Tuesday, August 30, 2005


Violent Protests Down Under

Sydney Indymedia is reporting on the so called A30 protests (as in August 30, continuing a theme of assigning initials to the dates of everything from S11 to M1 and beyond).

It's generally unclear what the protest was about, other than the fact that it took place outside the Forbes 500 CEOs conference in the Sydney Opera House. This report seems to sum it up... Break down a fence, get arrested, keep on dancing. And post it on Indymedia.

Not to worry, you don't need a good excuse for some good old fashioned barricade busting and violence.

Leigh from the House of Wheels was observing and has a hilarious rundown of events including the fact that there were only about 1000 protesters (not a lot and hardly mentioned on Sydney Indymedia where it was referred to only as "a critical mass"). He also discusses the diverse (read: irrelevant) themes of the 'protest' and asks "why was it that the majority of the signs had nothing to do with the event actually taking place". Read it all!

Via Wheels and a Sydney reader:
If you feel like downloading 18Mb, you can view video of one protester being arrested here.

The heading:
Police Brutally Arrest Protestor
The video however seems to completely contradict this.

"The video starts after the arrest. It is unclear (perhaps deliberately) what the person did to prompt his arrest in the first place.

Context aside, the whole thing is very slow, there's no obvious signs of a struggle and as far as I can see, the Police were not "brutal" at all in dealing with this shirtless individual.

So why according to the article headline , is it "quite clear that excessive force was used"?

What do you define as "excessive"? Any force? Perhaps they should have asked him (very politely) to handcuff himself and trot down to the station?

I did hear the cameraman muttering something about "freedom of the press" and "we are recording you" to the officers (who looked like they were trying not to laugh at you I might add).

What sort of quality "journalism" leaves out:

a) The beginning of the story
b) All the facts other than an (apparently baseless) accusation of police brutality.

The answer? Indymedia...

Protest reports are the one thing Indymedia is really good at. Whilst it will invariably make anti-Police statements, the photographs and video allow a rare insight into these activities for those who don't like the smell of pepper spray.

Monday, August 29, 2005


What George W. Bush should say to Cindy Sheehan

Via Scrappleface, A bogus draft of Bush's Answer to Cindy Sheehan:
Directing national attention on my response to your protest creates a distraction from what matters. The focus of our attention, and our admiration, should rest on people like Casey Sheehan, who stand in the breach when evil threatens to break out and consume a helpless people.

The running story on the news networks should be the valiant efforts of our troops -- the merchants of mercy who export freedom and import honor. They trade their own lives for the sake of others.

As a result, we live in a nation where a woman can camp outside of the president's house and verbally attack the president for weeks on end without fear of prison, torture or death. And the number of nations where such protest is possible has multiplied thanks to the work of our military.
Read it all.
Indymedia protesters take extra special note.

Sunday, August 28, 2005


Well put...

Indymedia Ireland Watch emailed me to enquire as to the origin of the "Idiot Media" logo I used previously.

I found it on Evil Pundit and do not know the original source (Update:Evil Pundit designed it). A Google search for "Idiotmedia" led me to this summary:
Idiotmedia is a hate filled, racist, criminal, dishonest, brown supremacist message board. You want to believe it is a news site, but it is not. You may have started with the high ideal of 'let the people publish the news', but, sadly you let it be hijacked by hate mongering fools, and that is your fault.

Idiotmedia has become worse than the 'corporate media' it hates and sought to replace. And because every idiotmedia site around the globe has been successfully hijacked by fools who could care less about your 'pro peace' stance, fools who let you publish a few of your 'pro peace' bits here and there, to keep your support, and to keep your cover, you arent going to get your idiotmedia back. Its done. The original aim as noble as it may have been, has been sacrificed by you for allowing fools to control it.

Saturday, August 27, 2005


What Al Qaeda Wants

Amongst the muck that fills BC Indymedia comes one very interesting article (reprinted naturally) by a curiously well-connected Arab journalist detailng Al Qaeda's 15 year plan or "An Islamic Caliphate in Seven Easy Steps" if you will.
What he then describes...is a scenario, proof both of the terrorists' blindness as well as their brutal single-mindedness. In seven phases the terror network hopes to establish an Islamic caliphate which the West will then be too weak to fight.
Read it all. You can then skip the comments which blindly insist Al Qaeda doesn't even exist and is really MI5/Mossad/CIA.


DIY: Indy Journalist Training Facility

Using readily available and environmentally sound materials, Indymedia Ireland demonstrates their field deployable Indymedia Journalist Training Facility. This will allow for the rapid and easy production of the sort of journalism one has come to expect.

Impressive stuff.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Indy Media Watch Goes to the Movies

I watched Deuce Bigalow II, European Gigolo last night.

Yes, I know.

The movie itself was predictable, full of gross outs and the hate him or hate him Rob Schneider. Despite that, I actually enjoyed it. Whilst it's usually an insult to say the end of a film was the best bit, in this case, the subtitled freeze frames where we get to see how the characters end up (e.g. "Deuce Went on to have twelve kids" etc.) were hilarious.

My favourite bits however were when the movie followed in the footsteps of Team America, World Police by sticking its finger right up toward pointlessly anti-American sentiments in Europe, Canada and the entertainment industry. Janene Garofalo gets attacked from behind! Whilst it should be troublesome that a Pro-American film also features a man eating out of a toilet and a women with a penis (sorry, Mangina) on her face, the film doesn't take itself seriously, so neither should we.

Leave your brain at home (with Indymedia perhaps) and watch it if you get a chance.

Update: Rob Schneider responds beautifully to a bad review... Ouch! (Article or PDF Download)

Update: I swung past Chicago Indymedia to see if they were reporting anything on the disgrace that saw a local paper reporting for two years on a US father and soldier serving in Iraq and ultimately killed, who never actually existed. (Update: A comment advises I should have looked closer to St Louis than Chicago. No harm, they didn't have anything either.)

They weren't. I did notice however that someone there was also reviewing movies, including the same one as I. Different people have different taste, so his review and mine don't require comparison. However, the comments show some people really don't have a sense of humour.
How are Hollywood film reviews in the least bit relavant to the Chicago Indy Media site? If you were reviewing indy and semi-indy films like "The Corporation" and "Supersize Me" that would be one thing, but "Deuce Bigalow" and "The 40-Year Old Virgin"????? Come on JJ! In addition to being a complete waste of valuable space on the CIMC front page I can't believe that you're willing to waste so much of your time and energy on such a pointless endeavor.
Is it more pointless than say, BOB DYLAN BLOCKED THE BEATLESS FOR 13 CENTURIES which also occupies Chicago Indymedia?

Meanwhile, some people take the alternate viewpoint much too seriously:
The radical left cannot afford to ignore mainstream activities whether political, popular or otherwise. I've passed out leaflets outside of The Corporation (for StopCat), Fahrenheit 9/11 (for CCAWR) and a couple other movies. Others did the same. Why don't we do the same for fictional films that have messages that support our various endeavors? The Manchurian Candidate would have been a great place to pass out information about corporate influence and campaign finance. One can expect a similar warning about the power of multinationals in the upcoming The Constant Gardener. Not everyone in Hollywood is as ridiculous as Jerry Bruckheimer. Anti-war and anti-globalization messages come from unexpected places and we should be able to respond to that.
You'll be thrilled however to note the Chicago Indymedia movie reviews don't cost anything.
As per the recommendation of two CIMC editors I've invented a role as a CIMC Critic. CIMC does not pay for my trips to the movies. I sneak in at my own risk.

Thursday, August 25, 2005


Pick a Cause already!

According to an article on NYC Indymedia, a Critical Mass ride has been dedicated to Jeff "Free" Luers.

I have previously reported on Jeff Luers here . He was sent to jail for setting fire to cars at a dealership in Oregon. In some peoples' eyes, being arrested for arson makes him a political prisoner.

I always understood Critical Mass to be a pro-cycling (or anti-car) activist group. Why have they apparently taken this cause under their wing? Responses in the comments are rather telling:
Stop trying to co-opt Critical Mass for some other cause! I ride CM because I want to support the rights of cyclists in the city, not because I support some guy who set SUVs on fire. And simply because of the nature of the ride, who are you to dedicate it to anyone?
It does appear to have been hijacked. Another response says:
i dont think it matters whether you are riding

...in support of jeff and eco-activism
...in memorial to the 11 cyclists who have died on nyc streets this year
...cause you're sick of breathing stinky air
...cause you're sick of being run over by drivers thinking they OWN the road
...or cause you wanna get crazy, dress in a ROBOT or ALIEN costume, decorate your bike, get together with other bikers and have a good time at an afterparty.

what is important is that you are riding in critical mass!
Wrong. I would hate to attend a function or gathering for a cause I support only to find out later that I contributed to the headcount of those in support of an arsonist, terrorism, communism or whatever.

