Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 17, 2014

You’ve fallen for a scam! Now what?  Geohot releases root tool for Galaxy S5 and most other Android devices;  Three things that will speed up your smartphone right now;  A Phone That Lies for You;  Simple techniques for better-looking video;  Find out how fast you type on Android;  Make your own little Lego movie (yes, even PG-13);  Take secret photos by exploiting Android’s camera app;  Freeing yourself from Facebook’s new web trackers;  Rainmeter 3.1 – A great free tool for creating interactive desktop customizations;  Department of Transportation wants control over your phone’s navigation apps;  Pinterest Hacked for Second Time in Four Months;  Take secret photos by exploiting Android’s camera app.

You’ve fallen for a scam! Now what? – Don’t feel bad. We all make stupid mistakes. But with these sorts of mistakes, you have to act fast to avoid disaster. What you need to do depends on how you were tricked. Did you give them your email password? Your bank and/or credit card numbers? Your passwords for Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites? Did they remotely access your PC, or trick you into installing software?

Freeing yourself from Facebook’s new web trackers – Once upon a time — 2011 — a hacker discovered that Facebook was tracking you on the Web even after you had left the site. Facebook denied that it was using cookies to track you off-site, but strangely enough, after many protests, Facebook changed its tracking behavior anyway. Now, in 2014, Facebook has announced — stop me if you’ve heard this before — that they’ll be tracking your web browsing. Don’t want Facebook tracking your every move across the Web? Here’s how to get out of the new Facebook traps.

Simple techniques for better-looking video – Since some of the best videos are shot with our trusty smartphones, we kick of with a few tips on how to make the most of their built-in tools and features. Even the most basic techniques can make a big difference. Plus, find out which essential accessories will take your clips to the next level.

Three things that will speed up your smartphone right now – You pull out your Android smartphone to check on something, and again the first thing you notice is how slow it is running. You’ve meant to check out why it might be running at a sluggish pace and how to fix the problem, but by the time you have a chance you’ve again forgotten. We’re here to help with that. If you’ve got a slow Android handset, fish it out of your pocket and do these three simple things right now to make it run faster.

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Hacker Geohot releases root tool for Galaxy S5 and most other Android devices – Google and the big Android OEMs have been beefing up security of the years, which is a good thing for everyone. As a consequence, however, it’s harder to gain root access to new Android devices. Some particularly tough phones  include the AT&T and Verizon versions of the Samsung Galaxy S5. After XDA members took up a collection now valued at over $18,000, famed developer George “Geohot” Hotz has come forward with a working root method. Oh, it also roots almost every other Android phone.

A Phone That Lies for You – Local police confiscate a suspected drug dealer’s phone—only to find that he has called his mother and no one else. Meanwhile a journalist’s phone is examined by airport security. But when officials look to see what is on it, they find that she has spent all her time at the beach. The drug dealer and the journalist are free to go. Minutes later the names, numbers and GPS data that the police were looking for reappear. A new programming technique could bring these scenarios to life

Patch Tuesday disaster breaks Office 2013 for thousands; here’s how to fix it – Click-to-Run installations of the popular office suite fall prey to a crippling bug that leaves the software unable to launch whatsoever.

Rainmeter 3.1 – A great free tool for creating interactive desktop customizations – You may have heard of Rainmeter, the desktop customization tool that lets you display all kinds of information on your PC desktop in a much smoother and more elegant manner than Windows 8 ever did. The problem was that Rainmeter wasn’t really interactive in the way Windows 8 apps are. Well, that’s about to change.

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Tired of Facebook? Try these three social apps instead – Are you tired of using social media channels like Facebook to share pics, or schedule a get-together? Sometimes, you just want to create your own little bubble, apart from the larger one that is social media. If you’ve been looking for a way to go “off the social grid”, here are three apps you and your friends can use to forge a new path.

Take secret photos by exploiting Android’s camera app – By manipulating Android’s camera app, pictures can be taken without the user even knowing. This is a boon for secretly taking a photo of the thief who stole your camera, but could easily backfire.

