How to defeat tear-gas in a riot

May 18, 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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A couple of resources for beginner hackers

May 23, 2015

Hacking and phreaking have had a few set-backs over the past decae or so. But things never really change, only the methods needed to achieve those things. Blue boxes and the POTS have been made difficult to utilize, but now there are voice mail systems to break into, even after all the furore about reporters ‘hacking’ celebs’ voice mail accounts; you can listen to other people’s messages, even make phone calls on poorly configured voice mail systems (do a bit of googling about hacking into VMS) – I’m spreading news, not giving tutorials, and anyway I have not the first idea how to do anything illegal! – and you shouldn’t do anything illegal either, I’d never encourage anyone to break the law 🙂

I don't think she should be listening to that!  (pic stolen from http://www.theregister.co.uk

I don’t think she should be listening to that! (pic stolen from http://www.theregister.co.uk

So that’s phreaking still alive and kicking, just in a different form to what older phreaks might recognize. And “hacking”/cracking still lives and kicks too!!! It’s still possible to carry out SQL injection – link (though more companies are getting wise to the tricks and closing the loopholes), malicious websites that put nasties into your computer while you’re browsing asian porn or whatever are thriving, and if you want to be a “proper” hacker who knows how this stuff works under the hood and maybe wants to write your own tools, there are books like Violent Python (pdf download link) out there that can explain some of the nuts and bolts (shh, you didn’t get that link from me!). Amazon says of Violent Python

[It] shows you how to move from a theoretical understanding of offensive computing concepts to a practical implementation. Instead of relying on another attacker’s tools, this book will teach you to forge your own weapons using the Python programming language. This book demonstrates how to write Python scripts to automate large-scale network attacks, extract metadata, and investigate forensic artefacts. It also shows how to write code to intercept and analyze network traffic using Python, craft and spoof wireless frames to attack wireless and Bluetooth devices, and how to data-mine popular social media websites and evade modern anti-virus.

High praise indeed. especially when you consider that they’re charging £17 to £18 for the book.

violent-python-cover

For a more gentle and possibly more fun way to learn Python is at Invent Your Own Computer Games With Python (but if you’d rather just have a pdf of their book to read offline it can be gotten here – the book is available under Creative Commons so you don’t need to be antsy about that download at least). A lot of hackers sneer at “script kiddies” who know nothing about programming and who rely on ready-made tools. So fuck em, right? Learn Python – a simple yet powerrul language.

And then there’s the sneaky practice of snatching random strangers’ (or indeed targeted targets’) data off the air when they’re using the net in coffee shops etc. It’s becoming more difficult as people become aware of the danger (for instance if I’m out and about I use https and a VPS) but there are still a lot of possible targets sending bank or card details, or other sensitive info over the air – look here and here for tips and tricks.

So, phreaking and hacking isn’t dead – it’s just grown up a bit. As long as the hacker is also prepared to grow and change, all will be well for the infonauts of the future.

Abby Sciuto is the hacker of the future (and of the present).  I'd love to spend a day/night - KAF-POW! -  in her NCIS lab!!

Abby Sciuto is the hacker of the future (and of the present). I’d love to spend a day/night – KAF-POW! – in her NCIS lab!!


Podcast conversation about mesh networking

November 25, 2014

Very interesting conversation podcast about mesh networking, the obstacles and the ways to circumvent them. Mentions the Open Garden project, a mesh networking utility for Android smartphones and for Windows and Mac laptops (support for iOS is coming). It’s a free app that turns your device into a mobile hot spot. No matter how you’re connected to the Net (Wi-Fi or cellular), it makes that connection shareable (over Bluetooth) to other Open Garden users. Likewise, if you’re running the product but don’t have a connection to the Net, and you’re near a user who does, this service seamlessly gets you online. The conversation describes the military’s application of mesh networking. I think we need the decentralization of connectivity that mesh networking offers. As during the “Arab spring”, governments can shut down the internet in its territory. Mesh networking will get round that. The sophistication of smartphones and other gadgets and the RF power available to consumers nowadays means that a decentralized network that can route around censorship will soon be a reality.

Compared to more centralized network architectures, the only way to shut down a mesh network is to shut down every single node in the network. Image from www.interference.cc

Compared to more centralized network architectures, the only way to shut down a mesh network is to shut down every single node in the network. Image from http://www.interference.cc

Mentions Open Garden, Tropos, plus technology such as utilities meters being part of a wireless mesh network so the meter reader doesn’t actually need physical access to read the meter.

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Court martial denies Bradley Manning whistleblower defence

January 23, 2013

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The US military court trying Bradley Manning for releasing thousands of secret documents to the whistleblowing Wikileaks website has ruled he cannot raise his motives as part of his defence. From the Guardian:

The judge, Colonel Denise Lind, ruled that general issues of motive were not relevant to the trial stage of the court martial, and must be held back until Manning either entered a plea or was found guilty, at which point it could be used in mitigation to lessen the sentence. The ruling is a blow to the defence as it will make it harder for the soldier’s legal team to argue he was acting as a whistleblower and not as someone who knowingly damaged US interests at a time of war.

After the pre-trial hearing, a spokesman for the Bradley Manning support network, Nathan Fuller, said “This is another effort to attack the whistleblower defence.”

Colonel Lind has also stopped the defence from presenting evidence designed to show that WikiLeaks caused little or no damage to US national security. This is after David Coombs, Manning’s lead defence lawyer, spent a long time trying to extract from US government agencies their official assessments of the impact of WikiLeaks around the world. All this information has been ruled inadmissible.

The 25-year-old intelligence analyst faces 22 charges relating to the leaking of hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables, war logs from the Afghan and Iraq wars, and videos of US military actions. The most serious charge, “aiding the enemy”, which carries the life sentence, accuses him of arranging for state secrets to be published via WikiLeaks on the internet knowing that al-Qaida would have access to it. The fact that he cannot use the whistleblower’s defence means his legal options are severely limited. Basically, he has been set up to lose.

The message from the court is clear: whistleblowers will face the full fury of the law, regardless of motives. The precedent of the Pentagon Papers, or of “Deep Throat” in the Watergate case, no longer stands, it would seem. Once it was seen as acceptable to leak info if one thought it was morally imperative. But no more. This will ensure that Julian Assange won’t be leaving the Ecuador embassy in London for some time. And it will have a corrosive effect on democracy in general – if we can’t bring our governments’ crimes into the light, there will be nothing to stop them committing even worse outrages. It makes the authorities truly untouchable, turning the very idea of democracy into a cruel joke. And it should stand as an important message: if you are going to blow any whistles, don’t go bragging about it. Especially to an asshole like Adrian Lamo.

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Is Turkey a modern democracy?

December 3, 2012

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Turkey claims to be a modern democracy, with ambitions to join the European Union.  But is Turkey really that democratic, or that modern?  I wonder if any country is anything like nice to live in when it has laws that criminalize insulting historical figures or religions, especially when the “insult” is portrayed for satire – or even just a joke.

Look, for instance, at the recent case where the Turkish radio and television watchdog RTUK has fined TV channel CNBC-e 52,951 lira (£18,600) for airing an episode of The Simpsons, whose scenes included God taking orders from Satan (the devil tells God to make him some coffee) – apparently this silly joke is insulting religious beliefs.  Also, last week the Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdoğan attacked a hit soap opera about the Ottoman Empire’s longest-reigning Sultan, while RTUK has warned the show’s makers about “insulting a historical figure”.  And insulting Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern Turkey, is a heinous crime that can get you seven years imprisonmentMustafa Akyol, Turkish himself, writes that Turkey is “one of the world’s last remaining regimes based on a cult of personality. It is outdone only by North Korea”.  He says it is impossible to write anything about Ataturk that represents him as a normal human being with normal frailties without risking prosecution for “insulting” the guy.  Turkish law 5816 criminalises “insulting the legacy of Ataturk”.

And then there’s the Armenian genocide (this’ll get me extradited to Turkey for sure!).  During and after World War 1, the Ottoman government carried out a systematic extermination of its minority Armenian subjects from their historic homeland in the territory constituting the present-day country of Turkey.  Able-bodied Armenian men were either murdered immediately or killed slowly through means of forced labour; women, children, the elderly and the infirm were dealt with by deportation and death marches to the Syrian desert.  There were also extermination camps established, near Turkey’s moderm Iraqi and Syrian borders.  The term “genocide” was coined to describe these events; it’s thought to be the first historical example of a deliberate policy to exterminate a single people.

