Friday, June 21, 2013

Tempora, Prism's cousin across the pond.

Tempora is Brightens version of Prism, and it may be even worse then it's cousin across the pond. 

Rather than waste it's time going directly to sites like Facebook, Yahoo, and Google for their data, Tempora has found an easier way. It intercepts it on the world’s network of fiber-optic cables. According to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, the British spy agency GCHQ has tapped 200 of the world’s fibre optic cables, and is surveilling more than 600 million “telephone events” a day. It can also intercept e-mails, check Internet users’ access of sites, and can keep tabs on what people are posting on Facebook, according to documents revealed by Snowden to the Guardian.

It has also been revealed that the Tempora program  is sharing it's data with 850,000 NSA employees and private contractors. Do you feel comfortable with that many people having access to your personal data?
Snowden’s documents indicate that GCHQ has built up It's capability over a five year time-span by signing secret agreements with data transmission companies to attach probes to the trans-Atlantic cables where they meet British soil.

A good chunk of what GCHQ is intercepting would be pretty difficult to understand, or use. Internet traffic can be encrypted, and the massive amount of data would be nearly impossible to decrypt in a useful time frame. However, much of the data would be in-the-clear, like metadata about phone calls, and more often then not, web browsing data about what sites you’ve visited. Your Facebook activity can also be sent unencrypted over ordinary HTTP (hypertext transfer protocol), although this can be fixed with a visit to Facebook’s security settings. You can enable secure browsing to encrypt your Facebook sessions, which would make them hard, but not imposable to understand.

When asked how many people Tempora has targeted, the agency’s lawyers replied that it would be impossible to say because “this would be an infinite list which we couldn’t manage.” Not very promising. 

How many other Countries also have equivalents to Prism and Tempora? 
Is there any way to protect our privicy?

                                        [Who's watching you?]

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Obama changes his mind about "privacy", and "security" amidst NSA scandal.

It seems that Obama has changed his mind about "privacy", and "security" amidst the recent NSA scandals.

Back in 2007 Barack Obama had some very harsh words for president Bush (Who was having his own NSA scandal at the time) stating the following:    

"This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand… That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists… We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary."

Today Obama changed his tune, as is clear in this more recent quote:

 Barack Obama: "I think it’s important to understand that you can’t have 100 percent security and then have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. We’re going to have to make some choices as a society."

The CNN/ORC International survey, released Monday, finds that Obama's approval rating has fallen eight points to 45 percent, the lowest level in more than 18 months. There is no doubt that this drop in popularity has been triggered my the recent scandals surrounding the Obama administration. And with Edward Snowden, the man responsible for leaking the information that has brought the NSA scandal into the limelight now being called a hero by many Americans, it is unlikely that people will approve of the way he is being treated.

Speaker Of The House John Boehner has called Edward Snowden a "traitor", which does not sit well with those who are rallying in his defense.

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham has stated- "I hope we follow Mr. Snowden to the ends of the Earth to bring him to justice."  

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell: "Given the scope of these programs, it’s understandable that many would be concerned about issues related to privacy. But what’s difficult to understand is the motivation of somebody who intentionally would seek to warn the nation’s enemies of lawful programs created to protect the American people. And I hope that he is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."

And is seems U.S. Representative Peter King thinks reporters don't have the right to cover stories on the NSA, stating: "There is an obligation both moral, but also legal, I believe, against a reporter disclosing something which would so severely compromise national security."

And that isn't the worst of it. Director Of National Intelligence James Clapper had a very dodgy, and suspicious answer when he was asked about why he lied about the NSA spying in front of Congress: "I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful manner"

What's worse,  according to National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden: "The president has full faith in director Clapper and his leadership of the intelligence community" Something we should all be concerned about. 

                                               [Obama on NSA scandal]

[ Art In The Midst Of REVOLUTION]

It really amazes me that in the midst of civil unrest and revolution, you can find some of the most inspirational art- art that is so completely thought provoking and enlightening. These images are a window into the minds of the people.  I really feel that this is the spirit of the humanity, the images that they, in the midst of chaos, hurriedly paint, and draw on walls, and streets. The images below are coming out of Turkey.

Monday, June 17, 2013

[Istanbul, Turkey: The Violence Continues]

The violence taking place in Istanbul has not yet come to an end. And while the cause our friends in Istanbul are fighting for is a just one, it is painful non the less to see the blood that has been spelt in it's name. Unfortunately, revolution and violence seem to almost always accompany each other. It is a shame that the Government would not yield to the demands of the people of Turkey, and spare them this violence. In any true Democracy, that many voices would not go unheard. Our hearts go out to you, people of Turkey- I hope you accomplish all they have set out to do. Violence is never a good thing, no matter who it is that is being hurt, but it is especially painful to see these brave citizens being treated this way by their Government, that entity that swore to protects them.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Who Is Anonymous?

