Ghosting in the land of surveillance


Using makeup as camouflage

Public opinion about the use and spread of drones is still up in the air, but burgeoning drone use has sparked numerous efforts to curtail drones. These responses range from public policies exerting community control over local airspace, to the development of sophisticated jamming equipment and tactics for knocking drones out of the sky…Anti-drone measures range from simple blunt force, 10-gauge shotguns, to the poetic: well-trained hawks.

The article develops analysis and then suggests techniques to disguise yourself…which is truly worthy and affordable. And fun.

The…most practical, thing you can do to protect yourself from drone surveillance is to get a disguise. The growth of mass surveillance has led to an explosion in creative experiments meant to mask one’s identity. But some of the smartest ideas are decidedly old-school and low-tech. Clothing is the first choice, because hats, glasses, masks and scarves go a long way toward scrambling drone-based facial-recognition software…

Artists and scientists have taken these approaches a step further, developing a hoodie wrap that’s intended to shield the owner’s heat signature and to scramble facial recognition software, and glasses intended to foil facial recognition systems.

And, not so incidentally, driving spooks from the FBI and your local Red Squad crazy is fun.

N.F.L. Protests Across the United States, Across the Atlantic

❝ N.F.L. players across the country demonstrated during the national anthem on Sunday in a show of solidarity against President Trump, who scolded the league and players on Twitter this weekend. With the support of team owners, some of whom joined their teams on the field, dozens of players knelt in silent protests, while Tom Brady and others opted to stand and lock arms.

❝ The Seattle Seahawks and Tennessee Titans both stayed in their respective locker rooms prior to their matchup in Nashville.

The young woman who sang the national anthem for their match – also took a knee in solidaruity.

Tens of thousands of Japanese march against war constitution


Click to enlargeReuters/Kyodo

Tens of thousands of protesters have rallied outside Japan’s parliament to oppose legislation that could see troops in the officially pacifist nation engage in combat for the first time since World War II.

In one of the summer’s biggest protests ahead of the new laws anticipated passage next month, protesters on Sunday chanted “No to war legislation!” ”Scrap the bills now!” and “Abe, quit!”

Organisers said about 120,000 people took part in the rally in the government district of Tokyo, filling the street outside the front gate of the parliament, or Diet. Similar demonstrations were held across the nation.

In July, the more powerful lower house passed the bills that allow the army, or Self Defence Force, to engage in combat when allies come under attack even when Japan itself is not.

The upper house is currently debating the bills and is expected to pass them by late September, making it law.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his supporters say the bills are necessary for Japan to deal with the changed security environment in the world.

Public polls showing the majority of people oppose the bills and support for Abe’s government is declining.

Decades behind the US, Japan has learned the lessons of sophistry well. I recall the smattering of debate after WW2 when the pointy-heads in Washington decided to change the name of the War Department to the Department of Defense. As we changed to a time when the rest of the world needed to defend itself against Imperial America instead of Imperial England and Imperial Europe.

Not so incidentally, it may not take the anti-war movement in Japan to bring down Abe. Abenomics may do it for him. Pledging – as conservatives always do – to bring jobs growth and better economic times to the working people of Japan, the prime minister has only aided his Zaibatsu buddies. The rest of the nation suffers through a renewal of stagnation and ennui.

Supreme Court asked to rule on secret plan to cut cell service?

The Supreme Court was asked in a petition to force the government to disclose the US clandestine plan to disable cell service during emergencies.

The case concerns Standard Operating Procedure 303. A federal appeals court in May said the government did not have to release its full contents because the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows the authorities to withhold records if they would “endanger” public safety.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center told the high court’s justices Tuesday that the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit’s decision created a new “catchall provision that can be used in any case involving records related to domestic and national security programs.”

The privacy group had demanded the documents from the Department of Homeland Security in 2011 following the shuttering of cell service in the San Francisco Bay Area subway system to quell a protest. The Department of Homeland Security refused to divulge the documents associated with SOP 303, which the appeals court described as a “unified voluntary process for the orderly shut-down and restoration of wireless services during critical emergencies such as the threat of radio-activated improvised explosive devices.”

