January 28, 2011

Egypt's Internet Tourniquet; Wikileaks Publishes New Cables Re- Egypt

"[T]the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet. . . . [E]very Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs . . . is now cut off from the rest of the world. . . .

"At 22:34 UTC (00:34am local time), Renesys observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the Internet's global routing table. . . . Virtually all of Egypt's Internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide.

"This is a completely different situation from the modest Internet manipulation that took place in Tunisia, where specific routes were blocked, or Iran, where the Internet stayed up in a rate-limited form designed to make Internet connectivity painfully slow. The Egyptian government's actions tonight have essentially wiped their country from the global map.

". . . . This has never happened before, and the unknowns are piling up." Details at renesys | blog.

span style="font-weight: bold;">The point of a tourniquet is to stanch bleeding from an expendable appendage; Mubarak is using it to cut the body off from the head (I'll let you to decide whether the people represent the body, the head, or both).

UPDATE: According to reports here and here, Christians and Muslims alike are involved in the demonstrations, and some police have removed their uniforms to join the protesters. More news re- the Egyptian uprising at the World; Al Jazeera's English-language live video stream here. Al Jazeera's live blog here (Jan. 29; you may need to click around to find subsequent days).

Also, recall that the U.S. is known to have rendered suspected terrorists to Egypt for torture, some of whom proved innocent (UPDATE: see FireDogLake).

Meanwhile, Wikileaks released a new batch of cables today:

"The Egyptian 'people blame America' now for their plight under Mubarak" http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2010/02/10DOHA71.html

"10 Yemeni children were trafficked to Egypt for organ harvesting" http://wikileaks.ch/reldate/2011-01-28_0.html

"A new round of political arrests..." http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2010/02/10CAIRO197.html

"Mubarak's terror against writers, bloggers and journalists" http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/07/09CAIRO1447.html

"Egypt's abuse of Emergency Laws" http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2010/01/10CAIRO64.html

"Military will ensure transfer of power..." http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/07/09CAIRO1468.html

Mubarak private briefing for senator Lieberman http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/02/09CAIRO326.html

"Rogue Egyptian priests feed US adoption racket" http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2010/02/10CAIRO344.html

"Welcome to Egypt, FBI director...here's what's going on" http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2010/02/10CAIRO179.html

January 27, 2011

How to Donate to Wikileaks (Using Flattr or Other Means)

The old info power structure has mobilized to destroy Wikileaks and Julian Assange. Through proceedings probably contrary to law, Sweden has secured Assange's arrest. Amazon and others kicked WL off their servers, and PayPal, Mastercard, Visa, Bank of America, and other major banks are working to strangle the organization financially (even though it has yet to be charged with any crime under the law of any nation).

As a result, there's a lot of confusion about how to safely donate to Wikileaks.

"We have been losing more than 600,000 [Swiss] francs a week since the start of the publication of the diplomatic cables," Assange has told a Swiss newspaper. "To continue our business, we would need to find a way to get this money back."

Here's how you can help:

1. You can donate to Assange's defense fund through his lawyers' PayPal account, here. Whatever you may think of Assange, he's been a driving force in founding WL and creating its successes so far – I personally believe he's one of few people on the planet who understand the strategic challenges – and given the chance, I believe he'll continue to contribute to human advancement. Plus, it's worth it if only to help give the oligarchs a little h*ll.

2. You can donate to WL by mailing them a check. This may be the most fool-proof method. HOWEVER, it probably won't work if your checking account is with Bank of America or one of the other banks that's refusing to process payments to WL (another great reason to move your money to a local credit union); so confirm with your bank that they'll process it. Checks can be mailed to:
WikiLeaks (or another name likely to avoid interception in your country; say, Sunshine Products)
BOX 4080
Australia Post Office - University of Melbourne Branch
Victoria 3052
3. You can find instructions here for wire transfers to WL. (Again, make sure your bank isn't one of the ones refusing to process payments to WL.)

4. (UPDATE: I cannot recommend attempting to donate to Wikileaks using Flattr at this time. After repeated efforts during the last week, the fate of the money I deposited with Flattr remains uncertain. Also, the way the interface is designed, it's easy to think you're donating to Wikileaks when you're really donating to someone who submitted a post mentioning Wikileaks. If you'd like more details, please feel free to contact me.)

You can find a summary of the case for Wikileaks plus more ways to help here.

FURTHER UPDATE: Ten mos. after my original post, someone submitted a comment with a link to a page where you can donate to Wikileaks using Flattr; I've published this comment below (click on "comments" below if the comment isn't showing up). The link yields a page with posts that can be "flattred" in order to donate to Wikileaks.

