UK To Scrap Human Rights Shock Horror!!

May 26, 2015

Okay, prime minister David Cameron isn’t planning to scrap human rights in Britain (I hope).  The plan, which was (i’m told) in the Conservative election manifesto, is to dilute Britain’s obligations under the Convention on Human Rights, in particular to withdraw from the European Court of Human Rights, and to create a British Court of Human Rights to enforce whatever rights the government decides all humans deserve (which, to judge from the Conservatives’ record, doesn’t seem too appealing).

But he is apparently facing a backbench rebellion over the issue and even ministerial resignations.  The former International Development Secretary, Andrew Mitchell, said he was “extremely sceptical” about proposals:

“I have clear views about the importance of international justice, which we need to expand, and Britain pulling out of the European Court will send all the wrong signals on the British commitment to expanding human rights around the world”

The SNP, which is now the third biggest party in Parliament, said it had begun sounding out lawyers on the Tory benches about uniting to defeat Mr Cameron’s plans.  Labour and the Liberal Democrats are also expected to oppose attempts to repeal the Act, and as Mr Cameron’s majority is just 12, any rebellion will leave him vulnerable to defeat even if he gets the support of the Democratic Unionist Party.

The well-known scum-bag and new Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, has been charged with drafting a new Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act.  If the British Bill of Rights waters down Britain’s obligations under the present European Convention opf Human Rights, at least one minister has said he’ll resign.  And the Conservative former Attorney-General Dominic Grieve said: “A Bill of Rights that places us outside the European Convention on Human Rights would be reputationally disastrous for this country and would have very serious consequences for the survival of the Convention.”  So the plans threaten not only British citizens but all of the European Convention’s members.

Congratulations are due to Cameron for out-Faraging Nigel Farage – in a desperate ploy to win back disgruntled Tories who’d decided to vote Ukip instead, he has managed to become the most right-wing politician since Mussolini, or Nero.  Good one Dave!  Perhaps, as a finale, you could FOAD?


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

June 17, 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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Check out the IFJ’s Survival Guide for Journalists.

February 9, 2011

After my recent post on “How to survive a riot”, I have discovered the International Federation of Journalists’ Survival Guide for Journalists.

The IFJ guide is not riot-specific – it covers a variety of dicey situations, such as “war zones and conflict areas”, “riots and civil disorder” and “abductions, hostage taking and targeting journalists”. It also has chapters on emergency first aid and post-traumatic stress disorder”.

I haven’t read the Guide yet – Goddess, I only just found the thing! – but its blurb makes it sound pretty useful, lots of advice in one handy volume. And what’s even cooler, you can download it for free in pdf format from here

So check it out. Who knows – maybe one day it’ll save your life.

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How to survive a riot…

January 26, 2011

With anti-government demos set to continue today, I figured maybe a little guide to surviving demos/riots would be useful. So here I am reproducing some stuff I found on the internet. A lot of it is written from the viewpoint of helping journalists survive such a situation, but there’s plenty there that any demonstrator might find useful. Also, this was written with the post-election demos in Iran in mind; but it’ll still be useful. Especially interesting is the material by “skip” on how to mitigate the effects of tear gas (CS gas). If you can get hold of baking soda or sodium metabisulphate (often sold as “Campden tablets” to sterilize home winemaking equipment), then make up a bottle of 5% baking soda in water, and another bottle of sodium metabisulphate/water solution). I have no personal experience of this, but it seems these solutions can help when you’ve been tear-gassed.

Egyptian demonstrators amassed in central Cairo last night, with reports suggesting many are preparing to return to the streets today.

Okay, so here is my guide to surviving a demo/riot. Please note, I am not encouraging anyone to go out and do bad stuff. But if you’re planning to go out anyway… check out the guide.

RIOT SURVIVAL GUIDE FOR JOURNALISTS

Many advices for Journalist get public how to survive in a War zone how to dress and move not to get in too dangerous situations when working as a Journalist in war zones. Our aim is to limit risk and to take responsibility for anyone working on our behalf in war zones.
As the Iran civil war and street getting somehow more dangerous than a war field and the classical TV Journalist get banned from government to stay in there hotels or leave the country.
The public Journalist report with there mobile YouTube and twitter from the streets. Most of these people have no experience in moving in areas where gunshot snipers from the roof and other crowd weapons are used like tear gas.
In Civil war zones you cant see who is enemy and who is friend many secret agents can be hiden in the crowd. As seen on some pix from iran some Basiji are dressed like civilian demonstrators to eleminate target peoepel.
Sierra Leone Yugoslavia Afghanistan was a similar situation like in iran .

The following is a re-post of a insider from the other side if you have to protest like in Iran it could help you not to get injured by any force.

This is a document that a Iranian-American police officer has put together. He is the member of the SWAT team and he’s an expert on anti riot tactics. he has been watching and studying the videos and the tactics that basij has been using and he put the document together. It would be great to spread this document and pass it on to the kids in Iran. It might save their lives. – SB
Here are some simple ways of defending yourself when attacked by Basij or Security forces.

Anti riot attacks
Once caught by security forces, the best way to break free is by swinging relentlessly in all directions. Keep in mind that security forces have to hold on to you, which means they only can use one hand to deflect the blows. Brass Knuckle is extremely effective when trying to break loose from the grip of security forces. Wooden brass knuckle is strong and simple to make. The image above is a sample of a basic wooden brass knuckle that can be made with a piece of wood, a cutter and a drill. It should not take more than 30 minutes to make a wooden brass knuckle. Wooden brass knuckle is extremely strong, light weight and versatile. Make sure that the top edges are sharp and round.

Motorcycle attacks

Iranian Basij motorcycle units use attack and retrieve tactics which is meant to create fear more than anything else. The same tactic was used by US police forces on horsebacks when confronting the civil right protestors. The advantage of utilizing motorcycles in urban environment is obvious: motorcycles can go places that cars can’t. However, motorcycles have disadvantages which can handicap the force that uses them.

The most effective way of disabling motorcycles is using tire spikes. Though made of carbon cratnor material, the Basij motorcycle tires cannot withstand multiple punctures. The easiest way to spike Basiji’s tires is by using a simple tire spike system called Iron Caltrop. This simple device can be made in a matter of minutes by wrapping two pieces of nail together in a 65 degree angle. By dropping a handful of Iron Caltrop on the ground, you can deflate the tires of Basijis’ motorcycles in a matter of minutes. If you ride, you know how difficult it is to steer a motorcycle with two flat tires.

Tear gas
A fabric socked in vinegar can very well protect you against tear gas. Cover your nose and mouth with the fabric and keep plenty of water around to wash your eyes if you come in direct contact with tear gas. Urban Legend: burning tires will reduce the effect of tear gas. Not true, it actually increases the effect and it smells bad too.
Additional with some swimming glasses you can protect your eyes and sight.
——–
Addition:
Dealing with CS Gas (Tear Gas)
Contributed by skip on July 5th, 2002
(yeah I know it’s a bit old, but it’s just as applicable now as it was back then.)

# Gas mask- only use current military or police designs. Don’t try any old ones you may come across in markets or army surplus stores as many used asbestos in the filters!
# Mask/hood- offer limited protection. Also useful for disguise
# Goggles- for eye protection.
# Neutralizer #1- Carry a bottle of solution made up from water with 5% Baking Soda.
# Neutralizer #2- Carry a bottle of solution made up from water and sodium metabisulphate (sold as Campden tablets used in home brewing). Note, this needs to be made fresh and doesn’t work if over a day old.
# If you are asthmatic tell the people around you before the action starts, so that if when sprayed you have a bad reaction they’ll be able to act appropriately by giving you your medication or getting a doctor.
What to do when sprayed
If you are in the line of spray move backwards out of range rather than sideways where the spray may still be able to reach you. If you are in a building move outside. Your eyesight may become blurred and it is easy to lose awareness of what is going on. Do not run blindly into the arms of the police, or worse still, into traffic. Act calmly and stay aware of your surroundings whilst moving to a safe area.

