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Racism in Arizona: More Intrigue, Plot Thickens

3 Jun

On May 1o, 2010 I posted Arizona’s Law of Hate, providing documentation that the Bill signed into law, the “Support Our Law Enforcement and Safe Neighborhoods Act”, is actually a free license for racial profiling and the denial of civil rights to those with brown-colored skin.

The next day, I posted Update: Arizona’s Law of Hatred, an editorial in The Washington Post by Phil Gordon, the Mayor of Phoenix, denouncing the law as “hateful” thanks to “political opportunists such as state Sen. Russell Pearce, the author of the legislation, and Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.”  (Maricopa County encompasses the majority of the Phoenix Metropolitan area.)

As it turns out, Pearce was not the author of the law,  but merely its sponsor in the State Legislature. In the May 31, 2010 print edition of The Arizona Republic newspaper (or the Republic of Arizona as I like to call it), the author was Kris Kobach, an immigration attorney from Topeka, Kansas.

Kris Kobach, a member of FAIR

Kobach, however, is not your garden variety attorney who helps immigrants with US work permits or attaining citizenship. On the contrary, he is a member of FAIR — the Federation for American Immigration Reform — an organization recently listed as a nativist hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A May 10, 2010 article by John Hanna of the Associated Press had this to say:

Before the law was passed … Kobach spent several years consulting with its main sponsor [Pearce]. And he has a $300-an-hour contract to teach deputies in Maricopa County [Arpaio], which includes Phoenix, to enforce immigration policies. [Bold is mine]

Bill Straus, Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Arizona office, said in February 9, 2010 press release, which I have as a Microsoft Word document:

We find it absolutely outrageous that Sheriff Arpaio has chosen an individual with an obvious bias, who works on behalf of an anti-immigrant group to conduct training on immigration law and ethnic profiling. This shows that he is not serious about dealing with the concerns that have been raised about his tactics and treatment of immigrants.

Well isn’t this a cozy little bunch. I have shown that all three compadres (excuse me, gentlemen) have links to white supremacist or neo-Nazi groups. This is not immigration reform, but unabashed hatred of any human being who is not White.

Pearce isn’t finished, not by a long shot with a willing and compliant legislature and governor — a Republican governor whom we inherited after Democrat Janet Napolitano was tapped by the Obama administration for Director of Homeland Security. Napolitano kept Pearce in check by vetoing and shredding all his bills that sullied her desk. Jan Brewer, however, is a staunch supporter.

The last paragraph of The Arizona Republic’s “report” is totally outrageous:

Next year, Pearce has said, he will propose a measure that would make Arizona the first state to stop the practice of giving citizenship to children who are born to in the United States to illegal immigrant parents.  Ending the practice of granting citizenship to “anchor babies,” as they are sometimes called, is one of FAIR’s legislative goals and is supported by Kobach.

Never mind that immigration law is a federal matter; Pearce, Arpaio, and Kobach openly disregard it. And why shouldn’t they? The reaction so far from President Obama is a shaking of his head and his usual speechifying.

Period.

Posted from Chandler, Arizona, June 3, 2010.

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Why I Must Learn French

16 May

I am thinking that I must learn to speak french. I don’t just mean “Bonjour” and a spattering of phrases I’m talking chattering away in french as if there was nothing to it.

I feel I must because I want the option to get the hell out of the UK when it completes it’s transformation into a nazi state.

They can fingerprint me and record personal data about me if I commit a crime but not otherwise. I do not see a good reason to hand over every form of data about me to a group that can not even keep my name and address a secret.

Let me tell you about that.

When I wrote “Open Letter to The British Government Regarding the Loss of Sensitive Personal Information on every household with a child under 16 years old.” it was with the hope that I would be able to show just how badly the govenment does not understand IT.

I pointed to a free peace of technology that would allow me to store whatever I felt on a hard drive tot he point that all of MI5 with the help of the CIA, the FBI or any number of 1337 script kiddies would never be able to break into with plausible deniability to it’s existence in the first place. I officially have no encrypted volumes and I do not store notes in them.

Meanwhile as regular power users are able to store our data so safely that even if you steal our computers you will find nothing at all the Government idea of secure is text based password. Even vista has disk encryption as standard (if you switch it on).

So let’s talk about your password protect file that I (in theory) have on my theoretical hard drive.

A dictionary attack will open most files inside six minutes – that’s just enough time to fix a cup of coffee. Failing that if I know what some of the locked text says (or if I can see the encrypted password) a rainbow table attack will break most very quickly.

Let’s talk password locks for a moment. Not all password protected files are unreadable it is just that the software asks you to give the password. All I need to know is the file format (or a good guess at it) and I’ll have half the content out of the file while you were scratching your head.

Let me remind you that a dedicated attacker with access to criminal “botnets” (used by many kinds of “cyber criminal” for activities such as blackmail, spamming, Distributed Denial of Service attacks or “brute force” password attempts) or other large co-operative systems might be able to make the work of years in to the work of a few days. With access to a modern Mainframe computer this can be done many times quicker still.

So while the UK govenment does not even understand how to make safe use of passwords I know how to make my files unfindable forever – forget trying to break in – you have to find it first.

