How to defeat tear-gas in a riot

18/05/2016

Tear gas is a right PITA.  Not only does get into your lungs, causing inability to breathe etc, it’s also a skin irritant, to make any contaminated skin experience pain on the discomfort spectrum.  Lips, mouth, nostrils and nose, all mucous membranes will hurt.  So how’s a standard protestor (or revolutionary) supposed to evade this shite?

The simple answer is: you can’t evade it (unless you’re an armchair revolutionary).  You have to accept the possible dangers, and hopefully find a work-around.

A full NBC suit would be cool.  Except they’re not easy to find, they’re expensive, and if you turn up at a demo wearing one the snatch landrovers will target you.  So, you need a covert “NBC” outfit.

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  • DO NOT PANIC!  Everyone’s gonna be freaked out, blindly running in all directions trying to find a way out of their personal hell.  But you are (somewhat) protected (if you take this guide seriously) so you’re not blind, not panicking (much), everything’s cool so far as you’re concerned (if you’ve taken this guide seriously – FFS take it seriously!).
  • A gas mask (aka “respirator”) will be the best kit to get.  But they’re not cheap, and by wearing one you are marking yourself as a “ring-leader” or some such shit.  Not so bad if you’re wearing a fully accredited press card… the the cops will be busting skulls first, examinating press ID later.  So maybe the respirator will be a problem.  Also, independent bloggers don’t qualify for pass cards.  The world is still playing catch-up with the world of tech.  Stupid world.

    If you already have a gas mask, make sure it is working properly and is correctly fitted. Any masks purchased online or in military surplus stores should be checked by an expert to ensure they work correctly.

    The next best thing after a gas mask is an escape hood, which is cheaper and is not subject to the same export rules.

    You can also use a builder’s respirator that covers your nose and mouth – but make sure that you use appropriate filters. Failing that, a dust mask for DIY and building and airtight goggles will provide some degree of protection

  • Tight-fitting, water-tight swimming goggles will help protect your eyes.  But you’d be best advised to buy them by the box: tear gas will eat away at them, so if you do end up having to use them, get rid of them and find replacements for the next time…
  • DON’T use oil-based creams, sunscreens and make-up; they also absorb tear gas, so avoid wearing these when covering protests where it might be used.
  • Carry a large bandana and a bottle of vinegar.  Soak the bandanna in vinegar before putting it over your nose and mouth to breathe. The combination (although not ‘neutralizing’) will act as a filter to some extent, better than nothing.
  • Wear long-sleeved tops rather than t-shirts, trousers instead of shorts.  Basically, keep exposed skin to a minimum, as tear gas likes fucking with exposed skin.
  • Get upwind or escape to high ground (like a hill or building roof top) – The gas stays low to the ground and high ground may be gas-free.

To write this blog post, I used the following webpages to help in my research:

Check out these sites, I’m sure they’re full of handy hints for the would-be civil disobedient-type.

More on the issue of bloggers and press passes.  It’s next-to-impossible for a blogger to get a press pass, but there nay be ways around this problem.  I’ve thought of one possible solution, if anyone else has an idea please post it up in Comments.

My off-the-top-of-the-head plan:  give “respectable” news producers some great footage.  You can get really high-quality AV equipment relatively cheaply nowadays, and if you offer (not for free, I think) “first use” rights to a news organization, they may at a later time be more amenable to giving you that oh-so-useful pass.  Video important clashes between police and activists, probably focusing on the poor down-trodden folk; interviews with those whose lives have been destroyed by the state.  Stay clear of those “benefits claimants are scroungers let’s kill em all” type shows, maybe focus on BBC News and ITN (producers of Channel 4 News), maybe papers if you trust them (bear in mind that the Guardian have become more and more like govt stooges lately…).  If you provide a channel with front-line coverage, maybe that channel will give you a press pass.  A passport for Sodom and Gomorrah!  My advice: do it!  A reach-around now may give you unfettered access to everything later.  Power to you, dude/dudette!

Good luck!