Pick a cause and stick to it. If your own movement doesn't have the numbers, there might be a reason for it. That doesn't give you the right to get a free ride on someone else's.

Speaking of which, support Support Land rights for Homosexual Whales!!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Card Carrying

An (ahem, ahem, cough...splutter) interesting idea has been raised on Melbourne (Australia) Indymedia.
I was thinking about the little laminated cards people can put in their wallets
"BLOOD TYPE: O" (tough luck mate, there's none left)
For when you're in an accident or something like that, and you're unconscious or dead or your jaw has been ripped off and you can't tell anybody your particulars

Then I got to thinking about terrorists. Possibly I was watching the news. Or just saw the title of a newspaper, and remembered that that's all they fucking talk about.
You know the drill: The eleventh of September. Bali. The recent London bombings. The other places that had explosions in them but we can't remember where because the people who died there probably weren't white. [Or because you are an idiot? - ed] I think it might have been Madrid. Anyway, thousands dead.

Then I began thinking about how these people have been turned in to martyrs.
But I wonder how many of them would have been comfortable with their sanctification? Probably only a few, unless they were the football players in Bali, with sport being (it would seem) Australia's religion. How many of them would have been comfortable with the idea that their deaths have resulted in an illegal war?
How many of them would be comfortable knowing that their horrible, sometimes prolonged deaths have resulted in censorship, ignorance, violence, suppression, hypocrisy, obedience and stupidity on a scale not seen since the Inquisition?

Hopefully, none (but then again, the Wall Street factor, with their families demanding compensation, for money heals all wounds).

My point is: none of them really expected something like that to happen, and even if they did, they most likely wouldn't have given much thought to what they would wish for if ever they were caught in the middle of such an event.
So the big idea:
I think a new wallet card would be appropriate:

"DO NOT MARTYR In the unlikely event of my premature murder at the hands of batshit crazy religious fundamentalists, I hereby request that my death be looked upon as though I had died peacefully in my sleep. In other words, meaningless and unheroic. My death should not be used as further ammunition for the illegalities and immoralities that are being carried out throughout the world by Western governments in the name of "freedom" and "democracy", words that have lost all import under the present tenure. I further request that I not be included in any publicly-circulated headcount, and that my name and particulars not be released to the media for the consumption of our frenzied, idiot hordes. To the finder of this card: put that fucking twenty back."
I don't agree with much of the above, and think the war on terror has nothing to do with the dead and everything about preventing more people prematurely achieving such a state. I am not a fan of those who purport to speak on behalf of the dead. I wonder if soldiers in Iraq should carry a similar card in case of Cindy Sheehan Syndrome?
I am thinking of getting these cards properly made up, for reals, and wanted to see if anybody was interested. Further, anybody with better graphical design skills than I is encouraged to submit their designs for consideration. Otherwise it will be pretty ordinary-looking, and probably won't be taken seriously.
Like Indymedia?

As the card design is a 'work in progress', I'm sure readers could come up with other ideas for what they would have written inside their wallets. To celebrate reopening of comments, let's hear them!


Bashing the Truth

BC Indymedia is reporting: US "Homeland Security" Employs New Tactic - Poor Bashing.
Washington — Asking for increased vigilance in the wake of the London bombings, the government is warning that terrorists may pose as vagrants to conduct surveillance of buildings and mass transit stations to plot future attacks.

“In light of the recent bombings in London, it is crucial that police([search]), fire and emergency medical personnel take notice of their surroundings, and be aware of ‘vagrants' who seem out of place or unfamiliar,” said the message, distributed via e-mail to some federal employees in Washington by the U.S. Attorney's office
It referred to a recent incident in Somerville, Mass., in which a police officer became suspicious about someone dressed as a street person. The officer questioned the man, discovered he had a passport from a “country of interest” — typically a Middle Eastern or South Asian nation — and a chequebook with a questionable address, the e-mail said. The investigation is continuing, it said.
And that's it. No one got bashed, except truth in reporting.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005


Comments Back

Comments were turned off after the site was attacked by a lunatic.

I have decided to re-enable unregistered comments as I miss some of them.

Blogger has also added a CAPTCHA to prevent comment spam.


A Social Strike

I always thought a social strike meant wearing a "Choose Life" tee-shirt to a funeral. Apparently, a social strike is being organized by SF and Bay area Indymedia on September 1st.

The local transport service, MUNI is raising fares to $1.50. Organizers say:
Passengers are being encouraged to not pay fares as they enter buses and trains, and drivers are being encouraged to not accept fares.
Hence the 'social' component.
Management is counting on the targets of this plan -- riders and drivers -- to remain divided, silent, and passive. Rather than being adversaries, transit workers and transit riders are finding that they have a lot in common, and they plan to work together during the Social Strike.
A website describes how it works:
  • Acknowledge the driver or station agent as you enter the MUNI.
  • Show the "transfer" flyer we have distributed, or wink, or mention the strike. Be polite and don't antagonize the driver, or try to trick them and sneak on.
  • Other ways to help: If you must pay anything, consider paying partial fare -a few pennies, nickels or dimes. Ask for a transfer and pass it on to someone else as you leave MUNI.
  • If police or MUNI officials accost you, don't answer their questions or incriminate yourself. Contact legal@socialstrike.org or as soon as you can.

  • Do what you can to help riders avoid fares. Be creative!
  • If police or MUNI officials give you trouble, don't answer their questions or incriminate yourself. Contact legal@socialstrike.org or as soon as you can.
Whilst I encourage forms of protest which don't involve pointless destruction, and even regret the lack of protest our outrage at senseless gouging (dollars at the pump for example) this effort seems to be a little problematic.

Firstly, what if the driver doesn't know about it? How far will your wink get? As far as a smile and discretely winking your way past a ticket attendant at any bus service in the world I expect. Why not simply walk on the bus and in a loud voice announce your protest? Presumably this would draw your protest to the attention of others and gain more publicity for it.

Secondly, as raised in the comments over on Indymedia, who is actually organizing this? It seems to be anonymous. On Indymedia, there is much argument over whether it is socialists, anarchists, trots or any other sectarian group.

No doubt if it is succesful we will find out. Presumably we won't when/if it fails or someone gets arrested for fare evasion. This was nicely summed up:
"My grandfather once told me that there are two kinds or people; those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try to be the first group; there's less competition there." -- Indira Gandhi
Update: Reader Alene has suggested I may have fallen victim to a conspiracy theory by not understanding the background to high fuel prices, including Indian and Chinese demand versus supply. I do accept there are numerous quite legitimate (howsoever unfortunate) reasons for high prices. I also know there are some examples of artificial price rises (e.g. gas station owners jacking up prices because they can). I raised it however, merely because it's an example I imagine most people could relate to. I wanted to illustrate how people don't always stand up for what they believe in. Thanks Alene for encouraging me to correct this.

If anything, protesting (in all its forms) has been made a dirty word by the violence and stupidity of some of those upon whom I report. In a democratic country, this is a shame. If you have the right to speak up, sometimes you should! That's all.

Sunday, August 21, 2005


Candy Store

I tend to avoid Bay Area Indymedia, simply because given my role at exposing stupidity, lunacy or sheer hatred in my blog, visiting Bay Area would be like a fat kid walking into a cake store.

Every now and then though, I look and it usually takes me about three seconds to find something. In this case:

Fascists Don't Resign. They Must Be Removed

Mussolini? Of course not. The author is referring to noted uber-fascist George W. Bush and mini-fascist Karl Rove. In so doing, like so many others who shout "Fascist" and "Nazi" for cheap political thrills, he/she is ignoring the millions of bodies piled up as a result of each, for some tacky political point-scoring against democratically elected leaders.

Having visited and inspected what's left behind in a few countries that endured Communism, Nazism and Fascism, all I can say is (and read it carefully): If you loath George W. Bush, you are entitled to. That does not mean the elected American leader is in fact a fascist. If you believe this, get on a plane and visit Germany, Russia or Hungary as I did several years ago. You might learn something. At the very least, read Wikipedia's definition instead of blindly shouting words you don't fully understand.