No let us talk network security. Most networks are secured using passwords. All I need to break in is (a) to guess your password, (b) trick the password out of you, (c) steal the password using a virus, keylogger or other malware or (d) use “smart” brute force methods to systematically guess a password. If I don’t fancy any of that lot I can look for an exposed computer that is not up to date and exploit it or I could get a job (I have no criminal record) or pay someone else to get a job working inside or I couldblackmail a junior worker, line manager or similar. Frankly there are more ways into a govenment network than there are people working on that network.

If I’m good I might even set up some back doors to the system and document all flaws for next time.

There is no way that a system so badly set up that disks are sent in the post with nothing more than a human generated password to “lock them” is secure. I would bet money that there are right now over one hundred ways into every file the government keeps.

So when they indicate that they want to keep track of enough data that someone with half my skills could get at and then use to pretend to be me I know it is time to give up my citizenship and move out.

Don’t even get me started on the privacy and human rights side of the debate…

Literacy and communication

23 Apr

Google’s blog is highlighting today the importance of World Book Day and The Literacy Project.

Its shocking to think that 1 in 5 adults is illiterate. But as I reminded someone at a party on Saturday night, even if the WHOLE world was literate, a world without books is useless. And Google is doing good by joining UNESCO is attacking the nexus of the problem, books spawn literacy and vice versa, and that is often forgotten.

When I was in High School, I remember going to debate in township schools, and invariably the debate would happen in the ‘library’. I use this term partially, since most of these rooms had few if any reading materials, let alone books. Generally there were government sex education comics, a couple of bibles, and possibly a few donated books; but the sheer LACK of books shocked me, and reminded me that literacy without something to read is useless; it becomes nothing but a perfunctory aspect of government action, and not the development of a educated civic collective.

Couple that shock of a LACK of books, with the abundance of books and bookshops in the UK. I never fail to be amazed at how much reading is going on in the UK. It’s great for the health of that nation, as an outsider, and surely provides them with a national competitive edge far beyond Monty Python sketches and good television.

Literacy with books leads to better communication. And in an increasingly globalised and competitive world driven by information, and subsequently knowledge, we can’t ignore the VITAL nature of good communication (and therefore literacy) in the battle for competitiveness.

Literacy, like the free market, is not a zero sum game. Like trade, the more literate actors in the ‘market’ of ideas communicated in local communities and the world, comes to benefit all communities in ever greater extends.

Considering this then, should we not be considering the inclusion of literacy as a basic human right. To deny someone access to the well of human ideas, is no different to the denial of good drinking water to the thirsting man. He might be able to survive on muddy waters, but he will only thrive if he has access to the true benefits of the written word, and the education that provides.

The revolution of the printing press cannot overthrow the dangerous ideas in the third world until populations are literate and educated.

It then is a great fear that governments hide their populations from truth by keeping them in a perpetual uneducated, yet partially literate (i.e. no books – such as in many [sadly most] schools in South Africa) state, so as to ensure a fearful and sheepish populace which can be stretched, beaten and oppressed without the knowledge that a better existence awaits them should they strive for freedom and the removal of despots and tyranny.

The Stealthy Erosion of our Civil Liberties

3 May

Writing for the Comment is Free section of the Guardian, Henry Porter discusses the current UK government’s track record on civil liberties – or, more accurately, the apparent removal of many of our freedoms by stealth.

I feel quite strongly about this subject, and have written about it in the past. I’m not a great believer in conspiracy theories, and I don’t spend my time fretting that the government is out to get me, but, this gradual erosion of basic rights and liberties – which go back centuries in some cases – is deeply worrying. Maybe, this government are telling the truth and are only doing these things because they believe they will protect the people of this country. Maybe, they would never dream of using these powers for any malign purpose, but that doesn’t mean a future, less ethical government would behave in the same wa.

We are in danger of losing freedoms our forebears fought long and hard for, and sadly, a large number of people seem to be prepared to let this happen. Some, are simply unaware of the situation, others feel it’s all for the greater good. ‘If you have nothing to hide . . .’ they say. To them I ask this: If you have nothing to hide, why do you have curtains at your windows? Why don’t you tell every Tom, Dick and Harry your PIN? Why don’t you discuss your entire medical history with the queue at the bus stop? Is it possibly because some things are private?

The issue isn’t whether anyone has anything to hide. It’s a simple matter of living free from state monitoring and interference. Or, to put it another way: When you get up in the morning you put on clean knickers/pants, you wouldn’t expect your mother to come around to your house to check you had. If she did you would feel very silly, and rather offended. Surely, she should trust you as a grown adult to put clean underwear on in the morning? Well, yes she should, and the government should trust us all to behave like responsible citizens too! The money spent on badly designed and intrusive schemes would be better spent on more police officers to enforce the laws we already have.

In my previous post I quoted Shami Chakrabarti, I’ll repost the quote here because I think it is pertinent.

“If you throw live frogs into a pan of boiling water, they will sensibly jump out and save themselves. If you put them in a pan of cold water and gently apply heat until the water boils they will lie in the pan and boil to death. It’s like that.” – Shami Chakrabarti of Liberty

If, like me, you would rather not go down the boiled frog route, try the following links: