Old School corruption still around in Malta…?

Well all those know me, know I do not have tolerance for Political parties or Political grandstanding however, in the case of the 2013 Maltese Elections it is time I waded in with my 2 cents.  This is not a political statement for either side, because to be honest, if I were voting I wouldn’t vote for either one, both are in it for themselves and not in it for the people as elections really should be.  However, this is about the events (or more specifically one event) surrounding the election which is a clear disgrace…

According to the Maltese Law, 24 hours prior to the opening of the polling booths all campaigning must cease or those responsible will be in breach of the law and subject to arrest.  This applies to all candidates, parties and news media (both the services themselves and journalists.)

This evening, in Malta well know blogger and journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was arrested for blogging about the election in her usual, sometimes course, manner.  This in itself is not wrong, and indeed it appears her arrest was made with good reasoning and because it appears she violated the 24 hour law.  What is NOT right and clearly a prejudice either against her, or what she stands for, the the fact that some of the candidates themselves continued their campaigning clear into the 24 hour ‘no campaigning’ period, and no-one else has been arrested.

Lou Bondi, from TVM’s Bondi+ was there at the time of the arrest and the video of the arrest has been uploaded to You Tube here.  Now before any of you the readers get hot under the collar about the police officers involved, please remember they are doing their jobs, they were told to make the arrest.  Instead, focus your attention and appeals on the two following things:

  • First: Who ordered those police to arrest Daphne Caruana Galizia?  
  • Second: Why were others who clearly violated the same laws not arrested?

What follow are screenshots of the Facebook pages of some of the candidates and their delegates, all of which are in violation of the same law.  All of the people posting should be arrested on the same charges as Daphne Caruna Galzia immediately.  If the person ordering the arrest of Daphne Caruana Galizia is not willing to order the arrest of these people, that person should be fired and prosecuted for discrimination in the highest, and investigated for corruption.

 

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You will note, that there are candidates from both sides of the Election.  All should be arrested for the violation of the 24 hour rule as they are all clearly in breach.

 

Note: Comments are open, however any political statements for or against any party will be reported as campaign statements or deleted.  I will allow comments about the unbalanced treatment of the parties and journalists involved in this scandalous arrest.

Note 2: Just to be clear, I am in the USA currently, and have no idea of the timezones/timestamps on the Facebook pages, these have been reported as postings within the 24 hour window to me, please excuse and inform me if any are not in fact in the 24 hour window.  Also if there are other examples, please screenshot them and post them to me at michelle@shellsshots.com and I will update this page with them.

Facebook, why didn’t I receive that update…?

 
Noticed how sometimes you don’t get notified of someone’s update, an event or a post in your interest lists/groups?  Missed that party for your friends’ birthdays?  Here’s why…
 
So many of you will have seen posts similar to the following:

Facebook is now pushing administrators to pay to promote every post/update from their page. In an attempt to make page administrators and users pay for “promoted posts,” Facebook will now only notify 7% of you receive each update posted. Meaning that now, in order to receive all messages/posts from things you have ‘liked’, you must do the following:

1) Go to the the page (eg: http://www.facebook.com/mhix.org for ‘Shells Shots’).

2) Hover your mouse over where it says “LIKED” and click on “ADD TO INTERESTS LISTS”

For users/friends:

1) Goto their timeline, or hover over their name in one of their posts in your newsfeed.

2) Hover the mouse over the ‘Friends’ Button.

3) Click ‘Settings’

4) Click ‘All updates’

By doing this, you will be able to see all posts for pages and friends alike in your news feed. Please “share” this post with your friends.

Note: They also set the ‘Sort’ on the newsfeed to only put the top posts (those that have paid to be at the top) at the top, change it to ‘most recent’ to see what people are posting when they post..

Please share this post/information with everyone so all can know what Facebook are doing…!

Thank you!!

 
 So what does it mean?
 