Anonymous has always been shrouded in a certain stigma. And as far as public opinion goes, they've always been the "bad boys" of the activist world, often going to lengths many other activist groups won't. They have many times blatantly disobeyed the law in the name of what they believe. They have been called terrorists, and they have been called heroes.

Anonymous (used as a mass noun)
Put simply, Anonymous is a network of "hacktivists" (activist that often use hacking as a means to raise awareness, or show their dislike for a group or organization.) In 2012, Time called Anonymous one of the "100 most influential people" in the world. They are described as "an internet gathering" with "a very loose and decentralized command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives". It is important to note that, although Anonymous is well known for it's hacking activities, not all Anons are hackers, and that their presence is not solely felt on the internet (They often take part in protests where they can be seen- flesh and blood.)

 Anonymous became known for a series of well-publicized hacks and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on government, and corporate websites.

 Members of Anonymous (known as "Anons") can be distinguished in public by the wearing of Guy Fawkes masks, like the one popularized in the film "V for Vendetta". The wearing of masks began with 2008's Project Chanology—a series of protests, and hacks targeting the Church of Scientology. The masks served multiple purposes. Firstly, for the protection of Anonymous members. (The Church Of Scientology is well known for targeting, and harassing anyone who openly criticizes them.)  Secondly, it serves as a visual representation of the philosophy of Anonymous- which is, in short, that members of Anonymous represent an idea, not a person- That they are a collective, not an individual. And while an individual may be arrested, killed, or forgotten, an idea cannot.

Brian Kelly writes that three of the group's key characteristics are
              "(1) an unrelenting moral stance on issues and rights, regardless of direct provocation;
               (2) a   physical  presence that accompanies online hacking activity; and
               (3) a distinctive brand."

It seems to be difficult for some to really understand whether or not our intentions as a group are good.
 Quinn Norton of Wired wrote of the group in 2011:

"I will confess up front that I love Anonymous, but not because I think they're the heroes. Like Alan Moore's character V who inspired Anonymous to adopt the Guy Fawkes mask as an icon and fashion item, you're never quite sure if Anonymous is the hero or antihero. The trickster is attracted to change and the need for change, and that's where Anonymous goes. But they are not your personal army – that's Rule 44 – yes, there are rules. And when they do something, it never goes quite as planned. The internet has no neat endings."

There is a lot of imagery associated with the group.

[An image commonly associated with Anonymous is the "man without a head" It represents leaderless organization and anonymity. Other imagery includes the Guy Fawkes masks, ]

Some people love them, others sincerely hate them with a burning passion. And still, many do not know who anonymous is. They see the mask, and assume that they must be up to no good. However, the truth is not that simple. And even the most law loving citizen can have a hard time accusing Anonymous of any wrong. Though they may not agree with the means, they recognize the fact that there is occasionally a situation that the law is incapable of correcting, for a number of reasons.

Many people fear Anonymous, and as a whole they do look rather intimidating. They don't fit the profile many people have about what an activist looks like. Contrary to popular belief, they are not there to do something horrible. And they do work towards the goal of bettering society. But they are also, generally, dressed in dark clothing, wearing masks, and are often hackers, who are not afraid to threaten groups they feel are in the wrong. They are also a group that has successfully hacked Government websites all over the world, and managed to rally large numbers quickly. One can understand the level of intimidation the public feels.

They are called terrorists, because they use the threat of hacking and retaliation against groups, companies, governments, and politicians. They are called bullies because they use intimidation to their advantage.
They are called cowards, for "hiding" behind a mask. They are called philosophers, for knowing that the true value of the mask is in the symbolism it holds. They have been called revolutionists, and it cannot be denied that their mask has been seen on many front-lines all over the world, where revolution is taking place. They are called insane, warped, and hypocritical. But they are also thought of in a more romanticized light, by those who support them. To their supporters they are modern day Robin hoods, vigilantes, defenders of freedom, and watchmen, who stand to defend the very public that often criticizes them.

Whatever you call them, it can not be denied that they have proven to be a powerful force, capable of rallying large numbers for a cause, and working together with great unity. And while many can condemn their activities, few can deny the fact that theirs is a  just cause. They have managed to gather members all over the world, and it is nearly imposable to know how many Anonymous members there really are. But they can be seen in every country, in every city.

 While they may seem off-putting at first glance, you need only speak to them directly to see that they are not as cold and intimidating as they first seem. And they have a certain sense of humor about their persona and image. They are made less intimidating when you consider the fact that it is your rights that they are fighting for. When it comes to Anonymous, you either agree that there are times when a cause is more important then the law, or you condemn them as criminals. At any rate, they are making a difference in a number of causes.

