“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.”

bmc-orange


an american idiot

20/07/2018
donald trump idiot google search

Don’t wanna be an american idiot? Too late Donald!

Ain’t it grand, how any idiot can game Google results and show the world who really is the idiot?

That’s what activists have been doing: do a Google image search for the word “idiot” and you get a fine selection of Donald Trump pictures!

This is how it works:

According to Inquisitr,  part of the reason for this result is that several English articles published last week included the Green Day song titled “American Idiot” in the headline in relation to Donald Trump and his trip to England; (protestors were actually using the song in the protests). This meant that images were likely titled to describe the article and used the terms “American Idiot” and Donald Trump as descriptives in the image metadata as well as in the article content. As a result, Google’s algorithm has paired these terms together, and with so many people reading and sharing these articles, it has pushed its relevance to the top of the search results.

When you type the word “idiot” into Google’s image search, Trump is the first returned result. This is partly because the Green Day song American Idiot was used by protesters to soundtrack his trip to London. But since then there’s also been a concerted campaign to capitalize on that association, and manipulate Google’s algorithm, by linking the word to the picture. Mostly this involved people upvoting a post containing a photo of him and the word “idiot” on Reddit. [from theguardian.com]

This trick has been used many times before.  For instance, there was a spate of hook-nosed caricatures posted with the single word “Jew”, which resulted in an Image Search for “jew” returning the hook-nosed caricature.

And it was used by Trump fans to associate the word “rapist” with pictures of Bill Clinton.

Many of these were rudimentary, almost meaningless. “RAPIST! RAPIST! RAPIST! RAPIST!” “Today this rapist turns 70. Happy Birthday, rapist.” Most originated from the notorious Reddit forum TheDonald, where fans of Trump congregated to spread his gospel of doing whatever you like, screw the consequences.

The forum moderators would pin a post to the top of the forum to encourage others to upvote it, and the swell of upvotes would push it to the front page of Reddit, which already styles itself “The front page of the Internet”, causing it to leap up to the top row of Google images.

They also did it with an image of Michelle Obama with features Paintshopped to look like an ape.  And the TheDonald team did it with the CNN logo and the words “fake news”.

So it’s kind of fitting that the trick has now been turned on Trump and his idiotic fans!

So is there a moral to be learnt from this story?  Of course not!  The internet is utterly amoral, as are those of us who spend too much time in it. Who knows who will be belittled and demonized next?  And that’s probably the best thing about it – he who demonizes today may be demonized tomorrow.  The internet giveth and… well, it don’t giveth anything but it demands its pound of virtual flesh!

trumps-an-idiot

bmc-orange


Cypherpunk: Freedom and the Future of the Internet, free download pdf

19/07/2018

assange-cypherpunks

Just found this download link for Julian Assange’s 2012 book Cypherpunk: Freedom and the Future of the Internet.  I found it literally less than thirty minutes ago, so I’m posting it here before I’ve had a chance to read it myself.  Once I have, I’ll tell you what I think of it.  In the meantime, check it out for yourselves!  And here is an excerpt from a review by Marienna Pope-Weidemann at http://www.counterfire.org:

A watchman’s shout in the night

Since the infamous PRISM surveillance system was exposed by the NSA analyst Edward Snowden, the existence of what the cypherpunks have long called ‘the transnational surveillance state’ is beyond doubt. Conspiracy has become reality, and paranoia has become the number-one necessity of investigative journalism.

Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet, published last year, describes itself as ‘a watchman’s shout in the night’. An apt description, given everything we have learned lately. What the book is trying to hammer home is the immense importance of the internet as a new political battleground: how it is structured, monitored and used has serious ramifications for political organisation, economics, education, labour, culture and just about every other area of our lives, because increasingly, their world is our world. And if knowledge is power, and it is never been as ubiquitous as it is in cyberspace, there is a great deal at stake.

Who are the cypherpunks?

Begun by a circle of Californian libertarians, the original cypherpunk mailing list was initiated in the late 1980s, as individuals and activists, as well as corporations, started making use of cryptography and, in response, state-wide bans were introduced (p.64). For the cypherpunks, the use of encryption for anonymity and secure communication was the single most important weapon for activists in the internet age.