Well simply it’s the response to Facebook‘s latest attempt to get money for its investors.  Facebook’s stock is falling, people are loosing money, the company is failing… Privacy is required by many people, and laws have mandated it so they can’t sell your data to others as they once did, advertising is failing particularly as mobile devices don’t see most of it…  They need to make money…
 
So as most users of Facebook (the reported billions of users) are not actually real users (eg my Ex Katie Crothers has/had three “Officially her” accounts, plus at least 30 fake accounts in various alias names (eg Leon Mconnell etc) that she created to attack my account with, then later stalk me to try and to ‘collect evidence’ for my former employer to take me to court for breach of a non-disclosure agreement and right waiver that prevents me from taking them to court over the sexual harassment and discrimination I suffered whilst employed.)  Then we have those like me, where I have 3 accounts, one for me publicly, one for my closest only friends, and one that I use to investigate people with (as part of my job, and for evidential evidence against the stalking and harassment.)  Finally, I know many other people that have at least 2 accounts, one for employers, one for friends etc… So based on knowing many people with 2 legitimate accounts, I would suspect that Facebook’s user Total of 1.01 billion is actually around half that, despite their pathetic attempts to weed out fake accounts.
 
So back to the original question… what does it mean?
 
Well simply, they need to make money, and make money fast, so as they cannot get money from the fake accounts, and they can’t get people to pay for the newsfeeds they are relying on companies to pay for their ‘page’ posts to ensure that all their users get the updates.  The problem with this is they are targeting the vast majority of pages by asking for payment to those pages that have less than 5000 ‘likes’, ie all the less known ones.  The ones where people want to get themselves up on the limits so they don’t have to pay…
 
Here’s the problem though… it didn’t work, the little people won’t pay when the big ones get it free, and they worked out that if they have a second phone number and access to a limitless number of email addresses (like me) they can create ‘fake’ accounts, in this case the ‘fake’ is because they don’t represent a real person, they are the company, someone that can post adverts when they are your friend and you get them in your newsfeed as ‘Pages’ used to do…
 
To combat this, Facebook has been changing your ‘Newsfeed’, first they changed the ‘Sort Order’, it used to display the latest posts at the top, now by default it only displays ‘Top Stories’ – these ‘stories’ are those that go viral, ones that get shared, ones that get ‘liked’ ones that get lots of comments.  So when this happened, I amongst many others told people how to change it back..
 
Go to the ‘News Feed’ and hover your mouse over ‘Sort’ and select ‘Recent Updates’ instead of ‘Top Stories’ (Note that ‘Top Stories’ only shows ‘Sort’, where after it’s changed it says, ‘Sort: Recent Updates’ – quite deliberate so you as a user don’t realize.)
 
Problem is everyone changed it back when they saw the posts alerting them to the change, so they change it back every so often, because they want you to always see ‘Top Stories’ first…
 
So their next attempts (and the current issue) is to make everyone suffer the ‘promoted posts’ issue…  As a user, only 7% of your friends will only see any post you make, if you get a lot of people ‘Like’ing or ‘Comment’ing on your post it goes up the ‘Top Stories’ list and more of your friends *may* see the post…
 
Sooner or later Facebook is going to have to bite the bullet and start charging people for access.  The problem they have with that is the user base will fall dramatically, their number of active users will probably be just a small percentage of their current total..  Why is fairly obvious, fake accounts will vanish, people will only have access if they have access to a credit card, and of course some will refuse to pay as there are free alternatives out there…
 
So here’s a list of the Advantages I see with a ‘pay for’ Facebook (and I’m only talking about paying $5 per year as this would if they insist that majority of their 1.01b users are real, $5.05b in revenue):
  • Fraud and Fake accounts will be stamped out (one account per credit card number.)
  • Revenue is generated.
  • People will not abandon stolen accounts so readily.
  • They can better ensure that children (under 18s) are not allowed access without their parents knowledge.
  • Abuse by stalkers and harassers will be greatly reduced (it won’t stop it though, stalkers are psychotic and determined.)
  • Spam and other abuse will be reduced (though it is unlikely to stop it.)