AirDog auto-follow drone wants to be your personal aerial cameraman – What makes AirDog special is its ability to follow the AirLeash, the wrist-worn control unit it ships with. The AirLeash not only acts as a beacon, but it also lets you specify how high the AirDog flies and how closely it tracks you. Pre-configured flight profiles will be packaged with the AirDog app for iOS and Android, and you’ll also be able to program your own — complete with control over which angle AirDog films the action from.

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A Drone Map That Delivers You Anywhere In The World – Drones deliver champagne and cookies to our hotels and chocolate to our bellies, and promise to follow our every move. Now a new site delivers us via drone to over 1,500 destinations using an interactive map.

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Rendor Turns Your Single-Camera Smartphone Into A Real 3D Scanner – Using a piece of paper with a specially printed grid and a regular smartphone, Rendor may have just cracked the 3D scanning code. The system allows you to create a 3D scan of almost any object simply by taking video of it from every angle. The program interpolates the shape of the object based on how it is positioned on the grid and then generates a usable 3D file.

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Printeer Is A 3D Printer Designed For Schoolkids – Meet Printeer: a colourful 3D printer that’s being designed to appeal to kids. Ergo it looks fun, with brightly coloured parts displayed safely behind clear perspex panels, and also aims to be child’s play to use — using object design software that will run on an iPad.

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Department of Transportation wants control over your phone’s navigation apps – The next time Google-owned Waze decides to add a new feature to its app, the U.S. government—not users—may decide whether the feature is worth keeping. The U.S. Department of Transportation is asking for explicit power to regulate navigation devices of all types, including apps on your smartphone or tablet. (How’s that living in the “land of the FREE” working out for you?)

Find out how fast you type on Android – Curious about whether one keyboard lets you type faster than another on your Android? Now you can test their claims with this free app.

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A sample of the test data you can access in Typist. Nicole Cozma/CNET

Outrage grows as Google axes some Chrome extensions – Their ire stems from Google’s forced disabling of extensions that shipped with paid software that have yet to be replaced, effectively hamstringing those services. Games, financial software, third-party Windows security suites, and productivity tools are among those affected. Some of the people who develop and use the extensions have registered their complaints on Google’s product forums.

Make your own little Lego movie (yes, even PG-13) – Skit has secured the assets of “The Lego Movie,” so that kids can make their own skits and adults can too. Oh, the possibilities.

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Security:

Android Ransomware Encrypts Your Files. Don’t Pay Up! – In May, Bitdefender pointed us toward what might have been the first Android ransomware—that is, a malicious application that attempts to extort money from victims. Now, F-Secure tells SecurityWatch that a far more insidious ransomware has debuted on Android. Called Simplelocker, this Trojan encrypts your personal files and claims it will delete the keys necessary to decrypt them unless you pay up. If this sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same strategy used by Cryptolocker to extort money from PC users. We’ve been expecting this style of attack to make the jump to mobile for some time, and that grim day has arrived.

Here’s why you should wipe your device before trading it in – Our devices have a lot of information about us, and we give them more and more every day. The information stored within our smartphones and tablets also links to a bigger entity, stored in some mysterious cloud somewhere. When you give up a device, either selling it or via trade-in, do you clear all the data? Here’s why you should — and how.

For Internet Explorer 11 users, no update now means no security fixes – Windows 7 users who’ve installed Internet Explorer 11 are required to install the KB2929437 update. This is the Internet Explorer 11 update that corresponds to the Windows 8.1 Update; it doesn’t just include security fixes for Microsoft’s browser. There are also some new and improved features, including a more capable WebGL implementation and some additional high performance JavaScript features. If users don’t install the update, Windows Update will not provide any more security fixes for their browser.

Evernote’s forum site hacked; Note Service untouched – Evernote’s forum site, which hosts 164,644 members, has been hacked, and the note-taking and archiving site sent an email to affected members Monday recommending they change their passwords if those credentials were reused on other sites. The company said the hackers stole profile data, password hashes, email addresses and birth dates. It did not say how many users were directly affected.

Hackers target Domino’s Pizza, demand $40,000 ransom for customer data – Hackers have targeted Domino’s Pizza servers, downloading details of over 650,000 customers, saying that the full database will be published unless the company pays a $40,000 ransom by today.