Their rallying cry was ‘privacy for the weak, transparency for the powerful’; the dictum to which Wikileaks has dedicated itself. As discussed in the book, the subsequent evolution of the internet has taken it in the opposite direction: citizens, politically active or otherwise, law-abiding or otherwise, have lost all right to privacy, while the powerful hide increasingly behind secret laws and extrajudicial practices.

Cypherpunks is a collective contribution of four authors, three of them leading figures in the cypherpunk movement. First we have Julian Assange, who needs less and less introduction as time goes by (there are even two films now devoted to this problematic figure, the independent Australian feature, Underground, and the highly inaccurate box-office disaster We Steal Secrets). Assange has been hacking since the age of seventeen, when he founded the Australian group, the International Subversives, and wrote down the early rules of this subculture: ‘Don’t damage computer systems you break into (including crashing them); don’t change the information in those systems (except for altering logs to cover your tracks); and share information.’ Next we have German journalist Andy Müller-Maguhn of the Chaos Computer Club, co-founder of European Digital Rights and writer for Bugged Planet. Jacob Appelbaum, also a member of the Chaos Computer Club, is the developer who founded Noisebridge, an award-winning educational hackerspace in San Fransisco and international advocate for the Tor Project. Finally, we have the co-founder of the La Quadrature du Net advocacy group, Jérémie Zimmerman, a leading figure in struggles for net neutrality and against the Anti-Counterfeit and Trade Agreement (ACTA) who does not seem to be able to get on a plane without being harassed by government officials over his ties to Wikileaks.

assange4

Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks, has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2010 to avoid extradition to Sweden and USA. Pic from http://www.extremetech.com


Trump claims Montenegro a bigger threat than Russia

19/07/2018
NATO-heads-of-state-2018

NATO heads of state all looking at one thing – except Trump, who has something something else in his sights. As usual, eh!

In between rounds of golf and tea with the Queen, US president Donald Trump has told the world that he considers Russia as a more valuable ally than NATO and has called into question whether the NATO mutual defense agreement still stands.

Trump launched his assault on his NATO “partners” immediately, criticising Germany’s reliance on Russian natural gas, and other members’ failure to commit adequate funding for their membership.  He made it clear that he prefers Putin and Russia over some of his “allies”, and even called into question the doctrine of mutual defense.  In a Fox News interview, newsman Tucker Carlson asked the Prez why the U.S. should protect a country like Montenegro, which joined NATO last year; and Trump replied that he has asked himself the same question.

“Montenegro is a tiny country with very strong people,” Trump said. “They’re very aggressive people, and they may get aggressive, and congratulations, you’re in World War III. But that’s the way it was set up.”

NATO summit--Trump-shoves-Markovic

Trump shoves Montenegro Prime Minister Dusko Markovic out of his way at NATO summit

When Montenegro joined NATO, Russian president Putin didn’t like it at all.  So really it shouldn’t be too much of a surprise that Trump doesn’t like it either.  He declared that Russia did not pose any kind of danger to the US, contradicting everything he has been told by his military advisors.  The White House tried to put a different spin on it, but the facts are clear: Trump has got a very “special” relationship with Putin – more “special” than the “special relationship” US and UK leaders are supposed to have enjoyed at least as far back as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher back in the 1980s.

This also shouldn’t really be a surprise: in London Trump made it clear that his favourite thing in the British government was Boris Johnson, former Foreign Secretary who has quit his job over Brexit.  Trump said that prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans have scuppered any chance of a post-Brexit trade deal between the US and UK.  So Trump clearly wants May out of office and Johnson in.  Then the special relationship can be resurrected.

So, what did Trump achieve on this trip to Europe?  He offered the hand of friendship to Vladimir bloody Putin and Boris bloody Johnson.  He belittled or ignored his allies in NATO.  He undermined the British prime minister.  He called into question the principles on which NATO was founded.  And he had tea with the Queen.

All in all, a profitable few days.  Thanks Mr Trump!  Come back soon!

bmc-yellow


Hack Trump!

22/05/2018

 

“You’ll prise my iphone from my cold dead fingers!” Trump will never stop tweeting – luckily for hackers.

The intel is out: we’re on to hack the Don.  The White House staff tried to tell him that bringing a cell phone into the secure area was to bring in his own gaping goatse security hole.  But he insisted: he needed, not one, but two iphones.  One for calls, one for Twitter.  Cos yeah, we all need a special Twitter phone.