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‘We can intercept your Google and Facebook activity all we want, so screw you!’ says UK government

17/06/2014

The British government has for the first time spelt out why it thinks it has the right to snoop on our Google, Facebook and other internet traffic all it wants.

Charles Farr, the Director General of the Office for Security and Counter Terrorism, has made a statement (available here) that claims according to UK law the security services only need to get warrants to snoop on communications from one UK party to another. Traffic to and from services like Google (which includes Gmail) and Facebook are classed as “external communications”, for which no warrants are required.

This is horrendous. The internet is a network of networks, many of which are in other countries. So a large amount of our online activity will be transferred via networks in the USA and other countries even if the activity is practically domestic. If you send an email via Gmail to another UK citizen, the government classes it as an “external communication”. The same will be true of activity on Facebook, Twitter, and a great many other services, even though your intention is to communicate or share with other UK residents. Tempora, the program run by the British snooping agency GCHQ, gathers data and metadata, then shares it with the NSA. This means that practically all our online activities are stored, and can be used in fishing expeditions, even though GCHQ or NSA do not suspect you of any potentially criminal activity. Tempora is a “buffer” which stores internet data for 3 days and metadata for 30 days. GCHQ’s computers sift through all this data, storing anything that is “of interest”, which means that online privacy really is nonexistent. Which is what many of us have assumed for ages (especially after Edward Snowden’s revelations), but now it’s official.

What really exasperates me is that major criminals and terrorists will be taking steps to avoid this already, for example by using a VPN (Virtual Private Network). The real victims of GCHQ’s activities are us ordinary joes who are not engaged in criminal conspiracies but who want privacy (like people who send letters in sealed envelopes rather than postcards). We could encrypt our communications; but how many of us want to do this? and I’ll bet Tempora looks out for encrypted traffic and logs it as suspect.

The law needs changing. But that’s not going to happen. Why would the government give up these powers? So, I’m going to use my VPN account when I go online, and I advise everyone else to do the same. Tempora’s alarms will be set off by my suspicious activity; but if everyone is doing it GCHQ’s systems will overload. I hope. Remember, GCHQ has supercomputers and massive storage facilities. Big Brother, man! 1984 man!

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Governments hate fun… and any questioning of the status quo

08/06/2013

When e-cigarettes came out, many hailed them as the solution to getting die-hard tobacco smokers off the evil weed (tobacco, not the other “evil” weed…). After all, it isn’t the nicotine in tobacco that kills smokers, it’s the assorted poisonous ingredients like arsenic, formaldehyde, nickel cadmium… I could go on, but there’s no point really. Suffice to say, the only “harmful” effect of nicotine is its addictiveness. The stuff that gives you cancers, heart problems and the rest of it is the other stuff in the tobacco.

So, the e-cigs are the solution, right? The ingredients of an e-cig are basically nicotine, water, and a touch of propylene glycol, (which helps vaporise the liquid nicotine). So, the e-cig provides the “ritual” of smoking (the cigarette prop, the inhalation and exhalation, and the nicotine) but none of the tars and other poisons that kill smokers – all good, right?

Well actually, no it’s not all good, according to the British Medical Association and associated OORDs* The BMA squeals that there have not been enough “rigorous, peer-reviewed studies”. French bodies are actually considering a ban on e-cig use in public places, even though there are no so-called “passive smoking” dangers. And there are even illogical claims that e-cigs might be a “gateway drug” which would lead youngsters on to try “the real thing”!

I believe that e-cigs are a wonderful invention and probably the solution to the tobacco problem. Occasionally I even imagine a future in which tobacco is banned and e-cig “vaping” (ie inhaling nicotine vapour) has taken its place. But too many ignorant puritans are opposed to that. Nicotine is enjoyable and addictive, therefore it’s evil and should be banned in spite of its general harmlessness. It’s like how the government “temporarily” bans “legal highs” like “Benzo Fury” and “NBOMe” while it looks for an excuse to make the ban permanent. They say this is done for the sake of public health, but that’s a lie. The authorities don’t want us to enjoy ourselves. They let us get pissed, but make sure we pay for it – through exorbitant taxation and hangovers. Equally, the government taxes tobacco to the hilt, hence the ridiculous price-tag on a pack of cigarettes. But if vaping became more popular, it could drop in price dramatically.