Now, I don't want to disparage what appears to be a generally well-intentioned enterprise. But when I tried to donate to Wikileaks using Flattr ten months ago, there were several issues. First, you had to set up an account with Flattr, and it seems that at least some of the info associated with the account and your use of it will therefore be public, and of course all of it will be available to the owners of Flattr, who may or may not be good guys now but later could be the Koch Bros. Second, the site denominated funds in euros, not dollars; so since my funds are all denominated in dollars, it was impossible to put funds into my Flattr account and end up with a round number that could be fully allocated to Wikileaks. Third, I ended up having to exchange emails with Flattr support to figure out how to make a one-time donation of most of the funds to Wikileaks, because the Flattr system is built for monthly donations, not a one-time donation, and the way to do it was not well-labelled. Fourth, any funds left in your account at the end of the month, whether because you had an odd amount that couldn't be fully allocated or for any other reason, would go to a charity of the Flattr owners' choice rather than yours. And, like, how do I know they actually did that?

Hopefully, Flattr has resolved some of these issues by now. But having already spent way too much time on Flattr without getting it to work all that well for me, I'd personally be inclined to just go here.

Julian’s To-Do List February 2011

If all goes well with the extradition hearing…

1) Write screenplay for upcoming docudrama Mathematics is Complicated, So Am I. So Shut Up.

2) Do screen-tests for Hacking With The Stars.

3) Create a response to Stuxnet called Beyond The Palin.

4) Master the demanding yet genteel sport of falconry.

5) Publish leak which proves Team America actually exists - yes, DARPA has created artificially intelligent marionettes for counterinsurgency operations.

6) Consult with hairdresser about curtailing comparisons to Tilda Swinton and other ‘pigmentally-challenged’ public figures. Again.
Thank you, F*ck Yeah, J.A. Go there and scroll down for the visual.

January 26, 2011

Anonymous Wants You

To join Anonymous, no need to apply; you just decide you're in.

During the last few months, they've conducted online protests against entities participating in efforts to financially strangle Wikileaks, including Paypal, Mastercard, Visa, and Bank of America.

They've also engaged in actions in support of oppressed peoples in Algeria and elsewhere.

For news on the Egyptian uprising, see The Guardian. For news on Anon operations, see AnonOps Communications.

The State of the Union

B.O. was doubtless engaged in the same ritual just a bit earlier.

The ensuing speech may be observed here.

January 25, 2011

Wikileaks Update (2010-01-25): US Admits, No Link Between Manning & Assange; Etc.

Per NBC,

U.S. military officials tell NBC News that investigators have been unable to make any direct connection between a jailed army private suspected with leaking secret documents and Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The officials say that while investigators have determined that [Bradley] Manning had allegedly unlawfully downloaded tens of thousands of documents onto his own computer and passed them to an unauthorized person, there is apparently no evidence he passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure.
See also The Guardian. This is an important admission, because most legal scholars believe the US had no case against Assange unless it could show that he was personally involved in conspiring with Manning to cause the leak.

US officials also admitted that, after Manning "refused to follow an order," the Brig Commander had improperly put him on "suicide watch" for two days – which involves restrictions even more extreme than under the "prevention of injury" (P.O.I.) regime he'd previously been on.

Officials have otherwise denied any mistreatment of Manning. But he's been held in solitary for over 7.5 months under P.O.I., which involves severe restrictions that are supposed to be imposed only if necessary in order to prevent an inmate from harming himself, despite the fact that the psychiatrists who have examined him have reported that it's unnecessary. Note that Manning not only has not yet been convicted, but his case has not yet even been set for hearing. His attorney has filed a request for Manning's release based on the lack of response from officials and the fact that his confinement conditions are more severe than necessary, and the United Nations' top anti-torture envoy is investigating the situation. (For more details regarding the conditions in which Manning is being held, see FireDogLake; for more background and links, see here.) UPDATE: General James F. Amos, former commander at Quantico, has written a powerful letter questioning the conditions under which Manning is being held.

Meanwhile, the previous day, David House, one of few previously permitted to see Manning, accompanied by FireDogLake's Jane Hamsher, attempted to deliver a petition signed by 42,000 demanding that Manning be released from solitary. Not only were they not permitted to see Manning, but they were involuntarily detained and their car improperly searched and impounded; details at FDL. Last week, ca. 150 people gathered at Quantico to protest Manning's treatment.