Modern day Turkey denies that the Armenian genocide ever took place – there might have been a few unfortunate incidents down to over-zealous soldiers or officials, but there was no policy of genocide.  Honest.  Turkey has some really weak arguments on this.  For instance (from Wikipedia):

“Turkish governmental sources have asserted that the historically demonstrated ‘tolerance of Turkish people’ itself renders the Armenian Genocide an impossibility. One military document leverages 11th century history to cast doubt on the Armenian Genocide: ‘It was the Seljuq Turks who saved the Armenians that came under the Turkish domination in 1071 from the Byzantine persecution and granted them the right to live as a man should’.”

In other words, Turks saved the Armenians from Byzantine persecution in 1071 so there’s no way they would have changed their minds and tried to wipe the Armenians from the face of the earth a thousand years later.  Yeah, real compelling evidence.

Anyway, suggesting that the Turks carried out genocidal policies is, surprise surprise, considered as “insulting Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity, or Turkish government institutions”, a crime under Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code.  And this isn’t some archaic law that the government just haven’t got round to repealing yet – this law was passed in 2005!

It would seem that Turkey is getting more authoritarian by the day.  And this is a country that would claim to be a modern democracy?  The Turkish government needs to look at the statute books and do away with some of its ridiculous laws if it wants to be seen abroad as anything other than a petty, ridiculous “democratic” dictatorship. Oh, and it needs to stop persecuting the Kurds – an exclusive club whose other members are Iran and Iraq is a club you do not want to join.

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Pussy Riot jailed for anti-Putin “punk prayer”

August 17, 2012

Unbelievable… I wish. Unfortunately it’s all too believable: three members of the Russian band Pussy Riot have been jailed for two years, for an impromptu performance of an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in the Orthodox Cathedral of Christ the Saviour in Moscow. Officially, their crime was “hooliganism” motivated by religious hatred – “in other words, a grave violation of public order,” said Judge Marina Syrova.

The case against the three defendants – Maria Alyokhina, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, and Yekaterina Samutsevich – has been dressed up as a “hate crime” against the Russian Orthodox Church. In her three hour summing up before verdict and sentencing, Judge Syrova said she had convicted the women of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred, and that the act had been one of blasphemy, not politics. She refuted the claim that the protest was political in nature, calling on the people to stop Putin from becoming president of Russia for a third term (which he achieved two weeks after the performance). The punk prayer was certainly obscene, but was a “brief, obscenity-laced performance, which implored the Virgin Mary to “throw Putin out” – which Orthodox Church leader Patriarch Kirill said amounted to blasphemy.

This was the prosecution’s strategy from the start, representing the performance as one of religious hatred rather than politically motivated. Even though the punk prayer clearly called for Putin to go, the government, politicians and members of the Orthodox hierarchy have repeatedly described it as blasphemy. Critics of Pussy Riot have been quoted by the BBC as saying it was “an insult to the Russian Orthodox Church”. “Shouting and screaming and spreading hate in Church is unacceptable and is contrary with Christian ethics,” posted one critic online. One protester outside court in Moscow simply shouted: “Let Pussy Riot and all their supporters burn in hell.”

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova said in a letter to supporters ( written before the verdict and passed to them by her lawyer), “I hold no spite. I have no private spite. But I have political spite.”

Our being in jail is a clear and distinct sign that freedom is being taken away from the whole country,” she wrote. “And this threat of destruction of the liberating, emancipatory forces of Russia is what makes me angry

Putin’s Russia has long been a dictatorship in all but name. Putin stood down as prime minister, but immediately became president. And dissent has always been met with strong-arm tactics. Even a brief anti-Putin performance in church has been punished in a way that does not reflect the “crime”, and the government has been careful to concentrate all attention on the “religious” aspect of the affair, so many people see it as an insult to their faith.

There have been protests internationally, with many well-known people lending a voice: Ex-world chess champion Garry Kasparov was among several people arrest said ed outside the court in Moscow including opposition politician Sergei Udaltsov, while other protests have been attended by well-known people such as Paul McCartney, Madonna and Bjork. Protests have been held internationally, such as in Paris, where demonstrators in Igor Stravinsky square chanted “Freedom”, and in Kiev, where women protesters sawed down a wooden cross in a central square, Belgrade, Berlin, Sofia, London, Dublin and Barcelona. Of course, there have also been anti-Pussy Riot demonstrations, attended by Orthodox worshippers who have been tricked by Putin and his henchmen. It’s all been a wonderful distraction for Putin’s people to put into effect various anti-democratic steps, such as the series of laws targeting demonstrations, non-governmental organisations and the internet, and the charges recently been brought against opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

“Our imprisonment serves as a clear and unambiguous sign that freedom is being taken away from the entire country,” wrote Tolokonnikova in her letter written before the verdict.