I would encourage cigarette smokers to give e-cigs a try-out (I’ve tried the disposable nicolites and they’re not bad – a bit of an aftertaste, but they’re cheaper than their tobacco rivals, and if the market increases as projected the price could fall even more) – while you obviously have to take any manufacturers’ claims with a pinch of salt, it’s clear e-cigs are nowhere near as toxic as regular cigarettes, and they pose absolutely no threat to other people – so the idea of banning vaping in public places is illogical to anyone except a puritan.

Please, please, PLEASE – check out both sides of the argument before you make a judgement on this. And if you’re a non-smoker, ask yourself: if these e-cigs pose me no dangers, and they don’t pose real danger to the user, why would I want them banned? This arguments is about more than e-cigs: it’s about the freedom to do what you like to your own body. You might not like tattoos or body piercing – does that mean we should make tattoos and nipple-rings illegal? Please, give this some serious, genuine thought. If someone’s vaping in a train station, posing no danger to you and yours. is it fair to make it a crime?

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18 January – Internet Freedom Day!! Hip Hip Hooray!!

18/01/2013

I got an email today from the nice people at Fight for the Future, reminding me that a year ago today, “you, me, and 24 million people defeated SOPA and Internet censorship. It was the largest online protest ever.” SOPA was the Stop Online Piracy Act, a proposed US law that would have impacted horribly on all our freedoms online. But it was stomped, one year ago today, and now many people are calling for 18 January to be known as Internet Freedom Day.

The email suggested one way we can celebrate Internet Freedom Day:

How is Fight for the Future participating? Since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day is coming up, we’re reminded that Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech is copyrighted, and often censored on sites like Youtube. We realized that watching and sharing this speech (which could be considered illegal) to celebrate Dr. King’s work and the freedom we fought for is exactly what needs to happen.

To honor Dr. King’s legacy of nonviolent civil disobedience and to celebrate our historic defeat of SOPA, we made this video that contains the entire 17 minute speech.

Join us in a small act of civil disobedience to remember what we fight for. Watch and share this video.

If SOPA had passed, you could have gone to jail for sharing a video of it, and entire websites could have been shut down for linking to it.

But even more than that, there’s a bigger question: Are you okay with a world where when someone just learning about race and civil rights goes to the web to see MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech and is confronted with a notice that says “this video has been removed”? It isn’t until 2038, when the copyright on this speech is over, that you’re even allowed to share this video.

If you haven’t done so already, send this video to a friend, tweet it, talk to your friends about it, and celebrate MLK’s work and our ability to fight back online censorship that can keep the things we love and need from us.

Nice sentiment. And if you click that link to see the Martin Luther King “I Have a Dream” speech, you will see that there’s still a lot to fight for.

The email also said:

Last, but not least, our friend and Center for Rights board member, Marvin Ammori, just wrote a book called On Internet Freedom that you can download *for free* today. He describes it as “a sort of love song to the First Amendment and the Internet.” (You can download the Kindle app for free to read on your computer, phone, or anything else, and we think he’d approve if you removed the DRM to read it on other devices.)

But anyway: 18 January as Internet Freedom Day? Hell yeah, I’m up for it.

Let’s try and make sure the Internet is, and remains, Free.

HAPPY INTERNET FREEDOM DAY!!!

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Secret courts, FFS – Now tell me the Tories aren’t Nazis!

11/09/2012

The government’s proposed justice and security bill, which they are trying to get through Parliament, will enable them to cover up any involvement in torture – past, present and future – as well as denying defendants any right to a fair trial.