Remember that these are not just masks, they are men and women. They are your fellow man, citizens of your country. They are people like you, only they have seen enough of the lying and deceit that goes on in the Government's innermost circles. They are tired of half-true media, who only cover stories that are convenient, and agree with their own agendas.

I encourage those of you who are frightened of Anonymous, or uncertain of their group, to take the time to consider their cause, and hear their point of view. Do not hear them called terrorists on TV, and assume that you are being told the truth. The biggest mistake people make these days, is to believe whatever media tells them. There is a chance that, after researching them, you may not agree with what Anonymous believes, and that is alright. At least you could say that you didn't take peoples' word for it. But if you do agree, then there is a lot you can do to assist in their cause. And if you happen to meet, or see a member of Anonymous, I suggest that you talk to them, and ask them personally why they are part of Anonymous, and what it is they do. I have always found them to be very willing to talk to the public, and explain their group. 

Thursday, June 13, 2013

[Turkish Government Giving “final warning” To Protesters]

As clashes between protesters and police continue in Istanbul, the Turkish Prime Minister has issued a “final warning” to protesters in Gezi Park.

"Our patience is at an end. I am making my warning for the last time," said Prime Minister Erdogan the day after he promised to end protests “in 24 hours”.   
“We cannot allow troublemakers to hang around freely in this square. We will clean the square,'' he told local party leaders. 

However, the Prime Minister's words served only to aggravate protesters, who were defiant, and met his deadline with extreme resistance. Overnight riots ended up with police firing tear gas and water cannons in an attempt to disperse some 2,500 protesters, as they tried to erect barricades on a road that led to government offices. 

On Thursday morning police arrested 42 people in Istanbul who were peacefully marching around the park. Meanwhile, by the 14th day of bloody protests five people are confirmed dead, and there have been more than 5,000 injured. 

The atmosphere is getting more and more hostile, as protesters express fears that a "witch hunt" will soon be underway.  And with Prime Minister Erdogan not elaborating on the exact meaning of “final warning”, the people of Istanbul are left to wonder what lies in store for them during this time of extreme instability.

The actions taken by police over these last few weeks have led the Interior Ministry to order a probe into what the EU Parliament has called “the disproportionate and excessive use of force” by police. These claims from the EU Parliament seem to be confirmed by the violent images and videos coming out of Istanbul.

"Our inspectors in Istanbul, Ankara, Izmir and other cities have launched an investigation so no one should worry about that," Interior Minister Muammer Guler said Thursday.

One can only hope that a fair and balanced appraisal of the situation will lead to proper action being taken, but with a great gap appearing between the people of Istanbul and their leadership, it seems rather unlikely at the moment.

The members of the European Parliament have expressed their concern over the situation in Turkey. As members of the European Parliament are expected to vote on a resolution setting out their position, Prime Minister Erdogan slammed the EU Parliament, saying he will not “recognize the decision.”

 “I won't recognize the decision that the European Union Parliament is going to take about us ... Who do you think you are by taking such a decision?”

[Surviving civil unrest ]

Some would consider the active preparation for a revolution, economic collapse, or extreme disaster of any other kind unnecessary, and even paranoid. But revolutions, riots that last weeks, and extreme civil unrest have not only occurred, but have occurred recently. And once it starts, you may not be able to get your hands on necessary items. In instances of riots, or extreme civil unrest, stores in the effected areas will almost certainly be closed, as a precaution to keep goods from being looted or damaged, and to keep violence from spilling into businesses.  In this event, you will want to have all indispensable items on hand, and ready for use. At the very least it is wise to have a months worth of non-perishable food, first aid kits, and supplies. As well as protective clothing. Below is a list of necessary items, as well as tips and advise.