Disadvantages:

  • Many people will just stop using it in favour of ‘free’ services.
  • The real figure of Facebook users can be accurately calculated, audited and reported (and if it is significantly lower will decimate the Stock Price.)
  • “Stolen accounts” trade will increase on the black market.
  • Facebook ‘Phishing’ attempts will greatly increase as abusers will attempt to steal other people’s accounts.
  • Facebook will have a contract with end-users so their legal obligations will significantly increase (terminating an account someone has paid for will require due cause/process and is auditable by a court – this would have significantly helped me in my received abuse and harassment by my ex..  Facebook would not want to get involved in such cases, but they would have no ability to get away from it.)

United finally get it right… (wonders will never cease)

Well in all fairness I have to post this, normally I am only seen whinging about United Airlines (and with good reason) but as I am also a fair and honest person, time to give credit where credit is due.

Today I had to take a flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Baltimore (BWI) and was booked on flight UA558.  I wasn’t looking forward to 5.25 hours in yet another badly maintained plane with rude staff, and an awful checkin system..  What a pleasant surprise I got.  A quick drive to SFO from Sunnyvale, was uneventful, the roof was down and Rammstein was blasting out at full volume (much to the angst of fellow road users who looked decidedly afraid, of the Goth in a big convertible mustang, banging out some very metal tunes… I suspect they thought at any minute I might draw a shotgun and start taking pot shots for fun!)  Arrival at SFO was also uneventful, car was returned to Hertz, no comments, complaints in fact several of the staff started head banging to the sound of the (still very loud) Rammstein!

I got to the check-in desk and as usual, they weren’t manned at all, leaving only the computerised systems, my heart fell, however a very cheerful dark skinned lady (United staff) decided to help me through it…  [Hang on a sec, you say, Michelle is a techie and programmer, how come she needed help….  My response to all of you.. you ever tried checking in using one of those damned machines?!?!? 😉 ]  anyhow, after initial problems with getting the machine to read my passport (my fault) it asked questions and I responded.. including a question, ‘this flight is full, would you consider helping us out and taking a $250 flight voucher for taking an alternative flight’… I thought, I answered, “yes” …  I hurried in to the departure lounge to talk to the boarding staff because I wasn’t all that sure about it… just wanted to make sure there were no problems..  I mean, 36 hours to get to Baltimore, sure, I could take a different route.. but they had to ensure my back was not destroyed in the mean time…  They offered (and I accepted) alternative flights, a hotel for the night and an upgrade to first class as well as the $250 voucher…..  I said, “yes please” 😉 [Note: in the end I didn’t get it because 2 people didn’t make it to the flight so they didn’t need my seat, but that was a bonus I was willing to take 😉 ]

So, the flight.. Airbus 319.. very small aircraft, old and notoriously uncomfortable for people like me..  they gave me Seat 7D at checkin..  just behind the business class section, tonnes of leg room but completely impossible to watch the movie… glad I bought a book. 😉

Now loud and proud.. United I had done many flights with you, some using my Frequent Flightier card (so you know who I am) some without…  The following people do you credit:

Terri Clark

Monica Travis

Ronda Novotny

I have *NEVER* had a flight with United that even comes close to the quality and standard of other airlines (even with a $7500 one-way Business class ticket).. however, this was an Economy Plus flight, and I thought I was on another airline, the service, the staff, everything was good.  Service was with a smile, they were helpful and courteous, there was none of the, “You’re a dirty low class economy piece of s**t” that I have experienced in the past.  These people answered the bell within a few minutes, they served me food and wine when I asked (even if they didn’t have 3 of my choices, it doesn’t matter, they served in a manor that made up for the shortcomings of what was in the galley.)  I watched the business class service from where I was and the same was happening there… All I can say is (and I never thought I’d ever say it).. For the United Flight UA558 on the 20th Oct 2012, Top marks from me!!

Rude, Arrogant or just plain stupid…?

One would expect public figures to be the example, certainly in other countries those in public office, rock stars, actors and generally anyone famous has to set an example for others.  Where the law is broken, those famous often get heavier sentences as an ‘example’ to others, indeed as a person who has worked for a customs office I was warned as part of my induction if I was ever caught in possession of drugs I would likely get the maximum sentence by any court etc..  Where laws are not broken but ethics are, jobs are lost, people are distanced from colleagues and the culprits are discredited.  So the question is how does the Maltese political parties fair in this game of showmanship?