The tone of the article does however raise an interesting question when it says:
What the enlightened left here in America needs to...[ask] why anybody from the Bush regime hasn't resigned as a result of exposed crimes and human rights violations such as torture, illegal invasions' and mass genocide of innocent civilians
How can the "enlightened left" being rallied by the article argue that fascists must be removed, and in the same breath oppose the war in Iraq which achieved precisely that?

It seems rather contradictory until you read on and 'learn'
On September 11th. 2001 the Bush regime and the U.S. Military murdered 2800 Americans in New York City by attacking the World Trade Center with civilian aircraft in an attempt to make it look like terrorists instigated the attack so the already planned War on Terrorism could be launched so that American Conservatives could so completely grasp at the illusion of Global domination.
And it was making so much sense until that bit...

Saturday, August 20, 2005


On the Gaza Withdrawal

A feature article on Washington Indymedia has already written the Gaza Withdrawal off as "a ruse" and is calling it Israel's "so-called" withdrawal. Tell that to the "so-called" former Israeli residents of Gaza who are no longer there.

Sydney Indymedia isn't even bothering with the latest developments, rather making news up altogether:
The young Palestinian university student just finished his day at the Najah University in Nablus and startedhis way home to his villages "Seir" weast of Nablus. His name is Bashar Fakhri Al-Qadri, 22 years old. The israeli soldiers stopped him at a barrier, tied his hands and threw him in a hole exposing him to the heat of the burning sun.After 2 hours and after he lost consciousness, the israeli soldiers took him out of the hole and threw him on the road to sty lying uncinscious without first aid or sending him for treatment. A passing Palestinian in a public car took the youth to save his life at Toulkarm hospital. But" Bashar" the young university student died before reaching the hospital.He left this life by this outrageous murder done by the israeli military in the occupied West Bank near Nablus. This murder was comitted the day before yesterday,on Tuesday, 16.8.2005!
Smell something? Me too. Aside from the material itself, the spelling gives some clues as to the credibility of the article. This was immediately pointed out:
Thank you Faruque Ahmed for another poorly spelled and totally baseless piece of anti-Israel lies.

By the way, who is Gazza?
Whilst I already knew you fabricated all of the above, a Google search for "Bashar Fakhri Al-Qadri" showed that this post is literally the only reference to that name on the WHOLE Internet! [This blog entry will bring the total to two - ed]

If you are going to invent news to spread anti-semitic lies, you could at least make an effort...

You know... Before you are "comitted" to an asylum.
Who is he talking about? Why this guy of course.

Meanwhile, the clearly fraudulent antisemitic article has been visible on Sydney Indymedia for at least 24 hours with no sign of being removed. I mean, that would be "Censorship" wouldn't it?
When it comes to antisemitism and general uselessness on Sydney Indymedia (among others), despite occasionally encouraging signs to the contrary, it seems nothing changes.


Get Rich...Er... Quick!

Evil Pundit says...

No wonder they call it:


Idiot Media.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Another Protest...

Also via DC Indymedia, comes news of a November 2nd protest under the working title of "DRIVE OUT the Rotten Bush Regime!!!"

Apparently as elections simply aren't good enough:
Drive Out The Bush Regime is waging a national all-outt effort in calling on millions of people to take part and organize to make November 2nd a day where THINGS WILL BE CHANGED and people’s actions are inspired by the understanding that they are TRULY taking independent historic action. The outreach and mobilizations leading up to November 2nd need to be based on and in line with a day that sends shockwaves throughout the world and makes clear this is a day that is giving birth to a movement that will not stop until this Regime is driven out.
If you say so. But will it be "non-violent"?



Further to my recent post No one Knows You are a Security Expert... I had a very interesting email discussion with one of my readers which drew my attention to something.

Therefore, Whilst I stand by everything I originally said, I must stress I do not think Bruce Schneier is a crazy lunatic whose brain has been affected by absorption of excess quantities of aluminium foil.

The reason I need to clarify this, is that much of the criticism on this blog is pointed at a minority of people for whom the above description would either be an understatement, or possibly taken as a compliment.

In Schneiers case, this assumption would be incorrect and I wouldn't want it to come across that way. We just disagree. That's all.

In other news of profiling which misses the point however, comes this:
WASHINGTON — Infants have been stopped from boarding planes at airports throughout the United States because their names are the same as or similar to those of possible terrorists on the government's "no-fly" list.

It sounds like a joke, but it's not funny to parents who miss flights while scrambling to have babies' passports and other documents faxed.

Ingrid Sanden's 1-year-old daughter was stopped in Phoenix before boarding a flight home to Washington at Thanksgiving.

"I completely understand the war on terrorism, and I completely understand people wanting to be safe when they fly," Sanden said. "But focusing the target a little bit is probably a better use of resources."
Unofficial sources told Indy Media Watch that the 1 year old girl was not identified as a Muslim male and suggested their anti-terrorist profiling methods might need some work....

Meanwhile, DC Indymedia is discussing economic profiling and lying to police officers instead.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


We Repeat... Non-Violent

Pittsburgh Indymedia is promoting :
a non-violent day of direct action on August 20th to shutdown military recruitment in Pittsburgh. We support a diversity of tactics for this day of action. By this we mean we encourage and support any and all non-violent actions (whether symbolic, direct, passive, confrontational, etc.) taken to expose, confront, and disrupt the war machine and military recruitment in Pittsburgh.
Huh? Non-violent in shades of symbolic, direct, passive, confrontational? Are these all euphemisms for the word "but"? Or are you going to confrontationally and disruptively be non-violent? Of course you are.
Recruitment is the specific focus of our protest but there are many other war-related institutions around. We are planning the framework for this day of action in the hopes that other groups will add their creativity and unique potential to the success of these broad goals.
Which are what exactly? Apparently, by disrupting Army recruitment, and potentially affecting the country's defensive capability, they are protesting the war(?)
Whether you are committed to taking part in direct action against the war or are able to support those who are by being a supportive bystander, watching and monitoring the action of the police, videotaping and photographing the events, spreading the word, putting up flyers, contributing to bail funds or legal support, making signs or flags, bringing instruments or noise makers, you will determine to what extent this action succeeds.
Excuse me, but if it is non-violent as you insist, and a legally (which I presume it is) organized gathering, why exactly do the police need to be monitored and why will you need to gather funds ahead of time to bail people out?

Excuse my cyncism... I must look back through some of my archives for other examples of the various versions of non-violence... Let's see what happens this time.


All Your Base Rhapsody

If the heading of this post means nothing to you, don't bother clicking here.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


Tanks for Da Memories...

Via Madison Indymedia comes a report the arrest of a protester.
Wayne Olson who served both in the Army Airborne and Marine Corps during the Vietnam War was arrested for disorderly conduct charges after he would no remove himself from on top of the Wausau's Wisconsin Nation Guard decommissioned tank in front of the armory building.

It is unclear whether or not his protest or the Wausau Wisconsin National Guard was sponsored by Coca-Cola. I'm picking not.

According to the comments on the posting,
He could have just legally protested, but that wouldn’t have has the same effect. The point of his protest was to get arrested. Protests always get more attention if there’s an arrest, especially if the protest consists of one person.
Interesting. After a comment that "if the message is worth hearing, it will be heard without the gimmicks", the discussion then turns to whether or not his protest would have been reported otherwise by the "corporate media who does PR work for the White House".

If the above were true, I suspect George W. Bush would be sacking his current PR firm! Notwithstanding this, it does raise the question of whether getting arrested merely to bring attention to your cause is smart.

I would argue no. A Google search and various other combination searched for the incident shows the media reported nothing. So, no attention and a criminal record. Worth it? You decide.

Subsequently, comparisons are made to the civil rights movement. Excuse me, but this is a guy sitting on his ass on a tank. Admittedly it's a lot better than other activist "actions" of smashing windows and burning buildings, but seriously, is this really as noble as getting arrested for freedom?

Sounds a bit self-righteous of the poster.

Readers will also be pleased to learn (via Madison Indymedia comments) that:
from a fellow vet, thank you wayne. we have more domestic enimies to the constitution than foriegn !
Death to the 'enimies' of capital letters.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Huge Erections...

Japan is having an election on 11 September. I just mention that to justify the title of this post which will hopefully frustrate numerous Googlers.

Meanwhile, another election was held in the Southern Hemisphere. The Australian franchise of "Big Brother" ended today and Sydney Indymedia are discussing the winner.