If possible stand upwind of where the spraying happened and expose the affected part of your body to the wind. This will help disperse the gas quickly.

Flush the affected area of the body with the solution mentioned earlier or just water if this is not available. Do not touch it as you will spread the chemical around and rub it into your pores. It may be possible hat you can rejoin the action right away, as small amounts should only affect you for a few minutes.

ASAP, have a cold shower for 3-5 minutes (hot water opens the pores and allows gas particles in), then proceed with normal showering. Showers flush the chemical away whilst a bath will just re-distribute it.

For gross contamination, wash with Neutralizer as mentioned above.

After the action you should hang your clothes up in a well ventilated area to disperse the last remnants of the gas. When they have hung for a day or so wash them twice- first in cold and then in hot water-and they’ll be okay to wear again.

CS Gas is fat soluble so never coat your skin in petroleum jelly or similar substances for protection as some people have tried. When sprayed do not treat the area with any cream, jelly or ointment, unless advised to by someone who knows what they are talking about. The best treatments are air, cold water and time.
—–
References
Do or Die Editorial Collective. “Do or Die No. 7 Voices from Earth First!”

Headquarters, Department of the Army. Nov. 1985. “FM 19-15 Civil Disturbances”

Hoffman, Abbie. 1996. “steal this book”. Four Walls Eight Windows
——–
Batons
Riot police is trained to use batons. They understand that it’s easy to hit a stationary target and much easier to hit a target that is running away. Hitting somebody with baton is a matter of timing. The worst thing you can do is to run away from baton whirling security guards because it allows them to time the strike perfectly. The most effective way to counter a security guard with baton is to throw off his timing by going directly at him. That’s right. Run away and turn and go directly at him. When you go directly at the guard and close the distance, you completely screw up his timing. A boxer cannot hit a person that is standing 2 inches away from his face. That’s why boxer bounce around. A baton whirling guard is just like a boxer, he needs to time his strikes. By going directly at the guard and closing distance you mess-up his timing and might even be able to take him down.

Riot formation
Basij and police security guardsmen perform best when crowd disperses and becomes separated. The worst scenario for the riot police is when the crowd is together and inseparable. South Korean labor protestors in the 90s were the best organized units in history of rioting. Thousands of them held on to each other (locked arms) and no matter what, they did not let go. It made it impossible for the riot police to disperse them.

Oh, one other thing: you can see this guide is written in English. This will make it utterly useless to the folk out there who don’t know how to read English. So if you can, please translate this into appropriate languages and get your translation out there on the internet. This may be the beginning of the end for US-sponsored dictators like Mubarak.

(If you have any comments or criticisms of this guide, please use Comments to share your thoughts. I very rarely delete Comments, so long as they’re not spam or don’t launch ad hominem (personal) attacks on myself or other blog readers gratuitously. I believe in freedom of speech. Unfortunately, WordPress.com do not believe in freedom expression. So please keep Comments sort of polite and cut down on the profanity. Cheers! ~Martin X)

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EFF on direct action against internet censorship

December 22, 2010

Recently, the Wikileaks case has brought the subject of online censorship into the limelight: Amazon and EveryDNS withdrawing their services to Wikileaks, apparently due to US government pressure, has brought up some important questions: just who “owns” the internet? Is it right that access to “sensitive” info should be cut, even though that info doesn’t really compromise “national security” but just embarrasses politicians?

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) has compiled a list of tools and schemes that can be used by individuals in a “direct action” type fashion. The EFF doesn’t advocate stuff like Distributed Denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks or tools like the LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon) that make DDOS attacks easier to engage in; but the list includes tools and services like Tor(an “anonymizing overlay network”), BitCoin(a decentralized internet currency) and the Dot-P2P Project(an “alternative DNS hierarchy that resists censorship”).