Back to the future: Domino’s app bakes-in voice ordering for pizzas – A new version of the Domino’s Pizza app tries to offer the convenience of voice ordering without having to speak with an actual human. Voice ordering is now available in the Domino’s apps for iOS and Android, courtesy of speech recognition capabilities from Nuance Communications.

That’s the ticket! Pile on more and more worthless  features – but securing user data – forget about it! It seems that a customer’s best interest doesn’t rise above the horizon with this company – or many others, for that matter.

Pinterest Hacked for Second Time in Four Months – Pinterest was hacked on Sunday when many Pinners’ feeds were spammed by posts and pins about weight loss. Messages flooding the website advertised “an Asian fruit that burns fat for you,” while other posts hinted at a secret substance that accelerates weight loss.

BlackBerry Launches BBM Protected For Confidential Instant Messaging – BlackBerry today began the rollout of its first eBBM suite product, which tailors its BBM instant messaging service to enterprise users. Today marks the debut of BBM Protected, FIPS 140-2 cryptographic library-enabled messaging, between users within the same enterprise, or between organizations who also use BBM Protected, for secure and confidential communications. Who cares about this? Specifically, companies or organizations working in regulated environments, like defense contractors, for instance.

Intelligence firm Stratfor wasn’t very smart about data security – Stratfor is a secretive, shadowy, somewhat-scary company that refers to itself as a “geopolitical intelligence and consulting firm.” The company attracted (unwanted) attention in 2011 for a website data breach, finding itself “pwned” by hackivist group AntiSec, and highly embarrased to boot. The incident and resulting data theft revealed details on hundreds of high-profile clients, all of which were uploaded to data-leak haven Wikileaks. Why was Stratfor so easily hacked? According to new reports based on leaked internal documents, Stratfor should pay as much attention to its own security as much as it does everyone else’s. (I’ve been in business for 40 years and I can assure you, a company that buys into it’s own bullshit pronouncements is par for the course).

Special Security Guide:

The paranoid computer user’s guide to privacy, security and encryption – Hack-proof computers don’t exist. That’s an important truth to keep in mind as you browse this guide to building a more secure computer. Covered here are myriad tools and services to help protect you from malware, spam, bot-nets and even that amorphous threat of government monitoring. But even if you implement every piece of advice mentioned here and more, you’ll still have, at best, a hack-resistant computer.

Ever hear the old chestnut “it’s not paranoia if they really are after you”? Not long ago, we published the first two instalments of a Globe and Mail Guide to Safer Computing. We had intended it to be a compendium of tools to make your digital life more secure, and planned to run it over the course of a week. Then the Heartbleed bug came to light, and we had to re-evaluate everything again.

As such, we pulled the guide, went through it to look for potential vulnerabilities in the recommended software, and updated the text accordingly. The re-edited version is presented below in its entirety. We will update it regularly with new software and/or whenever new catastrophic security flaws come to light. This is by no means an exhaustive guide. Indeed, if you have any suggestions to add, let us know.

Company News:

Microsoft launches Internet Explorer developer version; shows us the browser’s future – Microsoft has launched Internet Explorer Developer Channel, a beta version of IE that bundles together upcoming features. This is where IE’s upcoming changes will be made public for the first time.

Bitcoin security platform BitGo raises $12M in funding – Silicon Valley security firm BitGo is working with new ways to beef up Bitcoin safety to protect the digital currency from cyberthieves and hackers. And, investors appear to be showing their confidence in the company. BitGo announced Monday that it received $12 million in Series A financing.

Public unconvinced, Google pushes Glass at Work – As the relentless Glass parodies show, Google’s wearable still has a long way to go to engage the mainstream market, which might explain the latest push into more open-minded markets. Google has announced its first “Glass at Work Certified Partners”, five companies looking to use the head-mounted device for doctors in hospitals, journalists in the field, and other highly-targeted cases.

Amazon’s expected smartphone already faces skeptics – If Amazon announces a smartphone on Wednesday, as is widely expected, it will face an avalanche of skeptics. In a smartphone market heavily dominated by Android, iPhone and new sub-$100 unlocked phones, it’s clear that an Amazon smartphone wouldn’t be focused on grabbing smartphone market share any time soon.