Kevin Zeese has a good discussion on HuffPo of Manning's "crime" of revealing war crimes: "Manning is suffering a fate Thomas Jefferson warned about: 'Most codes extend their definitions of treason to acts not really against one's country. They do not distinguish between acts against the government and acts against the oppressions of the government.'"

Per Greg Mitchell, the hearing on Assange's extradition from the UK to Sweden is scheduled for February 7 - 8. Re- Sweden's case, a former Swedish judge has written that the issuance of the European arrest warrant against Assange was probably contrary to law and has noted a number of irregularities, concluding, "it does appear as if something is being hidden under the carpet” (good summary at WL Central).

The Guardian has an essay on how "WikiLeaks turned the tables on governments, but the power relationship has not changed: [t]he information genie cannot be put back into the bottle . . . [b]ut the authorities continue to exploit the internet as a means of control. Some bits are i.m.h.o. flat wrong, but others are good:
So now we have two competing, and ugly, forces locking horns like bulls. On the one side are governments who, as Evgeny Morozov argues in his new book, The Net Delusion: How Not To Liberate The World, are exploiting the internet as a means of control rather than democratisation. They are aided in their endeavours by corporations such as Amazon, Mastercard, Visa and others who do the bidding of the authorities either under pressure or quite voluntarily in order to ingratiate themselves. On the other side is a small sub-section of the web 2.0 community who regard themselves as above the law, for whom all authority is bad and all information is good. As Jaron Lanier puts it in the Atlantic: "The ideology that drives a lot of the online world … is the idea that information in sufficiently large quantity automatically becomes Truth. For extremists, this means that the internet is coming alive as a new, singular, global, post-human, superior life form."

* * * * *
The media watcher John Lloyd noted recently that the WikiLeaks affair "reduces investigative journalists to bit players whose job is to redact the output and provide context". This predates the current saga. For years the Fourth Estate has under-invested in and devalued its responsibility – to use that pious phrase – to speak truth to power. I can never put out of my mind the remark of an old colleague, a one-time lobby journalist at Westminster, who told me after his first week running communications at a government department that he was staggered by how little journalists actually found out. Much of the content of the British media has been reduced to toxic comment or stenography for the powerful in politics, business, sport and elsewhere.
In other WL-related news . . .

WL is suffering financially: "We have been losing more than 600,000 (Swiss) francs a week since the start of the publication of the diplomatic cables," Mr Assange told a Swiss newspaper. "To continue our business, we would need to find a way or other to get this money back." UPDATE: See here for how to donate.

A cache of secret British documents leaked not to WL but to al-Jazeera TV has embarrassed Palestinian officials because of the degree of Palestinian-Israeli cooperation revealed; much more at The Guardian.

The NYT has swung from publishing cables to throttling its coverage down while seeking to distinguish itself from WL and villifying Assange and now, apparently, back again: per The Cutline, The NYT is, like several other major news outlets, considering creating "an in-house submission system that could make it easier for would-be leakers to provide large files to the paper."

Greg Mitchell, who's been blogging the WL for The Nation steadily since cablegate broke, will have a book out on the story soon. Last I saw, the title was to be, The Age of Wikileaks.

A horrifying This American Life episode describes the indoctrination of school kids at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, against freedom of the press.

And the best recent, WL-related humor: the competition to design a new 'do for Assange (much more at the link).

January 21, 2011

The Commons that Was the Internet, & Why the Creative Explosion It Gave Us May Soon Be Over

Lawrence Lessig has a new article at Foreign Policy summarizing important factors behind the explosive growth of the Internet, and the imminent threats that could end it:

A “commons” is a resource to which everyone within a relevant community has equal access. It is a resource that is not, in an important sense, “controlled.” Private or state-owned property is a controlled resource; only as the owner specifies may that property be used. But a commons is not subject to this sort of control. Neutral or equal restrictions may apply to it (an entrance fee to a park, for example) but not the restrictions of an owner. A commons, in this sense, leaves its resources “free.”

. . . . But within American intellectual culture, commons are treated as imperfect resources. They are the object of “tragedy,” as ecologist Garrett Hardin famously described. Wherever a commons exists, the aim is to enclose it. . . .

For most resources, for most of the time, the bias against commons makes good sense. When resources are left in common, individuals may be driven to overconsume, and therefore deplete, them. But . . . . [s]ome resources are not subject to the “tragedy of the commons” because some resources cannot be “depleted.” . . . For these resources, the challenge is to induce provision, not to avoid depletion. The problems of provision are very different from the problems of depletion—confusing the two only leads to misguided policies.