“Whatever the verdict for Pussy Riot, we and you have already won,” she wrote. “Because we have learned to be angry and speak politically.”

Unfortunately, Russia has excellent, ruthless agents and troops inherited from the Communist age, and ex-KGB thug Putin won’t be standing down any time soon.

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4 years for “inciting” non-existant riots… WTF are the British authorities up to?

August 17, 2011

Yesterday (16 August 2011) Chester crown court sentenced 2 men to 4 years imprisonment for “trying” to incite riots that never actually happened. And David Cameron, who is supposed to be the prime minister of Britain, not a judge or legal commentator, said it was “very good”, adding:

“What happened on our streets was absolutely appalling behaviour and to send a very clear message that it’s wrong and won’t be tolerated is what the criminal justice system should be doing.”

Of course it’s terrible that riot and looting went on across England. But what do the riots that actually happened have to do with what Jordan Blackshaw and Perry Sutcliffe-Keenan did? Moreover, Blackshaw and Sutcliffe-Keenan pleaded guilty to the charges – which makes me wonder what kind of low-grade legal advice they’d been given – and an early guilty plea is supposed to result in a reduced sentence. So this pair of clowns would have got maybe 10-year sentences if they’d pleaded not guilty? 10 years for not inciting a riot? What are our judges smoking before entering their court rooms?

MPs and civil rights groups have spoken out against the sentences, unsurprisingly. But what should be surprising is that prime minister Cameron said the sentences were “very good” – before adding that it is down to the courts to decide sentences. So, which is it, Cameron? Do judges have the discretion on sentencing here? Or are you sending (barely) concealed message to the court that anyone who says anything not in line with his beliefs deserves to rot in jail for as long as possible?

In Britain, the government proposes laws. Parliament debates, fine-tunes then passes the laws. And the police and courts enforce those laws. Cameron shouldn’t be telling judges how to do their jobs. Lord Carlile, the government’s former terror advisor accused ministers of appearing to “steer” the courts into handing down the more stringent sentences. Lord Carlile, a barrister and former Liberal Democrat MP warned that the sacrosanct separation of powers between the government and the judiciary had appeared to have been breached by some of the messages coming out of government since the riots engulfed neighbourhoods last week.

Fortunately, not all judges have been castrated by Cameron and his henchmen. The same Evening Standard article reports that a court in Bury St Edmund’s let a teenager walk free after his guilty plea. He had sent Facebook messages saying “”I think we should start rioting – it’s about time we stopped the authorities pushing us about. It’s about time we stood up for ourselves for once so come on riot – get some – LoL” Bad, to be sure, but hardly evil. His barrister said his client “had been a bit of a prat” – which pretty sums up Blackshaw’s and Sutcliffe-Keenan’s actions too.

Also, a Lambeth teenager who had been caught on CCTV hurling sticks and spades at officers, was allowed to walk free after his uncle, a Premier League football player, offered him somewhere to live outside of London.

This variation in judicial decisions is good, as it demonstrates that not all judges are bowing and scraping before their governmental overlords. But it is clear that a substantial number of judges are all too keen to please their masters. In the Guardian, Lord Carlile said:

“I don’t think it’s helpful for ministers to appear to be giving a steer to judges. The judges in criminal courts are mostly extremely experienced and well capable of making the decisions themselves. Ministers should focus on securing the safety of the public.”

The lord, who served for six years under Labour and the coalition until March as the government’s anti-terror adviser, added: “”Some judges may feel that and some ministers may feel that they have had a responsibility to use the language of sentences rather than policy.”

The authorities doubtless think it’s important to stamp down hard on some people’s recent behaviour. But that doesn’t mean the courts should become kangaroo courts blindly following the government’s instructions. Every single case is different, and each should be dealt with on its own merits. The government is beginning to see the consequences of its actions and policies; and they are scared of those consequences. Instead of knee-jerk reactions, they should try to fix the damage they have done. Otherwise today’s Britain will be just like the 1980s, when widespread civil unrest rocked the country.

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