Well yesterday I had to fly back to San Francisco for my 3 monthly visit to ‘Head Office’ and I wasn’t looking forward to it.  United Airlines are renowned for the worst service of any passenger airline, and traveling some 60,000 air miles per year, I have to say I have had my fair share of their awful service.  However, my ‘travel dramas’ of the past were surpassed to my amazement and disgust by and incident at the very beginning of my journey…  Happening right in the Malta International Airport (MLA).

I was waiting patiently in line for a checkin assistant to become available with at least one person in the queue behind me, and a couple of friends being served already, then an older man came up and stood near the desk.  Thinking this guy was just after asking a quick question I did not challenge him, checkin continued and my friends started to move away, and to my amazement the guy stepped forward and put his suitcase on the conveyor belt and handed over his passport.  I immediately called, “excuse me! excuse me! There is a queue here you know?!?!” to which the reply was, “I see no queue.”

I did not hear the reply, but my friends had, I repeated myself with the addition, “are you really such a rude person that you will jump the queue whilst there are others waiting?”  The reply, came under his breath, “F’oxx …” (I did not hear the second word but am fairly sure it was “Ommock” ..  Now for the benefit of the non Maltese speakers, “F’oxx” is equivalent to “Fuck” in English and “Ommock” is “Mother” (ie the term is “Fuck your mother”, which is used rather offensively instead of “Fuck Off”) ..  I was outraged and turned to the checkin assistant who was a young girl and she said, “he’s Flypass”

Now Flypass members get preferential treatment, they get to use the business class lounge etc..  However, their privileges does not extend to queue jumping, and in the event that someone does have that privilege they are to use the ‘business class’ line, or wait to be invited by the assistant.

Mr Joe Debono Grech
Mr Joe Debono Grech – MP for Labour

Remember me saying that I travel around 60,000 air-miles per year?  Well, that’s around 20,000 ‘Flypass’ miles per year, I am known to Air Malta staff in Malta, Germany and the UK (though not this girl on the check in desk).. I was flying Premium on Lufthansa in this case, I am a Gold ‘Star Alliance’ member (Lufthansa Miles and More, and United Airmiles etc)  I am a silver British Airways member and just 4,000 airmiles off being a Platinum Etihad member… I fly a lot, and have been doing so since 2009, I don’t enjoy it….  Not that it made any difference in this case the assistant still allowed him to continue and the poor people behind me had to wait for this ignorant twit.

Another Lufthansa staff member became free and checked me in.

I spent 30 minutes in the departure lounge wondering where the person had gone to, and boarded the flight on time, several minutes later one of the last people to board came into view, and who would it be, you guessed it, the rude person from checkin, and to my astonishment, he continued past my seat into the economy area and sat approximately half way down the plane…  Yes folks, this guy was not even a premium class traveller…!

Incensed by finding probably the most rude, ignorant person in Malta, I formulated a plan.  The plane landed and I jumped up and got off the plane as fast as possible, taking my carry on luggage with me, little did he know I would be waiting at the gate in Frankfurt with my Nikon D3s and F2.8 lens…  Camera checked, turned on, set to highspeed shooting (9 frames per second).. he walked off the plane and one of the pictures was uploaded here..  My plan to name and shame him into better behavior…  Give him an unwelcome 30 seconds of Internet fame…  Little did I realise who “he” is…

Within minutes of posting the picture to Facebook several people messaged me to tell me it was none other than Mr Joe Debono Grech, a politician parliamentary candidate for Labour. Many describing him as a relic of the 80s, some stating quite clearly that my report about his conduct has made up their minds on which way to vote at the next election.

