have to worry about all that - they'll take care of it all. Now hand over your loot or they'll send the bailiffs round and fuck up your precious little credit rating.
There's no dialogue about it because you've got no say. It's a one way conversation. Your council can give you a flimsy little glossy full of meaningless rhetoric and a couple of broadbrush spend figures with no real explanation or definition, because basically you have to pay - it's an obligation, not an option. They drove past the house you presently live in back in 1991, had a rough guess at what it was worth, and that's that. Here's the bill, pay up. In advance. It's the law.
Except it's not.
It's an Act. The Local Government Finance Act of 1992, to be specific. Here - have a gander:
And as you know from all the stuff I've been researching, questioning, boggling at and sharing over the last few months, Acts, Statutes and Statutory Instruments are not law. They are given the force of law, by consent. Your consent. Although, as has been seen by some of the info brought to light, those organisations set up to make all the money from such things can be very tricksy about gaining your consent.
English words with completely separate legal meanings; giving you the impression that you have no right to object; threats and the prospect of wrath and brimstone befalling you if you demur. Including prison.
And that's the biggie. When your faces lit up with the prospect of not paying this unfair blanket levy - which I believe will be proved to be as much of a swindle as MPs expenses if we ever see the real accounts for the Councils - I reminded you that any perceived non payment or other threat to this income stream would be stamped on pretty hard, and the '92 act affords them big boots. You may remember old ladies being sent to prison back in the early days of the tax, to make a point to the rest of us. No threat to this income stream will be tolerated, especially when it generates £140 Billion every year.
So those intrepid souls who sought to take issue with the wide variety of the 'invitations to pay' tested the framework of the law with lesser examples - parking fines, bank charges, credit cards, car tax and ownership - then move on to bigger game, such as income tax, corporation tax, birth registration, mortgages and so on.
Well, much of the ground has been tested, and found to be fairly firm. And so, here is the news, ladies and gentlemen: one brave soul has taken on Council Tax... and WON.
So, without further ado, here is a link to the case (originally posted on nocounciltax.com)
So, over to you! Let's have your thoughts or actions. I'll keep you posted on any developments I hear.
Why didn't I just post the link at the beginning? Because - and I want to state this again! - I see this as an opportunity to take responsibility in our communities, not shirk it. Depriving bullies (and they are; I can personally attest) from their pocket money at a time when they are most desperate is the best leverage to consultation that I can think of.
Repeat the mantra: It's all about money! It's always about the money!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010 12:00:46 AM
Only just to say Happy New Year to you all, let you know I've got a little space here on Opera that I'm toying with (because 6 other blogs and websites simply weren't enough), and to see how the Facebook link works when I post this. All being well, I might actually write something of note in the next day or two.
Oh, and wish me luck at the doc's tomorrow: I'm on a bit of a mission.