“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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Google censoring searches in China again

02/08/2018
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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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Darknet Part 3: How people got caught

10/07/2018

Part 3 of an occasional series of videos about the Darkweb, hidden services, anonymity… all the good stuff that we need, and need to know about!

Excellent Defcon presentation by Adrian Crenshaw detailing how some Tor users got caught.  TL;DR: it’s all down to faulty OpSec.  Be careful all the time, use your common sense, and all well be well.  So long as there aren’t 0days in Tor Browser that the Man knows about and the devs don’t…

But this isn’t too long to watch.  So watch it!  Even if you don’t use the darknet it is hugely informative and entertaining.  And if you do use Tor or otherwise have an interest in anonymity (which means you!), it is doubly informative and entertaining… in fact it is essential for everyone to watch.  So watch it!

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There’s a special browser that leads to a secret web…

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So all you want is bloody poetry huh?

17/04/2016

I try to blog as often as I can.  But I’m really depressed that only my poems get Likes.  My political, cultural and other entries get next to no interest.  I’m not going to stop posting stuph about politics, culture, privacy, security and the other subjects that get me riled.  And the poetry of course (bread and circuses FFS).  I’d just be happier if my “serious” posts got more attention.

Also, even the poems get next-to-no Comments.  I need Comments so I can hopefully improve. Please please, poetry Likers, could you also Comment?  I’d really appreciate it.  Thanks for reading.

UPDATE: as of 18 April (day after posting) I’ve received two Likes: from anthonymize and Juansen Dizon.  Just general, click-the-Like-button likes, and no comments.  Likes please me, as I have an ego that enjoys beeing stroked; but the whole point of this post is that I want Comments too.  If you’re too shy to make Comments readable by everyone who visits the blog post, there’s a Contact Form button at the top of the page.  You can put your Comments there, abd if you want anonymity that’s what I’ll give you – your name etc will not be kept on record if that’s what you want.

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Leave Comments, damn your eyes!

This blog isn’t an anthology of what I consider my best work.  I put works-in-progress here, meh stuph that I’d love to be reviewed and love to get Comments on.  So pleeeze! – if you have the time, write something in the Comments or Contact Form.  Comment on my blog, I’ll come look at your blog, if you have a blog of course, and if I can create a window in my already bursting bag of commitments.  That last bit is a joke of course.  But in all serious, Comment on me and I’ll Comment on yours.  Quid Pro Quo I think it’s called: washing each others’ backs.

Cheers, Martin X!


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Blowing Whistles

18/02/2016

If you’re at all interested in the case of NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden, you may be interested in watching the excellent documentary film Citizen 4.  You can download it from here.  Well worth checking out.

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Ed Snowden.  Image from Wikimedia.


Freepost address for the Conservative Party

10/02/2016

If you want to contact the Conservative Party about anything, but didn’t want to buy a stamp for the letter (maybe because you don’t earn a living wage, or your benefits have been sanctioned…), fear not!  On Facebook I found a Freepost address so you can send mail to the Tories without worrying about the cost of postage.  You still have to provide writing paper and envelope yourself… but every little bit helps, doesn’t it?

The address is:

Freepost RTHS-TLXL-XKXK
The Conservative Party
4 Matthew Parker Street
LONDON
SW1H 9HQ

I haven’t actually tried it myself, as I only just discovered it.  I think it would be great if anyone who writes to the address reports the success or failure of their attempt; so if the Freepost no longer works I can edit this blog post accordingly.  Similarly, if anyone knows of other Freepost addresses, or 0800 phone numbers so we can call them for free, I’ll gladly add them to this post.  Information sets us free.  And there’s something extra satisfying about sending an actual letter through the post rather than emails, don’t you think?

Please don’t use this address to send the government any offensive or hate mail.  That would possibly be a crime, and in no way do I encourage you to do so!  Thanks.

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Send the prime minister a letter today!  I’m sure Dave is looking forward to a robust conversation with the British electorate!


ibVPN could save you from ID theft, stolen bank details and so much more!

14/01/2016

Nowadays, there’s a lot going around about online secrecy, security, anonymity, theft of bank details and personal info… and a whole lot more.  For instance, did you know that you could decide to take advantage of McDonald’s free wifi while supping on a coffee… and someone else, with a gizmo like the Hak5 Pineapple, could snaffle all your data right out of the air.  And if you’d engaged in online shopping or banking, or even just putting in a password, your economic and personal freedom could possibly be stolen!

Of course, these “man-in-the-middle” attacks are nothing new.  But as tech like the pineapple gets more sophisticated, and cheaper, there are more and more evil computer-aided villains out there willing to sit near free hotspots waiting for a non-security-minded person to get tangled in their web of deceit.  In fact, these crooks don’t necessarily need a laptop to carry out these attacks – a smart phone will do much of the time.  And think about it, how many bods with smart phones do you see in McDonald’s, Burger King’s, Subway, etc etc?  That’s a lot of potential crime… and as anyone who’s suffered this before will tell you, re-securing your bank and other details is no laughing matter!

One way round these criminals is with the use of a Virtual Private Network (or VPN).  When you’re connected to the wev via a VPN, all your outgoing and incoming data is encrypted, meaning that a potential eacesdropper can’t make heads or tails out of anything you send or receive.  An excellent VPN service provider is ibVPN (invisible browser VPN).  You can get a free trial, it increases your online privacy and securely unblocks geo-restricted websites (eg you can watch BBC iPlayer even when you’re not in Britain, if you use a Brit-based server).  You can choose from +95 VPN servers in 39 countries, 63 locations, including servers set up for p2p (bittorrent etc) traffic.  You can surf the internet completely anonymously – hence the name “invisible browser”.  And their online support is extremely good – they have helped me out in the past, figuring our the most baffling problems.

Despite what you may hear on the news, enccryption and secrecy is not just for perverts, crooks or the paranoid.  In fact, that kind of thinking actually helps the crooks, putting you off using this technology to save you from criminals.

Believe me, sending an unencrypted email is like sening a letter on a postcard – easily read by anyone who can get his or her paws on it.  And with the scanning tech available, just about anyone can get a look.  Yes, you might not mind sending a “wish you were here” postcard to your mates when on holiday… but would you send sensitive info on the back of a postcard?  I know I wouldn’t.

Don’t fall prey to the crooks.  Use a service like a VPN.  And if you choose to use a VPN, ibVPN is a very good option.  They provide a very good service.

Go on, get a free trial from ibVPN.  No commitment necessary, and it could save you from the robbers and scammers!

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PS: Are you sick of crap mobile phone service?  Join GiffGaff, the mobile network run by YOU!  Get a free SIM card here.

 

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