Archive for October, 2017

Las Vegas TV Coverage

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

When there’s a huge news story like the awful shooting in Las Vegas I always like to try and get access to the US News media.  Although an event like this terrible massacre will obviously be covered in the International press – it’s usually more comprehensive in the US News channels.  Unfortunately it’s difficult to access these sites sometimes because of something called region locking.

This is the procedure where a web site will look up your physical location when you connect and then determine what you can see.  In the case of most of the US TV channels, being outside the US means you’ll get very limited access to their online streams.  This can be very frustrating for those of us who travel a lot as internet based news media is really ideal for the international traveller.

The reasons are unclear but probably revolve around ‘rights issues’ or copyright restrictions but that doesn’t make it any less inconvenient.   Fortunately there is something of a workaround and it involves using a security program to hide your true location.  The programs are called VPNs and you can see them in action in this video.

This is being used to access the BBC News channel online from outside the United Kingdom however the process is virtually identical to access CNN or ABC from outside the USA. The only alteration you need is to ensure you connect to a US server rather than a UK one in order to bypass the US only region blocks. It’s worth mentioning that some of these media sites are starting to fight back – read this article – BBC Block VPN connection.

IN the coverage of the Las Vegas massacre there was a distinct difference between North American coverage and that of European (where I currently am). The CNN reports were more up to date and factual, whereas coverage from other country’s sources seemed to be more obsessed with US Gun laws. It is certainly legitimate coverage considering the situation yet I felt I was missing out on much of the facts because of the subjective studies of US gun laws.

Using these VPN systems is pretty much essential for those of us who travel a lot. Without them your internet connections firstly are extremely insecure especially if you have to use un-trusted networks in hotels, airports and cafes. Secondly you can control where you appear to be located which means that you can access US only sites from anywhere in the world by selecting a US VPN server to connect to. You can even use it to change regional options too, this post – IP Address for American Netflix shows how to change your Netflix subscription back to the US one.

Catalonia to Announce Independence

Wednesday, October 4th, 2017

Throughout the world there are all sorts of disputes about land control and independence claims.  Some are in areas of huge conflicts like the Kurds in Northern Iraq and others lie in the heart of a democratic Europe.  However different the geographical and political backdrop there is one thing in common with all these disputes – the huge level of passion that they can provoke.

The Spanish response to the Catalonia referendum has been catastrophic and almost certainly made the calls for independence stronger.    The King has now stood up to defend his government and to criticize the leaders of Catalonia which is unlikely to defuse the situation.  Of course it’s easy to forget that although Spain is a democratic European nation, that democracy is relatively young barely fourty years.  The threat to democracy in Spain is very real especially as now it seems that Catalonia will soon announce it’s own independence completely outside the Spanish rule of law.  Yesterday over 300,00 people took to the streets of Barcelona and the city was brought to a standstill.

The Spanish police who’s heavy handed tactics have escalated the crisis are being portrayed as ‘occupying forces’ even the world famous Barcelona football team have refused to train as a sign of protest.  It’s not a scene you expect to see in  European nation – women being dragged out of polling stations by the national police.   Further scenes of batons and rubber bullets being used against those very same voters were more reminiscent of some South American dictatorship rather than a member of the European Union.

It is reported that over 900 people have been injured as the police attempted to stop people using the ballot stations, a figure that will cause controversy on it’s own.  These pictures have been broadcast across the world, I watched as people in a UK bar used a VPN to access the BBC and watch UK TV online in Spain with the same pictures.

The case for independence hasn’t even yet been made completely and although 90% of those who voted backed leaving Spain – the turnout was well under 50%.  Is it a mandate to pull out of Spain?  The numbers have probably risen now because of the official response, the Catalan leaders will inevitably spin the violence behind their cause.

There are talks of suspending the Catalonia Government as an interim measure to the crisis, yet it’s hard to see that solving anything.   The King has called for the return of constitutional order, however achieving that within the chaos of Catalonia now looks even more difficult than it did a week ago.

Useful Link: http://www.iplayerabroad.com/2017/04/07/bbc-iplayer-blocking-vpn-2017/