Apple settles state AGs’ e-book antitrust lawsuit – Apple has agreed to settle an antitrust lawsuit that sought hundreds of millions of dollars in damages for conspiring with book publishers to fix e-book prices. The class-action lawsuit’s resolution was revealed Monday in a brief court filing by US District Judge Denise Cote that ordered Apple and the attorneys general in 33 states that filed the lawsuit to submit a copy of the settlement agreement to the court within a month. Terms of the agreement were not revealed in the filing.

Games and Entertainment:

Kill countless hours aboard the pixelated USS Enterprise – Pixeltrek, an exquisitely detailed, pixelated look at the “Star Trek” USS Enterprise, lets you go boldly go where no man has gone before — like the guys’ restroom on the ship. By using the WASD keyboard keys, players can explore the Enterprise through the eyes of Lieutenant Commander Data. There’s really not much to Pixeltrek aside from exploration, but it’s super easy for even the casual Trekkie to spend countless hours lost aboard the ship exploring the various nooks and crannies.

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Rovio Looks To Tap The Power Of The AllSpark With Angry Birds Transformers – Finnish casual game maker Rovio is back at it with a new title in its Angry Birds series, this one a branded partnership like the Star Wars version released previously. The new game pairs Blockbuster Transformers with the squabbling birds and pigs, in an upcoming game teased by the company with a new landing page and press release today. For Rovio, which has reportedly seen its profits drop 50 percent year-over-year between 2012 and 2013, the partnership might be a good indicator of the path back to growth.

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Here’s why Destiny is a winner post-Alpha – I can’t wait for Destiny to be released for all platforms. It’s developed on an in-house engine, looks like a combination of Star Wars* and Halo, and it sounds nice too. And it’s only the Alpha – it’s going to look and feel BETTER than this when it’s eventually released in full.

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Facebook focuses on games with iPad app refresh – Games are big business on Facebook, especially on tablets, so the network is updating its iPad app to give you easier access to games you like and offer recommendations for titles you might want to play. Facebook has been trying to convince app developers to integrate Facebook Login into their games so the company can improve its games platform, and that effort seems to be paying off. In a Monday blog post, Facebook’s Victor Medeiros said more than 70 percent of people who use the iPad app played a Facebook-connected game in the last three months.

This Is How Stunning GTA V Will Look on Next-Gen – That Rockstar’s sprawling crime epic Grand Theft Auto V is headed to next-generation consoles is no surprise. But just how good it looks on better hardware is impressive. Now, Digital Foundry has put together footage (above) from last-gen promos and the newest ones to show just how much prettier the title will be. Additional shots below. The new version will be out for PS4, Xbox One, and PC this fall.

Modder supercharges Watch Dogs graphics using files hidden in the PC game – With a little technical know-how you can fix Watch Dogs to look nicer and run better. The worst part? The files are already included in the PC version. They’re just hidden.

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Game of Thrones finale piracy hits 2 petabytes in 12 hours – Once again, Game of Thrones has broken all torrenting records — records the show had already set itself. According to TorrentFreak — almost the unofficial industry body for this sort of information — the episode also saw “roughly” 1.5 million downloads in the first 12 hours after airing. That equates to around 2 petabytes of data. (For some scale on just how big a petabyte is, Deloitte Analytics offers this: it would take 233,000 DVDs to store a single PB.)

Off Topic (Sort of):

22 Videos of Things Exploding in Slow Motion – The people behind Mythbusters like to fancy themselves as educators who draw in viewers by applying the scientific method to unearth the truth behind urban myths, Hollywood trickery, and other common historical misconceptions. But we all know that’s not why people are watching. The only reason viewers stopped by was to see all the explosions! And they want to see them repeatedly; from multiple angles; and most importantly, in slow motion. They want to take in every last splintery, melty, crunchy, chaotic detail.

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Goal-Line Tech Causes Controversy at World Cup – World Cup goals have been equipped with technology that can accurately determine whether or not a goal has been scored, and it was put to controversial use this weekend in the France vs. Honduras match. As noted by the BBC, the French team beat the Honduras national team 3-0 yesterday. But it was France’s second goal that caused all the controversy and required the goal-line technology. The ball first bounced off the goal post, and despite Honduras goalkeeper Noel Valladares’s best efforts, it crossed the goal line.