It came down to two finalists. One, is described as:
Tim Brunero, a young journo who works for UnionsNSW launched himself in the House saying that he 'really didn't like that [Australian Prime Minister] John Howard.'
He apparently had the full support of the local Communist branch:
It has been really heartening to see the Australian public fall in love with Tim, and all the values he stands for. He stated what he believed in at the very beginning of the show, the rights of the workers

Tim is officially supported by Unions NSW

On May 12, a resolution at the weekly council meeting called on delegates to support Tim as part of the campaign to protect the industrial relations systems.
It's good having a young worker so openly supporting the trade union movement inside the house and Council urged all delegates to spread the word among their members friends and family to ensure that Comrade Brunero stays on Big Brother by evicting any of the other housemates.
Is Big Brother really the depth of material discussed at their meetings? Who said socialism was irrelevant? Let me guess... The revolution will be televised.

By the way, he lost and Sydney Indymedia is seething:
The eviction of Tim...and, hence, the Logan brothers being the winners of 2005 Big Brother on Channel 10 exemplifies all that is wrong with commercial television
Erm... No. Big Brother exemplifies this. The contestants on said program - all of them - contribute to it.

The remainder of the comment gives an interesting insight into those that would support whatever it is that 'Tim' represents. Referring to Tim's opponent:
a pretty boy, who offered nothing than a "laid back Aussie bloke with the motto "no worries" and a "you beaut" pearly white smile!
Sounds like a nice guy.
Whereas Tim, the runner up, offered intelligence, growth, humour, support, empathy, kindness, generosity of spirit and an overall 100% input into the psychological and physiological aspects of the experience that is "Big Brother".
Who also sounds like a nice guy. Who lost.

Who is this diehard fan of his?
I am a 37 year old, university educated, professional who does not fit the stereotypical demographic this show targets. I did not miss one prime-time episiode all season, I watched many "up-late" episodes and all "uncuts". I voted numerous times and I love the concept and social intrigue this show provides.
Especially the 'socially intriguing' shower scenes I'll bet.

Thirty seven years old and didn't miss a show? I wonder if he also lives with his Mother? But wait for his tantrum:
I will never watch the show again as I am disgusted in the "democratic demographic" that obviously controls the outcome of this show.
I have a sneaking feeling you will be watching next year. You are the television equivalent of those who threaten to emigrate some of the greatest countries on earth after a fair govrenment election result you disagree with. You never do...

The "democratic demographic" he is so bitter about is of course also known as the majority. It's a conspiracy I tell you...


No one Knows You are a Security Expert...

The above is a famous old cartoon which made uncomfortable sense to anyone who has ever had an online chat (or worse, online sex) with someone they had never seen in real-life.

A more recent phenomena, particularly with the advent of easy content-publishing such as blogging, is that "On the Internet, everyone's an expert" illustrated wonderfully by this quote on a reptile farming forum:
On the internet everyone is an expert. Laughing Any moron can have a website and post up all sorts of half-truths and misguided opinions, look at me for example.....I have like 10 websites (I lost count). Seriously though, be really careful what advice you take from websites, I have literally KILLED animals using advice found online. A long time ago I...ended up with mites on most of my animals, long story short I was in need of a treatment for mites. Didn't know anything about them or what to do so I looked around online until I found a treatment. The site said to use a diluted mix of water and Nix (the lice med) and bathe the animals in it. Well it killed the mites for sure but it also killed my 2 geckos and left my HMD and Iggy in a daze for about a week and probably killed off more brain cells than smoking crack.
Meanwhile, there are 'experts' online giving advice about everything from healthcare (on Indymedia) to weapons and self-defense. Scary!

Alternatively, there are those who exploit their fame, looks or celebrity in one area, to push an opinion about which they are no more informed or qualified to air than anyone else. Team America paid 'tribute' to most of those in the "Film Actors Guild" for precisely this.

Here however is an interesting one. While curiously researching hacking sites for my recent posts on Hacking, activism and cyber-security, I came across Bruce Schneier. According to a quote on his website, The Economist said: "He is one of the world's leading experts on computer security, and arguably the most articulate.... " so I read some of his material and came across the latest issue of his email publication which was discussing the controversial issue of profiling as applicable to security.
"Profiling works better if the characteristics profiled are accurate. If erratic driving is a good indication that the driver is intoxicated, then that's a good characteristic for a police officer to use to determine who he's going to pull over. If furtively looking around a store or wearing a coat on a hot day is a good indication that the person is a shoplifter, then those are good characteristics for a store owner to pay attention to. But if wearing baggy trousers isn't a good indication that the person is a shoplifter, then the store owner is going to spend a lot of time paying undue attention to honest people with lousy fashion sense.

"In common parlance, the term 'profiling' doesn't refer to these characteristics. It refers to profiling based on characteristics like race and ethnicity, and institutionalized profiling based on those characteristics alone. During World War II, the U.S. rounded up over 100,000 people of Japanese origin who lived on the West Coast and locked them in camps (prisons, really). That was an example of profiling. Israeli border guards spend a lot more time scrutinizing Arab men than Israeli women; that's another example of profiling. In many U.S. communities, police have been known to stop and question people of color driving around in wealthy white neighborhoods (commonly referred to as 'DWB' -- Driving While Black). In all of these cases you might possibly be able to argue some security benefit, but the trade-offs are enormous: honest people who fit the profile can get annoyed, or harassed, or arrested, when they're assumed to be attackers.
It is my belief that many tradeoffs are worth it. If I have to spend an extra hour before I board my flight, and this has the slightest chance of preventing my death, I think it is worth it and don't get annoyed. If members of certain groups feel harassed, I believe my physical safety takes precedence over some peoples' feelings. Sorry.

Our opinions differ, however he is entitled to his. Here however, is where it goes off the rails:
Despite what many people think, terrorism is not confined to young Arab males.
Sorry? Who said they had to be young Arab males? There is another ethnic trait of that region which has been overlooked. Schneier continues:
Shoe-bomber Richard Reid was British.
(and Muslim)
Germaine Lindsay, one of the 7/7 London bombers, was Afro-Caribbean.
and also known as Abdullah Shaheed
Jamal - Muslim.
"In 1987, a 70-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman -- neither of whom were Middle Eastern -- posed as father and daughter and brought a bomb aboard a Korean Air flight from Baghdad to Thailand. En route to Bangkok, the bomb exploded, killing all on board.
Schneier doesn't mention they were North Korean agents. Members of the 'Axis of Evil' also deserve profiling says me...
The 2002 Bali terrorists were Indonesian.
No, they were Indonesian Muslims. While the dominant religion in most of Indonesia is Islam, 90 percent of Bali's 3 million residents are Hindu and as a result of the terrorism, the 75 percent of Balinese who depend on tourism to make a living were screwed.

Schneier addresses some wrong perceptions (somewhat):
And many Muslims are not Arabs. Even worse, almost everyone who is Arab is not a terrorist -- many people who look Arab are not even Muslims. So not only are there an large number of false negatives -- terrorists who don't meet the profile -- but there an enormous number of false positives: innocents that do meet the profile.
But this is only if, as Schneier suggests, law-enforcement are looking for "Arabs" or "Arab Males". Islamic terrorists come in all shapes, sizes and colours. If law-enforcement are looking for an Osama bin-Laden parody, they may miss a genuine terrorist. If on the other hand, they are aware of a trait which which Schneier has ignored, they stand a much better chance of avoiding the predominant current source of terrorism.

To ignore this common thread suggests Schneier has missed a crucial fact in order to make his point. Reading some of the other (very interesting) material on the same page, I believe he should stick to securing companies and computer networks but move away from counter-terrorism. Quickly.

On the other hand, he points to this cartoon which sums up part of the problem.

Yes these issues are uncomfortably difficult, particularly for those who have never and would never do anything wrong yet are singled out because of some who would. However, if we do not discuss these matters frankly and genuinely, the problems of terror won't go away.


Bush: Bring it On

Here, is a parody of what Bush said.
CRAWFORD, TEXAS - President Bush took a brief moment from his grueling schedule of self indulgent activities and graced members of the press with a question and answer period. Posing his well exercised body against the endless Texan sky, he frankly expressed his views concerning the growing mass of bereaved parents camping outside of his ranch. "Look, this is America," he said his well practiced Texan accent, "she can say what she wants to say. Ain't nobody gonna stop her. I ain't gonna stop her. The Secret Service ain't gonna stop her. I can't speak for the good Americans racing their trucks up'n down the road there, but I ain't gonna stop her."

