“Take that flag off, boy!”

17/08/2018
abbie-hoffman-and-shirt

When police ripped Hoffman’s shirt off his back they found he had a Viet Cong flag painted on his skin! pic from www.racked.com

You might have thought that an American wearing a shirt with the stars and stripes on it would be considered patriotic.  Right?

Wrong!  In 1968, Abbie Hoffman, co-founder of the Youth International Party was arrested in Washington for wearing a shirt that resembled the design of an American flag.

The prison authorities treated him badly for his “desecration” of the oh-so-blessed flag:

Authorities at the maximum security penitentiary did their worst to harass and humiliate him. They gave him a preventive de-lousing. They took a blood sample against his will, without affording him the sterile courtesy of a disposable syringe.

Two months later, Abbie was hospitalized in New York City for serum hepatitis. The recuperative process didn’t prevent him from helping doctors to organize themselves against some of the oppressive tactics of the medical profession.

(https://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-krassner/the-trial-of-abbie-hoffma_b_2334.html)

In court, Hoffman’s lawyer asked how wearing a flag-shirt could be dishonouring the flag.  “Does Uncle Sam, when he marches in the parade on July 4th, dishonor?”

The prosecutor shot down that line of reasoning.  “Uncle Sam himself is a national symbol, just as the the flag is a national symbol, and one national symbol, recognized as such, cannot deface and defile and cast contempt upon another national symbol.”

Of course it was a load of crap, a prosecution out to get him because of who he was, a prominent Yippie advocating squatting and use of drugs.  Plenty of clothing features flags in their design, but Hoffman is the first and only person to be arrested for wearing a flag shirt and charged with desecration of a flag.

Abbie Hoffman courted controversy and was fine with breaking the law.  He wrote a book on how to survive with no money – he titled it Steal this Book.  Plenty of would-be readers followed his sage advice and stole copies, leading to a number of book shops refusing to stock it.

In 1973 he was arrested and charged for possession and supply of cocaine when he made a drug deal with undercover police.  So in 1974 he went on the run and the police failed to track him down – even though he was hardly keeping a low profile, helping coordinate an environmental movement seeking to protect the Saint Lawrence River, and writing as the “travel” columnist for Crawdaddy magazine under name pseudonym Barry Freed US Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, before whom Hoffman testified at a hearing about winter navigation, said he had no idea the environmental posing as Freed was Hoffman — “and no one else did either.”

He turned himself in eventually, in 1980,  and ended up serving four months.

According to ABC News, “the Yippies were known for street theater pranks, and were once referred to as the ‘Groucho Marxists’.” Hoffman himself described his views like this:

You are talking to a leftist. I believe in the redistribution of wealth and power in the world. I believe in universal hospital care for everyone. I believe that we should not have a single homeless person in the richest country in the world. And I believe that we should not have a CIA that goes around overwhelming governments and assassinating political leaders, working for tight oligarchies around the world to protect the tight oligarchy here at home.

In 1989 Hoffman killed himself by taking 150 phenobarbital tablets and liquor.  I’m sure he had his reasons – as he did for everything else he ever did.

“Free speech means the right to shout ‘Theater’ in a crowded fire.”

“The first duty of a revolutionist is to get away with it. The second duty is to eat breakfast.”

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Drink on Emirates flight and go to jail

11/08/2018
drinker-ellie-holman

Ellie Holman: criminal drinker. pic: The Guardian

A woman detained in the UAE after drinking wine on an Emirates flight has been released.

Ellie Holman from Kent was arrested after accepting a complimentary glass of wine on her flight to Dubai.  She says she was mistreated while in custody: she and her daughter were refused permission to go to the toilet for some time.

She was finally freed “on Sheikh Mohammed’s orders” and told she was welcome to go back to the UAE at any time.

Such mistreatment eh!  She’s not allowed to go to the toilet!  In the meantime, local criminals are getting flogged for alcohol consumption.  And that’s far from the worst that can happen: for some crimes you can expect to get death by stoning.

Maybe pampered tourists who cry when they can’t use the toilet should go on holiday somewhere else?  Maybe by going to the UAE and other countries under Sharia law, they are tacitly encouraging these medieval punishments? Then again, maybe not.  If you want to go to the UAE and expect to be immune from the local laws, you’ll probably be okay.  Western tourists aren’t usually punished for these crimes.  Or at worst expect to be deported.  Locals can expect the full fury of the law.  But that doesn’t matter, does it?  As long as you can enjoy a drink without any inconvenience…

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Reddit “hacked”!

02/08/2018
reddit

Reddit – “hacked”

Reddit member info was compromised in June this year. Two data-sets were accessed: the first from 2007 containing account details and all public and private posts between 2005 and May 2007; and the second included logs and databases linked to Reddit’s daily digest emails, which was accessed between 3 and 17 June this year. The data includes usernames and email addresses linked to those accounts.

Reddit they are contacting members who may have been affected.  But the way these stories go, it will be revealed soon that everyone’s data has been leaked, so all Reddit members should probably reset their passwords.

And if you are one of the millions of people who re-use user-names and passwords over multiple sites, you’d better change your login info on all accounts.  This time do it properly, with a password manager.  Better late than never, eh!

The Reddit system was compromised through former employee accounts which were “protected” with SMS-based two-factor authentication.

SMS-based two-factor authentication is more secure than using a password alone.  But it is relatively easy to break through. For instance, an attacker can transfer a phone number by supplying an address, last 4 digits of a social security number and perhaps a credit card – exactly the type of data that is widely available on the dark web thanks to large database breaches like Equifax.