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SCOTUS to weigh in on when online rants become criminal threats – The US Supreme Court on Monday announced that it will consider a case involving a thorny free speech issue in the digital age: at what point does a statement made on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter cross the threshold from protected free speech under the First Amendment to a criminally actionable threat?

This robot plans to hitchhike across Canada – Hitchbot will rely on the kindness of strangers as it thumbs a ride this summer. Along the way, it might teach us a thing or two about the human-robot relationship.

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Stephen Harper and Tony Abbott deserve each other – What a pair they made, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Canada’s own Stephen Harper — Gollum and Mr. Potato Head — publicly thanking each other for their honesty in Ottawa last week. Unlike most world leaders — if that’s the right term — these two want to be frank; they will do nothing to stop global warming, they proudly declared, if it might hurt the economy. Not one dollar, certainly not one job, shall be lost in the fight to control climate change, the gravest issue we face today. The difference between us and them, we were reminded, is that other nations are hypocrites and we’re not. We’re upfront about it — the environment is not our issue. Other leaders may say they care; but they don’t.

Something to think about:

“Much of the social history of the Western world over the past three decades has involved replacing what worked with what sounded good.”

–    Thomas Sowell

Today’s Free Downloads:

ChrisPC DNS Switch – ChrisPC DNS Switch provides you a simple but effective graphic user interface to select the network adapter/card and change its corresponding DNS with the selected DNS from the preset lists or with a custom DNS. Features are diverse and give you the possibility to maintain your DNS database.

The software will make your life easier: You may want to protect your anonymity in which case you can select a server from the anonymous DNS preset group list. Or you may choose to use secure DNS servers that filter out websites that are potential threats to your PC (avoiding viruses, malware, trojans etc).

Furthermore with your children browsing the internet you might choose to switch to a Family Safe DNS server to steer clear of harmful websites like adult ones, or those that encourage violence, drugs and/or indecent behavior. In the end it might be that you just want a faster DNS than the one your internet provider has, in which case you might use one of the regular DNS preset group or one from your custom DNS group.

Features:

Change your computer DNS with just 1 click.

Set your favorite DNS or select one from the software’s DNS database.

The DNS Database contains presets grouped by type: regular DNS, secure DNS, family Safe DNS, anonymous DNS and custom DNS.

Protect your online experience by using a secure DNS server that filters out websites that are potentially threats to your PC (avoiding viruses, malware, trojans etc.)

Block adult websites or those that encourage violence, drugs and/or indecent behavior by selecting a Family Safe DNS.

Improve your privacy while you surf the internet by using an anonymous DNS.

Gain access to websites that are blocked or restricted in your country/area using a regular or anonymous DNS.

Saves your initial DNS settings so you can safely restore them back at any time.

Easy add and edit your own DNS address in the Custom DNS preset list.

Fast switch your DNS from systray popup menu.

Launch software on Windows boot.

Minimize ChrisPC DNS switch to systray

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LastEnd Blackjack – New to the game of 21? Still trying to figure out when to hit and when to stand? Don’t waste your money learning at a real casino table. Play LastEnd Blackjack first is a much smarter option to improve your strategy and have a real chance of winning; because LastEnd Blackjack does not use real money.

LastEnd Blackjack features an online high scoreboard that allow you to compare your skills against other players from around the world.

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

No cloud privacy or security: If NSA wants your cloud data ‘be big boys about it’ – Most of us don’t like the idea of intelligence agencies or law enforcement accessing our data stored in the cloud; that doesn’t mean your data is, by default, being accessed, but it’s likely a matter of principle. As NSA spying scandal revelations rolled out over the last year, many businesses and individuals decided they don’t want their data stored in the US. Countries want their cloud data to be stored locally in hopes of keeping it safe from US snooping. Whether you regard that as a privacy issue or a security issue, one security expert basically says, “Get over it.”No digital privacy or cloud security

Last month at the re:publica 14 conference held in Berlin, F-Secure’s Mikko Hypponen and David “the Hoff” Hasselhoff  talked about digital privacy and the Digital Freedom Manifesto. Hypponen said the Snowden saga made it clear how much control western intelligence agencies have over the rest of the world. Part of the problem, he said, is that “we, the rest of the world, the 96% of the planet, keep using the services run by the 4% of the planet, services in the United States. Why? Because they are great.” He named Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft as a few examples.