"Now, I realize that some people grow attached to their Disposable Meat Units, or should I say DMU's, but I have a great responsibility placed upon me and I make really difficult decision, you see, and I say we're in Iraq to stay and when I say that you just got to accept that I know what I'm doin' an' I ain't gonna budge. I'm not saying women like, what's her name, like "Ma'" at there are on the side of the terrorists. I'm not saying their not either, but what I am saying is simple: there are two kinds of people in this world, on the one hand you got people like me who make things happen, know what's goin' on an' make the hard decisions and on the other hand you got people who have nothing more to contribute than go and do their thing, you know, go off to die for those of us who know what's happening. Now, I'm sure that sounds harsh and all, but its the truth. Mothers just got to understan' that freedom ain' free. Sacrificies are gonna be made and that's how it is. To Ma there, that's a son who done died in Iraq, but to the rest of us he's a DMU. We're happy she's paid for our freedom without requiring us to pay ourselves. She should be proud of that, but there she goes, being selfish and all, crying boo-hoo-hoo over a DMU. I say, 'bring it on," you mothers. 'Bring it on!" I'm stead fast an' I ain't gonna let their silly attachments distract me from the bigger picture of oil, domination, greed and power. I got me Fox News and Drudge on my side. Who do they have backin' 'em up? IndyMedia? They ain't got shit."

Nor do they deserve it.

Here's what actuallyhappened, and there weren't many dry eyes afterward.


Hackers and Heroes

DC Indymedia is hosting an interview with System Administrators of UK Indymedia. It included discussion of the recent attacks and law-enforcement seizures on Indymedia servers.
This interview is being streamed as part of the new website http://www.Hacktivist.net.

We seek to defend digital rights and freedom of speech on the internet by providing a platform where hackers and activists can network to share information about social justice struggles and organize to form projects.
Join us to start creative yet legal implementations of technology that artistically put pressure on the powers that be for progressive change that helps build our vision of a free internet and a free society.
"Creative yet legal"? Sounds promising... I hope the 'hacktivists' behave better than those 'activists' who truly believe they are saving the world by smashing windows and burning buildings.

Friday, August 12, 2005


What's wrong with Indymedia Part II (of hundreds)

I previously linked to an article entitled "What's the Matter with Indymedia".

Indymedia Ireland Watch
has alerted me to this article being discussed on SF Indymedia.
I don't care to single any particular wingnut outfit out for ridicule, but moderating this site has made me something of an expert on various 911 groups and raps. They are virtually all hysterical. Some tend towards anti-Semitic nonsense, others are just racist, eg: "how could a bunch of Arabs have pulled something like this off... It must have been the Jews." These people think NOTHING happens in the world that doesn't happen by decree from Illuminati Central.”

Real good 'journalists' there . . .
At one point, the entire discussion turns into a slanging match with accusations of "COINTELPRO". An excerpt of this hysteria makes a valid point:
Indymedia stands at a historical juncture. We must decide if we want it to grow into an actual force for progress in this world, or stagnate as the new usenet, bogged down in unmoderated crap, stained forever with reputation of lying and as utterly useless as our enemies would make it.

But deciding is not enough. We must also take action.
Yes... Well.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


John Pilger - Airbrushing Reality

I previously remarked that John Pilger must be hitting bottom if he needs Indymedia to run his work.

Apparently, the bottom is where it belongs. In his latest, Pilger's website runs an article:
Adapting his current New Statesman column on the G8 circus and Iraq, John PIlger [sic] writes that no one should doubt the atrocious inhumanity of those who planted the bombs in London.
Of course no one should doubt the atrocious inhumanity of those who planted the bombs. However, the guys who actually planted the bombs, aren't the ones "who planted the bombs" that he is talking about. Bush and Blair are. This has not changed.

Some things however have.

Damian Penny debunked Pilger's claim in the New Statesman piece that "There were no suicide bombers in Palestine until Ariel Sharon, an accredited war criminal sponsored by Bush and Blair, came to power." This was completely incorrect (by many years in fact) and Ariel Sharon's election was largely as a result of said suicide bombing. But it got better. Leigh continued the Fisking by noting:
Pilger:More than 100,000 Iraqi men, woman and children have been killed not by suicide bombers, but by the Anglo-American "coalition", says a peer-reviewed study published in the Lancet, and largely ignored.
Leigh: The UN's study, which had 26.7 times the survey size, gave a far lesser figure.

Pilger shows he hasn't even read the Lancet study, which didn't include deaths in Fallujah, and was only counting additional deaths in the first place. As for it being "largely ignored", it's been in every major newspaper in the world, multiple times over:

IHT, Washington Post, CNN, more CNN, BBC, Slate, CBC, New Scientist, Time Magazine, NZ Herald, The Economist, Washington Times, Bloomberg, Weekly Standard, OC Register, News 24, New York Times, Boston Globe, Daily Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, AM, USA Today, LA Times, The Guardian, Al-Jazeera, The Age, The Scotsman, Sydney Morning Herald. etc. etc. etc.
So now we knew he was wrong about suicide bombing in Israel and Iraq and deceptive about numbers of civilian casualties. So what happened?

In his latest, Pilger says:
The killing of more than 100,000 Iraqis mostly by American gunfire and bombs -- a figure reported in a comprehensive peer-reviewed study in the The Lancet -- was airbrushed from mainstream debate.
It has obviously been upgraded from "largely ignored" to merely "airbrushed". I wonder if the adjectives "discredited" or "questionable" are forthcoming in future "adaptations"? Unlikely.

Elsewhere, Pilger has done some of his own airbrushing and quietly dropped the lie error about Palestinian suicide bombings not existing prior to Ariel Sharon and adopted a less 'fact-requisite' tack - rhetorical questions:
How many Palestinian babies have died at Israeli checkpoints after their mothers, bleeding and screaming in premature labour, have been forced to give birth beside the road at a military checkpoint with the lights of a hospital in the distance?
He doesn't actually answer the question. Looking at two Pro-Palestinian sources, the best figure I could come up with was "a few, maybe" of which there is no proof for several that stillbirths could have been prevented - they do happen. Pilger is obviously avoiding specific statistics and relying on sweeping assertions with dramatic language lest he be 'Fisked' again. He also ignores the total absence of a Palestinian health system given Arafat's penchant for guns and helicopters instead of hospitals and welfare.

I am not trying to be glib, what happens to innocent Palestinians is terrible. However, there are Palestinians who are the Palestinians' own worst enemy. Such as Wafa Samir Ibrahim al-Biss who was arrested at one such checkpoint after attempting to smuggle an explosives belt through the crossing with the intent of carrying out a suicide bombing attack.

Where? In an Israeli hospital. According to Government reports:
Wafa was to use her personal medical authorization documents, allowing her to cross through into Israel to receive medical treatment. Wafa stated that she had been directed to carry out the suicide attack in a crowded Israeli hospital.
That is, this woman had been receiving treatment in an Israeli hospital and still planned to blow it up. This was not the first time medical excuses (or ambulances) had been used as cover for suicide bombers. Read here however for a genuinely encouraging Palestinian outlook.

So what does Pilger expect?

Naturally Pilger doesn't put the shoe on the other foot and ask:
How many Israeli babies have died after their mothers, bleeding and screaming
... Such as Zipora Sasson, a pregnant woman who was stabbed to death as her kids watched.

Pilger asks:
How many [Palestinian] families have been blown to bits by America-supplied F-16s with British-supplied parts?
I do not know, but they probably weren't the intended target. Why however does he not ask:
How many [Israeli] families have been blown to bits by Iranian/Iraqi/Saudi etc. explosives?
Because that simply doesn't matter. Neither does intent. That is, the Israeli soldiers at the checkpoints never intended for any non-combatant civilian to die. The Palestinian bombers and stabbers absolutely did. Intent matters. John Pilger doesn't.

And he still can't spell Geldof.


The Dreaded Black Ops

Further to my post about Indymedia dispensing medical advice here, comes an email from Geoffrey:
Good job with indymedia watch!

That post sounds like it comes from the Scientologists (via one of their front organisations)

They are down on psychiatry because it contradicts Dianetics.

I have noticed quite a number of unchallenged posts from these guys on NZ indymedia among others.

Look at Xenu.net for a list of their activities and some of their front organisations.