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“The List” Artwork of dead refugees and migrants disappeared or destroyed

02/08/2018
the-list-posted-in-amsterdam

Earlier versions of The List have been posted in other locations including Amsterdam. pic from the Guardian

An artwork featuring a list of the 34,361 refugees and migrants who have lost their lives trying to reach Europe has disappeared or been destroyed in Liverpool.

The List was created for World Refugee Day.  Compiled and updated each year by United for Intercultural Action – an anti-discrimination network of more than 560 organisations across Europe – The List traces information relating to the deaths of 34,361 refugees and migrants who have lost their lives within or on the borders of Europe since 1993.

Since 2007, in collaboration with art workers and institutions, Istanbul-based artist Banu Cennetoğlu has produced up-to-date and translated versions of The List using public spaces such as billboards, transport networks and newspapers.

The List was posted on hoardings outside a building site in Liverpool’s Chinatown as part of Liverpool Biennial art festival.  But now it has disappeared!  On Wednesday the festival tweeted this message:

liverpool-biennial-missing-list-tweet

The List was posted on hoardings on Great George Street with the permission of the site owners.  The city council has stated that it was not removed by its workers, whether deliberately or by accident – it had been suggested that council workers might have taken it down, misidentified as illegally fly-posted.  The council and the developers who own the site have been examining CCTV for clues as to who removed it on Sunday.

What is the List?

Since 1993, activists at the network United for Intercultural Action have made a record of every reported instance in which someone has died trying to migrate into Europe. In all, 61 deaths were recorded in 1993; 3,915 were recorded in 2017.

What sources did they use?

The small team, based in the Netherlands, drew on reports in the local, national and international press, as well as NGO records. Though the vast majority of people died during en route for Europe – most of them at sea – the List also points out that hundreds died in custody, and hundreds more took their own lives. Most deaths recorded on the List are anonymous.

How many deaths have been recorded?

As of 5 May 2018, the figure stood at 34,361. But activists acknowledge that the List is neither definitive nor comprehensive. The real number is likely to be far higher, as many thousands of people will have died without trace during sea and land journeys over the years.

[from the Guardian]

United for Intercultural Action, faced with a lack of official data, gathered newspaper articles, NGO records and coastguard reports to collect details of the deaths of migrants travelling to Europe since the early 1990s.  While most of the deaths happened at sea, more than 1000 happened in detention blocks, asylum units and town centres.  400 died at their own hand, over 600 violently killed by someone else. Cause of death is described quite graphically: such as “tortured by Turkish border guards near Iskenderun (TR) while trying to cross Syrian-Turkish border” and “drowned, bodies found in advanced state of decomposition 20 miles north of Zurawa LY)”.

In a statement the Liverpool Biennial said: “It is timely and important to make The List public during a global refugee crisis. We were dismayed to see it had been removed on Saturday night and would like to know why. The List has been met with critical acclaim and we are doing everything we can to reinstate it.”

To help assimilate The List across the internet, I have uploaded a pdf format copy of The list here. (The Guardian are also hosting a copy here – they’ve got a lot more available bandwidth than me, so it’d only be fair to try them first, but I’m here as a back-up if required!  Happy to help!)  Feel free to reproduce this link as widely as possible.  Please mention ihatehate.wordpress.com and www.unitedagainstracism.org.

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Google censoring searches in China again

02/08/2018
google-logos

Google has a new logo and updating its image – but under the surface it’s still that pre-2010 half-evil censor

Eight years after Google pulled out of the censored Chinese internet, they’re back.  It’s been reported that the company is working on a mobile search app that would block certain search terms and allow it to reenter the Chinese market.

Google has engaged in the China-controlled internet space before: but in 2010 it pulled out, citing censorship and hacking as reasons.  It didn’t pull out completely – it still offered a number of apps to Chinese users, including Google Translate and Files Go, and the company has offices in Beijing, Shenzhen and Shanghai – But the largest of its services – search, email, and the Play app store – are all unavailable in the country.

Google co-founder Sergey Brin told the Guardian in 2010 that his opposition to enabling censorship was motivated to his being born in Soviet Russia.   “It touches me more than other people having been born in a country that was totalitarian and having seen that for the first few years of my life,” he said as Google exited the Chinese market after 4 years of cooperating with the authorities.

But now they’re back, working on a mobile search app that would block certain search terms and black-listed material.  The app is being designed for Android devices.

According to tech-based news site The Information, Google is also working on a censored news-aggregation app too. The news app would take its lead from popular algorithmically-curated apps such as Bytedance’s Toutiao – released for the Western market as “TopBuzz” – that eschew human editors in favour of personalised, highly viral content.

Patrick Poon, China Researcher at Amnesty International, called Google’s return to censorship “a gross attack on freedom of information and internet freedom.”

In putting profits before human rights, he said, Google would be setting a chilling precedent and handing the Chinese government a victory.

This is important because many computer users will set a search site as their homepage and even find content by entering key-words into the url bar of their browser.  Because of Google’s ubiquity, it is frequently set as default search engine on browsers, meaning that millions of users will find that their experience of the internet is that delivered through the lens of Google.  If that lens is smudged or cracked by censorship, all these users’ internet experience is skewed.  So it is essential to highlight the fact that Google is not the neutral, trustworthy agent that many users think it to be.

GreatFire, an organisation that monitors internet censorship and enables circumvention of the “Great Firewall of China”, said the move “could be the final nail in the Chinese internet freedom coffin” and that “the ensuing crackdown on freedom of speech will be felt around the globe.”

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