Personally I am shocked that someone holding public office would conduct themselves in such a manner that brings their party into such disrepute.  Labour, not for the people, for everything they can get for themselves, is what comes to mind.  Well Mr Debono Grech, I will not stoop to your level, I will not tell you to “F’oxx ….” I will not use my frequent flyer privileges to be rude and inconsiderate to others, I will be the example you obviously cannot set, and I pray that the people of Malta never have to suffer election of someone so ignorant in the future.  I fully expect you to use your contacts to make my life hell, well do your worst is all I can say, I currently pay 4000EUR in income tax per month, I can claim most of those back with all the loop holes in the tax law, I choose not to!  I put my taxes into the community for the benefit of all, I support local artists where I can, often at great cost to myself, and never charge a penny.  I am polite most of the time (I am just not polite to people who don’t take ‘no’ for an answer) and I believe in the Maltese people and way of life.  I was not born here, and I do not have relatives here.  My only connection with Malta before I moved was that my father was stationed here in Malta during World War II..  I am 43 years old now, and I have never in my life seen *anyone* with a attitude as disgusting as yours, and I am just glad the new generation of Malta, whilst not following in as much tradition as many would like, are better behaved and respectful to others than yourself.

 

Oh and the right (Dis)Honorable Joe Debono Grech…. just for the record… you won’t be getting my vote either.

 

PS: I am learning Maltese, not because I have to – but because I WANT TO!!  So yes, I could understand what you said to the assistant.

Inequality of Laws on Sex and Statutory Rape (in Europe)

Over the last few days I have had interesting discussions with a friends about sex, the legal age of consent and statutory rape (ie. sex with someone considered ‘under age’) the implications, how it applies and how others might be affected by it.  I thought I would pose the questions, both answered and unanswered to you the reader.  If you wish to comment please do, if you do comment, please do not use any names or identifying details of the people concerned.

What follows are some scenarios, some real, some fictitious (and I’m not going to reveal which are which)…  Some refer to situations I have been in, some not, if you know me extremely well you will may possibly guess who and when, but otherwise you’d have to be one of the people concerned to know.  Others I mention are public as they have been in local and national newspapers, sometimes causing public outcry.  In all cases I will not reveal names, and I will delete/unapprove any comments that indicate who is involved (so please don’t do it if you comment, think before you write.)

First though the laws… according to Wikipedia in the UK, the age of consent is 16 (18 if one of the people are persons in a position of power (Person in a position of power are people like: Mum, Dad, Gardian, BabySitter, Doctor, Teacher, Priest, etc)  In Sweden it’s 15, in Malta its 18 etc… Now in most countries the age limit is physical age, not mental age, and that would be because of the difficulties of defining mental age.  In a couple of countries (eg Malta) there is an additional caveat in that a person that who has engaged in multiple consensual sexual relations in the past cannot be considered a minor even if their physical age is lower than that specified in law…. some countries have differing laws for homosexual vs hetrosexual relationships as well, I’m not going to get into that mine field, except to refer to both as if they are the same… that in mind consider the following:

Note: In each of the ‘non public’ examples I will refer to me as one person regardless of whether it was or not as there are at least 2 cases were the ‘other person’ was someone of around my age.  This of course ensures they are ficticious, but give real world issues.  It also means it’s harder to tell which ones have me involved and which ones do not. 😉

First some public cases…

Two Maltese residents/citizens of ‘minor’ age (both 14 or 15 if I remember correctly) the male was prosecuted for rape, the female wasn’t.  On the other hand in Britain, 2 persons (one male, one female) of ‘minor’ age engaged in sex, both were arrested and prosecuted for statutory rape.  Outside of Europe but something directly related, a 20+ female school teacher in Australia was jailed for engaging in sex with a 14 year old student.  Now the discussion on that is “why?” well in the latter (Australian) case it’s simple, a position of power, large age difference etc, laws were applied correctly and justly, but looking at the other two cases.  First the British one… how can two people (both minors themselves) be prosecuted for non consensual sex (statutory rape) with each other?  To ‘Rape’ someone one person is a victim, one is the instigator, how can both be the victims or worse (logically) both be the instigators?  Second, the Maltese case, there have been several such cases, some better argued by lawyers and some not, and that affects the outcome.  Some cases the lawyers have argued that the female has been sexually promiscuous in the past and therefore the law does not apply, this has affected the outcome and resulted in a ‘not guilty’ verdict.  The question here is ‘should it’, and ‘how is it proved’?