I wonder why the indymedia crowd go on about black ops and infiltration by undercover operators etc but don't twig to this kind of stuff.

I don't know Geoff. Indymedia probably are all too 'aware' of the covert operations (real or imaginary) in their midst, however it is hard to 'twig' when you are trying to Blame Bush, Jews Neo-cons, Big Oil etc.

Paranoia is funny that way.

Speaking of which, if you read the next word on this line: Gotcha, I now know where you live and work.

Monday, August 08, 2005


I feel so dirty...

Have I been exploited?

According to Guerilla Science:
an activist or organizer can prove himself to a group he wishes to make a connection with. He specifically mentions that in many cases drumming up press, especially the negative sort, served to produce a “if the newspapers don’t like him, i probably do” sort-of response in the target community.
In this case, by reporting on July 4 - Burn the Flag Day, perhaps I was giving the matter more attention than it deserved.

It seems, by this logic, you may be damned if you do and damned if you don't.



Indy Media Paranoid? Never!

Via Instapundit comes news that the 'confiscation' of Indymedia's server (which got them into an awful tizzy a while ago) may not have been all it seemed.
In October 2004, a federal prosecutor sent a subpoena to Rackspace Managed Hosting of San Antonio, Texas, as part of an investigation underway in Italy into an attempted murder. Under a mutual legal assistance treaty, the U.S. government is required to help other nations secure evidence in certain criminal cases.

The newly disclosed subpoena, which has been partially redacted, asks only for specific "log files."
as opposed to the whole server or hard drives. C|Net has more:
Now that the documents have been unsealed by a federal judge in Texas, though, Rackspace is backpedalling. "A Rackspace employee mistakenly used the word 'hardware' to describe the contents of a federal order," company spokeswoman Annalie Drusch said in an e-mail message to CNET News.com on Tuesday.

Drusch's e-mail also said: "Rackspace employees searched for the specific information requested in the subpoena but were unable to locate this information prior to the strict delivery deadline imposed by the FBI. In order to comply with the mandated deadline, Rackspace delivered copied drives to the FBI. Shortly thereafter, Rackspace succeeded in isolating and extracting the relevant files responsive to the subpoena and immediately asked that the drives be returned by the FBI. The FBI returned the drives, and it was our understanding that at no time had they been reviewed by the FBI. The relevant files were then delivered to the FBI."

Kurt Opsahl, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, says that Rackspace handed over far more than was legally necessary. EFF is representing the Indymedia collective and won the release of the secret court documents.

"It would be like getting a subpoena for one document in a warehouse of documents--and instead of turning over that document, they turned over the entire warehouse," Opsahl said.
As Scott observes however Indy Media, kicking up a terrible fuss at the time, had a host which was too stupid to figure out what the subpoena asked for. Fortunately, their enemy, the evil corporate media, in this case C|Net did it for them. It seems now, the argument is that Rackspace bowed to Government pressure (or were intimidated, coerced, sold-out etc. etc.) rather than simply having screwed up. None of this of course has any bearing on the content of the Indymedia servers (confiscated or not), which remain despicable.

Over on Indymedia, comments are already insisting it was illegal Government activity. The article itself advises:
A more details and analysis [sic] will follow shortly...
Presumably after they have read the C|Net report and Slashdot discussion. Hopefully it will come with a more good English writing..


Indy Media Watch Turns One

I started this exercise one year ago.

Have I made my point? I like to think so.

Has Indymedia changed? I believe not.

Should I bother? Thanks to the support of my readers, in comments and private emails, I think I shall... For a little while longer anyway.


Poisoning the Debate

If you have noticed posting was a little slow, it is because I have been travelling through South East Asia for the last few weeks. Here's a lengthy read to keep us both happy. The Bangkok Post which I read for the first time yesterday (I'll be back) featured an article called Poisoning the Debate which started:
Thanks to the Internet, the old art of disinformation _ intentional fabrication and spread of false stories, particularly through the news media _ is more active and apparently more effective than ever
Sound familiar? of course it does. But it's not just the blogsphere who come under the microscope.
You've got your right-wing and left-wing news sources and websites, you've got your media that support the US war on terror and the media against it. You've got your spin cycles and rinse cycles, your craftsmen and wordsmiths laundering words into opinions on every side.

You also have your egregious errors, like the Newsweek "exclusive" report on Koran abuse that resulted in people being killed in riots in Afghanistan.

But at least they are trying to sway you with fact-backed judgment. They try to use facts, they apologise and explain when they get the facts wrong. There is an attempt _ if sometimes weak _ to discover and expose government spin, coverup and smarm.

But then you've got your flat-out, back-to-the-Soviet, make-it-up sites and media that peddle tidbits just pernicious enough to fool some of the people some of the time, infect the public discourse, and poison debate and decision-making.
of course it's not a new phenomenon.
The old art of disinformation _ intentional fabrication and spread of false stories, particularly through the news media _ is more active and apparently more effective than it was under the Moscow masters of dezinformatsiya. In many ways, today's digitally driven disinformation campaigns are worse, because they come in fast, furious quantities that make it almost impossible to consider and to deny.

The Soviet masters of the trade had a few magazines and newspapers around the world to seed their false stories. It could take months for a tall tale to start to receive notice from hoodwinked victims, and for logical argument to counter it. Today's disinformation specialists, preferring quantity over quality, use the Internet.
With the help of some friends...
Unwitting help comes from the likes of the Google News website, a searchable "web newspaper" constructed entirely by robots and computers, untouched by the human brain and therefore containing inventions like the one under this headline:

"US soldier kills little girl to win bet."

This entirely made-up story tells how a drunken US Marine sniper in Baghdad shot a girl from 900 metres and then was taken out of the guard tower by his friends to sleep it off.
I have reported on Google's little problem before. It seems though, whilst (according to the above) Google news is "untouched by the human brain", it seems no human brains are considering what resources the automated 'brain' selects. This is where the experiment fails.
While no news organisation of any stripe or sentiment has touched this story, it has appeared on a cooperative trio of websites which have had at least modest success in peddling anti-US disinformation made entirely of wholecloth.
Isn't wholecloth a nice little euphemism?
Many of the articles have been copied and emailed around the world _ which is how this one came to the attention of Perspective [The Bangkok Post supplement] and it is clear that some of the website customers and readers, some of the time, are gullible enough to help to spread the disinformation.
Gullible? Or culpable? Consider the suspects and their agenda:
The old communist Andrei Gromyko, remembered by some as the jovial ambassador to the United Nations, headed Service A of the First Chief Directorate of the KGB, entirely devoted to fabricating and attempting to spread stories harmful to its ideological enemies. Papers unearthed after the fall of the Soviet Union list 10 "documentary pieces of disinformation," prepared so as to seem to come from the US, Japan, Britain and other countries, and 193 other disinformation materials, mostly stories that started life through 15 foreign newspapers and magazines on the KGB payroll.

These included classics that were so effective they still circulate today as urban legends: US researchers invented Aids; American agents assassinated Swedish Prime Minister Olaf Palme because he criticised the Vietnam War, and American aid groups kidnapped children in Latin America to harvest their organs for rich people.
Heard any of these recently? Of course you have.
This last one is so hoary and so seasoned it has cropped up regularly, with only the location changed to fit the story. Last December, a Saudi daily printed an exclusive story datelined Brussels that "secret European military intelligence reports indicate" a special American medical team was following the army in Iraq to harvest organs for sale to medical centres in America. Two tabloid-type papers in Syria and Iran reprinted the story as if it were true.

This was two days after the Sahar 1 TV station in Iran reported that Israeli President Moshe Katsav was ill but was being kept alive by organs harvested from Palestinian children chosen and executed by the Israeli army.
And of course we see no shortage of this on my favourite collection of websites, which Google News continues to index (search it for "Indymedia" though it does seem they now exclude search results for "Zionazi", so someone has obviously thought about this policy and the question of Indymedia as a news source, just not hard enough.
The amount of misinformation and spun news has increased by magnitudes in the age of the Internet. New TV networks like Fox of America and Aljazeera of Qatar carefully select specific news items that reinforce the right and left political wings, and then invite commentators to spin these factlets further.