That digital freedom campaign states, “We’re fed up with espionage, with having our private information gathered without our consent, with certain parties thinking they have the right to violate anyone’s privacy. They don’t. We decided it’s time to do something about it.”

The manifesto is divided into four parts: mass surveillance, digital persecution, digital colonization and right of access, movement and speech. You have until June 30 to help write it and then this crowdsourced manifesto will be sent to leaders around the world.

Congressman asks NSA to provide metadata for “lost” IRS e-mails – Representative Steve Stockman (R-TX) has sent a formal letter to the National Security Agency asking it to hand over “all its metadata” on the e-mail accounts of a former division director at the Internal Revenue Service.

“Your prompt cooperation in this matter will be greatly appreciated and will help establish how IRS and other personnel violated rights protected by the First Amendment,” Stockman wrote on Friday.

The request came hours after the IRS told a congressional committee that it had “lost” all of the former IRS Exempt Organizations division director’s e-mails between January 2009 and April 2011.

The IRS has been under investigation since 2013, when the tax agency revealed that it selectively targeted political groups applying for tax-exempt status, particularly those with conservative and “Tea Party” leanings and later those with liberal and “Occupy”-related names.

Designers create a Faraday-cage cloak to foil NSA, other spies – Storing phones in odd places has become a favorite practice of those afraid of spies infiltrating their devices. National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden famously asked visitors in Hong Kong to stash their phones in a refrigerator. And it’s not an unfounded fear: it is theoretically possible for even a phone that is powered off to be actively listening.

Tools for combating surveillance have become a new frontier for design experimentation. The latest is from the Austrian design firm Coop Himmelb(l)au and looks very much like a large Snuggie made from a comforter that also happens to block radio signals.

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Protect yourself from drone detection with anti-thermal clothing – The sky will soon be littered with drones delivering packages, filming movies, delivering champagne, and taking selfies. What is a privacy-conscious human to do? The folks at the Privacy Gift Shop think they have the answer with their Stealth Wear lineup, which includes a burqa, hijab, and hoodie that shields the wearer from thermal imaging used by drones for detection. The burqa ($2,500) even comes with a hat that adds an extra layer of thermal image blocking.

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2 Comments

Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

2 responses to “Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – June 17, 2014

  1. Mal

    Hey Bill,
    Re: The two knobs Harper and Abbott
    It was good to see Tony Abbott from the Canadian pointo of view. A spot on analysis. I’ve seen some lying, cheating, disgusting politicians in my time but Tony Abbott takes the title, by a long shot. A pathetic,lying piece of shit. When I see him on TV, I want to kick the bloody screen in. Father Tony knows what’s best for everyone, he is the fountain of all knowledge, and he is a legend (in his own underpants, anyway). I loathe him like I’ve never loathed anyone in my life.

    Australian realise now that they were conned at the last election. He is making poor people poorer, the rich richer. Everything he promised before the election went down the toilet as soon as he got his greasy mitts on the top job.

    It seems he is in good company with your “Great Leader”. Let’s put them on an island somewhere and nuke it. The world would be better off.

    Gee I feel better after that rant lol

    Cheers
    Mal

    • Hey Mal,

      It seems as if we’re both stuck with a crazy at the throttle, mate.

      Over here, the assholes who hold themselves out as the governing party (so called Progressive Conservatives), have had SIX Supreme Court decisions go against them in the past three months alone. Each of these decisions (had they been certified by the court), would have reduced Canadians’ freedom substantially.

      Thankfully, these yahoos are on the way out – popular support is essentially non-existent for the PCs. Little doubt remains as to the longevity of the Conservatives as a ruling party. They’re done like dinner!

      I read yesterday, that there are a number of groups bent on destroying Stephen Harper’s upcoming slippery slide back into the world of commerce, once his fascist party gets their comeuppance. We need to see more of this worldwide. Those who abuse public office need to be punished for their insolence. So, let’s make that happen in both Australia and Canada. These troglodytes should not be allowed to ride off into the Sunset and simply escape the damage they have done to society at large.

      Hang in there Mal – the crunch is coming.

      Best,

      Bill