* * * * *
. . . . [T]he Internet was born at a time when a different philosophy was taking shape within computer science. This philosophy ranked humility above omniscience and anticipated that network designers would have no clear idea about all the ways the network could be used. It therefore counseled a design that built little into the network itself, leaving the network free to develop as the ends (the applications) wanted.

The motivation for this new design was flexibility. The consequence was innovation. Because innovators needed no permission from the network owner before different applications or content got served across the network, innovators were freer to develop new modes of connection. . . . Since the network was not optimized for any single application or service, the Internet remained open to new innovation. . . .

* * * * *
Every significant innovation on the Internet has emerged outside of traditional providers. . . . This trend teaches the value of leaving the platform open for innovation. Unfortunately, that platform is now under siege. Every technological disruption creates winners and losers. The losers have an interest in avoiding that disruption if they can. This was the lesson Machiavelli taught, and it is the experience with every important technological change over time. It is also what we are now seeing with the Internet. The innovation commons of the Internet threatens important and powerful pre-Internet interests. During the past five years, those interests have mobilized to launch a counterrevolution that is now having a global impact.
The article's not super-long but contains much more that's well worth reading.

UPDATE: Great audio of Lessig here discussing the policy considerations underlying copyright law and some reforms we might consider that could actually afford greater compensation to artists while de-criminalizing non-commercial re-mixing and other uses.

January 16, 2011

SWF Seeks Mr. Right, Inc.

Per The Utne Reader,

The U.S. Supreme Court decided in the widely condemned Citizens United case that corporations enjoy the legal status of people – so a Florida woman is seeking the hand of a corporation in legal marriage.

Sarah “Echo” Steiner of Lake Worth, Florida, will hold a press conference on Saturday, January 22, to announce her search for a suitable corporate spouse, reports the Undernews blog of Sam Smith’s Progressive Review, citing a Facebook press release put out by Steiner.

One of Ms. Steiner's Facebook friends comments, "[s]omeone mentioned being satisfied on the consummation night, and I am thinking 'Too Big To Fail' might have a whole new meaning." Another suggests, "[i]f the courthouse won't issue a marriage certificate, there is another option. When the baby is born, list the corporation as the father of your child. The father is responsible for disproving parenthood . . . . "

Or perhaps a civil union . . . .

Utne also embeds this video about a corporation running for Congress:

January 15, 2011

Wikileaks Update (2011-01-15): Swiss Banker Leaks Data Re- Tax Evasion; Tunisia; J. Waters Re- J. Lennon; & More

Greg Mitchell is still blogging the Wikileaks story more or less continually at The Nation. He's also written a great article on it here, and The Nation's put together an illustrative slide show here. Best way to find Mitchell's current and prior WL-related blog posts is through this page. Among Mitchell's news today:

[From The Guardian:] "Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer [formerly with [Julius Baer Bank] plans to hand over offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous to WikiLeaks: He will disclose the details of 'massive potential tax evasion' before he flies home to stand trial over his actions." [Can't wait!] UPDATE: Reuters reports that Elmer will deliver two CD's full of info to WL tomorrow (Jan. 17). Elmer's being tried in Switzerland for breaching bank secrecy; but unlike Manning and Assange, he has not been detained and can travel freely. Further UPDATE: The hand-off to Assange has occurred; more at The Globe and Mail.

Scott Shane's new piece at NYT puts him in the camp of those giving a good deal of credit to WikiLeaks for [the] Tunisia revolt. . . . [H]e says the cables "helped fuel the anger on the streets that culminated Friday with Mr. Ben Ali’s flight after 23 years in power," adding, "the diplomats’ disgusted and lurid accounts of the kleptocratic ways of the president’s extended family helped tip the scales, according to many Tunisian commentators."

[Per John Waters, who's about to open a show inspired by John Lennon,] "I think [Lennon would] be thrilled with WikiLeaks. . . . I think the internet has always been potentially a force for freedom of speech and it's proving itself right now. And Lennon would have been just loving that."

Here are some kids' WL-related cartoons; the one shown at right is by #pranav_waghmare.

Award-winning journalist John Pilger has written brilliantly in WL's and Assange's defense; a few excerpts:

On 18 March 2008, a war on WikiLeaks was foretold in a secret Pentagon document prepared by the "Cyber Counterintelligence Assessments Branch." US intelligence, it said, intended to destroy the feeling of "trust" which is WikiLeaks’ "center of gravity." It planned to do this with threats of "exposure [and] criminal prosecution." Silencing and criminalizing this rare source of independent journalism was the aim, smear the method. . . .