Under the direction of the so-called National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee, SOP 303 allows for the shuttering of wireless networks “within a localized area, such as a tunnel or bridge, and within an entire metropolitan area.”

So, what are the specifics of this regulation? Demonstrations for peace and justice or riots and anarchy in the streets? And who ultimately gets to make the determination to invoke SOP 303? Some New York City precinct commander or a bureaucrat in DHS, faceless or otherwise?

#BlackLivesMatter? — unless you’re Homeland Security


Click to enlargePeter Marshall

The Department of Homeland Security has been monitoring the Black Lives Matter movement since anti-police protests erupted in Ferguson, Missouri last summer, according to hundreds of documents obtained by The Intercept through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The documents, released by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Operations Coordination, indicate that the department frequently collects information, including location data, on Black Lives Matter activities from public social media accounts, including on Facebook, Twitter, and Vine, even for events expected to be peaceful. The reports confirm social media surveillance of the protest movement and ostensibly related events in the cities of Ferguson, Baltimore, Washington, DC, and New York.

They also show the department watching over gatherings that seem benign and even mundane. For example, DHS circulated information on a nationwide series of silent vigils and a DHS-funded agency planned to monitor a funk music parade and a walk to end breast cancer in the nation’s capital.

The tracking of domestic protest groups and peaceful gatherings raises questions over whether DHS is chilling the exercise of First Amendment rights, and over whether the department, created in large part to combat terrorism, has allowed its mission to creep beyond the bounds of useful security activities as its annual budget has grown beyond $60 billion.

Our government thinks anyone who stands up for equal rights is a potential terrorist.

The surveillance cataloged in the DHS documents goes back to August of last year, when protests and riots broke out in Ferguson the day after the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown. According to two August 11th, 2014 reports, a DHS FEMA “WatchOps officer” used information from Twitter and Vine to monitor the riots and reproduced a map, originally created by a Reddit user, of conflict zones…

An April 2015 FEMA memo also shows that the DHS appears to have gathered information on anti-police-brutality protests in Philadelphia “organized by members of the Philly Coalition for Real Justice” and in New York on May Day at “Foley Square, start time 1700… Independent factions are being solicited to join in on a full day of demonstration through various open source social media sites, fliers, posters.”…

Baher Azmy, a legal director at the Center for Constitutional Rights, however, argues that this “providing situational awareness” is just another word for surveillance and that creating this body of knowledge about perfectly legal events is a problem in and of itself. “What they call situational awareness is Orwellian speak for watching and intimidation,” said Azmy. “Over time there’s a serious harm to the associational rights of the protesters and it’s an effective way to chill protest movements. The average person would be less likely to go to a Black Lives Matter protest if the government is monitoring social media, Facebook, and their movements.”

Although DHS spokesman S.Y.Lee says…that the department “does not provide resources to monitor any specific planned or spontaneous protest, rally or public gathering,” some of the documents show that the DHS has produced minute-by-minute reports on protesters’ movements in demonstrations…

The documents also elaborate on DHS’s response to riots and militant protests in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old African American man who in April died from injuries sustained while in police custody…the DHS’ Federal Protective Service placed more than 400 officers on duty in Baltimore after Gray’s death…

Raven Rakia, a journalist who investigates state surveillance and policing, said that the DHS’ decision to monitor Black Lives Matter is hardly surprising, given the federal government’s well documented history of spying on and suppressing black social movements and groups like the Black Panthers. “There’s a long history of the federal agencies, especially the FBI, seeing black resistance organizations as a threat to national security,” says Rakia…

Same as it ever was. A government that isn’t serious about equal rights for all Americans, a Congress afraid of attempts to guarantee voting rights, civil rights, expected in a democratic nation – sets the stage for activists to be an automatic target for suppression.

“Enough, I’m tired” – Mexico’s politicians still trying to ignore a massacre

mexico demonstrations

The office of the Mexican president has been set alight as public anger intensifies over the government’s response to the apparent murder of 43 trainee teachers by a drug gang.

The violence comes after the country’s attorney general caused fury among the public with his throwaway remark about the case.