But even though that’s a bit against procedure in the White House, it’s not un-doable.  His predecessor Barack Obama was hooked on crack, I mean Blackberries.  He simply could not exist with his poor-excuse-for-a-smartphone.   So allowances were made and he kept his Blackberry.  But he was aware of   the security risks; he had a specially-modified one made up, without microphone, camera or GPS, and even this “military-grade” Blackberry had to be handed over every 30 days to check for tampering, further modification, any chance that it posed any extra danger.

And Trump’s calls-only iphone is issued by White House staff and swapped out “through routine support operations” to check for hacking and other security concerns (well, any extra security concerns over and above the security concern that he is carrying around a bloody listening device!!).  But he refuses to let them have his Twitter iphone, because it would be a nuisance!

I’m sure it would be difficult to hack Trump’s phone(s).  I’m sure his equipment is especially hardened against threats.  But when a target is as juicy as Trump, and you have potentially nation-state actors moving against him, nothing is hack-proof.

The White House banned its employees from using personal phones while in the West Wing in January. A statement at the time said that the “security and integrity of the technology systems at the White House is a top priority for the Trump administration”.  But Trump’s wandering the West Wing (and the rest of the White House), Twitter-phone ready to tweet.

The personal smartphone of Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly was reportedly hacked during the Trump transition.  And he didn’t replace it until October.  And Trump’s Twitter-phone hasn’t even been checked!!

This is the man who criticised Hilary Clinton for her use of a personal email server.  He is so dependant on Twitter that he needs a phone especially to tweet.  Note that he needs this phone (not device, oh no, it has to be a phone) to tweet (not to use for other electronic communication, oh no, he hasn’t used email since he came into office, he needs it only to tweet).

The guy is an idiot.  Don’t know if you’ve noticed that yet.

bmc-orange


North Korea has to be offered something substantial to disarm

16/05/2018

North Korea has pulled out of talks with Seoul and are threatening to cancel a summit meeting with the USA unless Trump stops talking about total unilateral nuclear disarmament. Which obviously has not gone down too well.

 

Thing is, the North Koreans do have a valid point.  The USA and its allies have to remember: it doesn’t matter that they think they have right on their side, when you enter into negotiations with someone you need to bear in mind that they think their side is righteous.  You can’t just expect North Korea to give up nuclear weapons because it’s “the right thing to do.”

Trump says that he will enter negotiations with one big precondition: the North Koreans have to agree to disarm.  That is a big ask: as far as Pyongyang is concerned, the nukes are the only reason why the Americans haven’t already nuked them.

The North Koreans believe their nukes give them a place at the big table, so they expect something big in return for any disarmament.  There are lots of carrots the USA could offer: note that cancellation of the talks with Seoul and the statement followed the start of USA-South Korean military exercises.  These exercises involve 100 US and South Korean warplanes including F-22 stealth fighters and B-52 bombers.  Of course the South Koreans say these exercises are purely defensive in nature – Moscow always says the same thing when the US and its European allies complain about Russian exercises.

So cancellation of US military maneuvers would go down well.  And, considering just how much the USA is asking of North Koreans, how about promising something just as huge: like a commitment to the end of American military presence in the Korean peninsula?

Trump would doubtless say that’s impossible, that the USA can’t abandon its ally in the south.  But considering how naked and defenseless Pyongyang will feel after giving up its nukes, maybe that isn’t too much to ask.  Gaddafi got some good stuff in the Libya denuclearisation deal, and he had a much smaller arsenal.

And we have to remember what Trump did to Iran just a few days ago.  Iran made a deal with the USA and friends to stop trying to enrich Uranium to weapons grade and abandon its efforts to create its own nuclear deterrent (the polite way of describing one’s weapons of mass destruction in atomic hell). But Trump has unilaterally cancelled that deal in what some see as a move towards military conflict  Kim Jong-un must have been watching these events unfold on TV with a WTF expression on his face.  He is seeing the lesson writ large, that America makes these deals and breaks these deals – Trump might promise all kinds of stuff, then once the Korean nukes are dismantled and production facilities demolished the USA say “We’e changed our minds” and come bomb Pyongyang.

I’m not actually saying that the USA enters into these deals in bad faith.  But I am definitely implying it.