* * * * *
"So, Julian, why won’t you go back to Sweden now?" demanded the headline over Catherine Bennett’s Observer column on 19 December, which questioned Assange’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct with two women in Stockholm last August. "To keep delaying the moment of truth, for this champion of fearless disclosure and total openness," wrote Bennett, "could soon begin to look pretty dishonest, as well as inconsistent." Not a word in Bennett’s vitriol considered the looming threats to Assange’s basic human rights and his physical safety, as described by Geoffrey Robertson QC, in the extradition hearing in London on 11 January.

In response to Bennett, the editor of the online Nordic News Network in Sweden, Al Burke, wrote to the Observer explaining that "plausible answers to Catherine Bennett’s tendentious question" were both critically important and freely available. Assange had remained in Sweden for more than five weeks after the rape allegation was made — and subsequently dismissed by the chief prosecutor in Stockholm – and that repeated attempts by him and his Swedish lawyer to meet a second prosecutor, who re-opened the case following the intervention of a government politician, had failed. And yet, as Burke pointed out, this prosecutor had granted him permission to fly to London where "he also offered to be interviewed – a normal practice in such cases." So it seems odd, at the very least, that the prosecutor then issued a European Arrest Warrant. The Observer did not publish Burke’s letter.

This record-straightening is crucial because it describes the perfidious behavior of the Swedish authorities – a bizarre sequence confirmed to me by other journalists in Stockholm and by Assange’s Swedish lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig. Not only that; Burke catalogued the unforeseen danger Assange faces should he be extradited to Sweden. "Documents released by WikiLeaks since Assange moved to England," he wrote, "clearly indicate that Sweden has consistently submitted to pressure from the United States in matters relating to civil rights. There is ample reason for concern that if Assange were to be taken into custody by Swedish authorities, he could be turned over to the United States without due consideration of his legal rights."

* * * * *
For example, in December 2001, with the "war on terror" under way, the Swedish government abruptly revoked the political refugee status of two Egyptians, Ahmed Agiza and Mohammed al-Zari. They were handed to a CIA kidnap squad at Stockholm airport and "rendered" to Egypt, where they were tortured. When the Swedish Ombudsman for Justice investigated and found that their human rights had been "seriously violated," it was too late.

Much more worth reading here.

Finally, here's the unedited version of Colbert's interview of Assange:

From Colbert Nation.

January 14, 2011

Chad Hopper's "Sky Worms"

Note Paul Slocum as the Fidgeting Chauffeur. I love the use of audio to subvert or re-define visuals (e.g., "herds" of ducks); the juxtapositions of nature vs. our tech-based but already rapidly-obsolescing virtual world, and of historical, "Olde West" clichés vs. modern trademarks; the sense of disorientation created by the welter of completely familiar yet completely odd or incongruous elements; the Zen-ness; the humor; etc.


(Man, is she pink.) One commenter suggested the artist should have bleeped "bless" instead of "God." Or maybe if he just cut all the words except "America."

Note to Moi: Find Local "Ratso" Equivalent.

January 13, 2011

Tim Knowles' "Post Box"

"A parcel's journey from London E3 5QZ to Barra HS9 5XW.

"Revealing the unseen world of how mail is delivered to the farthest corners of the UK, Royal Mail gave Tim Knowles unique access to its delivery system. Creating an artwork that captures the experience of a parcel in the post – carried by foot, Royal Mail vans and trucks, a Boeing 737-300 cargo plane, a small Shorts 360 propeller Aircraft and a ferry – this object traveled 20 hours, 22 minutes. A specially constructed parcel recorded its own 902-mile journey through the postal system from London to the Isle of Barra, in a sequence of 20,000 images, a continuous audio recording and a GPS track.

"The artwork consists of a website on which the journey can be followed, and an accompanying book with 155 color photographs selected from the journey. . . .

* * * * *
"Post Box can be experienced at www.e3-hs9.com."

I really enjoyed the slide show here. Knowles is represented by bitforms.

UPDATE: Here's an "after" image of what was shipped.

Happy Ending

More from Geekology (for a larger version, click on the image and then click again or zoom):

This is a copy of the official termination form of some assistant manager from a Domino's in Whoknows, Orcares, USA. The important part is, I happen to know it's one of you. So, yeah – go ahead and fess up (also, try using your old employee-discount to order me an extra-large with mushrooms and banana peppers). Still, I think we can all agree this is entirely Domino's loss. THIS MAN HAS "DELIVERY DRIVER" WRITTEN ALL OVER HIM! Literally – probably in pepperonis.