  • Water: large amounts of bottled water, or a way to purify water from a natural source, i.e. lake, or river. water that is unsafe to drink can be purified in a number of ways, including purification tablets, distillation, or a filtered purification system. When shopping for bottled water, or for containers to hold water, be sure they are "Food grade" water storage containers. You may want to have multiple purification methods at your disposal, in case one or more fail. The recommended amount of water is one gallon per person, per day.
  • Non-perishable food reserve: Items such as canned foods, dry ingredients such as rice, noodles, beans, etc. It is a good idea to have foods that require little or no preparation. canned soups, vegetables, and fruits are ideal. try to keep your diet as diverse as possible. Look for foods with high nutritional value, and as many calories as possible, as you will need them. It is important to keep your body healthy in instances of disaster. It's not a bad idea to have a daily vitamin on hand, to supplement what your non-perishable diet may be lacking.
  • Candles, Matches, Lighters.  There are candles, such as Sterno's 60 Hour Emergency Candle, that are specifically made to burn for long periods of time. You may find that normal household candles burn quickly. It is wise to keep a large supply of candles on hand, as they may, in some cases, be your sole source of light. It is also a good idea to keep wind-up flashlights on hand.
  •  First aid kit: It is important that you not only posses a few, but also know haw to use them. Keep your first aid kit well stocked. You are going to want to keep a large amount of ibuprofen, as it is an effective pain reliever, and fever reducer. Antiseptic spray, which can be used for burns, cuts, and stings. rubbing alcohol, and hydrogen peroxide are also good to keep on hand. Anti-diarrhea medicine is also important, as you may ingest contaminated water or food. And diarrhea in a situation where supplies are limited may lead to severe dehydration. Keep a wide array of bandages, in a number of sizes. If you have a child, be sure to keep pain relievers and fever reducers that are appropriate for their age.
  • comfortable and protective clothing: In the event of a disaster, riots, or all-out marshal-law, you may need to pack up, and move out quickly. It is important to wear clothing that is appropriate for the activities you may find yourself forced to take part in. It is a good idea to wear comfortable pants. Skirts and dresses are not recommended. You will also need shoes that are good for running in. Sneakers, or comfortable military style boots are well suited. It is a good idea to have a jacket or sweater, in case of cold weather, especially at night. A bandana, or other type of mask may also prove to be helpful. While they may seem trivial at first, they have many useful applications, such as helping to filter out the dust and smoke in the air you're breathing, hiding your identity, and allowing you to blend into crowds more easily. Bandanas can also be used as a makeshift bandage, or can be tied around a wounded limb, in order to prevent excessive bleeding. A hiking backpack will also prove useful, as they are strong, can take a lot of abuse, and can be used to keep necessary supplies on you while traveling from one place to another.
  • Weapons: It may not be a bad idea to keep at least some sort of weapon on you, as you may find yourself dealing with a number of people who want what you have, and know the law is of no consequence any longer. Raids, rape, and even murder may be rampant in a country with no law. A hand gun and holster are a good start. It is easy to keep on you, and can be concealed. You are going to want a full clip in the gun, and another full clip within easy access for fast reloading. Additional ammo should be kept on hand. Knifes and small hand axes are also useful, because they are multi-purpose. They can be used for cutting rope, material, or wood. Which is useful in a number of situations.
  • Items for children: Depending on the age of the child, there are a number of items necessary for their safety, well-being, and comfort. For babies, diapers, bottles, and formula are necessary. Breast feeding your baby is a good way of ensuring that they have food whenever necessary, but keep in mind that this will necessitate higher caloric intake for the mother. It is also important to pack an item that is entertaining. A stuffed animal, a rattle, a toy, to give them something to play with and comfort them. Blankets, and a change of warm clothing are also important. Remember to never leave a child unattended, and don't trust anyone with the safety of your child, unless they are a relative, or a friend you've known and trusted for years. Avoid traveling through crowds with your child, as it is easy to lose sight of them, and it is likely that they will be trampled in the event of a riot, or sudden rush of people.
  • Moving through crowds: When moving through a large crowd, stay as far to the edge as possible. If you are stuck in the middle of a stampede, run forward at a slightly diagonal angle, moving further to the side, while staying with the flow of traffic, once you've reached the edge of the group, keep as close to any walls as possible.
 Dangers of lawlessness for women:

Aside from looting, and robbery, there are a number of other forms of lawlessness that occur during a revolution. And women are a common target of these crimes. In a time when no one has to answer for their crimes, women must be on guard. Rape is a very common crime, and it is made more common by the absence of leadership. It is important that women dress to cover their bodies. Skirts, and dresses are a bad idea. Wear clothing that is difficult for your attacker to remove, but easy for you to run in, and jump fences with. Pants with a belt, a top, a sweater with a hood, and running shoes are ideal.  While wearing these articles of clothing along with a bandana or mask, it would be relatively easy for most to hide their gender while traveling through crowds.  Never travel alone if it can be avoided. It is a good idea to travel with a small group of people you trust. Don't trust strangers, or new friends. Whatever you do, don't encourage flirting or inappropriate behavior as a joke or a casual thing. While it may be safe in everyday life, it is dangerous in a time of mass unrest. In a lawless society, you may find yourself in danger from both sides, regardless of the side you're on. It is important to make yourself look confident, and unafraid. Don't think like a victim. Stand up strait, try not to look nervous, and tell yourself in your mind that you've got everything handled, and that you are capable of defending yourself. This shows in your behavior. Men are more likely to attack someone who looks as if they couldn't defend themselves.