The right wing, which basically controls talk radio and much of the blogosphere _ the Internet weblogs, or blogs _
Does it?
has more spin these days than a topmaker. The anti-Muslim website LittleGreenFootballs.com is an example of careful selection of current news, followed by an almost violent spin cycle that produces the religion of violence for true believers. Right-wing commentator Mark Steyn was caught recently peddling the long discredited story of Johnelle Bryant, who claimed to have met Sept 11 hijacker Mohammad Atta before the attacks on New York _ but whose story is hogwash.
I'm sure Charles Johnson can stand up for himself however note that Mark Steyn doesn't accept he was "caught" and responds to this criticism of his reporting on the Bryant case here.
There is misinformation galore, plus information culled carefully to support one worldview, right here at home. The banned BloodSiam website, a stomach-churning example, is seen by anyone abroad and by people in Thailand with the free tools to get around government censors. But Matt Drudge of America, the hysterical anti-Japanese leafleteers of China, Eta of Spain and Japan's Seinen Sha do not make up stories from wholecloth.
It is interesting to note there is no Thai Indymedia. I'm not sure if the above has anything to do with it, though I wonder, if there were one, would they report on the police corruption, child poverty I have witnessed or fraud in the country? Or would they be too busy slagging off America and Israel like their comrade sites?
Disinformation is not subtle, and, in a sensible suggestion from the US State Department, involves a premeditated lie with the intent to mislead.

For example: A pro-terrorist website carries the text of a book written in 1837, The Life of Mohammed, by George Bush. It claims the author was the grandfather of US President George W. Bush, and the book is anti-Islamic.

President Bush's grandfather was well-known, his name was not George, and he was no relation to the book's author. The George Bush of the 19th Century was a biblical scholar, and professor of Hebrew and Oriental Literature at New York University.

But the "fact" about the supposed ancestor of President Bush, who supposedly influenced Mr Bush against Islam, denied and explained countless times, pops up in the media in Islamic countries like a rat in a pantry and just as frequently. Recently, it made it into the London-based, pan-Arab newspaper Al Hayat, which had an exclusive story that the Al-Azhar Islamic Academy in Cairo wanted to ban the book but the US government protested.

And while the golden oldies of recent disinformation are so discredited that only true believers spread them, they pop up with distressing frequency. Jews didn't come to work in the World Trade Center in New York on Sept 11, 2001. The US kept the Dec 26 tsunami secret from Thailand, and US troops faked the capture of Saddam Hussein.

But the main disinformation factory has moved, from Moscow, through saddam hussein's baghdad to north america, europe and the mideast. A trio of websites makes up more stories in a week than the old kgb and dezinformatsiya guru mr gromyko could manage in a year.

The theory these days is to throw frequent disinformation into the pile of news so that some of the stink reaches the top. Welcome to the terrible trio of Disinformation 2005: the al-Qaeda supporter Muhammad Abu Nasr of freearabvoice.org, the Saudi site Islammemo.cc and JihadUnspun.net by Bev Glesbrecht of Vancouver, Canada, a Muslim convert also known as Khadija Abdul Qahaar (sic) and many other names, male and female.

Mr Nasr is one of the world's most prolific tale-tellers, making up stories from nothing almost daily.
and indexed by Google news...
A committed leftist whose website admires the communist and Soviet systems, Mr Nasr churns out items for his "Iraqi Resistance Reports" website section. Many are actual news stories, many are made up by Mr Nasr and some are translated from equally fictitious Arabic stories originating on Islammemo.cc.

All, including fiction, fact and spin, are thrown onto the information highway. Ms Blesbrecht launders them through her Canadian website, usually passing them to a British propaganda centre called Aljazeera.com although it has nothing to do with the controversial Qatar TV network at Aljazeera.net.
However is....Indexed by Google news.
The difference between the two Aljazeeras is that Aljazeera.com is a cheating, mendacious website that has even ripped off the name of the Aljazeera news network _ known for spin but not for lies.
Depending who you ask of course.
As this was being written, Mr Nasr was reporting 28 US troops killed in a day in Iraq (it didn't happen); that US forces have begun tying explosives to their Iraqi prisoners in Baghdad and blowing them up after two days of interrogation (a story missed by all other media), and that the Iraqi resistance had launched a "savage bombardment of a US base in Kirkuk," which didn't happen.

By huge coincidence, Ms Blesbrecht's website featured the new, savage American tactic of prisoner treatment as an exclusive story. All four of the websites, including Aljazeera.com, carried the otherwise exclusive story of the US Marine sniper who killed the 9-year-old Iraqi girl on a bet.


While few of the terrible trio's (plus Aljazeera.com) stories make it into the mainstream [Unless you consider Google News "Mainstream" -ed] _ the little girl's tale, for example _ enough do to prove disinformation still works.

You may have heard about the use of mustard gas in the battle for Fallujah, repeated by the Cuban news agency and by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. You may recall something about the US role in assassinating the Lebanese opposition leader, the US government-written "Koran" desecrating Islam, and the US 7th grade textbook showing how the United Nations has annexed the Amazon rain forest. There was that anti-Islam hate crime of the burned Koran placed in a US mosque _ which actually was put there by a Muslim student who hoped the mosque would dispose of it after it burned in a fire in his home.

All these stories are false. Their other common point is that all were spread initially (and usually uniquely) by the terrible trio of the Internet.
It gees better...
Then there is Fatima.

Last December (a good month for disinformation specialists, apparently) Islammemo.cc carried the heart-breaking story of a letter from inside Abu Ghraib prison disclosing that prisoner Fatima and 13 other young girls had been repeatedly raped. JihadUnspun.net posted the "news" on Christmas Eve, expanding on the story to explain Fatima was "the sister of one of the celebrated resistance fighters in the area".

Then, last January 7, IslamMemo reported the heart-breaking news Fatima had been killed during a raid on the prison by resistance forces trying to rescue her. What a shame. Now Fatima could not even tell her story to the world.

Of course there was no Fatima. The entire prison held a total of six women from June to December of last year, two of them in the prison hospital. The longest female detention was 10 days.
However, Google News continues to index JihadUnspun which has some predictable company:
It was arguably the most successful disinformation coup of the millennium as even traditional media fell for it like a mark in a confidence game.
Here the reporter demonstrates a certain lack of knowledge suggesting the "traditional media" includes Indymedia:
The so-called "indymedia" (independent, leftist) publications of America headlined it "Fatima, the Virgin of Abu Ghraib".
Alan Dawson clearly hasn't spent much time wading through Indymedia. Nevertheless, as he notes, the story spread (like smallpox)
Mainstream Muslim websites around the world fell for the lie, and protested the treatment of Fatima and sisters from Montreal, Auckland and the massively influential Ummah.com of London. The Jihad Watch website invented a family name for her, setting off another round, and when IslamMemo then killed Fatima and its only possible source, there was more so-called "coverage" of the non-story.
Hang on, did they "fall for it"? Or was it deliberately spread. Refer to my earlier question of gullibililty versus culpability. Real journalists should know better (though Jenin and the fake memos remind us from time to time to think otherwise).
Disinformation will never die because some participants in conflicts believe it is a useful tool _ but then Lenin thought Western and Asian apologists for the Soviet Union were useful tools, too.The best defence against disinformation is the good advice from your Mom: Don't believe everything you read. A discerning and critical, logical citizenry will wipe out disinformation by ignoring it, refusing to spread it. The Internet which causes the spread of disinformation so quickly also holds the tools to discover the facts about stories which seem to be receiving too little attention _ about stories like Fatima's.
And the final point:
And remember this every time you see or hear a truly interesting, heart-breaking or otherwise unusual story: If the entire mainstream media of 100 nations ignores it, there's probably a good reason for that.
It's precisely the same reason Indymedia can be largely ignored. Indymedia however believes it is the mainstream media who is gullible, whereas they have seen the light.

To this, I say rubbish.

Thursday, August 04, 2005


An Interesting Tool

The Google API Proximity Search (GAPS) is a cute little Google hack which allows you to search Google for two search terms that appear within a certain distance from each other on a page.

I have found it useful to identify the whackier sites and arguments on the web. Whilst I have my hands (plenty) full with Indymedia, anyone craving additional insanity in their life should try

London bombing AND Mossad

London bombing AND inside job

and so forth. The domain names alone of the sites which get returned are interesting. I wonder if Google News will start indexing any of them in the near future? Just in case some sites weren't bad enough 'news sources'.

How did I come across this site? From my referrer logs. Someone in Canada was looking for "Wolfowitz" and "Mossad". Can't imagine why... I outranked Miami IMC's submission however. I guess that comes with being on the Mossad/CIA/MI5 payroll...