As an example: British resident Binyam Mohamed, who was seized in Pakistan in 2002 and rendered to Guantamano Bay, went to court to get compensated for the cruel and brutal treatment he got from the CIA with the full knowledge and complicity of the UK intelligence services. The high court ruled that CIA information that revealed MI5 and MI6 knew of Mohamed’s ill-treatment should be disclosed. The ruling provoked a storm of protest, with some in the government claiming the US had threatened to withhold intelligence from the UK.

At the same time, to avoid further incriminating evidence being disclosed, the UK government paid undisclosed sums, believed to amount to millions of pounds, in an out-of-court settlement to British citizens and residents who had been incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay.

So now, the government’s proposals will prevent the disclosure of any information in the hands of the security and intelligence agencies from being disclosed in civil cases. The Tory ex-justice minister Kenneth Clarke said that it was necessary to keep evidence secret from the defence – otherwise “you would have terrorists in the public gallery, lining up making notes.”

And now Prof Juan Méndez, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture,is expressing “deep concern” about the government’s plans. He says they will allow intelligence services to be party to torture without any fear of disclosure of their role. Many people who have been tortured by “third party” countries allege that MI6 officers were giving the torturers lists of questions they wanted the torture victims to be asked.

The “war on terror” is enabling governments in supposedly free democratic countries to strip their citizens of any rights. Secret courts and torture should have no place in our institutions. The treatment meted out to Binyam Mohamed should have been stopped. But things have only got worse over the past decade. All the government needs to do a bit of hand-waving and mention the word “terrorism” and bang! There goes another fundamental human right. What is the matter with us? Why do we allow our evil governments to exist? Something needs to be done about it.

Some relevant links:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/may/29/secret-justice-bill-not-perfect
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/09/secret-justice-bill
http://www.guardian.co.uk/law/2012/sep/11/un-official-secret-courts-torture

Please have a look at them. This is important!

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“Big Brother” traffic camera network stays secret… because it is crap

27/08/2012

The British police have a high-tech system of road cameras that can recognise car registration plates, feeding this info to a computer centre in Hendon, north London, which holds more than 7bn records of the movement of traffic records the whereabouts of 16m vehicles per year stretching back six years. Police hope the database will be able to record up to 50m licence plates a day.

Such a “Big Brother” surveillance system is worrying, for reasons I won’t go into here (fer krist’s sake, does anyone actually need to be told of the terrible ramifications? Even home secretary Theresa May, not known as a champion of civil liberties, has ordered that regulation of the Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras should be tightened up. No other “democratic” country routinely tracks innocent motorists in this way.

Yet the police have successfully won a freedom of information tribunal precisely because, they allege, the system is crap. Apparently, if the location of ANPR cameras were revealed publicly, the blind spots would allow crooks to evade the system. DS Neil Winterbourne, in charge of the ANPR cameras for Scotland Yard’s counter-terrorism command, told the tribunal criminals could evade the cameras by adopting “a particular driving style”, which he did not describe. Maybe because the “particular driving style” does not exist?

The police cited examples where ANPR cameras had been moved or realigned so they couldn’t read registration plates. But they neglected to mention the fact that many roadside cameras are tampered with because drivers think they are speed cameras – there is a very active anti-speed camera movement, with websites like www.speedcam.co.uk which has a map of cameras nationwide and a press release made by Motorists Against Detection (MAD) which describes itself as “the UK’s only direct action anti-speed camera group”, and which claims to have “taken out” 1000 cameras since the groups formation in 2000. Don’t the police think that some of their ANPR cameras may have been messed with by MAD who have mistaken them for speed cameras?

break a camera today
A MADman doing his bit to help us hold onto our civil rights

The UK has a terrible track record re civil liberties. Just look at all the CCTV cameras in our town centres (there for our “protection” apparently, though I have yet to be convinced how an inanimate object will “protect” me when a ruffian is kicking my head in). Ask any American what he thinks of our surveillance culture: no other nation would accept it. Only the British, it would seem (baa baa). And now this secret network of cameras what can follow us everywhere, anytime. Baa baa, my fellow Brits. Baa bloody baa.

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