These tools and services will make it much harder for any central authority to limit our access to information. And as the EFF cocedes in the article, its list is nowhere near exhaustive – there are a lot of other projects that do similar stuff. If you are anti-censorship, check out the article then do a bit of googling of your own to arm yourself. We may need these tools sooner than you think!

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Wikileaks.org is back up! Not a *huge* victory for freedom and common sense – but a victory nevertheless

December 15, 2010

On 3 December, we reported that you could no longer reach the Wikileaks site by using the wikileaks.org URL. Well, that is no longer the case: aim your browser at “http://wikileaks.org” and you get rerouted to http://mirror.wikileaks.info/ – one of the many, many mirrors that sprouted after the USA’s clumsy efforts to limit free speech. Not a major victory by any means. But a victory nevertheless.

In other (Wikileaks/Assange-related) news: Julian Assange is still in prison even though he was granted bail yesterday. The Swedish prosecutors have appealed against the bail ruling, claiming that he would pose a major flight risk. I’m not sure how the Swedes think he’ll flee: Assange’s face must be one of the best known in border security circles, plus they have his passport… but as things stand, he must remain in HMP Wandsworth for at leat another couple of days while this judicial circus runs its course.

This case is highlighting the problems with the new European arrest warrant system. Usually, it is only possible to extradite someone if the crime he’s accused of is also a crime in the country he’s “hiding” in. As far as I can tell, Assange’s alleged crimes are not illegal in Britain (what the Swedes call “rape” and “sexual molestation” are very different to the UK’s definitions – I believe one of the charges relates to Assange refusing to use a condom; the complainant admits that the sex was consensual, so how in hell can this be called a crime? He didn’t force her to have unprotected sex).

Anyway, a blog like this one is not really a good place to discuss the intricacies of Swedish law. But what I will say is this: Sweden has got very accommodating rendition agreements with the USA. If Assange is extradited to Sweden, it won’t be long before he ends up in America. And if you look at what politicians are saying about Assange it’s pretty clear he won’t receive a free trial and he’ll end up on a slab.

But do these people really believe that Assange is Wikileaks? The leaks will continue, regardless of his fate. All that will happen is that Assange’s colleagues will improve their security and anonymity. Killing (or imprisoning) Assange will not kill Wikileaks. And all politicians need to beware: if they treat Assange like a piece of shit, the leaks will become more and more damaging to the so-called “liberal” European “democracies” who are currently baying for his blood. So watch out, fools: the day of reckoning is nearly upon us… and you.

UPDATE: I just noticed this, a page that lists the very many sites that are mirroring Wikileaks in an attempt to stop the authorities ever again closing them down. Well, when I say “stop”, I actually mean “make it very difficult”. The USA has already demonstrated the length of its reach. But when Wikileaks is mirrored in a huge number of countries, some of whom dislike America intensely, the job of censorship becomes much more difficult.

There’s also info on the page about how you too can mirror Wikileaks on your web server. I say go for it! I think it’s about time that the USA learned what “democracy” actually means: rule by the people for the people; not rule by a bunch of rich geezers on behalf of their billionaire buddies. Or is my dictionary out of date?

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How to search the internet 4: Understanding search engine results

May 12, 2010

This is the fourth part of my guide on how to search the internet. Part 1 is here, part 2 is here, and part 3 is here. Part 5, about using “advanced operators” is here.

So you’ve used Google or some other web search engine, following the tips I’ve given you in this little series, and you’ve been confronted with “results” that don’t actually seem to be any help whatsoever. And it’s true, often Google comes across as an incomprehensible joke designed to make you feel bad. But don’t fret: Google (and its kind) really don’t want you to run screaming; they want you to use the results to find what it is you’re looking for. Unfortunately, this may involve having to learn a thing or two about how Google works. It may be scary-looking at first glance, but really Google want you to find their results pages easily to comprehend. They want you to return to Google.com every time you want help in finding what you want. It can be a rather intimidating interface the first time you look at a results page: but it is all pretty simple really. You just need to know how to understanding the reams of info Google throws at you. Hopefully, this 4th part of my guide will make it all seem far easier.

