Now lots of Aussies know what Facebook thinks of them.

The Australian Government, altruists all, were worried about the decline of local and national newspapers, and decided to slap a tax upon the social media giants, such as Facebook and Google.  On Thursday morning Facebook began preventing Australian news sites from posting, while also stopping Australian users from sharing or viewing content from any news outlets, both Australian and international. The social media giant said it made the decision in response to the news media bargaining code currently before the Senate, which would force Facebook and Google to negotiate with news companies for payment for content.

Facebook chopped everything from access to its pages, from  state health departments, including SA Health and Queensland Health, who were unable to post; to 1800 Respect, Mission Australia, Hobart Women’s Shelter, National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, Australian Wildlife Conservancy and a number of other charities were also blocked on Thursday.

Facebook’s top brass are now all running around, pointing fingers and shouting “It Wasn’t Me, Guvnor!’ It seems as though they forgot that a great many ‘little guys’ depended upon the giant’s pages to get the word out, forgetting that Facebook ain’t interested in ‘the little guys’, all they are really interested in is selling adverts, and making a stonking profit while doing so. 

Google, on the other hand, saw immediately the way the wind was blowing, and signed a deal with Murdoch. Although Google had threatened to withdraw its search engine from Australia if the code went ahead, in the past week, Google has signed agreements with some of Australia’s biggest publishers, including News Corp, Nine Entertainment and Seven West Media, for payment for its News Showcase product. The Nine deal is reportedly worth $30m a year.

You cannot get ‘Smart’ on the cheap!

For what is possibly the first time, I read of a Police and Crime Commissioner who was actually talking sense.

BBC Today were talking about the badly-misnamed ‘Smart’ motorways; so-called because they didn’t want to spend £18 millions extra per mile by installing Refuge Areas at the original design distance, namely 500 metres. So they built Refuges at a distance of up to 2 miles, saving £millions. They hadn’t allowed for the Radar setup to spot a breakdown in the former Hard Shoulder, so they built the gantries, switched on the running lights, opened up the Hard Shoulder to normal fast-running traffic: and hoped for the best.

On one sector of the M25, prior to the change to ‘Smart’, there were 72 near misses, or accidents that nearly happened in the previous five years. Since the changeover, there there have been 1,485 in five years.

South Yorkshire PCC Dr Alan Billings stated that “The Department for Transport and Highways England have argued all along that these sorts of motorways are actually safe, they even go as far as to say they are safer than ordinary motorways, now I think that whatever formula they are using to come to that conclusion is wrong.

“The coroner in his verdict has made it pretty clear that these two particular lives in South Yorkshire would not have come to such a sad end if there had been a hard shoulder there, so I think this is new evidence they have to take into account.”

He added: “If they thought this type of motorway was even smarter, or safer, than a conventional motorway, then why not convert the entire system to smart motorways, making it safer? As soon as you say it, I think you realise it’s absurd.

“I think they (smart motorways) were done originally not because it was a safer way of doing a motorway, I think it was done in order to expand the capacity, get the traffic flowing by having an extra lane, but to do it cheaply, and I think we’re trading cost – cheapness – for other people’s lives.”

Adjudicating on two crash deaths on a ‘Smarter’ motorway’, coroner David Urpeth found that Mr Mercer and Mr Murgeanu were unlawfully killed; but Mr Urpeth also warned there was “an ongoing risk of future deaths” from smart motorways without a hard shoulder.

Highways England said it was addressing many of the points raised.

The plain, unvarnished truth is that all these deaths were completely avoidable; they died because of a feverish need to get things done on the cheap, to get the hard shoulder transformed into a ‘running’ lane, without the radar which might have given time to alert staff, and close the lane!