Jesus Murillo Karam, speaking at a press conference on Friday, fielded questions on the case for an hour, before saying, “Ya me canse” or, “Enough, I’m tired”.

Within hours the phrase was trending on Twitter and other social media sites. It is now being used as a rallying call for those who are demonstrating against the government’s handling of the case…

On Saturday evening what had been peaceful protests in Mexico City turned violent when the National Palace, which houses the office of the president, was set on fire by demonstrators carrying torches.

Protesters had earlier used a metal police barricade as a battering ram to try to enter the building. Police eventually pushed them back, before they breached the doors…

Before the attorney general’s ill-judged attempt to wrap up his conference, he had told the press that suspects had led authorities to rubbish bags that are believed to contain the incinerated remains of the abducted students.

Since the disappearance of the students in September, from a rural college in Guerrero state, Mexicans have reacted with outrage at the government’s response and its inability to fully explain what happened.

The case has proved a focal point for citizens’ anger in a country where almost 100,000 people have died in the past seven years due to organised crime.

This is a long and detailed, painfully accurate article. Not the best intellectual, political fare for a Monday morning. Which is exactly why you should read it.

Corruption, the absence of rule by law, the dominance of neighborhood by neighborhood, provincial, regional rule by gangsters, vicious killers wholly insulated from justice by bought-and-paid-for coppers – this is the stuff of daily life in Mexico. It lies at the core of my personal boycott of our southern neighbor. And, yes, it is also key to my contempt for jingoist, Amerika First Republicans, cruel conservatives who don’t understand commerce and base their definition of economic justice on bigotry.

Thanks, Mike

400,000 hit the pavement in New York City for climate march


Click to enlargeJason DeCrow/AP
Demonstrators make their way down Sixth Avenue in New York during the People’s Climate March

An international day of action on climate change brought tens of thousands onto the streets of New York City on Sunday, with organizers predicting the biggest protest on the issue in five years.

Some 100,000 people, including United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, actor Leonardo DiCaprio and elected officials from the United States and abroad joined the People’s Climate March, ahead of Tuesday’s United Nations hosted summit in the city to discuss reducing carbon emissions that threaten the environment.

Organizers said some 550 busloads of people had arrived for the rally, which followed similar events in 166 countries including Britain, France, Afghanistan and Bulgaria. Thousands more came by public transportation, walked or traveled in private cars…

A crowd including U.S. senators Bernard Sanders of Vermont and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island marched along the city’s Central Park, through midtown Manhattan to Times Square, where they stopped for a moment of silence at 12:58 p.m..

Ban, wearing a T-shirt that read “I’m for climate action” marched arm-in-arm with primatologist Jane Goodall and French Ecology Minister Segolene Royal.

“This is the planet where our subsequent generations will live,” Ban told reporters. “There is no ‘Plan B,’ because we do not have ‘Planet B.'”

Meanwhile, the opportunist creeps in Congress came back to work for 4 days after taking several weeks off for vacation. Then – consistent with being the worst Do-Nothing Congress in the history of Republican obstructionism – they shut down until after the mid-term election in November.

Not that anything meaningful would have been accomplished. We are a nation of obstinate and ignorant sheep, complaining about lack of change, fearing change at the same time. Fence-sitting has become the national pastime.

Pic of the Day


Click to enlargeREUTERS/Brian Snyder

A demonstrator holds a sign with a photograph of former U.S. spy agency NSA contractor Edward Snowden and the word “HERO” during Fourth of July Independence Day celebrations in Boston, Massachusetts…

Great photo. Looked at a number of versions without discovering who did the original poster.

Bet someone in Obama’s office told the boss by now. 🙂

Even Guy Fawkes needs to sleep

Protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask sleeps on a chair at Taksim Square in central Istanbul
Click to enlargeREUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

A protester wearing a Guy Fawkes mask sleeps on a chair at Taksim Square in central Istanbul June 3, 2013.

Turkish protesters clashed with riot police into the early hours of Monday with some setting fire to offices of the ruling AK Party as the fiercest anti-government demonstrations in years entered their fourth day.

Turkey’s streets were calm in the morning after a night of noisy protests and violence in major cities.