Now some non public stuff, both fictitious and real…

The law in Spain has the legal age of consent at 13 (unless deceit is used – which increases it to 16) the legal age for marriage as of November 2000 was set to 13 also.  So consider this, if 2 people from Spain are married and engage in a normal sexual (and marital) relationship and go to the United Kingdom for a holiday where the law states to be married or have sex they have to be over the age of 16… what happens?  Do they both get arrested and prosecuted for Rape, do they become ‘unmarried’ for the duration of their visit?  What happens if instead of a visit they move there to live permanently?  (On that last thought, if one of the couples’ parents moves to the UK permanently, and the son/daughter moves as a child of the parents… can the spouse gain a spouse Visa and move with his/her wife/husband?)

Now something to consider with me…(fictitious or not?  You decide!)

I was recently engaged in conversations with others about a relationship with me and others (none of which I have engaged in I might add).. I am 42 currently and a pre-op transsexual and all my documentation indicates ‘female’…  All ‘prospective’ partners turn out to be under the age of 18, however they professed to being/appeared to be 23+ when the question of a relationship came up.  Had I engaged in a relationship with any of them I could have been in a very serious and very dangerous place.  Being Australian (even with being a Maltese resident) the laws of Australia apply to me, so as per another case a few years back, I could have been arrested, prosecuted and jailed for engaging in a relationship with either of them (regardless of not knowing their real ages…) but forgetting the Australian laws (as this is an European issue) what would happen here in Malta.

The two girls are 17 year old Maltese residents/citizens, the next is 17 year old Swedish girl and on a long (6 month) holiday, another is a 17 year old British girl…  So lets look at them individually with my thoughts..

First being 42 and being more than double their ages, any consideration of ‘age difference’ are mute.

Now.. Maltese girls, 17, sexually active but legally considered a minor (18 for the age of consent.)  It would have been consensual (she chased me for a relationship), but is it legal?  How does one show that its consensual, how does one show ‘prior sexually active’ if it came to the ‘crunch’?  Well with one that would have been easy, a 17 year old mother already, so that definitively shows prior sexual activity, but what about the others, past boyfriend or past girlfriend? (that doesn’t show sexual activity, only that the person had a relationship..)  Next a Swedish girl, legal age of consent is 15, as a non-resident/holiday maker do the same laws apply, as I am resident and she not, does that make a difference?  If I visit her at home in Sweden, it is legal (Swedish law, I’m Australian so that starts other issues.) Similar issues go with the British girl, except the legal age of consent in the UK is 16 unless you’re in a position of power..  So what would happen if she approached me as a student of IT (at school/university/college) and asked for help, would I be in a position of power if I did help (I am not a teacher by profession.)

Now for some other issues that cannot be applied to me…

How about a if a 16 year old Spanish girl and a 16 year old British boy met on holiday here and engaged in sexual intercourse…?  Would either/both be arrested?

The conclusion and my thoughts (or more of a whole load of questions to be answered)…

The laws across Europe are totally inconsistent, and within the Schengen area there are even more issues in that it is conceivable that two people could engage in sexual activity and either or both be totally legal in their actions and then just walking 10 paces it could be illegal for either or both and have jail time as a possible result.  How are the laws applied?  How can they be applied in such cases?  Should age difference count in the legal system?  If a 16 year old in the UK engages in sexual activity with a 15 year old (two people in the same class at school for example) should one be guilty of statutory rape?  (if not how would one apply the law as there is a need for a clear age ‘limit’ and variations will result in more expense and confusion in the legal system.)  It is indicated in the Maltese definition of consent that majority (if not all) prosecution are based on complaint of the parents and often a same sex relationship is objectionable were as a differing sex relationship is not and therefore rarely prosecuted.  Should psychiatric evaluation of both parties be taken into account?  I know many 20+ year olds (both male and female) with an apparent (and in some cases a real) mental age of a 12-14 year old and I also know plenty of under 16’s that have an apparent mental age (and looks) of a 20+ year old. Does/Should country of residence have an influencing factor on prosecution?

If you do decide to comment, please prefix your comment with your profession if you are a lawyer or policeman/policewoman and your country.  As mentioned before please do not provide identify details of any one involved unless the case is public record (ie quote legal precedence or newspaper publications.)