Assange Kicks Kittens

Thomas Bodström is a lawyer for the two women accusing Assange of sexual misconduct. Bodström is a former justice minister. In Sweden the justice minister is the head of the Ministry of Justice. (Imagine if, after retiring as head of the US Dept. of Justice, Eric Holder's next career move was to take on a case representing two women re- charges of unprotected sex.)

While serving as justice minister, Bodström is said to have used CIA agents to have two terror suspects (Agiza and Alzery) deported from Sweden and "rendered" to Egypt, where they claim to have been tortured. The two eventually had their deportations overturned and were awarded damages against the Swedish state.

Bodström has denied having known how the deportations were carried out. But some wonder whether he involved himself in the proceedings against Assange in an effort to prevent Wikileaks from revealing the truth about his ties to the CIA and torture.

Claes Borgstrom, the interviewee in the video below, is Bodström's is a close personal friend and law partner.

January 12, 2011

Wikileaks UPDATES (2011-01-12): US Subpoenas Twitter Data; US Bank Leak Publication Delayed

A few notable items since my last updates:

(The image at right shows Wikileaks' backup servers and routing paths as of 2010-12-10, from from Tom's Viewpoint.)

The US Dept. of Justice has subpoenaed mass quantities of information from Twitter, including records re- Icelandic Member of Parliament and former Wikileaks volunteer, Birgitta Jonsdottir (see The Guardian). The subpoena became known only because Twitter "took the unusual step of seeking to unseal the court order so it could follow its own internal policies and notify its customers . . . that the government wanted information about them" (The NYT). Note that Twitter's "resistance," though laudable as far as it goes, does not actually amount to telling the gov't to f**k-off; rather, all they've done is notified the holders of the specific accounts named in the subpoena that they have just ten days to file a motion to block release of the subpoenaed info or otherwise resolve the matter, or Twitter will give the info up.

It's believed Facebook, Google, and others likely received similar subpoenas but opted not to resist them (see Glenn Greenwald at Salon; Fast Company).

Also note, the actual text of the subpoena suggests the US DoJ is seeking records re- anyone who's ever followed or even looked at #Wikileaks: Twitter was ordered to provide, among other things, "[a]ll records and other information relating to" "each account registered to or associated with Wikileaks" and several others, including "records of user activity for any connections made to or from [any such] Account," etc.

Glenn Greenwald notes further: "Three other points: first, the three named producers of the 'Collateral Murder' video . . . – depicting and commenting on the U.S. Apache helicopter attack on journalists and civilians in Baghdad – were Assange, Jónsdóttir, and Gongrijp. Since Gongrijp has had no connection to WikiLeaks for several months and Jónsdóttir's association has diminished substantially over time, it seems clear that they were selected due to their involvement in the release of that film. Second, the unsealing order does not name either Assange or Manning, which means either that Twitter did not request permission to notify them of the Subpoena or that they did request it by the court denied it. Finally, WikiLeaks and Assange intend to contest the subpoena served." ("Collateral Murder" video here.)

The NYT has an article here discussing the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act, which has, they say, failed to keep up with tech developments.

Re- Assange's "insurance file," New Statesman says per an interview of Assange by John Pilger, "[i]t is not just government that should be worried about the content of these files . . . . 'There are 504 US embassy cables on one broadcasting organisation, and there are cables on Murdoch and News Corp,' says Assange."

US and other journalists have been very busy trying to distinguish themselves from Wikileaks while throwing it under the bus, wrongly blaming WL for indiscriminate disclosures that they themselves or others made, and then issuing belated, inconspicuous corrections. More here; see also Nancy Youssef for McClatchy.

Bloomberg reports, "WikiLeaks won’t publish documents concerning a U.S. bank immediately, founder Julian Assange said in an interview with Tribune de Genève. . . . WikiLeaks has been losing more than 600,000 Swiss francs ($622,000) a week since releasing a collection of diplomatic cables, the newspaper said." (I've been unable to locate the interview in the Tribune and have an e-mailed request in to Bloomberg about it.) (See info in the sidebar at left for how to donate; lately, Flattr seems to be the preferred means.)