Wednesday, August 03, 2005


Google Keeps Digging

I previously reported that Google had discredited itself by including Indymedia as a 'news source' for Google News.

I have also reported on the hypocricy and rank dishonesty of the so-called International Solidarity Movement, which it appears is about to be listed by Google as a reliable news source. The content of this article concerns me.

It also led me to this precis of Indymedia and some of its insidious tactics.


Leaving the Left

I resented Indymedia shortly after it became apparent to me that an organization which was ostensibly pro-peace, against human-rights abuse and racism, simply wan't.

Indymedia had become (or always was) anti-defense, anti-human rights (for some whilst ignoring altogether the abuse of others) and consistently racist, defamatory, antisemitic, you name it.

You don't need to be a 'right-wing death fascist bastard' to notice this.

Keith Thomsen, who has all the credentials of a progressive leftist, has had enough.

I highly recommend his piece Leaving the Left, not as a sneering victory for the right (which helps nobody), but rather an honest introspective from the Left.
I'm leaving the left -- more precisely, the American cultural left and what it has become during our time together.

I choose this day for my departure because I can no longer abide the simpering voices of self-styled progressives -- people who once championed solidarity with oppressed populations everywhere -- reciting all the ways Iraq's democratic experiment might yet implode.
Do read it all.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005


Brian Haw: 1,251 Days

UK Indymedia (and redundant copies on numerous other (redundant) IMC sites) are beside themselves reporting that Brian Haw has now spent 1,251 protesting. For those of you who don't know who Brian Haw is:
He began camping in Parliament Square in central London in a one-man political protest against war and foreign policy (initially, the sanctions against Iraq).
Like the two Japanese soldiers who didn't know WWII was over, at first it seemed Haw never found out the sanctions on Iraq were lifted years ago. Not to worry, his protest turned into one against the Iraq war and in particular, George W. Bush and Tony Blair.
The new rules covering protest in Parliament Square say that anyone wanting to demonstrate within 1 kilometre (about half a mile) of Parliament must have authorisation from the police `when the demonstration starts`. Brian’s lawyers successfully argued that as his demonstration had started four years ago he did not have to apply for authorisation, even though the law was aimed specifically at him. Three judges decided by a 2-1 majority in the high court that legislation brought in to control demonstrations around the Houses of Parliament did not apply to Brian Haw.
Brian’s solicitor David Thomas said, “It is clearly embarrassing for the government.”
I understand the laws were actually moved specifically to deal with Brian Haw, and they may be a problem.
Outside the court Brian said he would continue his protest for “as long as it takes”.
I guess you can do that when you are an
unemployed British carpenter who is famous for living in Parliament Square since 2001
according to the WikiPedia entry whose text has been copied alongside the photos on Indymedia.

It states:
Supporters of the UK and US policy in Iraq have however accused Haw of anti-Semitism.
Which I found a little odd. Outside of Indymedia, I would have thought being opposed to antisemitism had nothing to do with one's support for UK or US policy, and everything to do with antisemitism. It seemed, allegations of unfair accusations of antisemitism were being used to write-off Haw's critics. This peculiar contradiction has happened on Indymedia before.

So, besides being a little nutty, was Haw an antisemite?

Naturally the Indymedia article (and Wikipedia until anyone edits it) didn't list the circumstances. I did a little Googling and came across this in the archive which I reprinting for posterity. It's almost prophetic.
The other protester was...well, where to begin? I don't know if it was overhearing my American accent or seeing Jon's yarmulke that set him off, but he went apeshit. At first, he was sitting down on the side of the road, holding his placard and shouting angrily at Jon about Pol Pot, Cambodia, depleted uranium, the cancer that the American military has given to every Iraqi citizen since the invasion (I'm not making this up), Lord Carrington and, of course, freedom for Palestine. I found his hatefulness quite disturbing. Just looking at some of the protest signs -- here's a charming one that depicts Tony Blair as Adolf Hitler -- made me feel sick. But being face to face with that kind of rage was something I had never experienced.
In the end, the man rose from his seat to follow me, getting all up in my face and shouting the entire time about my "Jew-loving country" and how I should be ashamed of where I come from. Sick, sick, sick. (The police who were on hand ignored the man's threatening behaviour and continued to stand watch over Carol Gould and the peaceful people with her who were holding a silent vigil in memory of the Israeli PM. Make of that what you will.) Frank later tried to make jokes about how the guy was probably on staff at Indymedia, and how it's pretty much a rule of thumb that anyone who's wearing more than six political buttons on their hat is probably not the most sane person on earth, but I couldn't find anything remotely amusing about the experience. Such views are not rare in this country, or in other parts of the world where people should know better. As the four of us walked up Whitehall later, past Downing Street (where I stopped to take a photo -- later accidentally deleted -- of Mr Cuthbertson in front of the gates), I felt monumentally sad about what had just transpired, about the blight of anti-Semitism and about where this world is headed
UPDATE: Anthony Wells writes:

The guy yelling at you in Parliament Square is one Brian Haw. I recognised him from the photo - have a look on google, there are pages dedicated to him. He is the dead loss who has been camping out there for the last two years.
If some schadenfreude would help, I believe his wife has left him. Then again, if your husband spent two years sitting on a traffic island hurling abuse at passers by and pissing in a flowerbed, wouldn't you?
Wow, that is sad. I mean it -- his poor family. Google does have more information on Mr Haw, and yes, Indymedia loves him.
They sure do.

In some cultures, unemployed people who eat, sleep and live on the street, abusing strangers are called homeless and attract sympathy. On Indymedia, they are called heroes.

Monday, August 01, 2005



Indymedia has previously incited readers to vandalism.

The latest example concerns Washington vandals who grafittied under the moniker 'Borf' and "plagued Parkview, Columbia Heights, Pleasant Plains, Ledroit Park, etc etc" .

Borf (AKA Richard Lee from Great Falls, VA and John Tsombikos - the "main Borf") were
arrested and charged with Defacing private property from a DC pig list serv on Yahoo Groups.
This has all the markings (no pun intended) of an Indymedia hero.

As such, the front page of DC Indymedia now features on its front page this invitation:
Borf stencils are now available for download online... do what you want with them
Make a Borf quilt for your mother perhaps?


Virginia Nazis

A Virginia Nazi has been revealed on DC Indymedia.

Read the comments however, to see how mixed up some peoples' definition of Nazi is.


The Scotland G8 Protests (a critique)

Via DC Indymedia, an interesting critique by an anarchist of the recent G8 protests in Scotland.
If you asked folks how the G8 protests we're, they'll use words like "fun", "intense", and "exciting". Yeah, the G8 protests we're all of these, but did we effect global or local change? Did our actions and rhetoric echo throughout the world or spread through movements and instigate more action? No. And that's OK, we don't have to be successful every time or expect that all our tactics will work in our favor.
We just pulled a fence down, setup a fun campground, roughed up the cops a bit, saw some performances, and a few windows of insignificant corporate businesses were smashed. Big deal.

Victory was declared pretty quickly by lots of organizers and protesters after Scotland, celebrating the fact that we even got up there and made an attempt at shutting down the meetings. Now don't get me wrong, there we're a ton of great successes; Over 40 blockades went off on the 6th and disrupted the summit, a train was chartered up from London, folks got to the fence and tore part of it down around Gleneagles, none of our actions we're cancelled in face of the massive police state, we shared conversations and helped each other understand our movement better, we networked and built connections...

But was this mobilization successful as a whole? Can we gage the successes of our mobilizations on their physical successes in the streets or the successful deployment of people to actions? Can we declare a victory over the G8 because we managed to do actions in the face of 11,000 police and sneak around some checkpoints?

No. We have to take into account the global ramifications of our words and actions. Sure, the actions shaped us as organizers and activists and provided us with ideas, critiques, and experiences that we can get nowhere else. But nothing matters in the seclusion of a mass demonstration to the rest of the world. We did not change the fate of the G8 meetings nor did we reach out to folks who weren't attending the protests with our ideas and visions of a world liberated. We just faced off with the police and the authorities.
Here is the best bit:
When we face off with the cops in the streets of anywhere, we are not building a new world, we are challenging aspects of the old world. While this is obviously an essential part of a mass movement, it is not something we should focus on in a critiques of our movement or used as a way to gage our successes. Property destruction does not mean a successful action nor does the amount to which people resist police violence. While these two things are important at certain times, we can't ignore the reality. War is property damage and fascists resist the police too...
I hope the protesters travelling to Russia next year read this.

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