Kim Jong-un has pledged to close down its nuclear test facility  in the presence of international observers, which is a major concession for them to make before talks, but America wants more.  But if they want the negotiations to even happen they’re going to have to make similar promises.  Or fiery nuclear hell might be in everyone’s near future in the region.

 north-korean-missiles

bmc-purple


British Muslim teacher removed from US-bound plane… in Iceland!

22/02/2017

Juhel Miah is a British citizen, a teacher accompanying students on a trip to Iceland and then, the plan was, to fly on to America.  But it was not to be.

Mr Miah, aged 25, was born in Birmingham and brought up in Swansea.  He attended Swansea University, where he got a first class degree, was one of five adults from Llangatwg community school near Neath, south Wales, who were accompanying a party of 39 children to New York via Iceland last week.  He had no problem entering Iceland.  But when it came to the next leg of the trip, flying on to the USA, everything changed.

At  Keflavík international airport near Reykjavik, Mr Miah was immediately targeted by US officials.  He told the Guardian:

I gave one of the American officials there my passport. My first name is Mohammed. It felt as if straight away she looked up and said: ‘You’ve been randomly selected for a security check.’

“Deep down I thought: ‘Here we go’ but I was polite and followed all the instructions. She took me into this room. There were five or six other officials. Two of them checked me. They made me take my jacket off, my hoodie off, they opened my bag, I took my shoes off. They made me stand on a stool. They rubbed me all the way down. They even pulled my trousers down to check my boxers. They rubbed their hands under my feet. They got a swab and wiped me all over. Eventually they let me go through.”

So he made it onto the plane.  But that was not the end of his ordeal. Not at all.  He was followed onto the Icelandair plane by an American official who told him he had to get off again.  And he was refused permission to reboard the plane and fly on to the USA – without even being given a reason for this treatment.  Instead he was forced to return to the UK, rather than being allowed to  do his job and accompany his students to America.

The US officials refused to give a reason why he was being treated this way.  And Mr Miah cannot think of a good reason.  He has never posted anything at all inappropriate on social media. He has not been to any of the seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan and Libya – whose citizens were the subject of Trump’s overturned travel ban. His parents are of Bangladeshi origin. His brother had no trouble visiting Florida last year.  But now, with Trump in office, suddenly Mr Miah is persona non grata in the USA.

He said:

“I hope this isn’t true, I really don’t want this to be true but it all started with the first American official I met and the moment she read Mohammed.

“I just hope this doesn’t happen to anyone else. That’s my number one goal now. I want a reason, an explanation. If it was a mistake someone should just put their hands up and say it was a mistake and it won’t happen again. I would still like to go to America one day. I just hope it boils down to human error and someone says sorry.”

The Welsh first minister, Carwyn Jones, has written to the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, asking for “urgent clarification”. The US has not commented.

Mr Miah has been very kind in his comments, but to a detached reader it is obvious he was targeted and removed from the flight – even though he had a valid travel visa – because he is a Muslim.

This might have an effect on his career.  He was subjected to a humiliating, pointless search before boarding the plane – and then he was removed from the plane as if he was a criminal, with his colleagues and students watching.  Through no fault of his own, Mr Miah has been stigmatised.  The Donald Trump “No Muslim” policy is being enacted, even though it has been suspended by the US court.  But, because no reason was given for his treatment, some might claim there was another reason for it.  The “no smoke without fire” principle.  Donald Trump’s ugly, bigoted, ignorant attitude is threatening an honest teacher’s life.

trump-may-composite

The bigot and the whore – you decide which is which

Why hasn’t the foreign secretary Boris Johnson summoned the US ambassador to explain this outrageous behaviour?  Is the clown too busy bumbling around, trying to conceal his extreme right-wing politics from the British electorate?  He is a vile man – but he is our vile man, and should be giving the US ambassador a harsh dressing down.  But no, he won’t get a response – he won’t even ask for a response – because the Tory government’s “hard Brexit” plan means the country must prostrate itself before the eminence noir of “President” Trump.  And good, hard-working people like Mr Miah count for nothing in the dangerous game our government are playing.  Theresa May is getting into bed with Trump, literally as well as figuratively, and when she emerges bow-legged from the monster’s den she will pass the syphilis onto the rest of us.  A syphilitic economy – that’s all we need – financial madness, removal of all the human rights we managed to gain from the EU – a political and moral sickness that is already dirtying our nation when our government connives with Trump to discriminate against British citizens on the basis of religion.


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