Pithy News has produced a 47-second life of Assange:

A Few Headlines: "Learned Helplessness" in Schools, Missing Billions, & More Media Control

1. At DU, links to info re- "CIA torture theorist working for KIPP charter schools": former American Psychological Association (APA) President Martin Seligman originated a theory re- "learned helplessness" which, if I understand correctly, involves breaking down individuals' autonomy and replacing it with uncritical compliance with authority. Seligman actively assisted in the development of the CIA’s torture techniques, and now his theories are apparently being used on students in charter schools. More at the link and at Schools Matter.

2. At The Fiscal Times, "Billions of Dollars 'Vanish' in Afghanistan." "The United States has spent more than $55 billion trying to rebuild war-torn Afganistan and win the confidence of the people, but most of that money can’t be accounted for or has been wasted on failed projects." More at the link.

3. At HuffPo, "FCC breaks Obama's promise, allows corporate censorship online with fake Net Neutrality"; more at the link.

4. The FCC and Department of Justice may be about to approve a proposed merger between Comcast and NBC Universal. Below, Al Franken explains why this would be disastrous for the rest of us and how you can help stop it.

January 11, 2011

Hirst's Heaven

To create For Heaven's Sake, Hirst reportedly made a mold of a baby skull from a 19th century pathology collection he'd acquired, cast the form in platinum, and encrusted it with 8,000 diamonds.

Previous posts on Hirst here.

UPDATE: At right, competition (from Obvious Winner, via Geekology and Boing Boing; thanks Ben!):

"Glitch" at CentralTrak

(I'll have a piece in the corridor.)

A group video show curated by John Pomara and Dean Terry.

Opening reception this Sat., Jan. 15, 6 - 8PM

CentralTrak Gallery
800 Exposition Ave. (betw. 500X + Fair Park)
Dallas, TX
Free parking on streets + in the lot across Ash from CentralTrak.
(Click on the image at right for a larger version and more info.)

Also in the same neighborhood that night will be distressing a manufactured hope at The Reading Room, 3715 Parry Ave., 7-9PM and Imprints: Three Generations of 500X and more, at 500X, 500 Exposition Ave., 7-10PM.

UPDATE: Below is the piece by Jon Cates that was in the show; and you can see his "art talk" here:

January 4, 2011

Wikileaks: What's Shown When the Barn Door's Closed

In case you hadn't heard . . . .

  • Per The Christian Science Monitor, "[t]he US State Department has directed its staff around the world not to surf the WikiLeaks website . . . ."
  • Per WaPo, the Office of Management and Budget has ordered federal employees and contractors not to look at classified info published by Wikileaks, and the Defense Department issued a similar order.
  • The Guardian reports, "[t]he Library of Congress tonight joined the education department, the commerce department and other government agencies in confirming that the ban is in place. . . . Although thousands of leaked cables are freely available on the Guardian, New York Times and other newspaper websites . . . the Obama administration insists they are still classified and, as such, have to be protected. . . . [Employees were warned,] '[a]ccessing the WikiLeaks documents will lead to sanitisation of your PC to remove any potentially classified information from your system, and the [sic] result in possible data loss.'"
  • Per The Wall Street Journal, "The Air Force said it had blocked [from their personnel's computers] more than 25 websites [including The NYT 's and others] that contained the [leaked cables] . . . . The Office of the Secretary of Defense has issued guidance against visiting WikiLeaks or downloading documents posted there . . . ."
  • Per The Christian Science Monitor, "[t]he US State Department has directed its staff around the world not to surf the WikiLeaks website . . . ."

These efforts on the part of our Fearless Leaders (call them "FLs") to close the barn door after the horse was gone struck a lot of observers as ludicrous. We can't stop the rest of the world from reading the stuff, but dang it, we've got to blindfold somebody, so we'll just blindfold our own! At first glance, "[i]t's like kids covering their eyes and thinking that this keeps other people from seeing them" (quoting Curt Cloninger in an entirely different context).

But additional inferences are worth teasing out.

1. If our FLs' main concern were to carry out their mission of furthering the US's welfare, surely they would want their (our) own employees and contractors to be fully aware of whatever the rest of the world knows, rather than being handicapped by ignorance. If you're a company, and your competitors and customers got hold of info about all the glitches in your product, would you send your sales force out without any preparation for the questions and challenges they'd likely face? If you're playing football, do you want to be in a situation where the other side knows your team's strategy, but your own players have no clue? Of course not.

I'm not among those who believe our FLs are simply stupid. So, what else might motivate our FLs to order their own people to keep themselves in the dark?