First thing first: very often Google will offer you a list of sponsored results that may give you what you’re looking for; but if you click on a sponsored link you will be putting money in Mr Google’s pocket and chances are that link will be useless. Forget the sponsored links: go for the meat and potatoes in the list of real links.

Look at the search results; very often you will find other kinds of info alongside those results. Stuff like:

Suggested spelling corrections: Google may think you typed in your query incorrectly. If you’re no good at spelling, this can be a life-saver. But if you know damn well you typed your query correctly, forget this option;

Dictionary definitions: Are you actually searching for the word/s you mean to search for? Maybe you are, maybe you’re not. Think about it. Spelling can be a right tricky operation;

Cached pages: Google carries a huge number of pages that are not currently up to date. Maybe one of those cached pages may contain the info you need. Worth checking if regular searches are turning up sweet F-all;

Similar pages: Often Google won’t find a page that contains the precise info you want, but it has algorithms to turn up similar results. Have a look at them, you’ve nothing to lose really…;

News headlines: A webpage dealing with your query might be hard to find, but it’s often easier for Google to find news stories on related material. And these news stories may well include links to more relevant info. This can save you a bunch of time searching for that little nugget of info that will give you what you want. Remember: news stories are updated frequently, whereas a static page may never be more relevant. Use those options;

Product search: You want to know something about a particular project name. So search for that project name, add a bit of info on what the product can/is meant to do, and see what turns up. This approach works a lot more than you might think;

Translation: So what you want isn’t available in your mother tongue. But it may well be out there for speakers of other languages. Just think: if you are looking for info on a product released by a Portugese company, what makes you think that info will be in English? Search Portugese sites, using Google’s Translation feature or the other translators offered by search services. These translators are often pretty crap; but at least it’ll give you a good idea of what’s what;

Do book searches: Useful info may not yet be available in articles, but books often contain useful stuff. So it can often be a good idea to do a book search;

Cached pages: When a web page is undergoing a lot of changes, clicking on a Google link to a page might take you to the latest version of that page, which may be missing information that was presented some time before. Sometimes, these changes can happen frequently, so a Google link will not take you to the info that the search results first suggested.

Fortunately, Google will often cache an earlier version of the page. So, let’s say a particular page yesterday contained the info you want; but you go to today’s version of the page no longer holds that info. A problem? Not necessarily. Next to the Google link to the updated page will be a link to a [i]cached[/i] version of the page; basically, a version of the page that Google downloaded and cached before the important info was removed. So you click to navigate to the cached page, and you will find the info as it was before it got removed. Google’s system of caching certain pages helps ensure that the history of the web is respected to a certain extent.

If you want to download a version of a page that existed longer ago (several weeks, or months, maybe even years) you can go to [b]The Wayback Machine[/b] at archive.org. This is a project to archive internet sites the way they were in the past, so the current generation’s “now now now” attitude doesn’t drive the history of internet sites into oblivion. [b]The Wayback Machine[/b] doesn’t promise to archive the internet of the past forever; but it is a very useful project that has a multitude of potential uses. Archive.org, like most such projects, is run by volunteers and is always in need of financial support, as well as more practical support such as providing servers. I’d advise anyone who finds such projects very useful to contribute even just a few dollars.

There’s a lot of info on how to understand Google results, and how to configure the way Google works to it gives you the info you want and hopefully protects your privacy, here: http://www.googleguide.com/category/understanding-results/http://www.googleguide.com/category/understanding-results/. I really advise anyone who’s seriously into using Google as best they can to check out this info. Google really is one of the best resources available online… and it’s free! Let’s make the most of it while we can! Before the goddamn Man tries to take it away from us!

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