(a) To the extent the secrets are embarrassing to other countries – ok, those countries might stop sharing their secrets with us; but will keeping US employees and contractors ignorant of what everyone else knows likely fix that problem? Like, yeah, the world knows that secret I told you last week, but I'll trust you with a new one if you make your servants promise not to read the old one? I don't think so.

(b) To the extent the secrets are embarrassing to our own FLs – aye, there's a motive that makes sense. Because the FLs' employees and contractors might stop obeying them, if they realize the extent to which the purpose of the secrecy is merely to hide crimes and corruption. Our FLs certainly don't want more Bradley Mannings.

(c) The rationale for the ban actually stated by our FLs is that the documents are classified, and the fact that they've been leaked doesn't automatically declassify them – i.e., it's the principle of the thing. Note that upholding the principle, even at the risk of handicapping our own people, does accomplish one thing: it sends the message that unquestioning obedience to the secrecy rules is required, even when it's senseless or even harmful. (Too bad our FLs aren't so concerned to make this point when it comes to the rules applicable to banks et al.) (UPDATE: I didn't bother disputing another, even flimsier pretext given for the policy, that info downloaded from WL might contain malware. And now the Pentagon's issued a memo confirming that Dept. of Defense "employees who downloaded classified documents from Wikileaks . . . may delete them without further 'sanitizing' their systems or taking any other remedial measures" {via Secrecy News}.)

In sum, the explanation for the ban that makes the most sense is that it is motivated by our FLs' desire to maintain their own control over those beneath them and thus their power over all of usand that that goal is more important to our FLs than the goal of furthering our welfare through diplomacy, etc. (which would be better served by making sure our employees and contractors were fully informed about all relevant info).

2. Assange's strategy of provoking FLs with too many of the wrong kind of secrets to tighten security, thus degrading their own organizational I.Q. and possibly hastening their own demise, may be working. (For more about Assange's overall strategy, which few others seem yet to have discerned, see my earlier post here, among others.)

January 3, 2011

Political Art Month: July, 2011

The theme's just been announced by Gene Elder of the MUD Underground: Homeland Aesthetics.

H*ll, yeah – less "security theater"; more real theater! (And other arts.)

Speaking of security theater . . .

But wait'll DHS greases them!

January 2, 2011

John Pilger in Conversation with Assange

This is long-ish, but gives Assange time to discuss the big picture, including Wikileaks' role and those of various factions arrayed for and against it, as well as the substantive content and effects of some of Wikileaks' important publications.

Pilger’s latest film premiered in London on Dec. 7, and includes interviews with Assange. The footage below was uploaded by Pilger to vimeo (where you can find more of Pilger's videos) on Dec. 28; I'm guessing it was shot in connection with the doc.

Pilger’s film, The War You Don't See, is available to watch on the ITV website until January 14, 2011. (Haven't seen it yet, but I probably will soon.)

On another note, I'm thinking maybe Julian should lose the photo currently up on the WL site; the pinky pose kinda reminds me of . . . .

Sara Krugman at Flux Factory

Exhibition Jan. 14 - 21.

(Left, Pump Skin series, #1. Pig and human skin, Animas Ping insulin pump (2010).)

Some Cool WL Graphics AND a WL-Inspired M.I.A. Mixtape

Click on any image for a larger version.

The first graphic (top right), shows the numbers of civilians killed in Afghanistan per the leaked logs; interactive version at The UK Guardian.

The second (left), lets you browse a database of cables based on location; interactive version also at The UK Guardian.

The third (below right), maps the cables by source; original version also at The Guardian.

The last graphic (bottom left), shows some of the kinds of efforts to silence Wikileaks; really big version at Daily Infographic.

And you can download a rockin' WL-inspired M.I.A. mixtape for free, here.

January 1, 2011

Student Protests TSA Searches

On Thur., Dec. 30, Aaron Tobey, a student at the University of Cincinnati, stripped down to his underwear at a Richmond, Virginia airport in protest of TSA scannings and pat downs, exposing the following message written on his chest and abdomen: "Amendment 4: The right of the people to be secure against unreasonable searches and seizures shall not be violated." Tobey was charged with disorderly conduct. Details here.

Just added this to the quotes in the sidebar at left:

Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders . . . . and millions have been killed because of this obedience . . . . Our problem is that people are obedient allover the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves . . . [and] the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.
(Howard Zinn, Failure to Quit, South End Press, 2002; originally published 1993). But I have to admit, I also like this solution:

FINALLY – A great alternative to body scanners at airports . . .

The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners at the airports.

It’s a booth you can step into that will not x-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on you. They see this as a win-win for everyone . . .

More at the link.